Gone are the happy-go-lucky days of the early '00s. The overtly gaudy “let’s max out our credit cards on shiny things” bling craze of the early 2000s gave way as the global economy took a nosedive, and in its place a new thrift-conscious mentality has emerged. Now stretching every dollar to its maximum potential has become paramount. To that end, there can never be enough economic survival tips when your bank account is suffering from account balance anemia.
7. The End of Impulse Buying
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Getting into the mentality of saving money is similar to the way nutritionists teach people how to eat healthy. First and foremost, you have to control your impulses. Consumer advertising is designed by companies with the help of psychologists to disarm your ability to logically consider purchases.
As a result, we are drawn to the newest, latest, and greatest gear we can get our hands on, even though sometimes we don't even really know why.
But if you can actually hold back for a minute and really ask yourself “Do I really need this?” and assess whether or not that purchase is actually worth committing to (and if it's going to really make a difference in your life), you’ll probably find yourself with a lot more money in your pocket and a lot less useless crap strewn around your apartment.
6. Learn How to Cook
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This goes anywhere from just straight up Top Ramen to homemade chicken fajita wraps. Unless you start cooking up one pound filet mignons every night, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll save a ton of cash by eating at home rather than going out or ordering delivery.
The math speaks for itself: If you spend $10 a day eating out, that’s almost four grand a year just to get a greaseburger and some fries for lunch and/or dinner. But it’s nearly effortless to cut that cost in half by just buying food at the grocery store and making your own lunches and dinners. So get yourself a copy of the Frugal Gourmet and go to town. Plus, you'll save a ton of cash on bypass surgery down the road!
5. Ride a Bike
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What's faster than walking, somewhat cooler than rollerblading (impossible, we know), and cheaper than driving? Your old Huffy 10 speed!
If you live in a urban area, this is really a no-brainer. You'll nix car payments, car insurance payments, and repair costs in one sweeping move. Not to mention that you can burn off that beer gut for free instead of paying for a gym membership you'll never use anyway.
And since being “green” is totally hawt right now, you might even score some neo-hippie tail out of it. Just make sure she brings a bike of her own so you can both get back to your place. Otherwise she's gonna be riding basket.
4. Reevaluate Your Bills (Reduce Energy Costs, Change Cell Plans)
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Has it been a while since you actually looked at your bills? Now might be a good time to do so. A lot of monthly fees, like for instance, cell phone plans and cable bills, can be negotiated down if you’ve been with a provider for a while.
The thing to remember here is that these companies really want to keep your business, especially right now. Set a few minutes aside and call each of them.
Use the phrase “times are tough.” Then explain to them you’re thinking of switching companies because you’ve found cheaper rates elsewhere, and watch the "customer appreciation" specials come rolling in.
While we're on the subject of bills, getting a broad overview of what's really going on with your finances can be a really eye-opening experience. Programs like Mint can really help you get a better idea of where your cash is going and how you can save more of it.