Earlier this week my son Will turned 21, a momentous occasion in life! I traveled to Gainesville to celebrate with him as he ushered in his 21st year. We had a joyful two days together! We were in the moment, had a blast, and also expressed gratitude for our lives, which are bountiful in so many ways. I am a proud mamma bear to say the least! In honor of my son’s birthday, this week’s WiseWednesdays blog post will be 21 money saving tips that I practice and that I know work. These tips will help you to be mindful with your money, stay healthy, get organized, build wealth, and help create space and freedom to soak in the moments and enjoy life.
Let the Tips Begin…
- Create a monthly budget. This is a game changer!
- Pay yourself first. Earmark money every month for your emergency fund and investing. (Even if you start small- do this. It is key to creating security and building monetary wealth).
- Create multiple streams of income. This can be investment income, a second job, selling items you no longer need, rental income, and/or a myriad of other ways. Multiple streams of income increase your money and your peace of mind.
- Save for retirement. The younger you start, the longer you have to grow your money. I started saving for retirement at 23. I promise you the time goes by quicker than you can imagine.
- Give. Whether this is time, talent, or treasure- or all three. Giving is good for the heart, soul, and mind and opens up the flow of money in your own life. Get creative about how you can give, there are so many ways to make a positive difference.
- Pay your credit cards on time. Pay the balance in full. (If you cannot pay the balance in full each month, stop spending on your credit cards, and create a plan to pay off your debt).
- Exercise. As was the focus of a previous MoneyMaestra blog post- health is wealth. Staying healthy keeps you wealthy in multiple ways. Besides feeling good- it saves you money. It is expensive to be sick.
- Review your various insurances. Read and analyze your policies. Understand how they work and what they cover. Getting the least amount of insurance required is often a bad idea. A prime example of this is car insurance. The minimum coverage barely covers a fender bender. If you have a serious accident and you or someone is injured and/or vehicles are damaged, you will need a much larger amount of coverage. Going cheap on car insurance is not the way to go.
- Save and Prepare for College. If you have children, start planning for college when they are babies. Eighteen years fly by and college is costly. As your children get older and develop hobbies and talents, starting looking for potential scholarships in those areas. If your state has prepaid college tuition plans- seriously look into this. It is a huge money saver in the long run. Start a College 529 savings plan. You pay taxes on the money when you invest in the plan but the money grows tax free. When the money is withdrawn for college expenses, it is not federally taxed.
- Review your monthly bills for reduction opportunities. Sometimes combining bills such as television and Internet can give you a large reduction in price. Ask for the various plans and price points. Inquire how your bill can be reduced. If you subscribe to streaming services, such as Netflix, and like me, barely watch television anymore, switch to just the basic channels, it’s a substantial savings.
- Be mindful of grocery shopping. It is very easy to spend a lot of money on a grocery store run, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Check your refrigerator and cupboards before you leave the house. Do not buy items you already have put away but forgot about- it’s a waste of money. Make a shopping list. Price compare in the grocery store, buy items on sale, and buy what you need but not everything you want. If you use some restraint in the grocery store, you will be surprised about the amount of money you can save without much effort on your part. If I have an unexpected expense in my monthly budget, my grocery store line item is one of the first places I make an adjustment. Also, learn what stores, farmers markets, or other food sources in your neighborhood offer the best values. If possible, grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs- then share with your neighbors. A home grown neighborhood food exchange is a win/win on multiple levels.
- Combine your driving trips. Plan ahead what errands, appointments, shopping, or other local trips you have to make and when possible combine them to cut back on your vehicle usage. Also, when going out with friends and family- carpool. This saves money, time, wear and tear on your vehicle, and helps the planet. It is a way to practice mindfulness.
- Spend time in nature. Spending time in nature connects you to beauty and wonder. It helps to balance the stress we have in our lives. Nature soothes my soul. I have converted my yard into a garden sanctuary. Being able to step outside my door and observe nature in action helps me relax, refocus, and be more on point in my work and life. Take a walk, look at the trees, hear the birds, see the flowers, bees, and observe the natural life that is all around. We can learn so much when we are open and aware to the lessons nature teaches us.
- Spend time with people you love. Wealth comes in many forms. Spending time with those we love is one of the best forms of wealth.
- Read. Reading expands your mind, your heart, and your world. There is so much to learn by reading. As the MoneyMaestra, I am hoping some of those books will be about money! I read books about money and finance regularly- there is always more to learn.
- Buy secondhand. I shop estate sales, yard sales, thrift and consignment shops. My closet includes Prada, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, and Tracy Reese. All were purchased at estate sales at a small fraction of what I would have paid retail. I even have two couture gowns that I purchased for a song. Now, I just need somewhere to wear them but when the occasion comes- I will be dressed to the nines! My house is furnished with vintage, high-quality furniture that is unique and was bought at bargain prices. My garden benefits also with plants, benches, pots, garden sculptures, and trellises. And oh how I enjoy the hunt for that fabulous find! I would say that is some #TheJoyofMoney right there!
- Be mindful of eating out. I definitely like to dine out. Yet, this is one area that can “eat up” your money quickly. I budget in a restaurant expense every month. If you plan the amount you can spend monthly, it is easier to not overspend.
- Learn to say no. If you can’t afford to do something, be okay with saying no. Once you start budgeting, it’s easy to say, I’d really like to but it’s not in my budget this month. It’s powerful to know whether you can or cannot afford something and to say no when you cannot.
- Look at your subscriptions. Are you still paying for items that you no longer use or need. If so, cancel those subscriptions.
- Donate items. Clean your house and closets regularly, donate the items you no longer want/need and get a federal tax write-off for the donated items (if you itemize your expenses). It feels good to clean and refresh your house and closets and know that while doing so you are helping others.
And #21…Ahhh, Sleep
- Buy a good mattress. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of good health, which is a key component to wealth. I purchased my dream mattress a little over a year ago. It is one of the best purchases I have ever made. May we all sleep well.
Susan, The MoneyMaestra