For most people, personal finances ebb and flow. One minute, you’re surrounded by a wave of good fortune; the next, your bank account has run dry. It’s no wonder that 1 out of 5 employees says they run out of money every week.
It may sound a bit silly to set savings goals of $20 here or $50 there. After all, what good can $20 do in an emergency fund when the rent’s due? But it’s amazing how those tiny contributions add up.
In an effort to unearth tips from the masses, we turned to one of the greatest idea centres on the internet: Reddit.
If you haven’t yet read the “front page of the internet,” Reddit is just that. It’s a self-described “Social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.”
Anyone can submit content, from a GIF to a story to a video. Members can upvote and downvote content so that the most-popular, most-read posts are those recommended by other users, not an algorithm.
Given the extraordinary amount of traffic Reddit receives and the wide diversity of users the site attracts, we decided to put the question to the masses:
Redditors had some great ideas on saving and spending money more wisely. Tips that ranged from “just be a homebody” to leaving items in your virtual shopping cart for at least 24 hours prior to making an online purchase.
One user pointed out several easy tips that—like $20 or $50 saved—might seem small but would certainly add up over time.
- Kill two birds with one stone. Look into fun volunteering opportunities where you get to participate in the events you enjoy while doing good for others.
- Don’t buy individual cleaning products. Buy empty spray bottles and then buy the big refill bottles. Or make your own lemon and vinegar or bleach or baking soda solutions.
- Save your money for better quality products where it matters. Opt for shoes and clothes and tools that will last, so you don’t have to constantly replace them. It’s worth the savings over time.
- Take care of your stuff. Don’t abuse your personal belongings, but maintain them properly and they will last longer.
Another suggestion that savings start in the store and move to the kitchen. Nothing depletes your pay quite like a trip to the supermarket. It’s amazing how much it costs to eat well, particularly if you’re the sort of person who enjoys trying new recipes.
It’s no wonder most responses from Redditors, when asked how they make their pay go further, had to do with grocery shopping and a better meal plan.
Here’s the advice they gave, narrowed down to a step-by-step, money-saving tips list:
1. Review your current waste
How much food are you throwing out each week? Are there any food items you consistently buy but don’t finish in time?
“Change either your shopping habits or your eating habits based on this.” —GrumpyJ1001
2. Compare prices so you know where to shop
Start with the staple foods like milk, bread, rice, and eggs. Record the prices and compare similar products to figure out which stores have the best deals.
“Depending on the distance from your home, it may be worth it to shop at different stores instead of all at once to reduce the cost of your grocery bill.” —sipsredpepper
3. Plan (uncomplicated) meals ahead of time
Take into account the week’s schedule. What might sound fun when you’re making your list could sound completely impossible after a day of work, carting the kids back and forth to activities, and cleaning the kitchen.
Plan for meals you can make quickly and easily and with ingredients that either won’t go bad immediately (if there are some left over) or can be used in multiple meals.
4. Don’t over-commit to fresh produce
If planning meals for a long stretch doesn’t work for you, try breaking your shopping trips down into small batches and consider buying foods in whatever form will help them last the longest.
Sure, fresh Brussels sprouts may be cheaper and potentially tastier, but frozen sprouts are equally healthy and can be made up whenever there’s time.
“I make a list for two days of cooked food and one day of ‘quick food’ like an oven pizza or a takeout day. If it’s too complicated to make, you wind up not doing it.” —sit_in_syrup
5. Get rid of your most expensive groceries
Meats and alcohol are often the priciest items on the grocery list, next to paper towels and cleaning products. Consider implementing a vegetarian night once a week or going on an alcohol-free cleanse.
Make use of reusable items like rags instead of paper towels, and try rinsing out sandwich bags or foil so each piece can be used more than once.
Start saving more with small changes today
While there are likely folks out there who get a kick out of saying no to a night out on the town or a weekend away, for most of us, building up a savings account means making necessary sacrifices.
And it’s not just big-ticket items like trips and cars. It’s choosing to eat at home rather than eating out, not stopping for a coffee on the way to work, or wearing the same clothes summer after summer. On the business side of things, the same principle holds true: lowering overhead costs, reducing operating costs, and even going green can all be accomplished through small, smart changes.
After all, it’s the little things that—over the long term—add up to big savings.