If you’re having a tough time saving money despite putting your best foot forward, it might be time to reevaluate your day-to-day lifestyle choices. Some habits–like buying lunch instead of making one before going to work–might cost very little on an individual basis, but will add up over time, and can cost you up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Like many of the inspirational financial stories out there, a few simple lifestyle adjustments could help you save money on an annual basis:
Pre-cook your meals.
Taking a few hours before the workweek begins to prepare yourself a large batch of food–be it a curry, a soup or a pasta dish–can save both time and money over the course of the week. Instead of going out and spending 10 to 15 dollars on lunch or rushing to throw something together before heading into work, find a dish you enjoy that’s easy to make in large quantities. Prepare it for yourself on Sunday night, and take a meal’s worth out of the fridge before heading to work Monday through Friday.
Many cafes and restaurants carry card minimums. Bringing cash with you at all times ensures that you’ll never have to buy anything just for the sake of passing a threshold. Plus, paying in physical bills will give you a more tangible idea of how much you’re actually spending, which might be all you need to be a bit more frugal.
Schedule your shopping trips.
Online shopping and quick errands meant to tide us over are dangerous financial sinkholes. Instead of allowing your whimsy to get the best of you and buying something that’s just a click or a 5-minute drive away, limit yourself to one or two weekly shopping trips in which you buy everything you need. This will make your purchases more intentional and less redundant, saving you money as you buy what you need instead of what you want.
Know when to invest.
That $10 can opener is a lot cheaper than the $20 one, but chances are good that the inexpensive one isn’t going to last more than 6 months, while the nicer one will probably last years. Purchasing practical necessities that are a bit more expensive but a lot more durable, from umbrellas to underwear, will save you hundreds of dollars in the long term and ensure that you don’t have to keep going to the store to buy the same thing.
Reuse, recycle, retain.
There are several environmentally friendly habits that also go a long way towards padding your wallet. Buying reusable water bottles or water filters that can be connected directly to your tap will vastly reduce the amount of money you spend if you’re currently depending on plastic water bottles for hydration. Fluorescent light bulbs also provide a cheaper alternative to incandescents by using up only a fraction of the energy.
By making only a few of these minor adjustments to your daily habits, you could save hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars over the course of a year. That money can then be put into other, more meaningful investments, like retirement funds, a mortgage or a vacation. Together, these tiny steps amount to one giant financial leap over the course of a year. And there are so many more great ideas for saving money on a daily basis—all you have to do is turn to one of the great financial blogs out there for more ideas.