The cost of living is a constant source of stress for many, and with ever-rising expenses, it’s understandable that some people are finding it harder to keep their finances in check. It isn’t all downhill from here, though, as there are plenty of ways to strengthen your finances and save money.
As always, you don’t need to be an accountant or a whiz with numbers to reap the benefits of some well-executed financial strategies. There are tonnes of ways anyone can save money with the right spending habits, creativity and determination. But, to cut out all the professional jargon, here are some simple tricks anyone can use to lighten their financial loads.
- Be a smart spender
Some of the best things in life are free, and that’s not just a wise adage. Taking advantage of store specials, cashing in those coupons, or enjoying free media and other things commonly free online are just some ways you can pocket a few extra bucks each week.Though requiring self-control, swapping those expensive outings, unnecessary purchases and travel costs will eventually create a small fortune for you in the long-run.
Buying in bulk, sticking to cost-effective entertainment and swapping the car for a cheap bus commute are just a few small things that only cost a little luxury, but provide big savings. Whatever your needs, you can find great goods at second-hand stores—just don’t buy your electronic devices second-hand.
- Tackle your small debts & loans
Paying off loans, debts and other financial burdens can be a hassle for anyone unfortunate enough to be roped into them. Whether you urgently needed money or now need to now pay back a small fortune, taking care of all your financial worries can seem like an overwhelming challenge. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as starting with small debts and working your way through to bigger ones can eventually guide you out of the thick of your financial messes. Dealing with your smaller debts and working your way into repaying larger ones with whatever money you can spare will help you become less stressed and more focused on paying back what you owe. Achieve the Zeigarnik Effect and get that ball rolling.
Keeping a financial record can also assist you in claiming your allowable income tax deductions and credits, which again, can go towards dealing with your financial burdens.
- “Want” is the new “Need”
The terms “want” and “need” are used interchangeably these days, as the “needs” of people tend to be things most of us can easily live without. Understanding exactly what you need and what you don’t is crucial if you want to save money and get ahead with your finances. Though this sounds simple, you would be surprised with how much of your money goes towards small things that you don’t need.
This can even apply to your needs, as there are a few options people fail to consider when purchasing their essentials. For instance, toilet paper is universally regarded as an essential, but there are many people who will purchase expensive brand name toilet paper compared to cheaper alternatives. The whole point is to create savings by sacrificing a little bit of luxury or finding more cost-effective versions of said luxury.
- Using your time effectively
Everyone deserves some time to relax and put their feet up, but doing so when your finances are in a pickle is just asking for trouble. We’re not advocating that you work yourself to death, but utilising your time effectively while taking at least one day off to recharge is one of the fastest ways to sort your finances through having more time to plan, execute said plans and earn some extra cash.
The main point to remember here is your ROI and maximising your return for the extra time you spend trying to sort your finances. Working a simple weekend job where you ideally earn an extra $200 a week can be a great way to quickly pay off those pesky debts/loans, and that’s just by giving up two free days a week—at least until you’re in a less precarious position.
- Plan for the rainy days
As much as it pains us to admit it, not everything in life runs smoothly. Things wear down, accidents happen, and unwelcome surprises happen more often than we would like them to. The only thing you can do before these situations occur is prepare, and a little extra cash on hand can be real a life saver.
Putting aside around five per cent of your weekly income as emergency funds, or putting it into a savings account that you won’t touch until later is a wise move for those who want to prepare for the unexpected. Of course, if you happen to be lucky and don’t experience any hardship, the money can be used to pay off debts or even help pay off your mortgage.
- Restrain yourself
As with the point on only buying the necessities, temptation can be a huge challenge when trying to get your finances in order. We’re all guilty of the occasional impulse purchase and may even have unhealthy habits that end up costing us hundreds each year, such as smoking and drinking, to name two common examples.
Keeping your distance from places you know you will splurge money on is a good start, but also limiting the amount of money you have with you at any given time will ensure that you don’t go overboard with your budget. If need be, spending a little money to save more in the long-run (like buying cigarette patches) is a good investment for both your health and your finances, especially when kicking said habits could save you thousands annually.
- Review your payment options
Shorter repayment options will help you avoid paying more in the long-run. When reviewing your options, make sure you know what you can balance and choose the healthiest options. Longer payment options can have you pay back almost double the price your purchase was originally valued at, which is highly common among phone plans and other electronics.
If possible, always try to purchase items with cash instead of credit, especially if more than 20 per cent of your weekly income is going towards paying off credit cards and other loans. If you are someone who pays off their credit card at the end of the month, try paying it off sooner to avoid unwelcome surprises. It’s important to remember that while using credit isn’t something to fear, there are still many common pitfalls, so read the fine print.
- Look for better deals (especially the hidden ones)
There are always savings to be had if you’re determined and savvy enough. Looking through shopping catalogues, shopping online and taking advantage of specials could save you enough money to fund an extravagant vacation at the end of the year or at least pay for some decent birthday or Christmas gifts.
There are also lesser known deals to take advantage of. For instance, car auctions can sometimes be a great way to get a quality vehicle for cheap, and spending time learning how your electronic devices work could provide you with enough entertainment to last you the week.
- The small things count
Most people don’t have much cash to spend these days as it is, so making small changes at home to shrink your next set of bills can be another way to save up big. From switching off and unplugging unused power points, to turning off unused lights; if you’re not using it, turn it off. You would be amazed if you saw how much energy can be drained by a device in standby mode.
These changes aren’t just limited to appliances. Working out at home, having coffee with friends over the kitchen counter instead of at an expensive café, and having shorter showers are just a few small things you can do around home to help save money.
- Plan for the long-term
As well as the rainy days, saving for the costly events of the future is a great financial strategy. Whether you’re saving for retirement, a wedding, your children, university, or whatever else someone would save up for, having a head start will allow you to save less for these events in the future. If you’re unsure about how much money should be dedicated towards these savings, consult a professional and your financial planner and work out a realistic savings option.
What happens after you’re gone is equally important to what you do now. Make sure to update your will so your posterity (or whoever you include) benefits from it. People usually abstain from dealing with their will—as anything involving one’s own death is quite confronting—but, seeking the help of a lawyer can make the experience a quick and simple one.