It’s the age-old challenge that so many of us fail – how to save money and time.
It can be tough to develop the discipline and handy skills required to really get the most out of each dollar and every hour. However, we only live once. If we’re dedicating most of our waking hours to earning money, it means that the time we have left over is much more precious, and we shouldn’t be wasting the money that we sacrificed our time to earn.
Sometimes, it helps to get a bit of “mongrel” in you. That’s YOUR money, not somebody else’s. Remember that every time you pull out your wallet.
Because we know how tough it can be to really get the most out of our time and money, we’ve put together a brief guide of the top ways to save money and time.
This is a big one that so many people overlook. Dropping $2, $2.50 or even $5 every time you withdraw your own money is absolutely ridiculous. Make it a rule – don’t ever use out-of-network ATMs. Of course, it’s never that simple is it? One trick to avoiding those pesky ATMs is to have a bit of emergency money stashed away in your wallet. Whether that’s $20 or $50, it can really help when you’re stuck for cash. Just make sure you replace it when you use it!
Many people don’t know this, but major supermarket chains (such as Coles or Woolworths in Australia) will allow you to withdraw money via the EFTPOS machine free of charge. It’s always interesting to see people using ATMs outside of these shopping centres, when just a few steps further they could have saved a couple of dollars.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to drop cash to get somewhere. If public transport is out of the question, that doesn’t mean that your only option is a cab. Try using Uber, which often charges around 40% less than a comparable cab service. Even better, Lyft, a competitor of Uber, has been slashing their prices in an effort to gain market share. They also have a new service called LyftLine, which allows you to piggyback on another customer’s existing journey for a significantly reduced charge.
Movie tickets can be an absolute rip-off in many cases. Anywhere remotely near a CBD is likely to charge double the price of a cinema in the suburbs. Consider whether you absolutely need to see a film in 3D – if it’s a groundbreaker in CGI, then the answer of course is yes. If not, then maybe a normal viewing is the key. Also remember to flash your student ID or other concessional pass every chance you get. Matinee pricing is a good option for adults.
Due to the cost of running a film, cinemas always try to get as many bums on seats as possible. Do a bit of research – there’s a very high chance that your nearest cinema has a slow day every week (usually a Monday or Tuesday) where they massively drop prices to get people in the door.
Another important thing to remember about cinemas – they don’t derive their income from movie tickets. The huge profit margins are on the food and drinks, so if you can avoid buying a $10 bucket of popcorn, you’re already ahead of the game.
Sitting in traffic can really chew through your gas. There are plenty of cases of people who got stuck in a traffic jam for so long that they actually ran out of fuel. This can be doubly worse in adverse weather conditions when your fuel is also going towards heating or warming the vehicle.
Consider Waze – a very advanced directions app that will allow you to avoid major traffic jams. You can improve your commute time by an average of 10-15%. It’s updated in real-time, so a sudden truck rollover will be noticed and the app will redirect you on a detour.
Search for Discounts.
Are you one of the vast majority of people who enjoy a spot of online shopping? Far too many people pay sticker price at online shops. They’ll do a bit of research between different stores and decide which one has the lowest item and shipping price. However, your research should never end there.
Every time you’re shopping online, jump on your favourite search engine and look for discount vouchers for that store. Sometimes you can get a generic 10-20% off, or even up to 50% off if you’re buying a niche item. While you’re at it, take advantage of wish lists and watch lists to receive alerts when an item you really want goes on special.
Furthermore, keep an eye out for price adjustments. In the interest of fairness, many online retailers will offer a price adjustment if you bought an item and it goes on sale within a certain period of time, usually about two weeks. So if you buy something and see it advertised for half the price shortly after, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a price adjustment.
This has to be the single biggest way that most people can save money. You can easily save 50% of your food budget if your habits aren’t great. Sure, most people cook their breakfast and dinner, but what about lunch? If you’re rushed in the morning, it can be easy to just decide to grab something at a place near work. This kind of decision is so easy to make, that before you know it, you haven’t prepared your own lunch in over a month and you’re several hundred dollars down.
Make a genuine effort to plan your meals in advance for one month. After that, you’ll have decent new habits and a good idea of some easy lunch ideas that can be quickly thrown together in advance.
A huge advantage to effective meal planning is that you can really take advantage of bulk purchases. Grabbing a crate of pumpkins can seem like an easy way to waste a lot of pumpkins, unless you’ve got a great plan to freeze pumpkin soup for the next 6 Friday lunches.
At the end of the day, we all have a different idea of how to save money and time. Your decision comes down to your individual lifestyle, and the types of things that you consider absolutely integral to your way of life, and those that you can easily sacrifice. All you have to do is try, and commit for at least a month to any new habits to help build up discipline.