No one likes facing money problems, but they’re part of life. They come and go as the seasons do, and the best way to deal with them is to prepare. Always have a rainy day fund.
There are times, though, when the rainy day fund runs out; when there’s just no escaping the fact that you have a serious financial crisis; when you need to take drastic measures to make sure all the bills are paid and you have enough to tide you over.
These are the times when you need save money as if your life depended on it. I’m no stranger to this situation, and you probably aren’t, too. In case we find ourselves having to deal with such a problem here are tried and tested ways to save money fast.
Small but impactful ways to save money fast
1. Make a budget. Account for every expense.
I used to be so bad at this, always winging it. Now I know better. I have to admit that during “regular” times, I am not too much of a stickler and I don’t account for every penny. When things get really tight, however, I write down practically everything. Not only that, but I also project non-negotiable expenses like the electricity bill so that I know how much I need to set aside (or earn extra).
2. Follow your grocery list.
So you’ve got your non-negotiable expenses all planned out. But you have to eat, too, and that’s kind of non-negotiable, isn’t it? The good thing is that this aspect is somehow flexible.
This is what I do.
- Do an inventory of what’s in the pantry and the fridge. Add other household items such as cleaning materials.
- Make a list of essential items that are missing from your stock.
- Add perishables such as vegetables and meat to your list.
- Don’t fall into the temptation of adding items that are already in your pantry because you want to stock up. Normally, this is a good idea, but now is not the time.
Go to the supermarket and follow your list to the very last details. Do not deviate from it. Do not be tempted to buy something that’s not on the list because it’s on sale.
3. Buy house brands.
Buy house brands instead of your usual brands, as the former are usually cheaper. Also, it doesn’t mean they are of inferior quality. It was difficult for me at first, especially since I am a creature of habit, but I’m used to it now and it hasn’t killed me.
You don’t have to go hungry or deprive yourself, but you need to sacrifice some things.
4. Skip the specialty markets.
I love weekend markets and other similar events. You find such delectable things, and it’s so much fun to discover stuff.
Fun it may be, but the experience also burns a hole in your wallet. If you can, skip weekend markets altogether. If you can’t, then lessen the frequency. Go once a month instead of every week. You’ll save a lot of money. Fast.
5. Make your own coffee or tea.
I love Chai tea latte (soy) from Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, but it doesn’t come cheap. I can’t really make it at home yet (this is on my bucket list), but my point is to get rid of your habit of going to coffee shops for your daily dose of caffeine. A single cup a day adds up to a considerable amount at the end of the month – or the week; money that you can use for other, more important things.
So, get yourself some coffee beans or grounds and whip out that drip machine or coffee press that you haven’t been using regularly. If you need coffee or tea at work, bring the press or tea strainer.
6. Prepare food at home.
We all know that cooking at home is way cheaper than eating out. Still, we don’t realize just how much cheaper it is until we actually do it regularly. I used to eat out several times a week, but when calculated how much I spent on a meal at a restaurant compared to a home-cooked meal, I spent more time cooking at home. Since I like cooking, it isn’t much of an issue for me. Plus, I work at home, so I have time to prepare food. Worse comes to worst – I eat sandwiches.
If you work at an office, prepare your lunch at home and bring it to work. You might have to wake up a little earlier but if you really want to save money and see the results of your efforts, it will be worth it.
7. Opt for food pick-up instead of delivery.
As I said earlier, this is a guide on how to save money fast, but it is not about depriving yourself. That’s just not right, and you’ll end up miserable and even more stressed.
So, while I strongly suggest you make home-cooked meals, I also recommend eating out once in a while – or ordering food for delivery. Consider it as a treat for your money-saving efforts.
However, you can save a little more when you order food for delivery. If the restaurant is near your place, why not call your order in and say you’ll pick it up in X minutes instead of having it delivered? Not only will you pay less (minus delivery charge), but you’ll get some exercise as well if you walk.
8. Don’t go to the mall unless necessary.
This isn’t much of a challenge for me as I don’t really like going to the mall. I’m the in and out kind of person when it comes to this, BUT I do find myself making impulse purchases when I go. I also tend to find a place to hang out and eat/drink coffee.
If you’re a mall rat, then it’s even worse.
Bottom line: avoid temptation. Don’t go to the mall unless it’s absolutely necessary.
9. Don’t visit shopping sites.
Now this is a bigger problem. Online shopping has made it so much easier to spend money. You don’t need cash. You don’t even have to swipe that piece of plastic. Often, you don’t even have to manually enter details of your credit card!
I’m a sucker for online shopping, especially those deal sites.
The solution is simple: just like not going to the mall, don’t visit shopping sites. Just don’t. You’ll be happy to see your credit card bill when it arrives.
10. Stop smoking.
If you smoke, then stop. I know it’s difficult – it’s only been two months since I had my last cigarette – but it will make such an impact on your finances. Consider the price of cigarettes, how much you smoke, and add up the cost at the end of the week. Even in that short period, the amount you save is quite impressive; and, obviously, it is good for your health. If you can’t quit cold turkey (I couldn’t. I had to use patches for a month), then at least cut back. You’ll still make some savings then.