To Spend Less Money is Like Making More
By Steve Gillman
Though I often report on unusual ways to make it, spending
less money is an interest of mine as well. Saving a little on
each purchase or expense can effectively be a way to make money.
Suppose you want to make two thousand four hundred dollars for
a vacation. You might work extra shifts or find other ways to
generate the three thousand dollars necessary to meet your goal
after taxes are taken out. But you can also find ways to spend
forty-six dollars less each week, and set those savings aside
for a year to raise that $2,400.
Spending less money as a substitute for making more is not
unusual, but it is less common than it was in the past.
Today many people look to spend less only when forced to do so
by circumstance, rather than as a way to set aside savings for
those things that are important. Actually saving those savings
is the key, of course. You'll need to actually put the money
aside when you spend less - preferably in a separate bank account
set up for your important goals. If not, you're just changing
how you spend your money - spending less here and more over there
without noticing any real change in lifestyle.
To save big, and to therefore have the money for your goals,
start with the big expenses first. For example, to build up that
vacation fund fast, or put together a down payment for a house,
or save for a business, you need to look at things like housing
costs, utilities, car payments and anything that take a big chunk
of your monthly pay. You might cut your house payment by a hundred
fifty dollars monthly, for example, by refinancing at a lower
interest rate. Save the difference and you'll have $18,000 in
ten years. Or if you rent a smaller apartment for a hundred dollars
less per month, and save another fifty on utilities because it's
small, this can also add up to thousands of dollars over the
Besides the large items in the budget, there are many small
things you can spend less on. You might look for other uses for
things that you already have or would normally discard. A few
suggestions follow, for saving on the small stuff in this way.
Repurposing to Spend Less Money
Computer mouse pads are common enough now that they are often
thrown out. But you can use them as kneeling pads when gardening
or doing projects that require you to kneel on the floor or ground.
This can save you a few dollars versus buying the pads made for
that purpose. Mouse pads also work as jar openers (the thin rubbery
You might receive free address labels as part of direct mail
campaigns for charities. My wife and I get them almost every
week. We have more than we'll ever use for our letters. Fortunately
they can used to label possessions, or to stick notes to things
with no need to tear off a piece of tape, and as staple substitutes.
For the latter just fold a label over the top corner of two pieces
of paper to hold them together. No big savings, but it adds up.
Gallon jugs that milk and orange juice come in have many which
might allow you to spend less money on other things. You can
tie one to a cement block and use this to mark a good fishing
spot, for example. You can make a good funnel (for some purposes)
by cutting the jug in half and using the top part. The bottom
half can be used as a water dish for pets, or as a small, lightweight
dish washing basin for backpacking and camping.
Cut the top of a jug off diagonally and you have a scoop with
a handle (leave the screw-top on), which can be used for scooping
out dog food, as a sand scoop for the kids to play with, and
as a seed or fertilizer spreader for lawns. You can store things
like bird seed, rice, salt for the sidewalk, or anything that
gets too messy in a bag in these plastic jugs..
Ideally you want to look not just for other uses for things,
but for uses that substitute for something you would have otherwise
bough, so you spend less money. And though these are not ways
to save big money, if you find enough of these small ways, it
adds up over time. Just be sure to set aside the savings, and
this can be effectively the same as making more money, but perhaps
with less effort than taking a second job or working more hours.
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