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“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” -Susan B. Anthony
Living simply luxuriously doesn’t require that you earn a six figure salary. The beauty of living simply luxuriously is that one can live a rich life built on quality so long as the money that one makes, whether it is $40,000 or $400,000, if spent and invested wisely. One of the pillars of TSLL blog as I mentioned in my mission statement is living consciously rather than “being led around by the nose”. And the only way to attain true independence, regardless of the life you want to create, is to stand on your own financial footing. Because when you have money, which is simply energy in which you can put out into the world, you have a means for interaction, you become a player in the game of life. And so how you choose to use the energy given to you for the time and effort you have put forth to earn it is vitally important.
In 2011 I shared 22 simple ways to trim the budget – simple ways that I had discovered through my own experience of living on a shoestring of a paycheck. And the discovery that I made then and that has compounded into even more financial success now is that when I trim a little here and trim a little there, I teach myself what I truly need to live well (and what I don’t, but would be led to believe by advertisers, friends, society, etc), so that when the next pay raise comes or a bonus, I can invest a little more, save a little more and sleep even sounder at night as I pursue the life of my dreams.
Today I’d like to share with you a list of even more ways to save money as the monthly budgeting routine occurs. Simple ways that you may be spending money when you don’t need to.
1. Do you really need all those channels?
Shrink your cable/DirecTV/Dish package, and instead subscribe to Netflix ($12/mo) or Amazon Prime ($99/yr). You’ll be able to keep the local programs you love, eliminate the unnecessary advertisements you dislike and continue to watch quality television on your schedule. I recently did just this, decreased my television package to the basic program line-up, subscribed to both and am saving $30/month for better television.
2. Check your phone data plan
If you are paying for data that you aren’t using on a monthly basis, reduce your plan. Phone companies are quick to up-sell as a “precautionary measure”, but if you know how much you use, don’t be fooled.
3. Let go of the storage unit/extra furniture
If you are renting a storage unit to store furniture you “may someday use”, find your peace with it and allow someone else the opportunity to put it to good use. If you are simply keeping furniture in your basement or garage but haven’t used it for more than a year, consider having a yard sale. Follow my tips here on how to organize a successful event.
Even if you aren’t renting space, you are freeing up space to keep your car sheltered (saving gas when you would have been warming your car up as it was parked outside in the winter months), or better yet, reminding yourself that you don’t need to live in such a large house after all, and if the opportunity presents itself, a smaller home which potentially could come with a lower rent/mortgage. Money saved!
4. Reduce trips to the dry-cleaners
While certain items and stains should definitely be tended to by a professional, choose to take care of most of your clothing care needs at home. Whether you choose to use Dryel to dry-clean on your own, or simply use a steamer to carefully remove the wrinkles from your fine fabrics, save yourself money that you may not need to spend.
5. Program your thermostat
By setting the heat/air on a time schedule that suits your lifestyle, you save $5-$15 a month at least.
6. Bundle and save
Whether you bundle your phone with your internet service or your home insurance with your auto insurance, take a look to see where you can and should bundle to save money each month.
7. Be a savvy shopper as soon as you walk in the door
Forty percent of sales at brick and mortar stores are impulse buys. From the music played, to the precisely positioned displays, to the confusing route of exit (Ikea for example), all of these strategies are designed to keep you in their store longer in hopes that your stubborn discipline will eventually break down. Instead, know what you need, what you’re looking for and if possible, come with a list (especially at the grocery store).
8. Kill the vampires that linger
Many of the electronical tools and devices in your home continue to use electricity even if they are turned off: television, computer, radio, laptop and more (see a complete list here and how much each device uses). To remedy this, simply purchase a power strip, plug in your tv, laptop, etc and flip the cord off at night or when you go to work during the day. Here is a Smart Strip that offers a surge protector and automatically switches off the devices you want switched off completely when you’ve turned them off per usual. Ten dollars a month may not seem like much, but that’s $120 a year – one free hair cut and color that I would love to not have to pay for.
9. Dine In
Last year I shared the 10 benefits of learning how to cook, and while being very therapeutic and confidence boosting, it also saves quite a bit of money. While I do admittedly love to cook, when I was first living on my own, I had to cook because I couldn’t afford to eat out. Now, I love to cook and choose to do so more often than I go out because the benefits are plentiful – one of which is to save more money to spend on my next adventure or project.
10. Choose your go-to grocery store wisely
While I love shopping at Whole Foods for special ingredients whenever I’m in Portland, it would be murder on my budget if I shopped there for my weekly grocery needs. Choose which stores you will purchase what from and consider the price for the exact same products that you regularly use – household items, etc.
11. Check the unit price
I can vividly remember one of my favorite field trips taken as a child. It was in the 6th grade and it was to the local grocery store. Prior to shopping, the teacher gave us clear instructions on how much money we would be able to spend and how to stay within our budget. One of the tips that was given (thank you Mr. Corak!) was to check the unit price. While the package may look bigger, always check and see exactly how much product you are getting. Since that fateful shopping trip, I have always taken the time to quickly check this on the store shelves label (it’s usually in the lower right-hand corner below the price.
12. Subscribe to a monthly money or financial magazine
Choose a monthly magazine to subscribe to such as Kiplinger’s, Money, etc. or follow a financial blog online (a few of my favorites are listed here under financial blogs) in order to stay aware of the best practices of money, investing and spending habits. Simply gaining knowledge regularly will keep you alert to how to best use the money that you have worked hard to earn.
With all of the demands upon our time and our thoughts, making these few habits a part of our daily/monthly routine will save us a tremendous amount of money at the end of the month and the year. And when we have control of our money, we have better control over our lives and how to use that extra money that was saved to leverage for accomplishments of the life we desire.
Always keep in mind, how you spend your money will be the determining factor of the quality of your life.
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