Tuesday, January 7, 2014

25 Ways to Save Money


I'm a full time student and a part time worker so having a means of a stable income is rare (I don't enjoy asking parents for money). So, as we welcome a new year, I also want to welcome a fatter wallet (hopefully!). Below, I've listed my 25 ways of saving money - and yes, I do follow these! Many sites that lists methods usually don't follow their own advice.
  1. Use your student ID. No matter how "ugly" you think you look, just whip it out and show the cashier that you're a student. It only takes 5 seconds! Students get discounts (mostly approx. 10-15%) on a lot of entertainment, stores and foods. While saving $2 off the regular price may seem like nothing, that $2 can easily add up towards a new pair of shoes! Most places will have some sort of sign that welcomes student IDs but sometimes I like to ask if there's no sign.
  2. Bargain. This may be extremely uncomfortable to you but if you ever get the courage to bargain, try it! You'll be surprised at how many managers will agree to your bargain. For example, do you do a lot of DIY? If you find a sweater with missing button or a hole, ask a manager for a discount. If you're in the grocery store and a product is expiring soon but you're using it tonight, ask for a discount! Managers care about customer's happiness and want to make a profit at the same time. Bargaining does best if you're looking into signing a contract for a cable company or mobile phone.
  3. Thrift or visit garage sales. I didn't start thrifting until last year because I thought that's what "poor" people do but I sucked up my pride and visited my local thrift store. Let me just say... I've saved in 2013 and nobody knew that I got my GAP jacket (retails at $120+) for only $20.
  4. Host potluck dinners. What's a better way to have a full stomach with your group of best friends? Instead of spending $30-$40 at a restaurant with your friends, easily stuff your face for probably $10 or less, depending on your grocery shopping.
  5. Create a budget plan. This is one of the hardest thing to do when start saving for money. I struggled with a plan and maintaining a plan for ages. Start off small like a monthly deposit of $20 into your savings account. Or have a limit of only $100 for dine-outs. Perhaps save 10% of your paycheck. Once you get into small habits, creating a bigger budget plan isn't hard. I usually recommend Mashable for good budgeting advice and suggestions.
  6. Trade/borrow with your besties. If you're lucky and you have close friends that roughly your size, chances are they're okay with you borrowing their tank top for the night (assuming you have good cleaning/returning habits). A lot of time I'll borrow nail polishes from my friends, and sometimes an athletic hoodie if I want to work out. I don't recommend make-up as that can be a hygienic issue.
  7. Recycle used materials. If you have a good reusable plastic bucket... why not use it instead of throwing it away? You can use it as a mini trash can, or a container to hold your make up brushes. The best part of reusing materials is the DIY part of painting and decorating! If you already spent $5 on that bucket of ice cream, why waste another $5 purchasing a container?
  8. Buy in bulk. Although it might look expensive at first, if you spend a little more on bulk items and not hit the grocery store for in the next two weeks or even a month, you'll be saving a lot. For example, I can spend $200 at my wholesale store that will last me a month instead of going to my grocery store every two weeks and spend $130/2 weeks ($260 for the month).
  9. Use coupons. Do not feel ashamed using coupons! Have you seen Extreme Couponing?! I'm so jealous of them! In Canada, it's difficult to stack coupons but I've used a few here and there and it usually saves me about $3 or I get the same product for free.
  10. Compare prices via online/flyers. I love online shopping and hate the shipping fees. Most stores I visit will do price matches online so I'll simply show them the price on the website get them to price match it. If I shop online, I usually do a quick search to see which store has the lowest price available. If I'm buying from stores, I'll check to see if another store has it cheaper OR a similar design for less.
  11. Use the 24-48 hours method. I got this advice when I was watching "Til' Debt Do Us Apart" (seriously, it's a scary show to see how much people are in debt for overspending) and the advice is aimed towards impulse buyers. If you see something you "really really" want, leave it and wait 24-48 hours (I usually wait 48 hours). When the two days are done, do you still think of the item? If you've forgotten it, chances are you didn't need it. If you still are thinking about it, did those past two days of NOT having the item affected you in any way? Do you really need that item?
  12. Use the "Which would you grab?" method. This method I read online from 9gag. You simply imagine someone in front of you offering the item you want, and the cost of the item in cash in the other hand (eg, right hand is iPod mini, left hand is $150 cash). Which one would you grab? If you grab the money, chances are you need the money more than you need the item.
  13. Avoid retail therapy. If you're upset, there are so many differents ways to get your frustration out instead of breaking the bank. Blog, go for a run, sleep. Shopping is the first thing most people go for but if you take 10 minutes and think about something else to do, imagine the money you would've saved from that shopping trip.
  14. Switch your bank/mobile plans. I've done this numerous times. When I was unemployed, I switched my bank account to a free students account because I wouldn't use my debit card a lot. When I got employed again, I then switched back the monthly service account ($14) which gives me unlimited debit card usage. I thought I would stay with the student account and limit my spending but that didn't turn out well - I ended up paying $30 in fees. Mobile plans work the same way - if you're not using a lot of data and minutes, downgrade to a cheaper plan. What I did was I called customer service and explained to them that I've been a loyal customer and asked if there's a cheaper plan available. They did a custom package for me.
