Spring is here, which means it’s time to climb out of winter hibernation mode and embrace the warmer weather. If you’re looking forward to reuniting with your friends and getting outside for once, then you should prepare your finances accordingly.
Here are ten everyday ways to save money so you can make more room in your budget for some much needed socializing and fun.
1. Take in the sights on foot
Do you live in or around an area that’s fairly walkable? Then why not take advantage of the warmer weather and go for a stroll instead of using your car? You’ll save on gas, wear and tear on your car, or on public transportation costs.
Bonus: you get your exercise in! You can also use a bicycle if you have one, as it could make running errands easier.
2. Bring your own everything
BYOB doesn’t just apply to parties; adopt that mentality for everything. Bring your own lunch to work, bring your own coffee to go, bring your own nail polish and give yourself a manicure. You get the idea. Anytime you pay for a service, you’re most likely paying for convenience. Make a little more time to prepare before heading out, and take a DIY approach when possible.
3. Open the windows
Unless you’re plagued by allergies (I feel your pain), open up the windows and let some fresh air into your living space. You’ll save money on electricity by not using your ceiling fan or air conditioning unit, and you’ll get a nice little hint of spring as well.
4. Be loyal to store brands
If you’re going to be loyal to any brand, at least let it be a store brand, especially when groceries are involved. There are quite a few stores out there with amazing inexpensive brands that taste just as good as the “real” thing. Almost everyone I’ve talked to agrees that Costco’s Kirkland brand is awesome, and buying in bulk can save you money, too.
You don’t have to go all out and buy generic all the time. Start small and experiment to see where you can make changes. (Hint: the pharmacy can be a good idea! Aspirin is aspirin after all.)
5. Look for free events
Spring is the perfect time to look for free events in your town. Look for festivals, concerts, movie nights, and other forms of entertainment on the weekends. Then invite your friends out and enjoy the day or night for less money than you’d spend at a bar or comedy club.
Is your town too small for interesting events to happen? Then make your own! Play board games, have your own movie night, or host dinner nights with a theme where everyone brings a dish.
6. Ignore sales and advertisements
Whenever possible, that is. I know it can be hard to tune everything out, but a good place to start is social media and your inbox. Do you follow the brands and stores you love? Are you subscribed to their newsletters?
Unfollow, unsubscribe, or create a “junk” account or email with which to receive your updates. I have a “spam” email account I use to subscribe to newsletters, and I only look at it when I need to buy something. By using this method, I’m much less distracted by shiny sales.
7. Look for specials
I’m a huge fan of half-off specials at restaurants or the movies. Having a flexible schedule is usually advantageous here, as breakfast, brunch, and matinees are typically cheaper alternatives.
Most places offer specials and deals, you just need to find them on their website or something like Groupon. Check social media as well, as some places don’t announce their specials until the day of. (This is when that “junk” account can come in handy!)
8. Check for off-peak utility usage
This is something I discovered when I moved out and into an apartment. My energy company had off-peak usage hours listed on its website, and you can bet I showered, did my laundry, and washed the dishes during those hours. You can check your service provider’s website for additional tips on saving money.
9. Always keep emergency snacks on hand
It literally pays to be prepared. Do you run across this situation frequently?: You rush out the door to be somewhere you needed to be 20 minutes ago, and forget to eat (or don’t have the time). Do you stop at a fast food place on the way, or…wait, is that a granola bar in your car? Why yes, it is. Score!
I always keep an emergency snack or two in my purse (along with a water bottle) for when hunger strikes. You’ll avoid having to go to 7-11, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, or whatever your weakness is, while eating healthier.
10. Buy used
Almost everything I own was used before I got it. Most of my furniture, kitchenware, and small appliances were hand-me-downs from family members. While I didn’t buy any of those items, it’s the same concept. Don’t be afraid to use something someone else owned (unless it’s unsanitary), because chances are, it will cost you much less than the original price.
Now for something I did buy: my Macbook Air, refurbished, for hundreds of dollars less than the going price. It’s still working fine two years later. Before buying used electronics, just make sure you review the warranty!
It’s easy to find ways to save
Saving money isn’t that hard once you get used to it. There are plenty of ways to save in your everyday life, the challenge is forgoing convenience and asking yourself how you can get something for less (or free).