Too bad I didn’t think of saving money with my first dollars earned. When I was 9 or 10 and instead, I bought a pepperoni pizza and a bottle of coke. I guess I ate my entire earnings earned while working in the neighborhood selling cookies. Later on, I sold whatever I could; including tickets to all the shows I wrote, produced and made sure I starred in. As a result, by the time I was 11, I was entrepreneurship bound.
I worked my way through college, first as an Avon lady and then selling designer clothing at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and for Halston himself. With each paycheck, I thought I hit the lottery. Some years I saved more than I spent. Others, I spent more than I earned. I thought I was in the money. Looking back, I know that living under one’s means returns the best results of all– money for retirement, also known as peace of mind.
I’ve put together my best tips on how to spend less and save more. Whether time, age or circumstances have forced you to look at money differently–it’s never too late to start over.
You Can’t Put a Price on Peace of Mind
- You still have seven weeks until the holidays; the extra money will come in handy.
- Real simple: pay with cash! It will force you to think twice before you buy it.
- Adapt the 14-day rule by taking a wait and see approach. Chances are you’ll lose interest in the item. It’s fine to lose interest. If you lose the item because it’s gone when you go back to the store, there’s always another.
- Easy save; pay yourself first. It can be as low as $5 or $10 but start a “you” fund and put money away.
- At the end of the day, take all your loose change (or dollar bills) and drop them into a huge jar. Unless you have sticky fingers, you’ll save a small fortune in a year.
- Drink water. Water is FREE! Even if you choose bottled/filtered water, t’s still cheaper and healthier than other choices including high sugar and fat-filled lattes!
- Cut out other expensive unnecessary must-haves. (Can you believe the price of drinks at the movies? Super –duper over the top special spa pedicures? Buy the second pair of shoes at half price. Do you need that 2nd pair?) Do the math over the course of the year. Put the savings in your pocket, not theirs.
- Shop with a list and stick to it. Plan dinners and stock up on staples according to what’s on special that week. Clip coupons and use them.
- Buy in bulk. You’ll save money and gas on multiple trips to the store.
- Eat at home. When cooking, double up on the recipe and freeze a batch for another meal (soups, casseroles, lasagne are great items to freeze).
- Rather than buying pre-packaged snack packs, prepare your own healthy snacks that have lasting power.
- Don’t throw out fruit. For instance, that ripened, gently bruised banana can be peeled, cut up, frozen and added to a smoothie. (TIDBIT: Think of the expression “Going Bananas.” It’s from the effects that a banana has on the brain. It’s a miracle fruit, high in fiber, potassium –natural sugar and low in salt.)
- Take lunch to work. It’s cheaper and healthier.
- Buy generic; you and your family will save a bundle. The only difference between the two, often but not always, is marketing.
- Another way to save is to buy one terrific all purchase cleaning product. White distilled vinegar works wonders all around the house and even on leather too. Combined with baking soda, on certain surfaces, and as a laundry detergent, it doubles its cleaning power.
- Clean out your closet. Think of the 80/20 rule (you wear 20% of the clothes 80% of the time.) Be ruthless and get rid of what you don’t wear, love or want. You can have a tag sale with the goods, take gently used items to a consignment shop, or even donate them for a tax deduction – all of which turn into money in your pocket.
- When you leave home, turn the lights out, heat down and air off.
- If you don’t use it, cancel it. This includes memberships you don’t use, magazine subscriptions you don’t read, as well as cable and satellite stations you don’t watch.
- Avoid spending triggers. Be aware of places that trigger spending, including browsing on the internet. Or, when you’re overstressed and need a pick-me-up (try walking or yoga instead).
- Barter. Money doesn’t change hands. Just favors.
- Conquer and divide. Share rarely used items with the family such as a coffee pot that serves a large crowd, folding chairs, etc.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for a better deal. Even request a better rate when it comes to utility bills or doctor’s bills. You’d be surprised what’s negotiable.
- Consolidate your loans. It might be worthwhile to consolidate your loans into one low-rate package. Look into the various loan consolidation packages – even a 1% reduction on a $10,000 loan saves you $100 a year – and your loan is probably bigger than that (so the rate cut you could get is probably bigger).
