Content writer with lots of experience in stretching my dollars in order to enjoy life on a budget.
1. Save Your Coins Regularly in a Piggy Bank
Here in Canada, our loonies and toonies can really add up. Just a roll of each will give you $75; keep going for a while and it could add up to hundreds of dollars. Save your smaller change too, for a smaller treat.
Accumulating those coins in separate jars or cute and colorful piggy banks can be fun. You can choose to save them for just a little extra cash, a nice dinner out, or to contribute to spending money for a vacation. And you don’t have to save every coin: just drop a few in regularly, give it a few months and you will be rewarded nicely for your efforts.
2. Spend Less Money on Workday Take-Out Lunches
Sometimes we have our favorite lunch places near our work, and we really love the food, and that’s always a good feeling to spend money this way as a treat or even on a weekly basis.
But often, we just go out for lunch because of convenience or lack of planning. The selection is sometimes boring, the food lacks nutrition and can be of mediocre quality. Don’t make this choice too often, it can really add up to a lot of wasted cash (speaking from past experience)!
Instead, bring something from home more often, and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Sometimes lunch can be as simple as hummus and pita, some carrots, an apple or grapes and string cheese. Keep it simple, and save those bills you didn’t spend. You can choose to put away $5 or $10 each time if you can afford it, or even just once a week. It will add up and you can reward yourself with a great lunch or dinner out to a place you have been really wanting to go to.
3. Do Not Shop Without a Plan
Especially when stressed out, avoid spontaneous shopping for things you cannot afford or didn't plan on buying. If you are in the grocery store, this can add up to poor food choices or way too much food. If you are feeling indecisive and unfocused, or just generally trying to cheer yourself up, you may load up on stuff you don’t need. If you are in a mall or checking out promotional items online, this could have you racking up your credit card on things you don’t actually really care to buy. Keep this behavior in check and it will definitely save you money.
4. Take Advantage of Rotating sales on Staple Items
Many grocery and drug stores have items that go on sale at least every month or second month. Moderately stock up on items like soup, crackers, cereal, toilet paper, laundry detergent and more, so that you won’t run out and then have to pay full price. Notice the patterns and shop accordingly. This is one of the best ways to stretch your dollars without much effort.
5. Sign up for Points Programs and Redeem the Rewards
There are plenty of "sign up for free points" programs out there. Take advantage of them but be careful not to spend money just to get points. With some discipline, planning and keeping all these programs organized, you can maximize your cash back to treat yourself to a bigger item, or at least work up to get a small reward here and there for items you need just for using the loyalty program.
6. Treat Yourself to a Very Small Luxury Now and Then
The key is to be mindful of what you buy and not treat yourself to numerous small luxuries every single week. Keep it simple.
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Here are some examples of items that you can get for $10 or less.
- A high quality fancy chocolate bar
- A pretty card designed by a local artist
- Fresh flowers from the grocery store
- A book that’s featured on sale
- A delicious pastry from a bakery
- A glossy magazine with articles that intrigue you
- A fancy coffee enjoyed while people watching in a nice café
None of the above will break the bank, if it is something you treat yourself to only on occasion, and more if you can afford it. Small luxuries give you a little lift that can keep you from totally blowing your budget on bigger extravagances.
7. Utilize the Local Library
The local library offers many options that can help stretch your dollars. Borrow a book, magazine or movie rather than buy it. Attend an informative lecture. Join a book club. The library is a great place to browse and relax as well to pass the time without spending a dime.
8. Take a Walk in the Park or Go for a Trail Hike
Strolling through a city park is free, simple and good for your health. For a bit more of a challenge, visit a local conservation area or trail and expend some energy on a hike, rather than spending money at the mall or online.
Hope you found the above tips useful!
© 2019 Nella DiCarlo
Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on November 19, 2019:
Liza from USA on November 17, 2019:
Great tips Nella. I've done six tips that you've shared here. Thanks for sharing!