If your saving account feels a little trapped lately, you’re hardly the only one. As things open up again, the pandemic is still raging and the economy is still in the early stages of recovery.
While unemployment rates are falling, many of us are still looking for ways to save money. We turned to ours Readers on Instagram to get their preferred ways to save. Here are five reader-tested ways to save money.
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1. Stay home
According to one user, the pandemic was the ultimate money saver:
“Going through a pandemic … Minimizes trips ?” – zoeyschvan
While user zoeyschvan’s answer was a bit tongue-in-cheek, they aren’t necessarily wrong about the money-saving potential of staying at home. An evening of movies and popcorn at home can easily cost 10% of a movie night, even if you opt for the branded branded microwave popcorn.
Of course, just because you’re not driving into town doesn’t mean you need to have a quiet evening of introspection. A cooking evening with some close friends can be a great way to spend a Saturday – especially if you’re still getting used to being around the crowds again.
2. Cook your own meals
Several users praised the financial benefits of home-cooked food:
“I care about simple meals at home! We are allowed to save literally THOUSANDS by skipping the doorstep!” – lauren.vorreiter
“Eating at home is one of the easiest ways for us to save money! But we love to eat out! ?” – racheljoy4
It’s no secret that home cooking is a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal – and often better for you, too. Visit your favorite recipe website or watch an how-to video online to perfect your gourmet skills, or just try something new.
If you feel like eating something you haven’t cooked, save money by ordering right from the restaurant and picking up your order. This helps you and the restaurant save expensive delivery charges. Oh, and don’t forget to use your cell phone Restaurant rewards credit card for a little extra savings.
3. Be your own bartender and barista
It’s not just homemade meals that make your savings account happy, as one reader pointed out:
“Drink at Home! ☕️?Pennies per ounce.???” - be_in_sane
As most of us find out at some point in our twenties, it’s expensive to drink in bars and get our caffeine fix from coffee shops. Even the best happy hour special will likely cost you more an ounce than your favorite bottle from the local liquor store. And with the vast array of resources available online, you can learn how to expertly make any cocktail or specialty coffee.
If you miss the social aspect, invite some friends over for cocktails and snacks. With everyone bringing a bottle, you can get a selection of bar-quality spirits for less than you would spend on a bar tab at the end of the night.
4. Skip the expensive gym membership
To stick with the stay at home theme, a user suggests avoiding the gym as well:
“Use the gym in my apartment instead of paying for a gym membership” – skmaegdlin
Many modern apartment complexes nowadays have their own gym, even if it’s just a treadmill and a few free weights. Combine these basics with a free online yoga routine or exercises from your favorite workout app and you get a full body fitness program that doesn’t cost you an extra penny.
Even if you don’t have access to an apartment gym, you can work out at home inexpensively with minimal equipment. Resistance bands, for example, are space-saving (and pocket-friendly) alternatives to heavy dumbbells. And don’t underestimate the value of basic bodyweight exercise.
5. Recognize your needs versus your desires
It’s all too easy to make money if you haven’t thought through your purchases, as one reader pointed out:
“Rethink purchases. Don’t order an item when I think of it, put it on a list and check whether it’s really needed or useful. – mais_ouiii
Emotional buying is just as real as emotional eating, and the former can be just as bad for you Bank account since the latter is for your waistline. Before purchasing, give yourself a cooling off period to make sure you don’t have any Impulse buying You may regret it later.
It’s also a good time to make comparison purchases to make sure you’re getting the best deal. And don’t forget to double check that you have space for shopping in your budget before going to the checkout screen. A healthy budget is a happy budget.