In the Month of March, you may notice a little extra spending money in your bank account. After February, the shortest month of the year, you get a chance to take steps to reduce spending and save money. Why February? For many people, they will still receive two paychecks this month but will have fewer days to stretch them between. So how can you begin to use those savings in March? Try these tips not just for this month, but to see what “sticks” throughout the rest of the year.
1. Eat In
For the first time in history, people seem to be spending more at restaurants than grocery stores. But the quickest way to empty your wallet without realizing it is to dine out on a regular basis (which includes those tempting coffee shop drinks). Although it takes planning and discipline, eating meals at home and bringing a bag lunch will make a big difference to your monthly spend, not to mention your calorie count for the month!
Plan on making extra food to use for leftovers, make good use of slow cookers and try the practice of preparing tomorrow night’s dinner tonight before bed. Find more fabulous tips for managing three square meals in a disciplined, frugal way.
2. Try “No Buy” Time
A “No Buy Month” or “No Buy Week” is a challenge to oneself to not spend any money—other than buying absolute necessities—for a set amount of time. This includes major purchases, items bought on a whim, or replacing things that you feel are wearing out. Giving yourself the chance to pause before buying something is a great discipline that will only serve you well the next time you’re facing a buying temptation.
If this feels daunting, try just one category of purchases that you like to splurge on. For example, tell yourself that this month is a No-Buy Month for clothing and accessories, a hobby or collection, concert tickets, or purchasing new music.
3. Drive Less
If possible, try to carpool or use public transportation instead of hopping in your car. Save money on gas, save the wear and tear on your car, and do something better for the environment while you’re at it. Looking for a baby step? Consolidate your errands to one geographical area, park centrally, and walk to where you need to go.
4. Do Your Own Services.
Do you pay for any services on a regular basis that you could try doing on your own? We are a nation of convenience. Could you do any of these yourself for a month? Think about cleaning and ironing shirts instead of dry cleaning, washing your own car, cleaning your own home, baking your own treats, walking your dog yourself, or buying groceries yourself. You may find that the inconvenience is worth the money saved, and you may be surprised what you can do on your own.
5. Sell What You Don’t Use.
Not only could you slow down your buying this month, but you could also supplement your wallet by bringing in a few extra dollars. Take a look around your home, in your closet, and in that garage for items that you don’t use, but could be worth money to someone else. Online garage sales on Facebook or on sites like Craigslist or Ebay can get your unwanted items moved quickly.
Financial One Credit Union is happy to assist with any questions on saving or reducing spending. Contact us to learn more and to get started toward being more frugal any month of the year.