8 Easy Ways To Save Money, If You're Sticking To A Budget For The First Time
Being an "adult" means having and sticking to a budget. Right now, you may not have the funds for everything you want to do, and that's totally OK. You're probably working and have an idea of where you want to be. There are some easy ways to save money that you should know about, especially if you're sticking to a budget for the very first time.
The summer after I graduated college, I was on a mission to save as much money as possible. Between all of those weekends out on the town, buying books for classes, and the adventures that came with senior year — well, I was broke. But, I had too many travels and such ahead of me, that I knew I needed to build a budget. One day, I wanted to get my own apartment, or maybe move to the West Coast. Not to mention, my bucket list was longer than the menu at Starbucks. So, it was time to figure out some ways to save money for the future.
I looked at what I was spending, and stuck to the food I bought at the store instead of going out for pizza. It was honestly a lot easier than I thought it would be, and before I knew it, I was booking flights and sticking to a budget for the first time. These eight ways to save some money will be exactly what you're looking for. Just know, it's OK to splurge sometimes, too.
1. Cook For Yourself
Sticking to your budget means maybe not ordering pizza and takeout every single night. Trust me, it truly hurts me to say that this Friday night you shouldn't grab a bite at your favorite Italian spot down the street, but it'll help your bank account immensely to cook for yourself more often.
It's time that you put all of that Food Network you've watched to the test. You've seen enough episodes of Chopped to know exactly what ingredients to avoid. Even Pinterest has your back, with an endless number of recipes that'll surely turn your apartment into your very own restaurant.
2. Skip Out On Your Daily Coffee Run
OK, hear me out on this one. Right now, you're probably thinking, "No way, I'm not skipping out on coffee," and I'm not telling you to ditch the caffeine altogether. *Sighs of relief.* But, I am here to say that if you're trying to stick to your first budget, you may want to reconsider your routine of grabbing a morning brew at your local coffee shop.
Although it's no doubt that your usual barista is your best friend in this world, you can save some money by pouring yourself a cup at home. You can buy a bag of beans and grind them in the morning for all of the same flavors without spending $5 and blowing your bank account. Even just a week or two away from your coffee run will make a big difference.
3. Don't Spend Too Much On Saturday Nights
There's truly nothing like a Saturday night out with your girls at the bar to wreck your budget. Yes, you're spending money in the pursuit of making some sweet memories with your besties. But if you're looking to add to your savings account, maybe consider putting a limit on how much you want to spend.
If you're 21 or older, then you likely know that buying drinks can really add up, especially weekend after weekend — the tab you create is probably enough to take yourself on a trip. Even when you're sticking to a budget, you can (and should) absolutely still go out and have fun. Just figure out before the night starts how much you want to spend, and then try your best to stick to it.
4. Use Your Credit Card Points
Odds are, if you have a credit card, you've racked up all sorts of points. These can be put toward discounts when you go to shop, or even take money off your bill. Suddenly, you're sticking to your budget because you've essentially earned some free money. Sounds pretty sweet, huh?
Personally, I always use my points when I'm traveling so that plane tickets don't quite break the bank. Even my grocery store card acquires rewards that can later be used on gas. If you're looking to stick to your budget or travel like a blogger this summer, then you'll want to take advantage of those offers for yourself.
5. Become A Coupon Clipper
Get with the coupon culture if you're truly looking to stick to your first budget. Back in the day, when you'd run errands with your mom, you probably saw her pull out those little clippings from the paper and watched them get scanned. Now that you're the adult, you're realizing that you can seriously save some money by collecting them yourself and shopping based on the deals you snagged.
Coupons are a lifesaver — especially when you hit up your favorite store, where it's so easy to walk in for one thing and leave with an entire cart of stuff you probably didn't need. Download the apps for your favorite places, and even go through your email to see what discounts are currently out there. Fifty percent off mac and cheese? Well, there's your dinner at a discounted price.
6. Always Shop The Sale Rack
If you're trying to stick to a budget, then shopping is probably your biggest problem. It's so tempting to scroll through the new arrivals at your favorite store when you're at work. Would it be so bad if you splurged? Well, I'm all for treating yourself. But, I've found that the sale rack can be your best friend and full of fashionable deals.
Thrift shopping is also a great way to save some money. Gather up your girl crew and hit up Goodwill, or sift through the endless racks in a local spot that's known for having good vintage finds. You'll be surprised by the pieces you walk away with and how you can work them into your closet.
7. Get Outside More Often
Especially in summer, there are so many things you can do for free, as long as you're willing to get outside. Sure, some activities and sports come with rental fees, but have you ever considered just hitting the trails right in your town?
There are waterfalls, state parks, and bike paths that are waiting to be explored, and they won't cost you a penny. Not to mention, you'll feel good that you've gotten outside and spent some time in the sunshine, while saving lots of money and sticking to your budget. Weekends in the city with your friends are fun and all, but you can make some sweet memories down by the beach without breaking the bank, too.
8. Sort Through Your Expenses
The best way to save some money is not to spend it in the first place. When you're building your first budget, and even considering your first adult job, you'll think a lot about your income versus your expenses. It sort of comes with the whole adulting thing, and you'll spend some time planning out your funds a bit so that you can one day get that dream apartment or take a tropical trip.
During this process, it's key to see where your money is currently going. Are you paying for a gym membership that you don't even use? What about that cable bill, when all you watch is Netflix? Saving money is actually easier than you believe, and so is sticking to your budget.