13 Best Ways to Save Money!
Your children need a college fund. You need a retirement fund. And you want a rainy day fund. Make all three work for you with this collection of best tips ever on how to brighten your financial life.
Could you borrow a dress for a big dinner or an immersion blender from a friend, or swap for it?. If your son’s going to give up on those LEGOs in a few months anyway, it may not be worth shelling out big bucks.
Problem is, no matter what our mood is when we hit the mall, spending doesn’t make us feel good in the long run. And, one in four women say they go shopping in pursuit of retail therapy. To avoid shopping away your feelings, set an annual clothing budget, divide it by 12, and you’ll have the amount you can spend each month. Note the number somewhere you’ll see it often, like in a memo on your phone, or on a post-it in your wallet.
Often we keep our money issues private, and like a shameful secret, it can eat away at us until it becomes an insurmountable problem. Discussing the nitty gritty details of our money woes can feel awkward if not downright embarrassing, but by doing so, you may learn how friends got through their husbands’ job loss, or helping out an aging parent. Plus, with the support of a group, you may start to feel like you can move forward again.
The good news is, it’s not actually the amount of money we spend that determines our level of happiness — it’s how we spend it, according to a recent study by Ryan Howell, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. And spending it to create life experiences — like family vacations or a cooking course — he says, rather than to accumulate more stuff, is what makes us happiest of all.
“I’ve seen many couples divorce over financial deceit,” says financial therapist Amanda Clayman. “The spouse feels blindsided by the elaborate lies that may have gone on for years. Sometimes people just can’t get over that.” The longer the lying goes on, the worse the reaction is likely to be, so come clean now. And don’t be surprised if he asks about your credit score, which is picking up steam as a relationship deal breaker according to a recent story in The New York Times.
Just because you’ve married someone — or cohabit with them — doesn’t mean the two of you are the same person. You need some money of your own so you can make small financial decisions — like whether to eat lunch out or whether to buy that dress you’re so into — without asking permission. Otherwise, relationships can start to feel parental rather than romantic.
There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe in this economy, but do you ever let yourself enjoy all that money you’re busy amassing? Occasionally treat yourself to mini luxuries, like pedicures or a fun night out with friends, and you’ll begin to see that spending a little isn’t going to bankrupt you.
“Everyone needs a side hustle,” says Jason White, who started the personal finance blog frugaldad.com as a hobby that now brings in cash from ads. “In this economy, it’s risky to depend on one source of income. And for most of us, it’s the best way to pay down debt.” The secret, White says, “is to cultivate a business around something you’re already good at.” Whether it’s a homemade cupcake store or a little tutoring, we’re confident you too can join the ranks of mompreneurs.
If you’re tempted to make a big-ticket purchase, hit the sack. Research shows that we’re willing to spend more money when we’re emotional, so a delay can help take the drama out of a big decision. Plus, living without a new sofa for a night (or a week) may convince you that you’d rather use the money for something else.
Pull out all the receipts, tax returns, bills, and insurance claims you have lying around in various folders, drawers, purses, or envelopes. Stack ’em in a neat pile. Designate one folder for receipts to get you ready for next year’s tax deductions, one for unpaid bills, and others for any categories that make sense for you. If you get some or most of your bills electronically, use the free site, manilla.com, to organize all of your paperless statements in one place, keeping you on top of bill paying.
Shoppers are willing to pay about 50 percent more for stuff they can actually touch, according to a recent study from the California Institute of Technology, meaning the free samples and product demos stores offer can put a wrench in your spending plan. Try to stick to the Internet, and make your first stop couponsherpa.com to score special discount codes.
It’s understandable that you want to help a friend or cousin in need, but a loosey-goosey lending arrangement is a recipe for tension among loved ones. To avoid blowups, have both parties sign a document that estbalishes a time-frame for repayment, and whether it will come in installments or a lump sum.
If you have a friend who is great at saving, recruit her to be your financial best friend. The next time you need to make a purchase, ask her to help you stick to your budget. (It’s like having a workout buddy who pushes you to do those extra crunches.) You don’t have to ditch your spendthrift friends; just don’t shop with them. Also, look for a few FBFFs — Financial Best Friend Families — who share your values. That feeling of solidarity helps us pull through layoffs, dwindling bank-account balances, and home foreclosures by giving us more us shoulders to lean on.