My Five Simple And Frugal Tips To Save Cash In 2014 And Beyond

piggy-bank-2014Hey everyone. I hope you are all having a simply joyous week and that the rest of your week turns out to be just as joyous :)

If you read my post last week concerning my 2014 resolutions, you may recall that one of my three resolutions is to finally record my first ever CD featuring my original jazz(y) tunes. One of the main setbacks in the past, apart from my being lazy (just slightly!), has been that I just did not have the money needed to go full tilt with this personal project. I want to be able to pay the musicians I hire a decent wage which would not only include the actual studio recording, but also a few rehearsals, which are so important in getting them acquainted with the music.

Apart from that initial expense, there are also studio costs. And while I know a few people who own recording studios, I’ll still have to payout some cash for their time, energy and labor, even if it is not expected.

So…what makes this year any different than the previous years? Well, I am really gung-ho on getting this project off the ground and feel more motivated than ever before! After all, I’m not getting any younger…well maybe mentally :) Anyway, as a result, I am going into hyper-frugality mode so that I can save as much money as possible as I am looking to begin rocking this CD come the summer time.

This will be somewhat challenging because I don’t make that much to begin with. I make less than $15,000.00 a year (intentionally I might add) and with my monthly expenses for rent, phone (land-line) and hydro, plus a small student loan payment, my total monthly expenses are roughly $1000.00 a month. That doesn’t leave me with much money at all! And then of course there are other considerations such as food and a bus pass during the winter ($80.00).

So…how can I possibly save money? Well…here are my five simple and frugal money saving strategies for 2014:

  • Buy used
  • Distinguish wants from needs
  • Make do with what I already have
  • Eat at home
  • Plan for at least three “no-spend” days a week
  • Bonus strategy: Don’t pay for anything I can get for free!!

Let’s break these strategies down a little, shall we?!

Buy Used:

As you probably already know, I love buying used items and won’t even consider buying new until I have exhausted all the used options at my fingertips like Craigslist and/or my local thrift shops. In fact, if one were so inclined, one could easily furnish an apartment or house nicely with items found exclusively in the free section of one’s’ local Craigslist listings. And we’re not talking junk either. I have seen many a wonderful couches, beds, TV’s and other furnishings that had I not already had, I would have easily jumped at the chance to own.

And what’s not to love about buying softly used items and clothing from thrift shops. I was walking through a downtown department store a week before Christmas and I remember thinking that all the high priced shirts, pants, suits and winter jackets could be had for a song at my local thrift shop. Plus, a percentage of the profits go to a variety of charities so it’s a win-win for all!

There’s also a few wonderful used book stores in my ‘hood that also carry music CD’s and DVD’s. If I find I really want to buy something, I always head to one or more of these shops as I am usually guaranteed to find something that I want at a great price.

For example, I’m a big fan of a movie titled “Black Dynamite” and was able to pick it up at my local used book store on BluRay for $3.00!!

Distinguishing Wants From Needs:

Now…while $3.00 is a great price to pay for a much liked movie, the question one needs to ask themselves the next time they are confronted with a great price is…”do I really need this or would I just like to have it for the sake of having it!” If I am to truly save money, then I will have to intentionally curtail my “wants” for the next little while. This means that unless I truly NEED something, I won’t buy it. It can be hard to keep this in mind as we sometimes find it easy to justify an unnecessary purchase.

But if your end-goal is to truly save money, then one needs to keep an eye on the prize so to speak!

Make Do With What I Already Have:

I totally get that it’s nice to be able to buy something that is a tad frivolous or non-essential, but I need to keep in mind that I am on a mission here and need to curb my inner impulse shopper! And to be honest, when I look around my apartment, I realize there’s nothing that I really need. I have all the comforts of home I could want and then some. Truly, I am indeed content with all that I have.

Actually, I sometimes forget what I have and it’s a nice surprise when something “pops” up out of the blue. This happens a lot to me where books and DVD’s are concerned as I own a bunch of them. Every now and then I give my book cases a dusting and lo and behold, there’s always a new used book or DVD movie that I have yet to read or watch. It’s almost like browsing through a used book store :)

Seriously though, if you haven’t made some kind an inventory – be it mental or otherwise – of all that you own, chances are you’re missing out on some hidden gems. Knowing what you own will also help you cut down on buying the exact same items again…which I have done in the past!!

Eat At Home:

While eating at home might not seem like such a big deal for most of you, for me it is huge!! As a bachelor, I love the convenience of being able to walk into a restaurant when I’m hungry and walk out an hour or so later with a full and satisfied tummy! No hassle, no mess and no dishes to wash :)

So…how often did I eat out you ask? Well…EVERY  morning I would go out for breakfast at $8 to $10 a shot and I would also usually have dinner out as well at least four or five days a week!

