No one wants to waste money. The problem is, sometimes what you want and what you actually do don’t always match up. Case in point: trying to fit into your skinny jeans and eating a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s. So while we all try to make reasonable spending choices, chances are we’ve got some holes in our budgets. It might not feel like much, but a couple of dollars here and there can really add up. Tightening your financial belt might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but the giddy feeling you get from shrinking your debt or adding to a cushy savings account quickly outweights the small spending adjustments.
For the next seven weeks, try adopting one lifestyle change each week. This gives you time to adjust and develop new habits. Very few of us can make radical lifestyle changes all at once; you can ease into financial fitness by making slow, yet noticeable adjustments.
1. Cancel Your Cable
Did you know virtually all of your TV content is available online the next day at sites like Hulu.com? And it’s FREE! Seriously. There are very few shows you can’t watch online at no cost. Or, you can pay a little more and get access to additional movies and shows at a fraction of the price your cable company so gleefully gobbled up. Check out Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus for some examples. And if watching on a computer screen doesn’t quite cut it, make a one-time purchase for a Roku box and stream the content to your TV.
2. Ditch Your Plastic
Next time you go shopping, leave the cards at home and stick to cash. After all, you can’t spend what you don’t have. The same goes for online shopping. Delete your saved payment methods so you have to actually go get your card and enter the number in every time. That one extra action makes you stop and think, “Do I really need this?”
3. Pack a Lunch
Life is hectic and sometimes planning ahead is hard, but packing a lunch just twice a week can save you a sweet $50 a month or more. Simplify the process by coming up with one or two simple meals you like and can prepare quickly the night before (or 10 minutes before you rush out the door), and then stick with those.
4. Scrap Your Landline
You have a cell phone. Your kids either have a cell phone or they use yours. Even the babysitter has a cell phone. You don’t need another monthly phone bill. If you’re concerned about your kids having emergency access to a phone when you’re gone, you can always buy a cheap prepaid phone.
5. Save $10
Every week, take $10 out of your bank account and stash it away in a rainy day fund. It’s a small enough amount you won’t miss it too much, but by the end of the year you’ll have $520. Pump up your weekly savings amount by funneling the extra money from your canceled cable and landline into your rainy day fund.
6. Stop Paying For the Gym
Only eight percent of people with a gym membership actually use it. The rest of us pay an average of $50 a month for an added burden of guilt. Cancel your gym membership and try a free (and equally effective) form of exercise: Go for a jog, break out your bike or do some of the free workout videos on YouTube.
7. Car Pool
The days of $2-a-gallon gas are long gone and filling up the tank can be an expensive endeavor Whether you’re driving to work, dropping the kids off at school, or even going to a Melaleuca event, find a friend to carpool with at least twice a week. Depending on the length of your commute, you can also try biking to work during warm weather.
8. Keep Using Melaleuca
Wait a minute–you’re doing this already! And that’s why you’re awesome. By shopping with Melaleuca you’re saving money on products you use every day: like and average of 25 percent on laundry detergent or 50 percent on shampoo, just to name a couple. Plus, if you refer friends to Melaleuca, you can actually earn money. Has your supermarket ever given you a check for referring for friends? I don’t think so.