Now that the holidays are over you may find that your waistline is thicker while your wallet is thinner. Need some ways to save money and create a simple budget? Living cheaply doesn’t mean that you have to do without.
Budget 101 says that what you need to do is look at how you typically spend your money and then make a plan for handling future expenses. Let’s take a look at how you can make this year the year that you finally save money.
Cell phone savings
Like most people these days, your cell phone has become permanently attached to your body. The data usage adds up fast, costing you money and ruining your budget. Never fear, there’s an app for that. Maggie McGrath described, “11 Life Hacks — For Your Wallet” in her October 21, 2013, post for Forbes.com, including a life hack to save on data fees.
The app is called Onavo. “The way it works is this: Onavo runs in the background of your phone while you browse, Tweet, Vine, email and more, and runs compression technology to reduce the amount of data each task takes up,” McGrath explained. With Onavo you can accomplish more without incurring high data fees. It also tracks how much data each app uses so you can see which apps are costing you most.
Know when to shop
Timing is everything, especially when you shop. January is the best time to buy bedding, furniture or men’s suits; March is the time to buy winter coats, and September is best for swimwear.
More money saving tips on shopping were offered by Mark Di Vincenzo in his October 26, 2012, post for Time.com, “The Best Times to Buy Clothing.”
According to Di Vincenzo, Thursday evenings are the best time to buy clothing. Be sure to watch how long the item has been on the rack. If the item has been there for about six weeks, the retailer will likely start to mark it down. Act fast, though, because the longer you wait, the fewer good choices there will be.
The best time to shop for sneakers is November and April. “Check for November sales at big-box retailers, which need to make room for winter boots and shoes. Athletic shoe stores often offer great sales in April, when non-serious runners start hitting the pavement again,” Di Vincenzo explained.
Ways to save money at Starbucks
If you’ve ever felt that your entire budget goes to Starbucks, then you need to check out “14 Starbuck Hacks That Will Save You Money,” by Emily Co in this December 29, 2014, article for PopSugar.com. Co reveals creative ways to satisfy your caffeine habit.
Co’s tips include:
- Take advantage of 50 cent refills available on coffee and tea. You can get a refill during the same visit even if your original drink was something else.
- Bring your own reusable cup and save ten cents.
- When sharing with friends, order a coffee press pot of coffee. It serves a few cups and is cheaper than buying individual drinks.
Can’t live without your latte? Co suggested, “DIY a cheaper chai latte by ordering hot chai tea, then ask them to fill it up with hot milk, which will cost you an extra 60 cents. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s less sweet. “
Your college years are a good time to learn how to handle money. Kentin Waits taught readers how to “Build Your First Budget in 5 Easy Steps,“ in an article for WiseBread.com.
Here are the steps:
- Know how much money is coming in: Look at wages, student loans and money from relatives. Remember that wages will be after taxes have been taken out.
- Know how much is going out: What do you spend each month and on what do you spend it? Time to get real here.
- Make adjustments: If your spending outpaces your income then you have to make changes. Either earn more money or find ways to spend less.
- Choose a method to continue tracking your numbers: Whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet, a phone app or an envelope system, it’s important to get into the habit of reviewing your numbers regularly.
- Stick to it: Don’t fall back into the same bad habits that got you into the red in the first place.
“Making income and expenses balance out is the hard work of budgeting, but where the real value lies. Once you can make the numbers work together, you’ll have a roadmap to living within your means and gradually achieving your larger financial goals,” Waits said.
What’s your favorite money saving life hack? Tell us in the comments.