Obviously, this lifestyle habit is not good for my bank account, let alone my waistline!

To save money in this area, I have begun – since the first of January – to eat at home way more frequently! I have relegated my breakfasts out to only two per week which I spend socializing with friends. The rest of my meals I have been eating at home, with the occasional invite to a friend’s home for dinner.

I know it’s only been a couple of weeks but I am really enjoying the challenge of coming up with tasty and nutritious home cooked meals that are also easy on the pocketbook.

As an example, last week I roasted a chicken – my second in ten years – along with potatoes, onions and garlic. The total cost was a little under ten dollars and I was able to feed myself and two friends (it was delish!). PLUS, I had enough leftovers for my next two dinners!! Hmmmm…this could be addictive folks :)

Have At Least Three “No-Spend” Days A Week:

In the past two weeks I have managed to have six intentional “no spend” days which has made me very pleased with myself :) And while it was relatively easy to accomplish, it took a little foresight and planning.

First off, I made sure that I had all that I needed in the groceries department so I wouldn’t need to run down to the local convenience store to buy something I forgot. Then I made sure that I wasn’t going to be socializing in a setting where I would need to spend money…no matter how small the amount. And some days I didn’t even plan for them being no-spend days, they just turned out that way!

Now, I realize that as a single dude with no dependents living with me, it is relatively easy for me to have three no-spend days a week. For others it may be too daunting a task, especially when there are little ones to consider. However, if it is possible to have at least one, if not two, no-spend days a week…even if every two weeks, then it might be worth the hassle.

Bonus Strategy: Don’t Pay For Anything You Can Get For Free!:

I started putting this strategy into play a few days ago and I’ve already saved myself a little under ten bucks! Here’s how I did that…

A few days ago, while working at the comedy club, I felt like buying a peppermint tea and two chocolate donuts at the Tim Horton’s downstairs. This has been my weekend routine (Friday and Saturday) for the past few months and I kinda like it.

Well, anyway…I was half way down the stairs when I stopped myself. “Do I really need this tea and doughnut break?” I wondered. “Or could I simply get something at the club that would satisfy me without costing anything?”

With that in mind, I turned around and headed back up the stairs. I ended up ordering a Cranberry juice alongside a small bowl of popcorn. And you know what? I was satisfied and happy! AND it cost me zero dollars!!! Plus, it was way healthier…relatively speaking of course! And on those nights when I really want a peppermint tea, I have a thermos at home so I can make a few cups before I leave and bring it to work with me. Kind of like my version of the brown bag lunch…except it’s tea!

You could do the same at your place of employment by obviously bringing your lunch to work. And most companies offer their employees free coffee and tea in the lunch room, so there’s really no need for the Starbucks infused morning coffee at almost five bucks or more a pop!

And while you all might be thinking, “oh c’mon Lyle…LIVE a little!! It’s just a few bucks!” Consider that I have spent at least nine dollars every weekend, on tea and donuts for the past four months. That’s about $150.00 that could have gone towards my recording project rather than padding the inside of my tummy! And while $150.00 might not seem like a bunch of cash, when coupled with all the other savings I could have done over the years, it most definitely adds up…big time!!

Imagine how much I could have saved just by making these small changes a year ago! I definitely would have had the cash needed for my CD, plus, I would no doubt be a lot thinner.

So, ladies and gentlemen, that is my mission for 2014…and hopefully beyond.

Now, you may already have your own savings plan and if so, mazel tov :) But…if you are looking for ways to cut down on spending while growing your emergency or vacation fund, maybe a few, or all of my tips can help you get to where you want to be financially a lot quicker.

It will most certainly involve a different mind-set and some good old fashion discipline on my part, but it shall be done! Oh yes…it shall be done! And believe me…I won’t be depriving myself by doing so either. I’ll still be living my happy-go-lucky life. Except this time, I’ll be happier knowing that I am finally working towards the culmination of a project that has been on my mind for far too long :) And THAT my friends, is better than any chocolate doughnut can taste…even two chocolate donuts!!

So…how do you plan on saving money throughout 2014?

Is there something worthwhile you have wanted to save up for but were unsure as to how to go about doing so?

If you have any suggestions and/or recommendations, I’d love to read your thoughts, so please continue this conversation in the comments section below.

Take care and all the best for an awesome simple and frugal 2014!!

Lyle

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Above piggy bank photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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