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Saving money in these uncertain times sounds like an impossible feat. Despite the current state of the world, there are some ways you can begin to sort out your finances. Here are some tips for saving money by making a few simple life changes.
Predict costs and prepare
Working out what your necessary spends are is a good way to understand how much you really need to spend each day, week or month. There are some things you won't be able to avoid like essential grocery items, public transport or petrol costs if you still have to attend work as well as phone and internet bills. Everything else, however, should be an optional spend and you can find ways to avoid spending it.
Plan your meals and write a list of the foods you will need for the week so you don't buy unnecessary groceries. Consider changing to a cheaper internet and phone provider. Websites like Finder and Whistleout can help you compare plans.
To work out what is an essential cost, write a list of all your expenses and make the ones you can't give up.
Minor adjustments might not look like much for that week but eventually, after consecutive months of saving, it can help grow your bank balance that little bit more.
Invest in long-term, practical purchases
Now is a great time to consider what you can buy that will save you money in the long-run. It lets you feel like you are splurging, but it is in a practical way.
Now you can't visit your gym, put your membership on hold and use free online exercise programs to stay in shape, go for a run down the middle of your street or buy weights that you can continue to use in your own home.
As your local cafe is closed, it could be a good time to buy a coffee machine and save money over a long period. Instead of buying take away for most meals, invest in some cooking utensils and pots and learn to cook at home. Don't buy fresh herbs for every meal, grow them in your garden.
It might be a smart move to set up your home office with a monitor, desk and chair. Having a home office allows you to claim all your work-from-home expenses on tax.
Stop browsing shopping sites
Sometimes when you're trying to save money, the little devil on your shoulder pushes you to look at what you're missing out on for a bit of harmless curiosity. This could mean heading to a shopping site to see what sales are going or to see if those shoes you wanted are back in stock.
The best thing to do when you're finding yourself doing this is to take a breath and stop yourself. Delete the app if that's going to help too. Going cold turkey sucks initially but once the need for that instant gratification hit wears off, you'll find you never really needed anything you were searching for in the first place. Plus, you'll be able to use those savings for your essential spending budget, like food and internet.
Indulge in new hobbies
A new hobby can sometimes mean a little bit of spending to start with but it eventually pays off if it distracts you from splurging on something else. Buying some new running shoes and then spending your afternoons going for runs or buying a new film camera and going for little adventures to capture the best shot will leave you feeling fulfilled and stop you from endlessly scrolling social media, feeling bored inside and get the mental health break you need.
There's an initial investment, which sounds counter-intuitive to saving, but it will quite literally pay off in the end.
Choose new activities with friends
If hanging out with your friends usually means going to a bar or restaurant, consider coming up with new ideas that don't require you to empty your savings.
Going for a walk somewhere is both a healthy and cost-free activity you can try out, as long as you remain 1.5 metres apart due to social distancing guidelines, and it won't leave you with a $100 in the red. If walking isn't your vibe, meet in an online chat for your lunch break or an after work beverage. Sure, they might not sound as fun as a night out on the town but the savings you make will be worth it.
Pause on the buy now, pay later
With the rise of alternative payment methods online, new options have led people into the trap of accumulating debt under the guise of free products. Buy now, pay later methods allow you to pay for purchases in instalments, which is great if you're wanting to disperse payments across a longer period but terrible if you're trying to save money.
It's best to forfeit these payment options while you're in savings mode and confront yourself with the reality of having to pay the full price upfront. If you wouldn't do that, you probably shouldn't defer it to next month either.
Saving money doesn't have to be a chore at the end of the day. With rational planning and a realistic outlook on your spendings, you can still enjoy life while squirrelling some money away.