Although we’re past the last recession, modern-day culture seems to be a lot more frugal than it has been in the past, and these days countless people are always looking for new, quirky ways to make their money go further. While this shows a shift towards the right attitude, it can be something of a double-edged sword.
When we’re always looking for fresh ideas, it can be easy to overlook those good old-fashioned methods that have served us well for so long. If you feel it’s time you had a money-saving refresher, here’s an article dedicated to all those tactics that we tend to forget:
Buy More Things Used
One of the biggest things that grinds down individual’s net worth is depreciation, whether it be on cars, houses or anything else. By making a habit to buy more things used, you can ensure that someone else takes the effect of depreciation to their wallet, rather than you. Sticking to used cars, appliances that work to a decent level, and even gently used clothes, books, games and so on can all be big money savers. Having said that, saving money effectively through buying used takes a little foresight and tact.
Instead of waiting until you absolutely need an item before buying it, try to plan ahead. Ask yourself what you or one of your dependents will need three to six months down the road. This will allow you to make smart decisions on what to buy now, so that you won’t have to go to too many retail outlets when the economy isn’t looking so pretty. For example, when you’ve got some money to throw around in the summer, scour the second-hand stores for cheap winter clothing. Looking ahead makes smart used buying so much easier.
Lay Off the Utilities
Anyone who was around in the seventies will be able to tell you something about the very first energy panic. It seemed that almost overnight, following the release of a few articles, the whole developed world suddenly found their conscience. While the energy scare that was kicked up by the media back then made quite an impression, and the universal green lobby is growing all the time, a lot of us still manage to be wasteful with our utilities, and then wonder why our personal finances are looking so dire.
If you’ve been neglecting this money-saving tactic, then try to turn this around with a few good habits. Turn off lights whenever you leave a room, install dimmer switches, and make sure you keep a cap on your heating controls. It may even be worth investing in a smart thermostat, which can be programmed to rise and fall to different temperatures throughout the day, according to your personal routines. This will ensure that you don’t forget to turn the heating off when you’re away for a long time, and then get frostbite while you’re trying to recuperate the money you lost! It can also give you some considerable savings on your usual energy bill.
Leverage Tax Breaks
They say that the two things you can never avoid in life are death and taxes. While this is certainly true, there are certain steps you can take to mitigate the strain of taxes. It’s much easier to manipulate than our own mortality, that’s for sure! Taking advantage of the capital gains tax allowance, marriage allowance, the uniform tax rebate, annual investment allowance and other breaks can all offer up some considerable savings when the taxman comes knocking.
You get even more wiggling room when you’re self-employed or running a business. Your car, your home, your internet connection, your utilities, childcare costs, interior décor for your office, equipment, pension contributions and all kinds of other things can be deductible from the tax you’ll pay on your business venture. As you can imagine, there are a lot of nitty-gritty details tied to these tax breaks, and some are going to be much more accessible than others. However, the rewards for wrapping your head around your prospective tax breaks can be massive, so set some time aside for doing your research and finding out what you’re eligible for.
Cut Down on the Treats
Most of us know at least one person who considers themselves frugal, and yet likes to treat him or herself to “little” pleasures every now and then. Seeing as you’re reading this post, there’s a fair chance that you’re one of these people! Obviously, we should all give ourselves some space for life’s luxuries. However, when “every now and then” becomes a daily habit, those supposedly small rewards can quickly become a drain on your finances, and an overhead rather than a treat.
We all have our own guilty pleasures that we buy impulsively when we’re out and about. Simply making a point to give them a miss every now and then can make a massive long-term difference to your personal finances. You’ll not only save a decent amount of money, but when you do allow yourself those treats, they’ll be so much more satisfying!
Buy More Things in Bulk
Another basic savings tactic that can be pretty easy to forget is buying in bulk. Rather than simply concentrating on the prices for separate items, start weighing up prices by the pound or by the unit. While buying larger quantities can save you a lot, there are a few things you should keep in mind to stop it blowing up in your face.
Only buy the things that you have enough room to store, only buy products which you’re 110% sure you’ll use, and make sure you’re not buying so many perishable items that it will be a challenge to use it all before it expires.
Ride a Bike or Carpool to Work
Commuting to work by bike or carpooling is another old, but still exceedingly effective money saving trick. Obviously it has certain downsides, but there’s no requirement for you to switch over to this completely. Simply making a point of cycling or carpooling two days of the week can save you a significant bit of cash.
Aside from the obvious expense of fuel, parking and car maintenance, riding a bike to work also doubles as a free cardio workout! Aside from the savings, this one habit will allow you to build your stamina, work off some of your stress, get a better night’s sleep, and keep out of the doctor’s office for longer. Carpooling, while not exactly good for your health, can be extremely good for your wallet!
Save your Raise
It may feel like a long way off, but raises still happen from time to time! Preparing for them in a frugal way can be another effective money-saving move. If you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table with your pre-raise wages, and then a nice little bump to your salary comes along, think about carving off the extra money you’re earning and putting it towards something like your retirement, a trip around the world, a house or some other big expense.
Sure, if you’ve been working for this raise for some time, you should reward yourself for all your hard work. However, diverting a raise to your savings is often a much smarter decision than simply enjoying it, and seeing it as another piece of your regular pay. We’d all like a little more financial wiggling room, but in many cases, the harder you make things for yourself now, the easier they’ll be in the future.
How do you save money? Let us know in the comments below!
*This article was contributed.