When you spend $5 here and $5 there, your money has a way of slowly disappearing out of your account without you being fully aware of it. It is called a slow, quiet bleed. The amount you are spending on each of these transactions is so small that each transaction is not a big deal. The problem is when these very small transactions occur over and over again. A large number of small transactions add up to the same amount as one or two large transactions.
That’s one reason why budgeting is so important. Budgeting helps you focus on a plan to make your dollars work for you, not against you. Budgeting is great, but far too few people actually do it. Another, easier way to better manage your money is to pay attention to how you spend it.
Think about all the little things you buy over the course of a week. Sure, some of the things you buy you actually need, but is there a cheaper alternative? How much can you cut out? And if you did cut back, how much money would you save each month?
Here are a few examples of ways you could save some money on some things you may consider you need:
I understand that most people need to have vehicles and you can’t run a vehicle without buying gas to put in it. There are ways to try to cut back on how much you use your car. You could try using a bike if the destination is relatively close to where you live or work. Better yet, you could even walk to your destination and get a workout in. If you drive a longer distance to get to your work and there are other people who make similar drives, you could try carpooling. You could all meet at an area where everyone could park their cars and take turns driving everyone to and from work.
Another way to try to save money on gas is to try to find the cheapest price possible when buying gas. If you have a Sam’s Club membership, most Sam’s Clubs have a gas station that usually charges about 10 cents cheaper per gallon than most surrounding gas stations. Hy-Vee usually has a deal where with your food purchase receipts you can get a so many cent per gallon discount at their gas stations.
Another option is to look to purchase a more fuel-efficient car. Cars are being designed to be much more fuel-efficient now. Maybe you are in the market to look for a new car right now and you could keep this in mind. Maybe you need to look at trading in your really nice car and getting a cheaper car that is more fuel-efficient. This will save you money on both ends.
I understand that everyone needs to wash their hair, but do you really need four different types of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and … you get the point.
One cleaver way I have found to save money is let hotels buy the shampoo for you. This works really well if you travel a lot like I do in my job. I carry an empty Ziplock in my suitcase. If I am staying one night in a hotel, I will only use a portion of the shampoo/conditioner in my room. I then put the partially used containers in the Ziplock in my suitcase and take them home with me and use the rest at home. You realize that if you leave those in your room, they get thrown away right? This way I am reducing waste as well as saving money. If I am staying in a hotel for multiple nights in a row, I will use one set of shampoo/conditioner over my entire stay. Usually the maids will put a new set of shampoo/conditioner bottles in my room each day during my stay. Each day I put those unopened bottles into my Ziplock in my suitcase and take them home. I figure it is not stealing because each of those bottles costs just cents and I am paying about $80 per day for my room. I think they are still doing just fine.
Is there a cheaper alternative to bottled water? Yeah, it’s called water from the tap. And guess what? It’s free! Well, you may pay a water bill so it’s not totally free, but still much cheaper than buying bottled water. If you like the convenience of those little plastic bottles, then I would recommend buying a few bottles of bottled water. After you drink the water out of them, keep the bottles and fill them with tap water. Keep them in the fridge overnight and you have cool refreshing water the next morning to start your day. I personally have a big jug of water that I fill up and keep in the fridge. I then always have a supply of cold water to pour into drinking glasses at home. I have used the same jug for over a year now.
Not only are they bad for your health, they’ll take the life out of your bank account, too. Sure, 75 cents might not seem like a big deal, but it adds up quickly when you’re drinking one or two (or more) soft drinks each day. Try eliminating soft drinks from your diet. You would be amazed at the money you could save and also the weight you could drop. If this seems too daunting, try limiting yourself to 3 soft drinks per week. Reduction always helps.
It’s simple, quick, and fairly cheap. But that $5 per meal can add up to $25 or more a week if you aren’t careful. Fast food has a way of clogging your arteries over time and could lead to expensive heart surgeries down the road. It’ll cost you more in the long run and your cash flow now at the same time. Try limiting yourself to one fast food meal per week. If you do need to eat at a fast food restaurant more often than that, then look at getting healthier options such as oatmeal, salads, fruits, etc.
Are you noticing a trend here? A $4 to $5 cup of coffee should be an occasional treat, not an everyday occurrence. If you buy one $4 cup of coffee five days a week, that’s $80 each month. If you need to have coffee each day, look at investing in a coffee pot and making it at home each day. Most workplaces have a coffee pot and you can usually drink coffee for free there.
Saving money and cutting back comes down to discipline. Once you’ve broken those old spending habits and started new ones, you’ll see how big a difference it makes in your bank account.
If you have any other ideas on way you could save money on some things you use everyday, please share them with the rest of us. Together we can keep small items from being big money drainers.