How to Cut Back on Every Day Expenses (and Be Happier)… for the Working Person

 

What does a normal work day look like for you? Is it scrambling to get to work on time, running to the cafeteria or out to eat for lunch, and then figuring out what’s for dinner while you’re on your way home?

Sometimes when you’re working full-time (or more), it feels like all you can do to just stay afloat, financially and physically. But just staying afloat shouldn’t be the goal for your life or mine.

Did you know that a few minutes of preparation can save you hours down the road? And that doesn’t just apply to areas like travel, vacation, or big events. I’m here to tell you how it can apply to your daily life and to your finances as well!

If you can implement just a couple of these tips and plan out your week in advance, you can absolutely overcome some of the financial, physical, and emotional struggle of the daily grind. (Although, the focus is definitely more on the financial benefit here!)

Use less product. Americans use so many products in day-to-day routines, and we get so busy that we don’t even think about how much we are actually using versus how much we actually need. If your hair only needs a quarter-sized amount of shampoo, don’t use more. If you can feel clean without squirting on the shower gel three different times, then don’t. You’d be amazed how much longer your products last! (We’ve also discovered that we can survive without paper towels – here are some more tips on that!)

I realized how much money I could save in this area when I started washing my hair less frequently than every day. That one trick has saved me money and lots of time! I’ll save the details for another post.

Take your lunch to work. If you’re not already doing this, you’re missing out! Taking your lunch to work saves money AND time! Even if you don’t eat out for lunch but instead go home, you are still saving gasoline and drive time by simply packing a lunch. (Just be sure to get your needed time away from your work station in order to still thoroughly enjoy your lunch, to reduce stress, and to come back more effective.) Take a couple minutes in the morning to pack a sandwich and clean an apple. This few minutes will save you a roundtrip for lunch (wherever that is) and will likely save you some calories and/or some stress on your pocketbook.

Carpool. Despite gasoline not being quite as expensive now as it has been in the past, it’s still a money-saver to carpool. You’re not only saving gasoline, you’re saving the wear and tear on your car (and there’s an estimated average of $515/year that our roads put on our automobiles!).

Use less energy. If you haven’t heard of “ghost appliances,” it’s a real thing! This lady saved 26% by unplugging items when not in use, so let the unplugging begin! Be sure your AC and heat are only set to be on when someone is home. If you can put your dinner in the crockpot on low during the day, it will save you on those summer evenings from your house getting too warm (and thereby causing your AC bill to go up). Think through your personal situation to see if there are any ways you are wasting money while you’re away, at work, etc.

Meal plan. Like I said earlier, a few minutes of preparation can save you hours down the road, and while that applies to many areas of life, it definitely applies to our meals! Meal planning will save you from going out to eat – what a money sucker! – and from going to the grocery store after work, and from buying items unnecessarily. Because if you’re going to the store at the last minute or straight from work, you likely will forget if you also need milk or oil or a particular spice, etc., and, therefore, you end up spending more money on “impulse buys” than you needed to or had budgeted.

Additionally, when you plan out your meals, you lower your risk of wasting food…there’s no wondering how you’re going to use the extra this or that. When you shop, you buy exactly what you need (which also saves you money). Meal planning is a post in itself, but for now, I suggest checking out one of these helpful printables to get started:

Free Weekly Meal Plan, Shopping List, Recipe Cards, Calendar

6 Meal Planning Templates

Isn’t it amazing that daily routines can have such a huge impact on your life? Little things certainly add up. What can you get started on today to make your week better than last week, physically, emotionally, or financially? Let me know if you have any frugal ideas to add to this!

Photo credit: taxcredits.net

Eliminating Debt by the Snowball Effect – Part 2


If you weren’t able to read Part 1, it’s a must! Check it out here

As stated in Part 1, the steps here are not optional; they are a NEED for getting out of debt. I hope you did your necessary homework (again, check out Part 1 to know if you are up to speed!). This is an abbreviated version from Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover which is simply awesome (must read for all who are in debt and want to get out!)!

So without further ado, here are the rest of the steps to eliminate debt using the Snowball Effect:

5. Once the smallest debt is paid off, take everything you were using to pay off the first debt and start attacking the next smallest debt, continuing to pay the minimum on the other debts. 

6. Refuse to get into any more debt (this is why you should build up your $1,000 in emergency funds before you start on attacking your debt…because things will come up!). If you don’t have it, don’t spend it!

7. Sacrifice. If it means eating a lot of beans and rice for dinner, so be it. If your friends think you’re crazy, you’re probably on the right track. If getting out of debt were easy, fewer people would have debt, and more people would have savings! Did you know that according to a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts? It takes some discipline, but you can absolutely beat the norm! Sell anything and everything you can do without. (In Dave Ramsey’s words, your kids should be worried that they are next! Now that is serious!) 

8. Stay focused. Imagine yourself in a life without car payments, without student loan debt, without medical bills, without credit card debts, and without debt collectors calling. It will not be easy. Maybe you wandered your way into debt; you certainly can’t wander out of it. Get gazelle-intense and don’t let up until that last debt is paid off!

Here’s the thing – if you will take the necessary steps to make it to this point, you will absolutely not regret it! Life becomes so much more enjoyable when you are debt free. Take heart; it’s possible to live debt free, and if you stay focused and intense, it’s in the bag! 

I’d love to hear some of your debt- elimination success stories; feel free to share in the comments!