Having extra cash on hand to save or pay down debt is a dream for many. With a little creativity and discipline, anyone can have money left over 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. 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 constantly finding ways to increase my income while learning to be a good steward over what I’ve been blessed with. And it hasn’t exactly been easy, but it’s a work in progress, and I’m far better than what I used to be.
Frankly speaking, 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 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, living 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 instances like when the AC goes out.
There are many financial resources available to anyone who desires to improve their money situation. Personally, I listen to podcasts, visit websites, and read books that focus on financial literacy regularly. The three main things I’ve found concerning money is learning to live within your means, pay your bills on time, and have multiple streams of income. In case you’re wondering, having multiple streams of income doesn’t necessarily mean working numerous jobs, but instead, having a few additional resources in place to increase your net worth, such as investments and passive income.
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. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not the one to do hundreds of surveys just to make enough money to buy a cheeseburger. I’m not saying they don’t work, but the way my patience is set up, they aren’t for me, and I prefer to use my energy in more productive ways.
There are so many great methods you can utilize to save more money such as 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. However, I’m sharing information on a few other ways that have truly worked for me.
Continue reading if you want to know about 14 doable ways to ensure you’ll have more money at the end of each month.
Grow Your Own Salad
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve 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, especially since 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 craziness, but one of the most effective ways to have more money is to stop borrowing money–from credit cards. Unless you are disciplined enough and have the means to pay off your cards every month, try not to do it.
Ask For an Extra Plate at Restaurants
I actually don’t like eating out much. For one thing, I prefer my cooking, and I never eat all of my food. 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 costs. 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, but 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 where I work, there’s no tax. So, 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 precisely what you need from the store saves both time and money. The most difficult part is focusing on the list to only purchase 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. You may be glad you did.
Find a Side Gig
If you depend on your employer to build wealth, you may be doing it all wrong. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on one job and trust me, I know that everyone isn’t cut out for self-employment, but if you have a trade or skill, why not capitalize on it to bring in extra money in your free time? Side gigs are great to have and can really help out when you’re in a financial pickle. 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 Do-It-Yourselfer
From doing my 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 make 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.
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