The concept of saving money can seem daunting when you feel like you just don’t have any to spare. At Military Saves, we say “Start Small, Think Big” and that’s not just a meaningless tagline — by saving a few dollars each pay period, you can gradually build up your emergency fund and, more importantly, can get into the habit and mindset of saving.
Here are some ways you can save money even when you don’t think you have any:
Try shelf cooking.
More month than paycheck? Or maybe you just want to cut back on your grocery bill this month. Now is the perfect time to try using up what you already have in your pantry, or “shelf cooking.” There are multiple websites and lots of videos devoted to shelf cooking, and I think that every military family has tried it to one degree or another when cleaning out their pantry prior to PCS’ing to a new duty station.
Join a buy nothing/freecycle group.
Almost every area in the U.S., and many communities overseas, have a group dedicated to giving away (and getting) stuff for free. Over the years, I’ve acquired outside play equipment, electronics, and fabric for projects. I’ve also given away furniture, car parts we no longer needed, clothes, and toys.
The point is, before you buy something, chances are there is someone who was just about to donate or even toss something similar. Each group has its own rules, so make sure you check them out before posting your “wants” and “needs.”
Get rid of memberships and subscriptions.
We’ve all done it — signed up for a service or a membership we were sure we’d use and then, well, we haven’t really used it. Take a hard look at all your memberships, from warehouse clubs and gyms to Apple music, Google storage, and streaming services. Cut back those you don’t use. And if it’s a really tough month, you can consider doing away temporarily with other services you do use until you’re back on your feet.
Have a staycation or a stay date.
Going out to eat is expensive these days. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends nearly $3,500 on eating out each year. So, go ahead, cook some pasta or bake a frozen pizza and watch one of the DVDs or Blu-rays; or play a board game with a group of friends, camp out in the backyard or act like a tourist and take free walking tours of the city you live in.
Take advantage of FREE resources.
Sure, there are lots of military discounts out there, but discounts involve *spending* money. So, what’s even better than a discount? Free! Both the installation library and your local library have tons of free resources aside from the usual books and magazines. Many libraries have movies, TV shows, gaming systems, games, and even WiFi hot spots you can check out. And most libraries host free events, like yoga classes, storytelling, writers’ workshops, and citizenship classes.
Local communities also host no-cost opportunities. Get on the mailing list or subscribe to the social media feeds for nearby areas.
Once you’ve saved money, even if it’s a few dollars, put it away in an FDIC–insured bank account, preferably one that is interest bearing and is separate from your regular checking account. Get into the savings habit and automatically transfer a portion of your paycheck to your savings each month.
Want more savings tips? Check out 54 Ways to Save Money at militarysaves.org. Then take the Military Saves Pledge and receive inspiration and motivation to build wealth and reduce debt. Join us for Military Saves Month – April 1-30, 2020!Read comments