Major steps like investing in a 401k or buying high-risk/high-reward stocks often make big changed in your finances. But oftentimes, it’s the little things that people forget that can make this biggest difference. To better your finances, sometimes, you also have to lower your standard of living and adopt an alternative lifestyle–at least temporarily. This post is about incorporating subtle money habits that will make you more frugal.
Here are the little changes that will make a big difference with your finances
1) Eat out only on special occasions
You won’t believe it but you can make some dramatic savings by cutting out the habit of eating out every day, especially if you have a family. Eating out can cost anywhere between $40-$60 for a 4 person family. So, the next time you don’t feel like cooking food, remember how much you can save by investing 1/2-1 hour preparing food for yourself or your family.
2) Walk or bike to work
If you work within 2-3 miles from your home, you can save a lot on fuel expenses by walking or riding a bike to work. Walking can indeed be time-consuming, but, by investing 10 minutes of your time each day, you could save 5-8% more each month. Even rollerblading could make a difference! A good pair of rollerblades will cost you just $40-$50 and they will cut your fuel costs dramatically.
3) Quit smoking
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28. If you are like many people who smoke a pack a day, you could easily end up spending $188 a month, which comes to $2,260 a year. Moreover, taxes on tobacco are increasing each year, so do not expect cigarettes to cheaper anytime soon. It’s far better to quit — and cultivate a healthy lifestyle–than pay the high price (both in terms of money and health).
4) Move to a cheaper place
This is an obvious one if you are struggling with your finances. You don’t necessarily have to live in the central part of the city. Move to a cheaper neighborhood where you can rent or buy a house you can afford. This way, you get to maintain the current lifestyle and also double up on your contributions to several of your retirement accounts.
5) Become aware of your buying habits
When was the last time you bought something off the internet without giving much thought?
I understand how exciting it feels to see the delivery guy drop off a new item at your doorstep. Online shopping can be fun sometimes. But if you are one of those people who shop online on a weekly or even biweekly basis, it might be time to stop and think about it. Next time you feel like rewarding yourself after a tough week at work, buy something inexpensive. Rewarding yourself is surprisingly affordable, you do not have to spend a fortune each month.
Finally, I encourage you to create a spreadsheet on your computer with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly expenses and estimations listed in that order. Doing this will keep you in check with how much you are spending in relation to your income.