Mrs. Goblin and I are no strangers to being broke. That’s why we’re experts at cutting corners, and today I’m gonna share our top 10 tips for spending and saving smarter instead of working harder.
#1. Avoid In-Store Mind Control
Let’s get started with a somewhat strange tip that’s actually based on some serious science. It turns out, just by playing certain music, a store can encourage you to buy more stuff. And some stores even pump in smells to make you stay longer and buy even more stuff.
The good news is it’s pretty easy to avoid these scents and subtle sounds. All you’ve got to do is wear headphones and chew gum while shopping. Seriously, try it some time. You will find yourself spending significantly less if you tune out things meant to distract you.
#2. Save a Little Instead of a Lot
So many people focus on saving large sums of money they get sticker shock and bail. Thankfully, my father Gilbert taught me all about setting a daily savings goal when I was just a wee knee-nibbler.
A daily savings goal — like saving a dollar a day — seems much more accessible and realistic than saving $30 a month, but you’ll still end up with $365 a year! A $5 a day approach will put $1,825 in your savings account at the end of the year.
Did you really think you could save almost $2,000 a year? You can! Just set your sights low 🙂
#3. Pay Your Mortgage Every Two Weeks
If you’ve got a mortgage, you’re probably doing it wrong. Now, instead of making a full payment every month, I make 26 payments a year — one every two weeks.
The downside is I have to pay a little more often, and I’ll end up paying the equivalent of 13 payments a year. But, the upside is that by sticking to this plan I’ll pay off my 30 year mortgage 2½ years early.
My neighbor Gary taught me this trick and I’m glad he did. I’ll have the Goblin den paid off before Gabby’s out of college, which is really nice.
#4. Remember That Time is Money
Okay, this one’s a little harder because you’ve got to do some math, but stick with me because it’s worth it.
Instead of trying to justify to cost of buying something expensive, focus on how many hours you’d have to work to pay it off. Even if you make $20 an hour, it still takes about 7 hours (after taxes) to pay for a $100 night-out-on-the-town.
Once you realize you’ve got to work for a week-and-a-half to pay for that new 4K television, you might decide it’s just not worth it.
#5. Save Your $20’s, $50’s and $100’s
Every once in a while, you’ll end up with a large bill or two in your wallet. When this happens, do your best to hang on to them.
Even though four $5 bills or two $10 bills is the same as a $20, the larger bill seems more important, so you’re gonna be less likely to spend it.
Change the way you think about the smaller bills and make an effort to save every bill that’s $20 or more. It won’t take long for you to notice the difference.
#6. Cut Out the Meat Now and Then
It’s hard to notice when you’re buying a ton of stuff, but even if you buy on sale and in bulk the price of meat can really inflate your grocery bill.
To combat this, pick a few days of the week to go “meatless” in your home. It’s kinda hard for me to say this, but there are a lot of amazing, healthy vegetarian recipes out there, so you’ll be eating well AND saving money on groceries.
#7. Grow Your Own Vegetables
Since you’re already gonna go meatless a few days a week, you can save even more money by growing your own vegetables.
Now that’s easy for a Goblin to say since we’re naturally born with a green thumb and all, but I promise you, as long as you have some land and some sunlight, you can grow vegetables yourself.
Then, every summer you’ll save a bunch of money on things like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Plus, gardening is kinda relaxing, and a great way to spend time with Mrs. Goblin.
#8. Buy a Slightly Older Car
If you’re in the market for a “new” car, think twice before you get the latest model of vehicle from this year. Instead, opt for a car that is about two or three years old.
Just like a new car, you can expect a few-year-old car to be reliable and offer most of the modern stuff you’re looking for like Bluetooth and keyless starters. And unlike a new car, a slightly used car will have worked through some of the kink, and won’t depreciate as quickly.
#9. Keep a Change Jar
About five years, Mrs. Goblin and I put an empty coffee can on the counter where we leave our keys and other junk. And whenever we got home, we’d throw all of our loose change in there.
Some days we’d only add like $0.53, and other days you end up with a buck or two in change. But even those small amounts add up big. After just six months of collecting change, we had close to $100! It was pretty awesome.
Please note: we brought our change to the bank, and you should do. Those Coinstar machines you see in the grocery store usually charge a fee, but banks pretty much never do, so you can make sure you’re getting all the money you’ve saved.
#10. Stick to Water When You Eat Out
Of all the tips, this one has got to be the easiest to pull off. You see, us Goblins just love some sugary soda, and I certainly don’t mind a cold beer now and again, but the cost to add drinks to your meal at a restaurant can add up quickly.
That’s why when we eat out, we ONLY get water. You’ll instantly save a few dollars on your meal for every drink you’d have ordered. See, told you it was easy!
You may think some of these things won’t make a different, but all you need to do is make a few of them a regular habit and you will notice a difference in your cash flow. It’s not an unrealistic dream to establish a “slush fund” to get the things you want, and you may even be able to rack up a nice little nestegg. Plus, all of these money hacks can be implemented no matter how much you make every month.
Bonus Money Hack: Use a Meal Planner
If you’re running out of ways to save money on groceries, it might be time to consider meal planning.
Meal planning is exactly what it sounds like. You spend some time planning all meals you’re going to eat in a given week. Then, you buy all the stuff you need all at once. There are even great meal planner websites that do all the hard work of choosing what to eat and making shopping lists for you.
Sound interesting? Learn more about how to save money with meal planning and discover some “Dollar Goblin Approved” meal planners that will save you time and money.