The topic of money is never an easy one to dissect without feeling overwhelmed and stressed about upcoming bills and future security. Our life is a continual struggle of working hard to earn money and invest it. When I became an entrepreneur and a small business owner, the joys and anxiety of managing funds, keeping spreadsheets updated, organizing receipts, and adhering to budgets were consuming and stressful. No matter our paths in life, all of us in some form or another manage money . . . or should I say, money manages us.
Rather than live by the notion that money is the means to happiness, I have decided to reassess the true importance of money in my life. This shift in my perspective freed me from much of the stress I have experienced. No longer do I worry that this month’s account is a few hundred dollars less than last month’s, or that I might have to wait longer to purchase a certain product. I began to walk the path of life released from clutches of money and captivated by the joys of life.
I am sure that you can easily relate to my personal battle with money, especially now during this current economic crisis during the COVID pandemic when we are not only consumed with the fears of what the future holds, but also with the fear of the diminished balance of our bank accounts. It is imperative to seek little ways to make life and money work for us. Are you ready for this? Here are 10 ways to naturally and simply save more money and enjoy life:
1) It’s the Little Things That Count
Have you ever signed up for a free trial subscription, and then completely forgot to cancel it before getting charged? Welcome to my life, y’all! Taking advantage of a free trial is splendid, but if you are cutting back, set a reminder on your calendar the day before the trial expires to end it directly yourself.
When checking your bank statement, take notice of all of the little items, including apps and free trials. They may be small items, but it all adds up to great sums.
Moreover, let’s tackle our TV box for a moment! Admittedly, I am a movie and TV show junkie. I used to be on top of the latest shows and movies; however, I had to ask myself honestly if these extra channels were a necessity: Do I really need HBO, Amazon Video, Apple TV, Netflix, and Showtime? The answer is probably not. Perhaps you and a friend could go halfsies, and split the cost to stream, or pick two of the most-watched channels instead. Moreover, call your TV providers because sometimes they offer a free month of prime subscriptions. You will be pleasantly surprised when you notice the savings you incurred by canceling these channels.
2) Budget, Spreadsheets, Organize, Oh My!
Back in the day when people balanced their checkbooks, I vowed that all of that jazz would be done in my head. Who wants to live by numbers? I couldn’t be farther from reality. With so many budget templates, programs, and apps, it doesn’t take long to sit down and input. Before inputting, we should take notice of our bank statement and where our money is going? Besides my mortgage and bills, I was amazed at how much I spent on coffee. This is the reason why I bought an espresso machine. The machine basically paid for itself and more since I hardly buy coffee On-the-Go now.
Calculating the amount we spend each day is a very effective way of saving money. The great Mahatma Gandhi, who is known for his nonviolent resistance, political leadership, and spirituality, practiced personal accounting throughout his life with the best of results. In his autobiography, he wrote:
“Every day I kept account of every farthing I spent, and my expenses were carefully calculated. Every little item such as omnibus fares or postage or a couple of coppers spent on newspapers would be entered, and the balance struck every evening before going to bed.”
As a result, Gandhi found that he always spent less than what he expected.
After identifying the main chunks of what we spend, we can easily see what needs to change in order to save more money. By examining my expenses and deciding to stop purchasing Coffee To-Go, I ended up saving more money during the course of a year than the price of a coffee machine. As a little girl with a piggy bank, my parents instilled the importance of saving, being a wise money spender, and not spending money I didn’t have. Through my analysis, I discovered that 50% of my income goes towards necessities, such as mortgage, groceries, insurance, etc. 30% goes towards fun things such as dining out, shopping, and probably Amazon items. Lastly, 20% goes directly into my saving, retirement, and investment accounts. This 50-30-20 system is a mindset, and with time, it will become a natural one.
All of these number-crunching techniques may seem daunting, tedious, and a bit complicated; however, it’s actually quite straightforward. By focusing on your spending, you can definitely optimize your savings, and for me, that means one day, after the pandemic, I will have the funds to go on a wonderful trip and enjoy the food, music, architecture, art, and the people of another culture, which will make my comprehensive accounting well worth the trouble.
3) Make some phone calls!
My friends and family can vouch that I’m not shy to bargain and sweet talk my way into getting deals. Perhaps it’s because I live by the rule “it doesn’t hurt to try!” Contact businesses to see if they could lower your monthly payments, especially since you’re a loyal customer. Often, these businesses are happy to comply and work with you because they value your business.
