These tips will help you save thousands of dollars over the next year and tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your life. No really, I’m giving you my best stuff here. Some of them are a little contrarian and most you will not have heard before. So, soak it in. I just might rock your world with these tips.
1. Start hating convenience and start planning ahead
Being frugal is as much about changing your mindset as anything else. Most of the things that are expensive in our day to day lives are the things that are convenient. Buying coffee is much more expensive than making it at home. Getting your hair dyed is more expensive than doing it yourself. Even canned beans are significantly more expensive than their dried counterparts. By refusing to choose the convenient option and choosing the most frugal you can live a very good life without spending very much. You don’t have to give up coffee, but you can buy a whole can of coffee for what you spend on one cup at Starbucks.
To save money you have to learn to plan ahead. You need to get up earlier so that you can make coffee and pack your lunch. You need to remember to make some granola bars so that you have a cheap snack. What you’ll start finding is that these supposed conveniences actually end up taking more time out of our day. It’s much quicker to make coffee at home than to stand in line at a busy Starbucks, after all!
Convenience is the enemy of saving. If you want financial security, you need to start seeing it for the villain it is.
2. Say no when you can’t afford it:
If your friend wants to do something and you can’t afford to do it, just be honest and say so. A real friend will find a way to accommodate you rather than be angry that you’re not willing to spend money. You can always come up with a few alternative things that you could do and let your friend choose which one they’re interested in.
I always felt guilty when friends or co-workers would ask me to buy a ticket to the charity event that they were organizing or make a donation to a good cause. I have a few causes that are close to my heart and I allocate my budget for donations to them. Still, it always felt terrible and somewhat embarrassing to say no. I thought my friend would get mad at me. Guess what? No friend has ever gotten mad at me. They’ve all be incredibly understanding and that’s been it. Sometimes we’re afraid to say no because we don’t know what will happen when we do. But usually none of the things we worried would happen ever do.
3. Take care of your stuff:
Did you know that air and water are what ultimately dulls razors and causes you to have to throw them out? By taking care of your blade by shaking out the water and patting it dry you can keep it sharp much longer. The same goes for other things you own like clothing. I like to air dry my most expensive clothing. The heat and tumbling action of the dryer can damage clothes and cause them to fade and wear out before their time. If you invest in a drying rack you’ll be sure to extend the life of your clothing considerably.
One thing that I was always terrible at taking care of was running shoes. I would always take them on and off without undoing the laces. That is until I finally had to buy my first pair of running shoes myself. Shoes are expensive and I didn’t want to have to buy another pair anytime soon. I still make sure I untie my laces before taking them off.
By taking a little extra time and taking care of the things you buy, you’ll be able to extend their life and save money because you won’t have to replace them.
4. Make things last longer by being clever:
I recently came across a post on About.com’s Frugal Living section that opened my eyes to how I could make things like beauty products last longer. Did you know that adding contact solution to your mascara helps give a dried out tube new life? Or that you could use old lipsticks to make blush? Or adding drops of nail polish remover to a bottle of clumpy polish will help smooth it out again? I certainly didn’t know any of that but I’m glad I do now.
This tip is not just for makeup but applies to a lot of things. For example, you can easily extend the length of candles by storing them in the refrigerator before you light them. Flipping your mattress is one way to extend it’s life. My boyfriend makes a premium tub of ice cream last longer by eating it with a scoop of some cheaper stuff or a banana. You can also fix rather than
5. Use everything in the bottle or jar:
I read recently that most people waste up to 25% of makeup products because it gets stuck in the bottles and there’s no easy way to get it out. We’ve all been frustrated trying to get the last drop of products from tubes of toothpaste and we all know how peanut butter and thick sauces get stuck in the bottom of jars and cans. What are we to do? When it comes to food I suggest you invest in a cheap narrow spatula and scrape it out. For things like toothpaste you can easily cut the tube to get the rest of the product. Some plastic bottles can also be cut, just be careful if the plastic is thick!
Finding ways to use all the product is especially useful when that product is something that is relatively expensive. Makeup tends to be extremely expensive and also the one of the things that get wasted most. There are various implements that you can buy to help you get all of the product out if the product is not come in a plastic bottle that can easily be cut. These often pay for themselves because of the amount of extra product you will be able to use.
By using all of the products that you bought and not throwing out a good percentage of them you’ll save money by having to buy less but you won’t actually be making due with less. It’s like getting to have your cake and eat it too. Not that that saying makes any sense! You know what I mean.
7. Pay a bit more for quality:
There is one story that I love to tell to illustrate why paying a little more for quality can save money and it’s about a backpack. When I was a kid my mom always bought us a backpack in September and by the end of the school year it was generally falling apart. On the last day of school, it would go directly into the trash. As we got older we stopped wanting the cheap colourful backpacks we gravitated to as kids and started choosing more rugged backpacks.
When I was 13 the backpack I chose lasted 2 whole years. By the time that I was 15, I was very concerned about style and wanted something that fit the look that I was going for at the time. I loved blue and when I saw a beautiful Jansport backpack in various shades of blue, I begged my mom for it. The price was about $85,which was far more that we had spent for a backpack in our family before. She was hesitant because of the price but then I finally asked her if she could get it for me not just as a back-to-school necessity but as a birthday present (I was born on Labour Day). That sealed the deal and she bought me the backpack that ended up lasting me through high school and into college.
When it started falling apart in college, I remembered something that I had said to my mom when trying to convince her to buy it for me all those years ago. I had read the tag which stipulated that the backpack had a Lifetime Warranty and that if anything went wrong after you purchased it, no matter how much later that might be, you could send it back to the manufacturer and they would fix it. While it turns out that they weren’t able to fix my backpack, but instead they sent me a brand new one. All I had to pay was the cost to ship the backpack to them. And guess what? That lifetime warranty still applies to this new backpack. That means that if anything happens to this one I can send it back and get another free backpack. I’m basically guaranteed to have a backpack for life for the relatively low price of $85.
There are a lot of companies that offer lifetime warranties on the products that they sell. Jansport is one of them, and so is Davek umbrellas, Briggs and Riley Luggage, Tupperware, Craftsman Tools, Pampered Chef Cookware, All Clad, Coach, Land’s End, L.L. Bean, The North Face, Otterbox, Swiftwick Socks, Touchfire, Zippo, Vermont Teddy Bears, REI, Sierra Trading Post, Polar Bottles, Oxo utensils, and Bogs Footwear, among many others.
But whether or not a product has a lifetime warranty, buying good quality products can often be the better choice because they will last longer and not wear out as quickly. Therefore, the more expensive choice is sometimes the more thrifty!
This is an abridged version of a section from the e-book The Complete Guide to a Debt-Free Education. If you liked this post, consider ordering The Complete Guide to a Debt-Free Education for the low price of $14.99!