A Mixed Bag – A bit of everything under the sun

15 Simple tweaks to save money without sweat

Posted on: October 1, 2008


How anyone would love to see the Savings Bank meter go up! For that, one needs to cut down the impulse to spend and make some wise choices. The key is to not go overboard and deny yourself of all pleasures. But, how is that possible? Well, here’s what to do:

1. Track your expenses
– Too obvious to mention, but anyway. This is the first step and it is important. You need to know where your money goes and only then you can figure out what to do about it.
Use a notebook and pencil, a self made spreadsheet (that works best for me!) or any other tool available on the web. A month’s expenses would be optimum to track. If you are too impatient to wait for a month, just download your debit/credit card transactions for the last month and analyze them. Here’s an easy-to-use budgeting template

2. Stop shopping every week – I used to do this often, but have stopped it now. And it works wonders. Initially we used to go shopping every week and every time we go there, I would buy things on an impulse. All those things would seem necessary at that time. So the best thing to do is not visit it so often.

3. Go through your kitchen and make a monthly/fortnightly list – Forgetting to buy things and hitting the stores again is one of the major sources of spending. Keep a magnetic grocery list on the refrigerator and as soon as anything in your kitchen gets over, put it on the list. Also, rummage through the kitchen and make a list of all things that would get over in a week’s time. And then shop only once a fortnight or a month. That way, you won’t go to a store just because something got over suddenly. Use a Master Grocery List and Menu Planner to get organized.

4. Plan a weekly menu – Before going to buy vegetables, make up a weekly menu list. That way, you won’t be buying excessively and vegetables won’t get spoilt too. I also cook according to the plan without having to worry about what to prepare the next day. And since we spend time making a plan, we end up eating a variety of vegetables. Lots of advantages.

5. Fix an amount before you go the store – And don’t go beyond that amount. When you are dropping the items into your cart, just keep a rough idea of how much you’ve spent so far. When you realize you are nearing your allotted amount, you will automatically skip the unnecessary items or look for other options around the product which may be better but you wouldn’t have noticed before at all. Contrary to popular belief, don’t shop in a hurry. If you do so, you are likely to buy whatever meets your eye. Instead shop patiently, take your time and compare products before you decide to buy.

6. Pack your lunch to work – If you are in the habit of eating out every work day, it’s time to cut it down. If you find this difficult, at least do it for a couple of days in the week. But remember to put the money you saved in the savings account.

7. What you save in a day, goes to your account – Else, it gets lost. If you feel you have saved some amount in a day by either not buying what you usually buy or by spending better, put that saved money in your account or piggy bank. Whatever you cut down should show up as savings.

8. Cut down on subscriptions – You are not reading all of it anyway, so try this for a month and see if you miss them. Put that amount in your account.

9. Eat out every week for lesser – Dining out is a major expense. We tried cutting down on this, but it didn’t work for us. Mid week, we would get bored and go out anyway. So I have found a workaround for this. Go out every week, but eat for lesser. If you were spending $30 each time, spend $15 now. Find out the restaurants near your place. Some websites give you the menus and rates for restaurants nearby. Check out, plan and go. This way you will even be exploring new restaurants instead of visiting the same ones.

10. Search for coupons on anything – But only on what you already use. No use buying things which you don’t need just because there are coupons for it.

11. Cut down on hitting the theaters – unless it’s really worth watching. Download or rent instead and in goes that money into the piggy bank.

12. Convert everything to rupees – Being an Indian, when I came to the US, it took time for me to get adjusted to the economy here. 30 dollars seemed like 30 rupees to me and that was way too affordable. I spent and spent till I got a 3000 dollar bill! But now, I know better. I convert everything to rupees and it helps me realize the value of money. I know one dollar is 40 rupees and 10$=400 rupees. It won’t seem like 10 rupees anymore!

13. Find expense-less methods of entertainment – In many cases, people shop as a form of entertainment. Find other methods and enjoy your life. Go to a book store, visit a lake, go hiking, biking, take a stroll with your partner, join a volunteering association. There are more ways to lead a meaningful life.

14. Have a coin jar – Keep it in a place where you empty the contents of your pocket everyday. Put all the day’s change in there and when the jar gets full, convert half to notes and put into savings account. Every cent counts!

15. Cut down on junk and ready foods – This will cost you health and money. Substitute them instead with something prepared at home. Make your own yogurt(here’s how), make your own salsa, try out new foods. Cooking is a relaxing hobby however bad you are at it. So experiment and enjoy!

So these were a few painless tweaks that will put more money in your pocket without reducing the quality of your life( it improves I must say, by making you experience new things ). They are nothing unique or spectacular, but rather a reminder of tried and tested methods which work.

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7 Responses to "15 Simple tweaks to save money without sweat"

POint number 3- I prefer just in time procurement, as protecting my goods from ants is the biggest headache for me…

Then, even a weekly list should be good. Whatever time frame works best for you. The point is not to forget things in the middle of the week and go to the store again to fetch it because we’d have bought a couple of more items with it that we wouldn’t have thought of in the first place.

[…] year I decided to follow a few steps to be more organized and also save money in the […]

Point 3 is great. I received those magnetic notepads as a wedding gift, and I haven’t stopped using them for my menu/grocery lists. I make my list as I realize what I need, so I don’t forget. I also keep my menu up on the fridge…which is a great reminder to take the meat out of the freezer the night before…I’m bad at that 🙂

Awesome!
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