With the new year upon us, it’s a great time to step back and set some new financial goals for 2020 or even just review last year’s goals to see how you did. Did you even make financial goals for yourself last year?
It really is never too late to get yourself together and save some money.
1. Clean Out Your Closet
So many of us have amazing clothing that we bought in years past that have sat collecting dust in the back of our closets, tags still clinging on to the garment for dear life. If you find yourself looking for a “new year, new me” excuse for a new wardrobe, consider purging your closet first. Not only does this help to rid yourself of unwanted clothing, but you can take your new and gently used clothing to second-hand retailers in your area for a little extra cash. If your items are really nice (think names like Marc Jacobs or Burberry), you can also consign these items with online retailers like The Real Real or Tradesy. Pro tip: Be sure to look at the consignment policies wherever you go – you might not get the cash for your stuff right away.
2. Try Refurbished
If you’ve never bought refurbished before, have no fear! For higher-priced items such as electronics or appliances, buying refurbished can be an amazing way to save a whole lot of money in 2020. Anything from a pair of Powerbeats Pro earbuds to brand-name golf balls can be found refurbished for some pretty amazing savings. Pro tip: If you are purchasing a refurbished item, but want to feel a little more secure in what you’re buying, try to find items that are “certified” or “still under manufacturer warranty,” as these items are typically covered and returnable by the company that sells the product (i.e. Apple or Amazon), should you find something wrong with the product after purchase.
3. Sharing Toilet Paper Is Caring
In a world where we over-share everything, we sure don’t seem to share enough when it comes to money. In this case, I’m not talking about charity or giving here, but I am talking about sharing phone bills, memberships, and yes, even toilet paper. A typical cell phone bill comes in right under $100 per month in the United States. However, let’s say you share a two-line plan on one of the “Big Three” carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) and the total bill comes in at around $140 per month. That is a savings of around $20-30 per month on your cell phone bill, not to mention these family plans usually come with more perks or even unlimited data. Want to join a gym but feel the burn of a solo gym membership? Some places will offer plans to bring friends for free or offer cheaper monthly fees for “family” memberships. And if you are in a multi-person living situation, talk about sharing a membership to a warehouse store like Sam’s Club. Buying in bulk and splitting the cost with a roommate or even a non-cardholding friend can also save you a whole lot in the long run.
4. Prep, Save, and Splurge
I began to meal prep several years ago as a way to cut back on the bad habit of eating out multiple times per week. At first I started meal prepping just lunches. I would look up a recipe on a Saturday, grocery shop on a Sunday, take the afternoon to prepare the large meal, and then portion it out into appropriate containers for the week. However, once I became better at the art of meal prep on Sundays, I began to see eating out at restaurants and zooming through drive-thru lanes like I was a Formula 1 driver as a waste. Not only was I wasting money on food that I could make myself, but I was also wasting calories on mediocre French fries. After a while, it was not uncommon for me to consume at least four to five meals minimum per week outside of the home. After meal prepping became a habit, I was also more appreciative of the special occasions when I would plan to eat out. I began to get excited about a once-weekly splurge on a mediocre burger and Diet Coke. The $10 fast food meal became a little gift to myself that I now begin planning alongside meal-prep Sundays. If I manage to miss a fast food week, then I consider the original budget of $10 a coupon that I can now cash out on occasions where I want a $20 meal or on occasions when I am invited out with friends.
5. Ask And You Shall Receive
One of the biggest ways to save a whole lot of money that I have discovered over the years is by using my voice. I don’t mean that I use it in demanding or derogatory ways to get what I want, but rather I use my voice to ask for what I want. For example, when purchasing any clothing, I will always check for any type of defect in it. Many times stores will discount an item just for having an extra thread hanging loose. Several times I have neglected to ask for a larger size beverage after paying for a meal, and on occasion, the employee will just hand out a bigger cup. If I am in love with a particular sample that is being handed out for free, I will politely ask for a second sample. So often I am granted the polite request that I have asked. However, all of these requests are deeply based in gratitude for what I’ve already been given. Few polite requests for more of something will ever be granted unless you play your kindness card first. Go into the situation with gratitude, use your voice with kindness, and be willing to walk away from the exchange with the same gratitude even if your request is rejected. If you do get the discount, the larger beverage, or the extra free sample, be sure to pass along the kindness to another person somehow, somewhere. After all, we could all stand to save a little more money in our pockets and spread a little more kindness to one another in the process.