Money is tight for most of us in international relationships. In addition to normal costs of living, we are saving up for airplane tickets and other travel expenses. We may also be buying international phone cards and sending care packages abroad (a 2 lb. box sent to Malaysia costs me $35!). Finally, when things are looking up and you’re preparing to end the distance, you’re saddled with many other expenses. Here are 10 ways to stop spending and start saving your money. Your next visit might happen sooner than you thought!
1. First, take a look at your spending. Keep a notepad with you and document your spending. When you see everything written out, you will see some obvious places to cut your spending.
2. Save money automatically. Have your bank take a percentage of your paycheck and put it in to your savings account each time you make a deposit.
3. Stop eating out. Going to a restaurant is expensive! Save the trips out for special occasions and learn how to cook instead. This also goes for buying specialty coffee drinks. Do you really need that $4 caramel latte? If you buy a latte Monday through Friday, that’s $20 per week ($80 per month) on coffee alone! Eating out costs even more, so try taking a bag lunch to work. If you tend to eat out at night because you’re tired after work, try slow-cooking with a crockpot. Set it up before you go to work and you’ll be greeted with a hot meal when you get home.
4. Cancel your cable television. There’s no question that cable TV is nice, but do you need it? These days, many television shows can be streamed online. You can also go to your local library and check out movies and TV series on DVD for free. If you can’t stand to cancel your cable, you may want to try canceling any premium channels you have.
5. Disconnect your land line and/or downgrade your cell phone plan. If you already have a cell phone, do you really need a land line? It’s probably just an extra expense. On the same note, do you need 2000 minutes, unlimited texting and unlimited data? You may be able to scale back your cell phone plan and save money each month. Be aware, though, that you provider might force you to extend your plan when you make a change.
6. Start a coin jar. It may seem silly, but this is a great way to put money toward something special. I empty my purse nightly and throw all the change in my jar. When the jar is full, I take it to the bank and deposit the money directly in to a special account (travel expenses, my husband’s next birthday, etc.). They key here is putting the change in an account for a specific purpose, not a general checking account.
7. Avoid impulse buys. Most of the purchases I’ve regretted in my life have been on-the-spot impulse buys. When you see something you want to buy, give yourself some time to think about it. If it’s small, sleep on it. If it’s big, take a week or even a month to be sure you’d like to make the purchase.
8. Shop smart at the grocery store. Shop with a list, don’t go to the store hungry and avoid convenience foods. If you shop the outer rim of the store, you’re going to be better off.
9. Group your errands. Save money on gas by grouping your errands together instead of running out of the house for every little thing.
10. Take on another job. Last but not least, we have the most obvious option. Get another part-time job if you have the time available. If you have writing/design/coding skills, try to get some freelance work on a site like Elance. Many retailers are beginning to hire holiday workers right now if you’d rather add a temporary second job.
Have more tips for spending less and saving more? Please share them in a comment!