10 Ways to Live RicherComment February 14, 2015 by Becky
Unless you are trying not to jump the line into the next tax bracket, most people would like to move up a tick in their pay grade. But, with many companies on pay increase freezes, finding ways to live, look and feel richer within your current salary could be the next best thing! Here are 10 ways I’ve changed my lifestyle and habits to stretch every dollar and still feel like a million bucks.
1. Stop Impulse Buys
They’re everywhere! At the gas station, grocery store, clothing store, and even at the gym. Understanding how in-store marketing works, may deter you to purchase that rag mag, tin of caffeinated mints, or an even bigger purchase without thinking it through first. Marketers are well versed in human behavior and probably read a lot of studies like this one by the University of Minnesota that examined purchase cues which resulted with finding that short-term emotional states, environmental stimuli and, in some cases, personality trigger purchases. So, think before you buy, stop and think “do I really need this right now?” Promise yourself a time-frame to make up your mind; whether it’s a day, a week or a month, then make your decision.
2. Brown Bag It
We recently drew up a quick comparison between the cost of buying store brand ingredients from a local grocer for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich vs. purchasing the same meal at a national sandwich chain. The particular meal included the sandwich, plus a low fat yogurt, so we added that to our hypothetical meal too. The jar of peanut butter and jelly was enough to make 8 sandwiches, add in the low fat yogurt and it totaled $1.21 per lunch. For the purchased meal, the cost came to $3.99 plus 9% prepared food tax for a total of $4.35 per lunch. Bringing the same meal from home saved us 259%. If you’re going to start “brown bagging it,” think about investing in a reusable lunch tote and add even more to your yearly savings!
3. Waste Not!
Get green and increase your opportunity to save by making a few adjustments around the house. Getting your furnace tuned regularly and adding weather stripping around your home’s doors can pay you back for your investment in no time. At my house, we even add stripping to our windows once the warm weather fades in the fall and found we rarely turn the heat up due to drafts. Investing in a programmable thermostat will allow the heat in your home to adjust as you need it; turning down while you sleep or while you’re at work for the day then bumping the temp just before you wake or get home. Plus, did you know that for every degree that you lower your heat, you could decrease your bill as much as 3% per bill?
4. The Library
Here in Nashua, NH, we have a lovely public library that even has a movie theater! Your local public library is a treasure trove of cheap and often free entertainment and education. Many libraries offer classes and seminars for a small fee or even no cost with your membership. Your local library may also carry discounted passes to museums, aquariums, or other fantastic centers – be sure to plan ahead, they go fast and often require reservations placed in advance. Check out www.publiclibraries.com to find a library near you.
5. State Parks
Our country is rich with history and beautiful landscapes in every state. Visit a state park, hiking trail, historical preservation or conservation site for an affordable afternoon of fresh air or the opportunity to envelope yourself in your state’s history. Checking the website of the area you’d like to visit is a great place to start. Nearly all parks and sites have Fee Free Days each year and have a low entrance charge to begin with (some as low as $5 for an adult) and will allow re-entry using the same ticket for up to a week. Check the National Park Service website to search parks, activities, and topics in your state.
6. Date Night
Whether you’re on the market or taken, date night is just plain FUN! Plus, it’s often a necessity if you want to meet the right person, and definitely an investment in your marriage. If you have kids, babysitters can get pricey. Try monthly baby-trading with another couple that has children. The exchange is fair and your kids will love it –a nighttime play-date! Restaurants are not cheap. Luckily, we live in an era where discount sites are in abundance! Check local discount sites, restaurant.com, and places like Groupon for the chance to buy gift cards to new places for a fraction of the price. Or, cook at home and head out later to do something free but romantic like (although maybe cliché, it is definitely full of romance) a walk on the moonlit beach. Or if you are a “dinner-and-a-movie” couple, and are lucky enough to live near one, check out your area Drive-In Theater. Tickets can run as cheap as $20 per car or $5 per person – either way it beats a big chain theater’s price.
7. Cut the Junk
Look around your house for items that are collecting dust. As the saying goes, “one man’s old entertainment center is another man’s new entertainment center”… that’s not right, is it? Anyway, you get the point. Check your kitchen cupboards, laundry closet, bedroom closet, basement, garage and shed for anything you haven’t used in the past 12 months. Like that old water ski in my basement… I don’t water ski. Don’t ask. There are plenty of sites out there where you can sell your previously loved (then forgotten about) things for extra cash, or when the good weather is upon us, organize a neighborhood yard sale, advertise the event for free online, then deposit what you make into a high-yield savings account and watch it grow!
Don’t have time for a good ol’ fashioned yard sale? For a percentage, you can “hire” a pro to sell your stuff for you. They’re not your Grandma’s consignment shops anymore, but often are like boutiques and are popular with the young hepcats in many cities. Some will even sell your old clothes or collectibles in exchange for store credit. Look around the shops before bringing in your stuff and ask yourself, would I buy any of the items here? If your answer is yes, go for it! And, ask for credit, which brings us to tip #9…
9. New To You
Buying previously loved items can save you BIG TIME money. In fact, Kiplinger posted an article with Yahoo! in August 2012 that concluded buying used can save you 50-75% on any given item. 12 things they say you should never buy new: Furniture, Designer Jeans, Tablets, Books and Textbooks, Bicycles, Video Games, Lawn Equipment, Power Tools, Baby Gear, Kid’s Clothing, and Exercise Equipment.
10. Local = Fresh
When I say local, I mean backyard local. Plant a garden this spring and fill it with all of your favorite veggies for salads, soups and grilling. So healthy and so cheap! If you’re cramped for space, the internet is full of great ideas for container patio gardens and awesome looking vertical gardens. Plant as much as you can fit, because there’s another bonus to fresh veggies – they freeze well for use year-round. Check out these freezing tips at eatingwell.com. In addition to growing your own vegetables, think about buying meats from a local butcher. Many local shops will offer a discount for buying meats in bulk or larger amounts, some will even offer promotional packages that include a mishmosh (that’s a technical term) of their cuts that is deeply discounted. Beware of marinated or partially prepared meats as the price may actually be a bit higher. Take home some plain meat and concoct your own special blend of spices to make an exclusive-to-you taste.
These are just a few of the ways my family saves cash, but there are a ton of other ways to cut costs at your home without giving up value. What are some of the ways you save? Tell us in the comments section below.
Becky - eCommerce Manager