Nobody is perfectly frugal. Everyone has at least one money wasting habit. Eliminate just one of these, calculate the amount of money you would have spent, and put that money aside, and you will have more spare cash. As with all budgeting and money saving tips and tricks, none of these will solve all your financial problems. You are broke or struggling because of the interplay of numerous issues, some of which have more to do with our society as a whole than your habits. But if you just need a little more leftover at the end of the month, see if more money than you realize is draining away below your awareness.
Buying things through rakuten (formerly ebates) or other money saving apps, just to get money back
People like to describe rakuten as “being paid to shop.” The company even uses the line in their advertisements. Not quite. If you were being paid to shop, you would be offered an hourly wage, or paid a set fee per trip or online session for going shopping. The cost of the items you bought would be refunded to you in full.
Rakuten offers you a small discount on your purchases by reimbursing you for a percentage of your total bill. This is not being paid to shop. This is getting a small rebate on your purchase.
Shopping through rakuten is better than not shopping through rakuten, but only if you were going to buy something anyway. If I buy $100 worth of product at a store that does not offer me a 3% rebate, I pay $100 for my products. If I shop through ebates with a 3% rebate, I pay $97 for the same products. But the site is only a good deal if you already decided to purchase those items anyway. If I have $100 right now, and I can either spend it through rakuten and get $3.00 back, or I can not spend it at all and keep all $100, I’m going to have more money if I skip shopping.
Using ATMs with fees
Cash makes me impatient. We rely so much on debit cards, I never even carry cash unless I’m about to load it onto my laundry room card. Anytime I’m faced with needing cash, I use the ATM, and just take the fees. I need to learn patience in that situation. It would save me a lot of money over the course of a year.
Making a small purchase and asking for cash back would be a lot smarter. Fees are typically around $3.00-$6.00, but a tube of lip balm or bottle of soda is only about $1.00 to $2.00, and I would have something to show for the money.
Planning ahead would be the best option. I could have stopped by my bank and withdrawn the cash before going to the event and saved myself even the smallest hassle and expense.
Keeping up past collections
Collecting guitars or other instruments and CDs is great for musicians. Most writers have a collection of books. Those should never be given up. But most of us don’t need to keep collecting handbags when we carry the same one all the time, or continue to collect coffee mugs or cat figurines just because we started the collection ten years ago. If it truly does make you happy to collect something, by all means do so. Just stop buying things out of habit that you no longer truly want.
Sometimes our collections aren’t literal “collections,” but items we tend to stock up on unnecessarily. Some people can’t stop buying the black pants they wear to work, or think they need a new bedspread or table cloth every time they go to the store. I personally do not need any more white blouses, throw rugs, or pillows for the couch. I could wear a white blouse every day for about two or three weeks without doing laundry. I have around six of them. If I get one more throw rug or pillow for the couch, it will be hard for us to walk around or sit down in here. More simply are not needed.
Buying things we are told we “should” buy.
I almost bought a full face of makeup. Modern makeup looks take fifteen to twenty products to re-create. It seems to be the standard. But unless you truly enjoy using twenty products, buying all of those is just a waste of money. I look ridiculous when I put on more than eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick, and with my coloring, even those have to be in the basic black/brown/gray shades for the eyes and pink, peach, or red for the lips. Purchasing everything that goes with the few products I use could add around a hundred dollars to a purchase, and most of it would be worn once.
Makeup was easy to resist, because I’m not that into it. When I get interested in something, I get so excited, I buy everything. I’m the person who will go to buy an instrument and come out with ten extra cases, two sets of learning software, and five books I never intended to buy just because I got so eager to get it and wasn’t sure what all I might need.
Take a step back and examine any extras and add ons and items to make a set when you’re being pressured to buy additional things, whether that pressure is coming from advertising or a salesperson.
Using coupons or shopping sales thoughtlessly
Every coupon is not a good deal. Sometimes that free item obligates us to buy other items, and we may not even want some of those things.
Sales may not be in our best interest either. Sometimes the item is marked up before the sale, so we aren’t really getting the good deal we see in front of us. Shopping sales can also lead to thoughtless extra purchases. We get so excited that we saved $100 on the new dishes, we buy a set of $115 pots and pans we had no need to purchase.
None of these will rescue you from serious financial issues. But they can spare you the “I thought I had cash” moments we all have from time to time.