If you haven’t already started to put money towards saving and you don’t know where to start, I suggest start small. Saving money can be daunting and make you feel like you can never get ahead. Instead of looking at the big picture right now, look at things in a smaller portion. From everyday expenses, you can find ways to put a little money aside, eventually adding up to the bigger picture.
Cut out the money you spend on smaller items. For example, instead of cutting your hair every 4 weeks, try cutting it every 6 to 8 weeks. Cutting your hair less throughout the year saves a little bit. If you have children, try cutting their hair yourself.
When my husband and I first got married, our last haircut by a professional stylist was the day we married. After that, we went to a hair salon store where products were sold for hair stylists and bought ourselves a really good pair of scissors and a really good clipper. We started cutting our own hair. It wasn’t perfect at first, and we were very nervous about cutting our hair, but it wasn’t the disaster we thought it might be. After a while we felt more confident handling the scissors and what we needed to do to make our haircuts look good. When our kids came along, it was a no brainer that we would cut their hair and so our confidence grew with styling our own hair. I can’t even begin to estimate the amount of money we haven’t spent on haircuts. In 27 years of marriage, I think I’ve been to a hair stylist maybe 3 times, the last time being this past August because I’m growing my hair out and wanted them to even it up. My husband has never been to a barber since the day we married.
Another way to start small, if you go out for dinner once a week or order food in once a week, make that every 2 weeks, or better yet, make it once a month. Put that money you would have used for the weeks you didn’t go out for dinner away in your savings. It adds up. It’s small, but it will continue to grow. Make that night you would have gone out, say a Friday, to make homemade pizzas and have the family join in on chopping up the toppings or kneading the dough. Jane Dornbusch wrote an interesting article about eating out compared to eating at home that debunked a study by Gobankingrates.com which suggested that eating at a restaurant cost less than eating at home. I believe cooking at home will always save you money even with food prices on the rise and you can prepare restaurant-style meals right in your own kitchen.
Cut out the sugar. If you usually buy soda when you grocery shop, don’t buy it until you have a special occasion that you are shopping for. As an example, a case of 12, 12 ounce cans of Coke at Walmart costs $17.01. Take that $17.00 and put it in savings. Soda is not something you want to be drinking all the time anyway, so save it for a special occasion like a family dinner, a birthday, a barbeque. In the meantime, take that amount you would have spent and sock it into your savings account.
Cut out items in your household that you could replace with something more permanent. What I mean is things like paper towels, buy hand or bar towels instead and use them to wipe up spills. They are absorbent and washable and can be used again and again. Paper towels are expensive and you are just throwing them in the garbage adding to landfill. We even keep some bar towels aside just to use for serviettes for our own family. Walmart sells 6 rolls for $8.98 or 12 giant rolls for $21.77. You can buy a pack of 100 bar towels from Amazon for $27.99. Believe me, with a busy household you will use them. I know some like the convenience of a paper towel, but that expense is being put out time and time again. The bar towels are a one-time expense, they will last you for quite some time, and can be reused. Now, take what you would spend on paper towels once a month and put that into savings.
Coffee of course is one item easy to bring up that you could cut your spending on. I don’t like to even mention this as a savings because for some people it’s their one little treat in their day, but some people are buying coffee 3 to 4 times in a day. That’s a lot of money. A medium coffee at a well-known coffee shop is $1.80. Let’s say you only buy once a day. That doesn’t sound like much. Let’s say you spend $1.80, 5 days of the week. That’s $9.00 per week. Still doesn’t sound like much. That $1.80, 5 days a week, over a year, is $468.00. Now, that sounds like a little more. I’m not saying don’t have coffee at all. Maybe you go twice a week instead of 5 times a week. If you are one who is buying more than one coffee in a day, cut it down to only one coffee a day. Use a thermos and take brewed coffee from home. Make coffee at your office. Have everyone contribute to buying a coffee machine and coffee and brew your own in your office for everyone to have. Or better yet, suggest to your boss that he/she buy the coffee maker and everyone in the office could contribute to buying the coffee for it.
These are all very small, minute things that you spend your money on. If you can cut out some of these smaller things, even if you think they won’t make a difference to your spending, they will add up over a year, over 2 years and beyond. They are not difficult to do and I’m not saying never to buy these items, but if you cut some of this spending, you will find that your money does add up and provide you with some savings.