You may have heard of the phrase, “Live the life you’ve always wanted,” but it can be difficult to do this when your paycheck seems to diminish each month in support of rent, food, bills, and other necessary means.
Here, how to live the life you want, without depending on a nightly regimen of Ramen and wishing on your lucky stars to win the lottery.
- Go to the grocery store. If you spend $5 a meal eating out twice a week, you’re spending an average of $520/year just for fast-food style meals. According to one blogger, for a family of four to eat dinner at an average chain restaurant twice a week, the cost is about $50, which adds up to $2600/year. Consider the number of meals you can extract from a $50 grocery trip for one week in comparison.
By cooking meals at home, you’ll not only save money but can take ownership over how masterful a chef you are (think of all those recipes you’ve been Pinteresting but never made)! Besides, there is a certain ease that comes with knowing the ingredients in your food are healthy and fresh because you prepared it.
- Buy items you need in bulk at a wholesale store. Think BJ’s, Sam’s Club, Costco. Wholesale stores usually require membership fees of $45-55 a year, although BJ’s offers a free 60 day membership. If you’re not willing to pay annual fees, there are always supermarket promotions or your local dollar store. Ollie’s is another great hidden jewel; the bargain outlet store sells overstocked or discontinued items ranging from books and toys to sporting goods, home supplies, and furniture in brand names you recognize.
- Look for deals. Groupon,Living Social, and Yipit are great examples of how you can save on your regular weekly or monthly social activities, from dining, healthy and beauty, events, and fitness, to electronics, automotives, and trips.
For the best fares on flights, CheapAir.com recommends booking 29 to 104 days before departure, which basically means to book early, especially considering A) if your flight is international or domestic, B) if you’re traveling for a holiday, D) and if the location is in popular demand.
Searching for good deals isn’t just a money saver; it’s good practice. In the end, looking outside of your pride and at your wallet, you’ll be thankful you took the extra time.
- Sign up for rewards. Ask about rewards cards at places you frequent often, where you can gain points each visit and eventually freebies. You can also invest in sites like Swagbucks and mypoints.com, which award users for participating in activities they already do online, like shopping, searching items, watching videos, reading emails, and answering surveys. “Swagbucks” or “points” are redeemed for cash or gift cards from favorite brands like Amazon or Starbucks.
- Don’t be afraid to check out flea markets, farmer’s markets, and consignment stores. These places will surprise you with great deals, opportunities for experimenting with your closet, and peaks into earlier times. Some examples in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area include:
Plato’s Closet – “brand name gently used clothing stores”
Buffalo Exchange – “new and recycled fashion”
Columbus Farmer’s Market – with an indoor and outdoor flea market, Amish market, and Antiques Mall
Grand Marketplace – with new and used home and personal merchandise, antiques, collectibles, and vintage items.
Reading Terminal Market – a historic public market with locally grown produce, baked goods, and a variety of restaurants