Millennials are having a really hard time these days when it comes to finances. Mountains of student debt, underemployment, housing prices through the roof… It’s crazy! And without a clear game plan, a lot of us are struggling to make ends meet and achieve our goals. While it’s not as easy as forgoing avocado toast (for a few decades), every money-saving habit helps to build the foundation for your financial future. For me, the most reliable ways to save money are the ones I don’t even think about. Here are five everyday choices and habits that help me save up.
Meal Prep to Save Money on Work Lunches
You may know that I’ve got quite the meal prepping process going on. While I won’t claim that I make every meal at home (not even close), I’ve definitely eaten out less in the past few months. And that can save some serious cash, especially if dining out is a constant habit of yours. You wouldn’t be alone! Try starting out with one or two recipes, making enough portions to last you through the work week. But be honest with yourself! It’s more wasteful to prep a lunch on Friday, only to let it go to waste because you went out for lunch with coworkers anyway. Try out Meal Prep Sunday with the Tone It Up team, and see how much money you can save over the course of the week!
Use the Library
Believe it or not, millennials are big on libraries, even more than previous generations. Finally, an industry we’re not killing… Libraries are a great source of free entertainment and information. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I find that reading physical books is a much more engaging experience than staring at a screen. For those of you that love books as much as I do, filling your bookshelf can get expensive quick! Take advantage of your local library, and even use it to study up on careers, personal finance, and the economy for twice the money-saving benefit. And even if you don’t have a library nearby, check online for the eBook collection. It definitely beats paying for it!
Don’t Worry About Labels
For some of you, this would be a huge challenge. But for me, I’ve never cared about brands, especially when it comes to clothing and accessories. Electronics and appliances are another story, depending on the quality, but it’s always been my philosophy not to spend extra money on a product just for the name. (*Cough* Apple *cough*…)
Drink Less Booze, or Make Your Own
I don’t drink often. It’s not because of any particular values or positions. I just don’t really enjoy alcohol all that much, to be honest. And that preference has helped me save money in the long run. Even if I saved only $10 per week from not ordering drinks with dinner or going out on a Saturday night, that would leave me with around $2500 over the past five years! Does that mean I go out less? Maybe, but it’s also given me an opportunity to hang out with friends in contexts that don’t have to involve drinking.
That said, if you’re a wine lover with a favourite variety of wine, consider making your own! In the long run, you’ll end up saving quite a bit. Plus, homemade wine makes a great gift for all occasions. Joe has made mulberry muscato from the mulberries in our front yard for the past two years now, and it’s been awesome to have and share with others!
Be Honest With Yourself About “Investment Pieces”
Lots of money-saving blogs and resources will tell you to spend more money on high-quality products. That way, in the long run, you’ll save money by not having to replace your crappy items over and over again. I would challenge that suggestion. I think it depends on the person, and on the product. For me, I’m happy to spend more on quality fitness equipment or electronics, for example. But when it comes to clothing and accessories, I’m a total mess. No matter how expensive it is, I’ll lose it, tear it, scratch it, or otherwise waste all the money I spent on it. For that reason, spending less money on lower-quality items that I buy frequently will save me money overall. The moral of the story: you do you.
What tips, choices, and habits do you use to save money?