If you are looking for ways to reduce your monthly spending, check out these four simple strategies. A little disclaimer- I say, “simple” because they are very straightforward, but I don’t say, “easy” because any lifestyle change is going to be challenging to get used to. Nonetheless, if you are a newbie at saving these are a good way to get your toes wet because you’ll see substantial money savings right away, without the complications of more advanced saving strategies
1) Plan Your Meals
O.K., here’s the first practical tip: meal planning is probably the single biggest way to save money on food because homemade dinners are pennies on the dollar compared to take-out. Not to mention healthier, too, because you control the ingredients. I didn’t used to meal-plan- I used to figure out what was for dinner at 5pm each evening, and if I couldn’t find anything to cook, we’d buy take-out. Which meant we ate a lot of take-out, because inevitably I didn’t have all the right ingredients to make an appetizing dinner. By planning our meals a week or month ahead I’m now able to plan what we need from the grocery store each week so that I always have the right food on hand.
2) Use Your Freezer
We used to lose quite a bit of money to wasted food. Food would sit in the fridge or pantry until it went bad, at which point I would throw it out, feeling guilty that I hadn’t used it up. Then I realized that the freezer is a great resource for preventing food waste. Check out this post for a list of 5 Common Leftover Foods to Freeze, which includes tips on how to use the food after you’ve frozen it.
3) Make Stuff
Do-It-Yourself projects can save you a lot of money, though I only recommend them if you actually enjoy the process of making things. Every Thursday is Crafty Thursday here at The Daily Citron, where I feature a DIY project (sometimes a craft like a cute laundry sign, sometimes a homemade cleaning product, sometimes an easy printable thank you card). I picked Thursday because it leaves just enough time for busy people to collect their supplies for doing the craft over the weekend.
4) Read Free Books
Books are such a fantastic resource for learning new things, not to mention just enjoyable in general. But, buying books can get expensive- consider borrowing books from the library, or downloading free eBooks. I feature free eBooks all the time- make sure to act on those offers quickly, as they generally expire quickly (if you subscribe to my RSS feed then you’ll get notified of free eBook offers right away). Also, check out my posts on how to get free mp3 audio books and free DVD rentals.