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We’ve all been there. We made a purchase, which seemed like a good idea at the time, only to be struck with a major case of buyer’s remorse. Being mindful of our spending is a great way to not only prevent those feelings of regret but to save money fast. Another practical way to save money is to not buy certain items. In this article, I’ll share a few of my favorite ways to save money fast.
If you’re having trouble saving money, you’re not alone! As of November 2022, the US Personal Saving Rate is at 2.40% compared 7.10% in November of 2021. This is lower than the long-term average of 8.85%. With inflation and interest rates on the rise, many of us are looking for ways to trim costs and save money fast.
Why Save Money?
It’s important to have money set aside for emergencies and unexpected expenses — having an emergency fund, as Dave Ramsey and others call it. None of us know what the future holds. Having easy access to cash to take care of an emergency is a huge stress reliever. The washing machine breaks? Emergency fund to the rescue.
If you are just getting started with an emergency fund, aim for $1,000 (or at least $500 if you make under $20,000 per year) in an easily accessible location. Your emergency fund should be liquid. You want to be able to pay for that washing machine repair with minimal headache. On the flip side, the emergency fund shouldn’t be too accessible. You don’t want to accidentally dip into it for a night out. Keep it in a separate bank than your “bill paying money” or, if you have your emergency fund in cash, keep the bills in a very specific location (or two) away from other cash needs.
Focusing on preparedness? Your finances, along with an emergency fund, is one of the first areas I recommend concentrating on, right behind water. Read more about getting started with preparedness here.
Need to build up your emergency fund? Keep reading to learn how to save money fast.
Save Money Fast by Not Buying These Items
Bottled water, plastic silverware, K-cups…it all adds up! These single-use products tend to be more costly than their multi-use counterparts. And they’re a big industry. The bottled water industry is estimated to be a $510 billion market by 2030!
While contaminant-free drinking water is essential, there are many alternatives to single-use plastic bottles. A reusable water bottle, such as the Hydro Flask, is a great way to carry water with you. For clean drinking water at home, I’m a fan of the Berkey System, having used this for the past 14 years. Berkey System’s are available in a variety of sizes to fit your family needs. They are an investment, but should pay off over time. There are a variety of other personal and family use purifying systems at different price points. Check out this article for more information.
Like disposable plastics, the cost of paper products can really add up. Paper napkins, paper towels, toilet paper — okay, well maybe we’ll skip talking about toilet paper too much. While there are easy and commonly accepted alternative to paper napkins and paper towels, reusable toilet paper is a threshold most people are not comfortable crossing.
Let’s discuss paper napkins and paper towels. I started to run some calculations on cost of paper vs cloth for each. In my research, I found an excellent article that breaks it down nicely. While there is an investment in switching to reusables, it’s likely to save money over time. Of course, like almost everything, your mileage may vary.
Whether grabbing takeout on your way home or a fancy sit down meal, dining out can eat up a major part of your budget. The average American household spends $198 monthly or $2,375 annually on food prepared away from home.
On average, a meal away from home costs 3 to 4 times more than a meal prepared at home. Having a collection of easy-to-make recipes will not only save you money but is likely to be healthier too.
Along with dining out, convenience foods can really bust the food budget. While the reality of making everything from scratch is admirable, it’s not always achievable. Even at the increase of cost, I believe there’s a place for convenience foods in our day-to-day life and in our food storage plans. For my family, given the choice of keeping some well-chosen convenience foods on hand or resorting to dining out when the day falls apart—we choose convenience foods.
Having a well-stocked pantry, plus thoughtful choices of the convenience foods that fit into your budget and health choices, will likely save you money in the long run.
Unused Subscriptions & Memberships
Now is an excellent time to check your subscription and memberships to help you save money fast. Are you getting a return on what you’re spending. I hate to admit to the years I spent paying for a gym membership I rarely, if ever, used! When I got serious about tightening my belt and cancelling debt, that membership was easy to get rid of. Same thing applies to magazine subscriptions or online memberships.
I often get invitations to discounted online memberships, such as Audible. The discount will last for a specific time (usually three to six months) then will increase to the regular rate. I always make sure to make a note in my calendar when the special pricing ends. Then I can easily cancel before the increase, should I choose to do so.
Satellite TV or Multiple Streaming Services
Like subscriptions and memberships, television and streaming services can really add up. Does your satellite service have extra channels you don’t watch? Consider trimming your package to a lower option with only the channels you can’t live without. Another option to save money fast, and keep your current television service, is to call your provider and ask to cancel. Many times, this phone call can get you a discounted rate for an agreed upon time. This may work with your cell phone provider too. Check out this article for more information.
While many streaming services have a low monthly fee, having multiple services can really add up. How many are you using? Add up the cost for a year. Are you surprised it’s as much as it is?
One way to save money on streaming is to rotate through the various options, keeping only one account active at a time. Watch all you want on one service, cancel that, and go to a new service. Also, if you have Amazon Prime, a large collection of movies are available to stream as part of your cost.
When we use credit cards or take out a loan, we’re not only responsible for the money borrowed but also (in most cases) interest on top of the loan. Paying your monthly bill often results in a big chunk of that money going toward interest. Especially new loans with interest rates on the rise.
I decided in 2020 to stop buying Kleenex tissues. I replaced them by making hankies out of my husband’s old T shirts. They are more absorbent and softer than the tissues. I keep boxes of tissues on hand for guests, though.
So smart, Vicki! Did you hem the hankies or just leave the edges raw?
We got rid of our satellite TV back in 2016 and then we donated our TV. I had to figure out what to do with the old TV room, since the sofa faced a blank wall. Because it was open to the kitchen, I turned it into a dining room, which is big enough to seat guests.
We also stopped buying jelly and now we make our own.
Excellent use of space! Do you have a favorite jelly you make?
Does anyone else recall seeing articles about powering the TV by (somehow – I didn’t pursue the “how’s”) riding an exercycle or using a pedal exerciser? This was many years ago. Folks might want to keep the TV to project DVD’s or even VHS cassettes. Treadle sewing machines are powered much the same way.
When my daughter was in grammar school parents of one of her classmates shielded their children from the unwanted influences of TV by only showing videos that they’d chosen on the TV.
I do remember the exercise bikes powering TVs! When we first moved to our place we had only a small solar system, which wasn’t enough for anything extra, and didn’t have a TV. I told my husband we should set up a bike. 🙂 Exercise and entertainment in one.