Having a surplus of cash available after paying monthly bills and other expenses is a goal many people aspire to meet. With a little creativity and discipline, and planning, anyone can have extra money at the end of every month.
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Imagine always having extra money left over at the end of each month after all the bills are paid. How would that impact your life?
Just a few days ago, I was saying to my husband how this month is going to be superbly awesome because it’s the first time since we moved to Alaska that we don’t have any extra expenses. And then, bam! The air conditioner in our house back home started to act up. We knew for a while that it needed some work because it’s old, but now, it REALLY needs work–to the tune of a few thousand dollars. And from what it seems, we most likely will be replacing that unit. I’m sure someone can relate to the saying, “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.”
Having extra cash available for rainy days is crucial; however, most Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $1000 emergency.
Life-Altering Things You Can Do With Extra Money
Money does not make you happy, but it quiets the nerves.
Money doesn’t solve every problem, but having more than enough cash on hand does provide peace of mind. If your goal is to implement lifestyle changes to make this your reality, here are four positives you can look forward to.
Become and remain debt-free:
In a world where you don’t owe anyone anything is a great place to be. Free from debt means free from stress, worries, and restrictions.
Invest in others:
Having extra money allows you to sow into the lives of others. Two ways you can do this is to build generational wealth for your family and give to charities that align with your beliefs.
Use the money to make more money:
Financial guru Dave Ramsey says, “Money flows from those who do not know how to manage it, to those who do.” One way to manage your money is to grow it. Instead of purchasing the latest popular product (that you don’t need) everyone else is spending money on, why not look into buying into the stock? Watching your money multiply is far more satisfying than watching it collect dust in the back of the closet.
A surplus of funds to allocate to the months that expenses are higher:
Moving to Alaska was definitely a learning experience. During our first year here, we took notes on how to do things more effectively as far as money is concerned. For instance, we have to purchase heating fuel to keep the house warm. In the winter, we spend a lot of money on fuel because it’s cold as hell here. In the warmer months, we don’t spend nearly as much on heating the house. So instead of using the money we will save during the spring and summer, we will put that cash away into a fuel fund for the winter, which makes that bill much less painful.
Just remember, every month isn’t the same, and expenses outside of your typical budget will arise. It’s best to be prepared.
I’ll admit that saving money hasn’t always been a priority for me. In fact, it wasn’t until I got myself into a financial bind a few years back that I started to take my relationship with money more seriously. Now, I’m continually finding ways to increase my income while learning to be a good steward over what I’ve been blessed with. It hasn’t exactly been easy, but it is a work in progress.
Years ago, I thought that once I became a part of the over forty club, I’d be financially set. I just didn’t know exactly how I would get there. Also, I wasn’t worried because I’ve always found a way to meet my financial obligations, and my husband has always been good with money. But, little by little, events started occurring in my life that made me realize that it was time to upgrade my way of thinking.
Our last year or so living in Japan brought things into perspective. I found myself without a job and crippled by a few devasting blows, all of which needed to be dealt with financially. Money may not solve all issues, but it sure makes dealing with them a lot easier.
Moving to Alaska was the kick in the pants I needed. I promise it seems like everyone I’ve met here has at least two full-time jobs and a few side gigs. It is expensive to live in this state! I think we’ve spent more money on necessities in the short seven months we have been here than we spent in the eight years living in Japan. Okay, that’s a little exaggeration, but it’s pretty close!
Although my husband and I have decent-paying jobs, it doesn’t hurt to implement strategies that will help us pay off debt faster and save up for situations like when the AC goes out.
I have life goals that require me to make smarter money moves, so I’m always researching ways to give me the leverage I need to accomplish those goals. At the end of the day, I’ve realized that two things matter the most when it comes to getting me to where I need to be–effectively managing the money I already have and find ways to bring more of it in.
There’s more than one strategy you can implement to save more each month. Monitoring your credit score and making improvements as necessary, switching to a bank that pays high interest, or transferring credit card balances to lower interest cards are just a few. Continue reading below for more ingenious ways to save money that has truly worked for me.
Grow Your Own Salad
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen our little greenhouse of which I’m very proud. I’ve always wanted to grow my own veggies, and now I do. We eat salad daily, so it just makes sense to produce it ourselves. Our interest in gardening started with a salad bowl we purchased from one of our local greenhouses. We loved it so much that we decided to grow even more vegetables. By doing this, we drastically cut down on our salad runs to the grocery store.
Work Where You Shop
Before I landed a job here in Alaska, I was desperate to make a few extra dollars to supplement my husband’s income. Moving expenses can be a beast! I was reading one of my favorite blogs one day and came across a post that suggested working with a company to do mystery shopping as a means to bring in some cash. I was skeptical at first, but I went through with it, and I was pleased to find that it was legit, and I still do this on the side.
The way my system works is, whenever it’s time to get groceries, I’ll accept an assignment where I plan on shopping. It just so happens that two of the stores I buy groceries from are the same places that I’m sent to inspect. The company pays for a certain amount of products plus transportation. It’s easy, and it works.
Use Your Retail Memberships to Get Cheaper Gas
Have you signed up with your favorite retailer’s rewards program yet? If you haven’t, do it now. Not only will you save money when grocery shopping, but many times there are extra perks like cheaper gas. I’ve been smiling all the way to the pump ever since we’ve been back in the States. Saving thirty cents or more per purchase really adds up.
