I've had major financial ups and downs in my life. There have been times I was able to spend money on luxurious purchases like theater tickets and fine wine without giving it a second thought. Other times, I've had to check under the couch cushions to scrounge together enough change to buy gas.
I've learned a great deal from these experiences. Financial setbacks don't intimidate me nearly as much as they used to. I know I they're only temporary and I can work my way through them. I've also learned that many of the things I previously thought were necessities are in fact, not.
The media has trained us to believe we're entitled to a high-end lifestyle. People on television rarely have credible financial struggles. But real people do. If you come up short when it comes time to pay your bills every month or manage to squeak but don't have anything saved away for car repairs or an unexpected emergency, this article is for you.
Read on to learn how to take control of your finances by eliminating things that aren't as essential as you may think.
I've forgone television for years at a time. I get my news from the internet and stream a few movies and shows when I feel like it. It's easy to find other things to do once you take T.V. out of the equation. I read, interact with the people around me, cook better meals, and take better care of my house.
But the best part is the money you save. Most households pay over $100 a month for cable. This is money that can be spent on groceries, rent, or electricity. Try it for a couple of months. You'll be glad you did.
I have dry hair. I have my whole life. And I will freely admit that high-end shampoo and conditioner does make it softer. But that doesn't mean I need it. The expensive hair products are the first to go when I need to make a budget cut. And my hair survives. What's more, it doesn't look that different. It's only noticeable to me, the person constantly running her hands through it to see if it feels any different.
Take a good look around your bathroom the next time you're looking to trim your budget. Chances are you'll find quite a few items you can easily substitute with cheaper versions.
Once in a while, a piece of aluminum foil or plastic wrap might be necessary, but most of the time those leftovers can be stored in a reusable container. You'll have to clean it when you're through, but you'll create less waste and save a great deal of money over the course of time.
Keeping your house clean is a must, no matter what your financial circumstances. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on retail cleaning products. You can make your own window cleaner,couch cleaner, carpet cleaner, and T.V. screen cleaner for just a fraction of the cost using ingredients you probably already have on hand.
DIY cleaners allow you to control what chemicals, if any, are invited into your home. This one should be a no-brainer whether you're trying to save money or not.
I'm not saying you should get rid of your car. Not everyone lives somewhere with convenient public transportation and often your lifestyle is such that a personal vehicle is absolutely necessary. But that doesn't mean you need to upgrade to a new luxury vehicle every couple of years.
Billionaires like Warren Buffett are famous for driving modest cars because cars are, sadly, not a good investment. They're worth less and less every time you drive them.
Be like a billionaire. Buy yourself a safe, well-running vehicle and upgrade it only when necessary.
I love high-quality goods whenever I can get them. And the brand is often an indicator of quality. Ask yourself however if the item your purchasing really worth the extra money. If you're buying items like toilet paper, coffee filters or toothpicks, you might want to consider going with the lesser priced often. The savings will add up.
Bottled water is convenient when you're on the go. But the cost adds up and the bottles aren't good for the environment. Instead of stocking your pantry with plastic water bottles, invest in a couple of reusable ones instead.
Fruit and vegetables are good for you. This is an undeniable fact. But if you find yourself throwing away wilted lettuce and spoiled bananas on a regular basis you're buying too much of a good thing. It can be hard to gauge how much much produce you'll use that far in advance? The solution? Plan out your meals in advance before you do your grocery shopping so you don't purchase anything you don't need. Or, alternatively, if you don't mind extra trips to the store, you can buy your fruits and vegetables in smaller quantities and pick up more once you've eaten them.
Pre-packaged frozen meals come in handy, especially on those days, you want to bring lunch to work so you can eat at your desk or you're too tired to make dinner when you get home. But if you buy them regularly they get expensive, and they might not even be that good.
The solution? Set a day aside to make your own pre-packaged freezer meals once a month. You'll save money and probably enjoy your meals a heck of a lot more.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can be part of a healthy routine. But they aren't always necessary. Depending on your diet and lifestyle, your body might be getting all the vitamins it needs through food. Vitamin C, for instance, can't be stored by your body. If you're eating foods packed with vitamin C, supplements probably aren't necessary.
Overdosing on vitamins can be just as harmful as your body as not getting enough of them. Plan your vitamin supplement routine in conjunction with your doctor.
Paper goods are convenient. But the next time you need to wipe up a spill on your kitchen counter you'd be far better off grabbing a dishcloth. Dishcloths are washable and a pack will last for years and years. Paper towels, on the other hand, are meant to be thrown away after a single use.
Similarly, cloth napkins are not only classy and elegant, but you can use them time and time again. These are small changes you can make to eliminate waste and save money over the years.
Technology is awesome. It's natural to be interested in the latest, greatest kitchen gadget or cell phone. And you should buy them if you want them. Someday. But if you run out and buy them on their release day you're going to pay a hefty premium. Technology always goes down in price. Wait a year or two and put the money you saved into savings.
Streaming your entertainment is a great option, especially if you don't have cable television. But if you're not careful, you can easily end up with three different video subscriptions, a music subscription, an audiobook subscription service, and an Ebook subscription. Take a good hard look at those accounts. If you only use them once in a while, it might be best buying your movies, books, etc. a la carte. Or better yet, streaming movies, music, and checking out books through your local library.
Meal delivery services have become extremely popular as our lifestyles become increasingly busy. Whether it's ordering take-out or buying kits for meals you prepare yourself in your kitchen. Always remember you're paying a premium for these services.
Delivery services not only charge a delivery fee, but many companies charge a premium for the menu items themselves, and on top of that, you need to tip the driver.
And the costs of the delivery meal kits are more expensive than simply buying your own groceries and making your meals on your own. This is a prime area to save money.
I have several drawers full of kitchen tools I've collected throughout the years. Many of them were spur of the moment purchases made simply because an item was on sale. And although no single item was particularly expensive, when you add them up it comes to hundreds of dollars.
The problem is, I don't use most of them. I mostly use spoons, spatulas, my garlic press, and measuring cups. I've never used the empanada maker, the mandoline, or at least half of the rest of the gadgets I've collected.
The next time you want to spend money on a kitchen tool, ask yourself how often you'll use it, and also if you currently own another gadget that serves the same purpose. Resisting the urge to make small purchases will pay you dividends in the long run.
Everybody has a different budget and lifestyle. The list of inessential items won't be the same for everybody. Hopefully, this article will give you something to think about. Thinking about your options before you spend money is one of the first steps to maintaining a healthy budget. Good luck!