- The best gifts to give are those you make. Baked goods, knits, personalized stationery and a scrap-book of memories have been some of my favorites.
- January, just 2 months away, is a big month for saving money. Deals are everywhere from white sales to home furnishings. There are housewares, exercise equipment, cruises, TV’s, and more. You can save big time. Still, indulge with caution. Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s good value. Would you buy it if it wasn’t on sale? In the long run, it may end up costing you more.
- Keep a journal and write down everything you spend. It will help you to edit or at the very least, it will open your eyes.
Save Money, Change Your Life
Do you realize what a difference saving just $10 a day could make in your life? Sure, it might be difficult to give up those little luxuries; such as your daily coffee from Starbucks, buying lunch instead of making your own or even just substituting a drink for good old fashioned water. But, what if I told you what you could gain just by saving a small amount for a week, a month or a year? Would you make the effort to save that $10 each day for yourself or your family?
Save $10 a Day for a Week
Just one week of saving will mean an extra $70 that you wouldn’t have had without saving. You could buy the following:
- Indulge yourself with a spa treatment.
- Purchase healthy groceries so that you can eat at home (and save more).
- Bank money away for the upcoming holiday season.
Save $10 a Day for a Month
Just saving this small amount for a month will mean an extra $300 per month for you to work with. This can make all the difference and allow you to:
- Buy a new warm winter coat.
- Buy theatre tickets and take your best friend.
- Save for retirement.
Save $10 a Day for a Year
Now, this is where things get exciting. If you save $10 a day for a year, you will have $3650 by the end of the year. This can be enjoyed by spending it on:
- Use it as a down payment on a new car or towards a new apartment.
- Re-invest to make some more money.
- Invest the money into starting that new business you have been dreaming about.
- Pay off bills and bring your credit card payments down.
Fun Facts about Money & Saving
- According to the US Treasury, Americans have about $15 Billion in loose change!
- The average American spends about $2000 in unexpected expenditures each year.
- Two-thirds of these unexpected expenditures are for medical care or car maintenance.
- The easiest way to save money is to set an automatic deposit amount to be paid into your savings account each month (I do this every week and it’s seamless).
- Only 8% of the world’s currency is physical money, the rest is just digital transactions.
- If you only have $10 in your pocket but have no debt at all then you are wealthier than 20% of Americans.
Pay Off Your Credit Cards Every Month
What’s my best tip to do this? Have only one. Really; that’s it. I’m all for keeping it simple. It’s less to spend, less to remember, less to pay off and more peace of mind. Building credit the hard way means having to rebuild it and all the stress that comes from making bad choices.
A fair question I ask myself when I’m not certain of the stakes is,—“Is it worth it?” And, I’m not just talking about money. I’m thinking of all the decisions we make that, when looking back, design our personal stories. All of us have them, stories to tell, and if we’re lucky, we have people to tell them to and more chapters to write.
A constant reminder for me is to want what I have rather than have what I want. It’s building a fortune but of a very different kind. Finding satisfaction and contentment and joy for what surrounds me. It’s gratitude that’s stripped to its basic core, forcing me to examine what’s important and what’s not. What I can live with and what I can’t live without.
What Can’t You Live Without?
Ask yourself that very question. That if you had nothing else or if all else failed, what can’t you live without? I know I can live with a less fancy house, smaller and less unique than the home I built and drew upon like a canvas. Sure, it hurt to let that house go and the memories that came with it. That’s only part of my story. There’s the other story. Without it, there would be no meaning for me. I can’t live without the people who depend on me and love me just because. Who fill the house with their voices their scents, their moods, knowing that their home is a safe place they long to come back to.
I won’t put my life on credit or borrow against time. The price is too dear. Almost ten years ago, I urged my daughter, Joy—who has her name in every way—to enjoy rushing – that time-honored tradition of sorority life, rather than rush through it. I want for her, as I do for all my children, to have a storybook filled with stories to tell. Perhaps edited and re-worked but intentional, mindful and with a voice that’s all their own.
How are you saving for the holiday season?