This summer I'm taking a few weeks off of work and it's great motivation for us to tighten the purse strings and be more intentional about how we spend our money. I asked some friends to send me their best practical tips for saving money and got some great advice! Here goes...
Eat Out When It Counts
"I had to take a serious inventory of my output vs. input to recognize how much money I was spending just on food! Living in a big city in my late twenties, a lot of my entertainment revolves around meeting friends for brunch, lunch, dinner, you name it. I initially started cutting back by bringing my lunch to work every day- the $7 dollars for Chipotle or Whole Foods daily really added up. I've saved a lot of money just by making this one change.
I still go out to dinner pretty often (it's fun!) but I try to limit myself to one glass of wine, or save leftovers for dinner the following night at home. Even just being conscious of how much of my income was going towards meals has helped me make better decisions- everything in moderation!"
Track What You Spend
"I think the biggest tip for saving is figuring out a system to identify how much money you really spend on different things (how much you think you spend and how much you really spend tend to vary greatly). My husband and I have mint.com linked to all of our accounts and have categories that we tag all of our expenses to on a weekly basis. Once we had a few months of information from mint.com we then were able to sit down and discuss how much we want to budget for different types of expenses. From there its just tracking and maintaining an ongoing dialogue about how we are trending month to month."
Living More Simply - Less Stuff!
"The main way we save money is by living simply! For us right now that means living in the Tiny House but overall, it is a priority for us to not buy stuff in excess of what we need. Practically this means not buying on impulse but rather thinking it through a bit first. We believe this will allow us to be more generous with our resources--yes money but also our time! We've already experienced that less stuff=less maintenance and therefore requires fewer minutes and hours from our day."
- Shannon, tinylike.us
"Every Sunday, my husband and I decide on what we are going to eat for the upcoming week. We typically do this while in the car on the way back from our weekend travels or while enjoying our morning coffee. I am a bit addicted to Pinterest so we will often scan through my newest pins for fresh ideas when we get in a rut. Then, we compile our grocery list including any bulk items we may be running low on. This helps me stay focused at the grocery store and also avoids throwing away perishable foods that spoil before we eat them. We usually only meal plan for weeknights, leaving the weekends free to eat out or order in." -Tracy
"I've purposefully never memorized my credit card numbers. I think it keeps me from making impulse purchases online because I have to go to the extra trouble of getting my card out and punching in the numbers if I want to buy anything.
I set up an email account that I use only for subscribing to mailing lists for different places I shop. Whenever I want to buy something from one of those places, I'll pull up the email account to see if they've sent out any coupons or promo codes lately. My primary email doesn't get clogged up with tons of junk mail, and sometimes I end up getting to buy what I want at a discount. Many places I shop send out discount codes every week."
Creating Multiple Savings Accounts
"One of my biggest challenges in savings was making sure that saved money stayed in it's rightful place. Prior to meeting and marrying my financially responsible husband, I was often known for saving up and then splurging at the latest Nordstrom sale or a friend's impromptu suggestion for a weekend getaway.
In my experience, I've found that the antidote to spending my savings was creating a multitude of savings account and naming them for very specific purposes. My husband and I have at least 10 joint savings accounts between us, from categories like the obvious house savings, vacation/travel, and our daughter's college fund to the more specific categories; such as Christmas (gifts and Christmas card expenses), Riley's expenses (day to day spending; toys, clothes, etc.), doctors, makeup, etc. We've found that Capital One 360 savings is the best platform as there are no fines for accounts with balances below $300. It's all online which may deter some, but it is incredibly user friendly and accessible, especially since you can easily set up monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly transfers from other online bank accounts. We usually time these transfers around when our paychecks drop, and budget around the remaining amount, so every month small increments of money get shuttled over to our various savings accounts. Whether it be an account that receives a meager $5 a month to those where we save much more, this plan has afforded us a really solid savings foundation over time, which we only foresee growing. I would highly recommend this plan to anyone!"
-Michelle, Lovely Little Things