Research Everything Before You Buy
I do a lot of online purchasing, mainly because resources are limited here. In the past, I’ve been burnt a few times by products that claim to be amazing but turn out to be trash. Consumer reviews can save you from making purchases you will regret. And just because the company says you can return with no extra postage doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. I don’t know about you, but I strongly dislike going to the post office to return packages because the process can be time-consuming. And as we all know, time is money.
Stop Borrowing Money
No judgment here, because I’ve done my share of credit card craziness, but one of the most effective ways to have more money is to stop taking out loans against your credit line. Credit card companies lure consumers into borrowing money by offering low-interest rates on that money for a specific period of time, which makes it seem like a fantastic deal. And it may be so, but you have to be careful. Unless it’s a dire emergency, you are exceptionally financially disciplined and have the means to pay off your cards every month, try not to do it.
Ask For an Extra Plate at Restaurants
Going out to eat is one of the first things people cut when trying to save money. I actually don’t like eating out much anymore since we moved back to the states. For one thing, I prefer my cooking. Also, I never eat all of my food because the portions are huge compared to what we were served in Japan. But if I must dine out, I find that sharing a meal with the person I’m out with at the time is better than getting my own platter of food. It’s cost and calorie effective. Alternatively, you can order from the appetizer section or only eat out during lunchtime when the menu prices are lower.
Purchase Quality Multi-Use Products
I talk about this a lot because it’s one of the main ways I’ve cut everyday expenses. Buying the cheapest item, you can find sometimes defeats the purpose of trying to spend less money. There are products I won’t skimp on because it’s simply not worth it. What I find to be the best thing for my pocketbook is to purchase quality items that I can use in more than one way. For instance, the oils I buy are quality, so they may cost a little more. However, I can use them for my body, face, and hair. This practice also cuts down on product overload, which is excellent for those who practice minimalistic living.
Confession: I love Wendy’s burgers, but I prefer McDonald’s fries. Therefore, I go through Wendy’s drive-thru for a Dave’s Single (with no onions) and then drive over to Micky D’s (do people still say that?) for an order of fries. I practice this same concept when grocery shopping.
Where I live, there are no dollar stores, and most everything is costly, so I had to get a little creative. I don’t usually shop for groceries down the street from my house because they charge tax, whereas close to my job, there’s no tax. Therefore, I do the bulk of my shopping after work, and I’ll pick up odds and ends by the house, only if I need to. Simple yet intentional actions like this definitely pay off in the long run. Research retailers in your area to make sure you are getting the best deals on goods you purchase.
Leave It on the Shelf
A long time ago, a brilliant lawyer friend shared some valuable information with me that I still use today. Basically, If I’m in the mall and see something I absolutely cannot live without, the best thing to do is leave it there and go home. If it’s worth me driving back to get it, I’ll get it. If not, it stays. More times than not, I end up leaving it in the store.
Write Detailed Grocery Lists (and don’t leave them on the kitchen counter)
Never underestimate the power of using a grocery list. Planning meals and writing down what you need from the store saves both time and money. It can be challenging to focusing only on purchasing what’s written down. There are all kinds of distractions in supermarkets–especially if you shop while you’re hungry (which I don’t recommend btw). However, if you can master this, you’ll definitely reap the financial benefits of planning out your trip when it comes to grocery shopping.
Trade Clothes for Clothes
I love a good thrift store. What I love even more is when I can bring clothes and other items I no longer use and trade them for things I do want or need. This saves me a few dollars and helps to keep my home clutter-free. I’m not sure if all thrift shops operate this way, but it’s worth it to ask.
Find a Side Gig
In this day and age, everyone is expressing how important it is to be your own boss, and if you depend on your employer to build wealth, you’re told you are doing it wrong. Well, everyone isn’t cut out for the entrepreneur’s lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong about working a 9-5 job if that’s your desire. However, there are instances when you may want to consider building a side gig.
Not only are side hustles a part of the multiple streams of income formula, but it’s undoubtedly one of the smartest moves you can make. If you have a trade or skill, why not capitalize on it to bring in extra money in your free time? A great side gig can provide the financial safety net you may need in case an emergency arises or in the unfortunate case you happen to lose your job. Layoffs happen all the time, and having a skill is something no one can take from you. So dust off that sewing machine and start making some extra dough.
Become a DIYer
From doing my own hair to making laundry detergent to building bathroom mirrors, DIY tutorials have helped me save so much money. I tune in regularly to YouTube and Pinterest for instruction on just about anything I want to create or do. Also, there’s a great sense of accomplishment when I complete projects. If you’ve never tried to construct anything on your own, I challenge you to try one thing this month. You just might get hooked!
Have a No-Spend Weekend
I’ve been tracking that the weekends are when I tend to spend the most money. So, I’ve decided to change up my dollar-flinging behavior by implementing no-spend weekends. Instead of spending money, I find ways to make money. This usually involves having a quick yard sale, selling some amazing makeup and skincare, or selling unwanted items online.
The way I challenge myself is, if I spent $50 on gas, I’d try to sell something to make that $50 back. This is a fun and effective way to avoid going broke before Monday comes around.
Applying these tips and strategies to your life might not make you an instant millionaire, but consistency will get you on the path to having more money to save, invest or bless others with (it always comes back).
If you try any of these suggestions, let me know how they worked for you. Also, share tips you may have. I’d love to try them.
All the best always, and thank you for reading.