Go to the library. Skip the Starbucks and make your coffee at home. Heck, while you’re at it, just take your lunch to work and save on the money you’d spend going out to eat with your coworkers. Shop at thrift stores. Buy in bulk. Saving money is easy, if you know what to do and how to do it.
That’s what they say anyway.
We’ve all been there. Maybe we’re like the Grandmother in the CreditRepair.com YouTube Channel introduction and were forced to live on credit for six months after getting laid off. Maybe we identify more with Jen Lancaster whose financial spiral is hilariously documented in Bitter is the New Black. Maybe we’re students just out of college and facing our first eye-popping student loan payments.
Whatever your motivation, it’s time to tighten your purse strings. But is it as easy as all of those articles say? We’ve talked before about the ethically gray areas of saving money (vs. stealing). Today let’s look at those money saving myths vs their realities (and how to use those realities to your advantage).
The primary issue with the library is that it can be really hard to find what you want when you want it. This means sometimes sullenly having to do with something that isn’t what you want just to stave off boredom.
Here’s how you use the library to your own advantage: sit down with your library’s website and start requesting anything and everything you’ve been wanting to watch, read or listen to. It won’t all come in at once. Some things will have really long waiting lists but that’s okay—the stuff that comes in in the meantime will keep you occupied. Whenever something comes in, you’ll get a notice from the library and you can just go in and pick it up. No going in and getting frustrated because what you want is already checked out.
It’s true; groceries are often cheaper and healthier than going out for lunch every day. But you have to actually have time to make those things each morning. Plus, you miss out on all of the socializing that comes along with going to lunch with friends or coworkers.
The solution: coordinate with friends and coworkers to eat together in a central location. Food courts at malls are great places because nobody minds if you bring your own food. This way bringing your own lunch doesn’t have to equal eating alone at your desk.
For many things buying in bulk truly is cheaper. Costco has survived for a reason, after all. For many of us, though, buying ten pounds of chicken in one go isn’t exactly practical—even if we freeze it. Plus, the things we love to buy in bulk often come in huge containers, which makes storage a pain.
To make bulk buying worth your while there are two things that you need to do: go with a friend (or a group of friends) and learn how to repackage things before storing them.
When you go in on bulk shopping with friends you all save money (something they’ll appreciate) and you get in a fun afternoon with friends. Here’s how you do it so things don’t get confusing or complicated.
- Coordinate your joint shopping list before you go into the store. You’ll likely find a few impulse things to split but know what you’re after. This way you won’t count on buying that ten pound bag of chicken and then have nobody to split it with.
- Bring cash so you can actually split the cost of the bill on site (this will go more smoothly if you add it up before you get to the check stand).
- Make everybody bring storage containers with them (keep them in the car while you’re shopping). After you’re done at the store, go to someone’s house and actually divide things up. This way you can split that huge can of corn or that giant bag of flour right then and there. (If you haven’t yet boned up on how to properly store food, Lifehacker has some great tips!)
Do you ever find that the reality of an “easy budget saver” is much different than you’d expected? How did you cope with it or make it work for you instead of against you?