  15. Have patients. Many companies price their products based on how busy it will be. For example, gas prices are generally cheaper in the evening and on weekdays. Airline tickets are cheaper on Mondays and Tuesdays. My local theatre has 50% off tickets on Tuesdays. Many stores will have sales so if you're not in a rushed to get an item or service, wait on it.
  16. Switch up your products. I don't have a favourite shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and a few other stuff. So when my local drugstore has a sale for a specific brand, I'm usually up to trying it. For example, instead of buying Dove for $4, I'll switch over to Lady Speed Stick for only $2.
  17. Cut unused expenses. Nowadays, nobody uses a home phone. Get rid of it and stick to a mobile phone! I don't watch TV anymore so I got rid of my cable plan and stick to Netflix.
  18. Use student-offered services for pampering. There are schools that train students to be a hairstylist, make-up artist and massage therapist. I went to a local college to get my hair done and paid only $85 for cut and colouring compared to paying $200+ at a "professional" salon. These services offered by students gives you a cheaper alternative to a spa day while giving the students real life experiences. Keep in mind that these students are qualified to work with consumers after months of studying and is always being supervised by a professional.
  19. Stay in. This is a no brainer. Stay in, watch a movie, cook dinner. Life is not always about heading out and staying late downtown.
  20. Prioritize your bills. If you have multiple bills that needs to be paid off, tackle one at a time. At first it may look stupid but if you have an allowance of $300 for bills, and you pay $100 to Visa 1, Visa 2, and Mastercard 3, it'll take forever to pay off your bills because you're only covering the fees. Instead, pay the minimum for Visa 2 ($25) and MC 3 ($25) and allocate the remaining $250 towards Visa 1. Assuming that you're not spending Visa 2 and MC 3, the monthly minimum will not put you in the red zone and will pay off a bit while you focus on Visa 1. Start with the one with the highest interest rate.
  21. Buy locally or from independent stores. Many times, local stores usually sells things cheaper than big name brand stores. For example, my local Asian supermarket sells a bag of carrots for only $1 compared to my nation-wide grocery chain for $2. And they were the same brand!
  22. Change your diet. Cut out the fast food, limit your dine outs and get rid of junk food. Not only is it's great for your health but these nasty food is junk to your body. If you get cravings, switch your junk food into salty peanuts or something.
  23. Sell unwanted goods. This isn't technically "saving" money as you're earning money but if you have unwanted goods laying around, post them on Kijiji or Craigslist. I've sold tonnes of my textbooks via Facebook and Craigslist which gave me extra revenue and got rid of the ugly textbooks. I earned $500 when I realized I don't use my camera anymore.
  24. Use your resources. Saving money is easy when you look what's surrounding yourself. For example, instead of buying books that will eat up dust on your bookshelf after you're done reading, head to the library. Do you really need a printer? Even as a student, I don't print as much as I need to so whenever I need a print job done, I get it done at my library (school or public) or at Staples. I don't ever need to buy ink and a printer. Does your GOOD/BEST friend work at Forever 21? Ask them to use their staff discount for you.
  25. Switch to cheaper alternatives. I don't care if people think dollar stores are for cheap people but I love the dollar store. Compared to buying a few things from my local drugstore, the dollar store is saving me heaps of money. For example, yellow cleaning gloves - $1 vs $3, same brand dog snacks - $1.25 vs $3, bottle of coke - $1 vs $2.60, kitchen knife $1.50 vs $6 (same quality!). Buy generic store brand names - they provide the same quality and taste most of the time.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for leaving such thoughtful comments on my blog! Don't forget to blog and link me the next time you go for oysters!

    naomi

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  2. Some of these tips are great, I do the same 48hour wait game, I usually find myself saving plenty.... and then maybe try the which would you grab game.... I think I'd be more inclined to save that way.

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  3. Love your list. I need to keep this one bookmarked.

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  4. This is awesome! I'm also trying to save up now, especially since I don't have part-time job and my parents still cover my expenses so I shouldn't waste their money... By the way, is it really possible to get a bargain price for almost-expired products in every grocery store? I thought they had fixed price for everything? Or do you mean local grocery stores and not the nation-wide grocery chain?

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    1. Nation-wide stores usually have a cage of soon to be expired food marked 50% off (or at least they do here in Canada) but if you're lucky enough to find an soon to be expired food on the shelf, they usually acknowledge it. But that tip was aimed more on the produce and meat departments - the grocery store that I go to sometimes offer discounted meats near closing time and veggies that look like they're about to rot (but really, they're just bruised). Of course it works on local stores too. But honestly, nation wide chains waste so much money and food because they throw out everything when the store closes (especially bakeries!) or if a fruit looks bruised.

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