You spend money every day —on food, healthcare, subscriptions, utilities, and whatnot. Many of these prices are uncontrollable. After all, you need food to live! However, there are clever ways to whittle down prices here and there. Here’s a list to get you started.
- BUY NO-NAME HOUSEHOLD ESSENTIALS
There’s a difference between a Honda and a BMW, but there’s very little difference between, say, brand-name flour and generic flour. Both will end up baked into a pastry anyway, and I doubt you can taste the difference. So you can easily save some money by going with the less costly generic product. Same goes for other consistent products like frozen vegetables, toilet paper, and flavoring spices.
- BUY GENERIC MEDICATION
According to the FDA, there’s practically no difference between brand-name and generic medication except the price. Generic drugs can cost 80–85% less than their brand-name counterparts. And aside from natural variance, the drug will work the same. One of the reasons for this is because they benefit from reduced up-front research costs.
- BUY MEDICATION ONLINE
Yes, buying medication online may make you feel uneasy, and you’re right to use caution when buying anything online. But if you do your homework, you’ll discover there are trustworthy sources out there. For example, Rx Connected is a Canadian pharmacy referral service that connects users to affordable medication from international and Canadian pharmacies. When using that service, you’ll find that the drugs can be much cheaper due to countries outside the US generally having tougher price regulations.
- TURN DOWN THE HEAT
According to the US Department of Energy, you can save 10% a year on heating and cooling just by turning back your thermostat 7–10?F for eight hours a day. So dial back the temperature when you’re at work or asleep in bed. If you’re cold, get an extra blanket. If you’re hot, open up some windows.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GROUP SUBSCRIPTION PLANS
Group subscriptions allow you and several others to take advantage of a set price for simultaneous subscription use. For instance, four people can watch four screens at the same time with the Netflix premium plan. Similarly, the family plan for Spotify can support a maximum of five people residing at the same address. You may also be able to take advantage of group subscriptions from your workplace or school as they may be subscribed to publications like The New York Timesand handy databases like Lynda.com.
- SKIP THE FANCY FOOD
Go into any grocery store and you’ll be inundated with labels boasting characteristics likeGMO-free, organic, gluten-free, and more. But are these words really worth the extra cost of these premium products?
According to the World Health Organization, all pesticidesused on food intended for international trade do not damage DNA (sidenote: damaged DNA can cause cancer). The only people who may have concern with significant toxicity levels are farmers who work directly with the plants. Fear of GMOs may be similarly unfounded.
- DRINK WATER
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where public tap water is safe, not buying bottled water (or soda) may be the best thing to do on this list. Bottled water is incomparable to tap water both in terms of price and in terms of the environment. Tap water allows you to stay hydrated at a low cost while protecting the environment from additional plastic waste. And if you’re normally a soda-drinker, cutting down on soda is good for your health, too!
- TURN LIGHTS OFF WHEN YOU DON’T NEED THEM
Not in the room? Turn the light off to save on electricity bills, and remind everyone in your household to uphold the same habit. Pretty soon, it’ll be unconscious second nature to you to turn off the lights every time you leave a room.
- DON’T BUY SUPPLEMENTS (UNLESS YOU NEED THEM)
Most people don’t need supplements. Ask your doctor first before spending money on supplements. Over-doing it on some vitamins might even be bad for you. If you really must buy supplements, buy the less expensive generic versions.
- BUY USED HOBBY EQUIPMENT
You can buy things used and still get a lot out of them. New guitars, snowboards, and tools are expensive, but when you’re just starting out, an entry-level model of what you’re looking for can be significantly cheaper on the used market. After a year or two, evaluate whether you want to continue the hobby (i.e., guitar-playing) before buying a new piece of equipment.
- BUY REFURBISHED TECHNOLOGY
You can buy a refurbished product and have it perform as well as a brand-new one. People change their minds every day and return products they’ve only used once or twice to the store. For example, Apple’s refurbished products get outfitted with a new battery and shipped free to you.
- BUY USED CLOTHING
Yes, some clothes (like underwear) should not be bought used! However, do go explore the thrift shop first before you head to the mall the next time you need new clothes. You can find very nice clothes (among other things) at thrift stores for cheap, including brand-new items and designer brands.
There are some things that you’ll only need for a short period of time. For example: college textbooks. If your roommate isn’t using her Introduction to Microbiology this semester, ask to borrow it. Worst-case scenario, you pay a small price.
You can also start a sharing circle among like-minded friends. For example, you can make a group, where everyone pitches in money to buy books and then takes turns reading them.
- DO IT YOURSELF
DIY-ing isn’t for everyone, and attempting to fix your own plumbing or roof can have disastrous consequences. But there are some things you know you can handle, but just don’t because it’s easier paying someone else to do it. From cooking your own meals and washing your own car to hemming your own clothes, simple everyday fixes are skills that can be learned once and applied for a lifetime.
- DON’T EAT OUT
Eating out is a huge money-sucker. That $10 lunch every weekday amounts to a whopping $50 per week on an item that is used only once. Try to decrease the amount of food you buy outside. If you do the math, you may be surprised to learn that eating out is one of your biggest expenses!
- SWITCH TO VAPING —BETTER YET, QUIT SMOKING
NerdWallet crunched the numbers and found that in the long run, e-cigarettes are a cheaper investment than smoking the traditional, combustible stuff. Or, you can save money from tobacco altogether by quitting smoking. Both your lungs and your wallet will thank you for that.
- CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL
Alcohol is another unnecessary vice. If you’re not a drinker, don’t start. If you are a drinker, consider cutting back. In general, the higher the alcohol content in a beverage, the more expensive it is. You can start cutting back by simply looking for lower-alcohol-content alternatives to your favorite drinks.
- RE-USE THINGS IN CREATIVE WAYS
Do as the hipsters do and re-use your jam jars as water glasses! Use cereal and shipping boxes for storage and old clothes as cleaning rags. Re-use plastic utensils if you have them, and some take-out boxes nowadays can even be used to bring a few lunches to work.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF
Finally, invest some time into learning about personal finance. You might just discover a trick you’d never known.