I’ve recently found myself seriously short on cash. With all the gas bills, groceries, my new iPhone bill, the occasional pizza, and now the horror of new semester fees, I haven’t had much left over for luxuries. I know I’m not the only one who has this problem! Here are a few ways I’ve learned to stretch and keep an eye on my money.
- Track your spending. I thought I didn’t spend much on little things here an there, and I was dead wrong. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, I highly suggest downloading a free application called Balance. Input the total amount of money you have right now. Then every time you buy something, write it down in Balance. It will show you how much money you have left. Good for knowing how much you have, plus keeping track of all the things you’ve been buying!
- Use Coupons. I know, I associate coupons with old people too. But if you check for coupons before heading out, you may find coupons for the items you are going to buy. Try not to fall into the coupon trap, clipping coupons for items you don’t need just because they’re on sale. You won’t save money if you didn’t need it in the first place! For coupons, look in your local newspaper. If you’re like me and don’t want to pay for a newspaper, there are hundreds of places online to look. Try coupons.com!
- Look for freebies. When my younger sister told me about a free texting app for the iPhone, I thought it was too good to be true. But lo and behold, she was telling the truth! Textplus is a free app for the iPod touch and the iPhone, letting you send texts over wifi networks instead of your phone service, so they’re entirely free. Sure, they plaster a small add at the bottom and the app isn’t the fastest, but look at the positives. No more expensive texting plans!
- Limit yourself. Accept that you won’t be able to buy all the latest things all the time. Pick one or two movies you want to see a month, and remember to sneak in your own snacks to avoid paying for overpriced and oversized snacks. If you have generous family members, add luxuries you’ve been dying to get your hands on onto your holiday or birthday wish list. Stop eating out, and learn to cook for yourself at home. It doesn’t mean you can’t do any of these things, but cut back. Limiting yourself in these ways and more will save you a lot of money!
- Update your hobbies. I’ve never had a problem with this, but I realized it helps keep money in your wallet. While everyone else goes to bars, clubs, movies, etc. every weekend, stay at home with the people you care about and spend time doing something you all like that doesn’t require money. Play games together, read a book, bake, cook, take a visit to the park (or as we do, the dog park!) and find the same fun on a $0 budget.