If you’re a bit reluctant, examine the interest rates you’re paying. Picking up the phone to ask for lower rates will now seem easier than you anticipate. Call credit card companies, internet, and phone providers, and you will be amazed at how lower interest rates or just lowering your bill makes a tremendous difference in your savings. Search for a credit card that pays you money when we use their card. You can make money by paying for your needs with the credit card instead of with cash, but don’t forget to pay off the balance each month. I leave you with these last words of encouragement:
“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” –Edmund Burke
4) The Rabbit Hole of Online Shopping
This may be a minor adjustment, but hugely impactful. You just have to do one thing, and one thing only: remove your credit card info from your computer and phone! I have fallen down this hole of buying something online with my saved credit card information. If it’s not saved, then you have no choice but to take more time to reflect on actually completing the purchase as you’re digging for that credit card. You could always save the items for later if there is no immediate need. Mindless shopping, similar to grocery shopping while hungry, will inevitably and unnecessarily add a dent to your wallet.
5) Time to nip that high-interest debt in the bud
Credit card debt is the absolute most stressful debt ever. It sneaks up on you as it continues to grow, and it’s incredibly difficult to pay it off. On top of that, the interest rates are astronomical. I foolishly thought that if I pay the minimum credit card payment, I’ll be set. However, payments after payments, little was done to lower my balance. It’s like pouring water into a bucket with holes: you keep adding water only to see it never stays full.
I made this step number 5, partially because I didn’t want to discourage you if it was on top or at the end. To be completely honest, you simply can’t pursue the idea of putting money away when drowned in credit card debt. The money you’re able to save needs to go towards absolving your debt. Keep some money aside for emergencies, and the rest is focused on paying off high-interest credit cards. Once you’ve paid off your credit card debt, vow to monthly off all credit card expenses you incurred for the past month. Then resume saving money, feeling assured that you’re not leaking from the other side or no one is pulling money out of your pocket.
6) The Office
Michel Scott’s Paper Co. dingy closet office did not create a creative workspace in The Office. New entrepreneurs, including myself, the dream of a beautiful and bright workspace with a snack bar and open windows. But with that dream comes an unnecessary expenditure. I wrote a post on how to create and organize a workplace, whether at home or in an office on a budget. Saving money with office rent and office amenities will work in your favor. The working from home model is now being adopted by big corporations as a result of the pandemic, and will continue to be utilized.
7) Refurbish Please!
With the latest technological advancements, we are always on the lookout for the latest and newest gadgets for our everyday needs. From new computer laptops and iPhone models to state of the art cameras and lenses, it’s easy to get sucked into buying and replacing. Although buying on the new is beneficial, and often convenient for business, it can also be unnecessary.
Best Buy, Amazon, Target, and Apple (to name a few) offers certified, pre-owned, and refurbish tech gears. Make sure to read its condition and reviews prior to buying. These items may have a few cuts and bruises, or simply, the box is open. In addition, explore Craigslist or FB Marketplace. You’ll be surprised!
8) Marketing Foes & Ads
We have all heard that you have to spend in order to earn money. Although it seems that ads are necessary in order to make money, I’m here to tell you that it is not so. There is a time and place to spend money on ads, but not for every product. There are other avenues that lead you towards marketing without spending loads on ads.
Pinterest is my favorite marketplace powerhouse that not only drives traffic to my site, but it also rakes in some cash flow. We have to be astute business people and evaluate whether it is wise to purchase ad space or sponsor meaningless brands on Instagram, because we may pay out more than what we earn. Just take advantage of these incredible tools that are accessible at your fingertips.
9) Email Lists and Newsletters
One of my favorite ways to create, share, connect, and inspire is through my email list. These are loyal people who took the time to sign up and follow me. It’s because of this bond that I enjoy reaching out to them, and this is the biggest game-changer in my own business. Building a growing email list is not rocket science. Create landing pages on your site geared towards topics that people are searching for and exploring. Offer freebies- who doesn’t enjoy freebies! This is a two-fold action: you’re providing a free service while multiplying your followers.
If you haven’t been sending emails to your list, it’s never too late to start. I use Flodesk, and the beautiful layouts make my newsletters colorful, fun, and engaging. Wanna see? Sign up for my newsletter and see for yourself!
Although some bloggers write out a history paper in their newsletters, I like it short, simple, and straight to the point. People are busy, and there are at least 50 other emails ahead of mine in their inbox. Your email list is a built-in way to market your product, share your skills, and connect with your customers. Try out Flodesk for a week trial, and then save 50%. You and your customers will fall instantly in love!
10) Education is Key
I am a teacher, so teaching and learning are paramount in life. Continue to learn from other people through podcasts, books, and blog posts. Although initially I was never a big fan of finance, I thoroughly enjoy talking about the subject matter. More importantly, I enjoy how to use money in a healthy and balanced way.
My recommendation is to continue to learn and explore more on money, saving, investing, paying off debt, and marketing. I continue to jump on the financial wagon by chiming into podcasts during my walks or spending a few minutes reading up on posts or a new book to improve.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, but at the same time, it doesn’t need to consume you from freely living your life to the fullest. Start saving, friend!