Clothes: I rarely buy clothes now if they aren’t at a thrift store AND on a 50% off sale day. Between Savers and The Salvation Army I have an opportunity to shop 1-2 times a month. Not only that, but I shop in the off season for BIG markdowns (when it’s winter I’m buying shorts and a new swimsuit for summer and in the summer I’m buying long sleeve shirts for winter). When I shop at a thrift store, on a 50% off day, in the off season sections… I’m paying about 25% or less of the retail value!
Food: How often do you go to work hungry and unprepared? Then, you order a sandwich or burrito for delivery? At $10.00 each time you do this, twice a week- that’s an $80.00 a month expense! I try to always pack my lunches for work because I know it saves me an incredible amount of money. I bought a 12 can lunch bag (big) so I’d pack enough to keep me satisfied through out the day.
Keep whole meals in mind. While grocery shopping I try to only shop the perimeter of the store. Not only is it healthier for you because the whole foods are mostly along the outside of the store (vegetables, meat, dairy) but I also think that shopping the middle isles is an expensive psychological misstep we make too often. We shop the preserved, boxed, processed middle isles because they keep longer. We act as thought we are preparing for the end of the world and fill our cart unconscious of how much “emergency food” we’re buying. Before I stopped shopping in the middle I spent about $80.00 a trip on my groceries and after, I have consistently saved around $30.00 a trip and I feel as though I’ve gotten a lot more food, and food that is healthier for me!
Beauty Products: There are recipes all over the internet for homemade beauty products. So far I have successfully made my own shampoo, conditioner, shave gel, toothpaste, bath salts, and eye-make up remover and I love it! Most of the recipes share the same CHEAP ingredients and they are really easy and fun to make. Many are healthier than the alternative as well.
Entertainment: Entertainment is a good way to burn a hole in your pocket without realizing it. I can easily spend $20.00-30.00 at a bar and I cut it in half by drinking at home before I go out. I still save significantly when you factor in my cab fare.
Communities are really lucky to have public libraries because books, movies and music add up fast too. You can check out CDs and rip them to your computer or iPod, borrow a wide selection movies or instructional videos and check out even the most popular and best selling books. I avoid late fees by extending my check out online or over the phone.
These are ways that I’ve cut down expenses on common purchases I make. I hope you’ll be able to apply all or some of them. How can you make different choices that apply to your common expenses? Cut the biggest ones first! Don’t be fooled, they could be small but frequent amounts!