How to Save Thousands of Dollars This Year (and Feel Better About Yourself Too)

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Today, we feature a guest post from Michelle Teo, Lifesaver’s copywriter and content specialist. Michelle has founded and worked for multiple startups across three continents, so she knows a thing or two about putting money to work.

“Save money!” they said.

“Impossible!” I said.

 Honestly, I have rental payments, credit payments, food bills and air conditioning in New York City hitting me every month. Most of the time, I’m just struggling to keep my head above the water. 

For example, me in New York City as illustrated:

As you can see, I’m just a normal person trying to make ends meet.

As you can see, I’m just a normal person trying to make ends meet.

However, one day I asked my financially savvy friend about how she’s saved money, given that she works for this broke startup that really doesn’t pay her anything.  She came up with three simple suggestions that actually helped me bank away an extra few hundred every month.

And guess what? They actually saved me a few thousand dollars every year! Yep, you heard me. All that moola and my life didn’t even get worse with saving. In fact it only got better.

So, here it is: the wisdom she passed on to me, I now give to you (editorialized only a smidge, I promise).


Embrace Healthy Eating and Well-Being

I started meal prepping. Yes, that’s right. I actually made my lunches for the week on Sunday afternoon, and took them to work with me instead of blowing $10 extra eating out every day. I saved $100 bucks a month doing this, which worked out to be $1,200 per year. I also started impressing my Hinge dates a lot more with my new and improved skills.


Low-Cost Food Ideas

Curried lentils! Mmmm.

Curried lentils! Mmmm.

  • Bananas: 40 cents each

    • Great for breakfasts, snacks and summer smoothies

  • Oats: 18 cents per serving

    • Great for breakfasts and really lazy dinners 

  • Lentils: 11 cents per serving

    • Favorite meal is curried lentils by far

  • Brown Rice: 18 cents per serving

    • Goes with anything and everything. You can even make rice pudding out of it.  

  • Chickpeas: 35 cents per serving

    • Great for dinners but also desserts. I’m not kidding, try making chickpea, banana and chocolate slice. It will blow your mind. 

Now throw some eggs, chicken and salad into the mix, and you have a much healthier lifestyle than grabbing Chipotle or Panera every day.

There are lots of amazing curries, quiches and casseroles you can make with these simple ingredients. And if you Google “Low-cost and healthy meals,” you’ll be set for life. In fact, here’s 77 low cost food ideas! Enjoy!


Stop Playing Video Games!

I also decided to cut that out. That includes secretly paying for more gold coins on those sneaky farm game apps on my iPhone. I also cancelled Amazon Prime subscriptions and all my entertainment subscriptions like Hulu and HBO. I only chose to keep one: Netflix. And of course, I kept Spotify. Yep, couldn’t live without those two. 

In addition to this, I replaced my habit of going to movie theaters with instead throwing movie nights with my friends. I also took up a subscription at the local Planet Fitness Gym ( $10 a month!) and started hitting the gym pretty regularly.

Needless to say, I feel a lot better nowadays. It’s also worth mentioning that I look really good now.

And with all that, I saved $90 a month! That’s $1,080 per year! Not bad at all.


I Stopped Buying the New iPhones

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I know. I also stopped buying lots of other things new

Like:

  • MacBooks - Because according to some people, refurbished by Apple is even better than new.

  • Cars - Anything that loses half its value as soon as it leaves the store is a decidedly bad investment.

  • Televisions - Can you really tell the difference?

  • Clothing - Designer apparel at H&M pricing? Yes, please.

  • Shoes - Seriously, have you checked out these sneaker marketplace sites?

  • Furniture - Nothing wrong with secondhand! Plus, furniture that’s seen some love has character.

And as it turns out, none of these items needed replacing as often as I thought. They continue to work just fine, even with a few scratches here and there. And you know what? Nobody noticed. My life has continued on just fine. 

Not forking out on new models every year has definitely saved me thousands of dollars.


Other Unnecessary Things

I realized there were a few other things that I could live without that didn’t really make a material difference to my quality of life. 

  • I tried a three-month “No Uber challenge”. I saved $120 in 3 months! I realized I could plan my life around the subway and walking a little further every now and again, so that’s $500 extra in my pocket per year. 

  • I stopped buying hair products and even cut my own hair when I could. I realized I was spending $40 a month on these things and no one even noticed when I stopped. Once again, that’s an extra $500 bucks going straight back into my wallet. 

  • I used Nivea cream instead of buying expensive skin care products. Yes, that was one of my secret weaknesses. But in fact, I realised Nivea works even better than the $100 Chantecaille face cream I had been splurging on from Space NK during both winter and summer seasons. So, I realized that I probably no longer needed my five-step skin care routine, either. Yep, once again: another $500 bucks, right back to me.

So, there you have it!

Saving money doesn’t mean a lower quality of life. In fact, I’ve actually experienced a much higher quality of life since. I started eating better and working out, and stopped feeling stressed out about my lack of savings—because for once in my life, I’m actually saving!

Anyway, if you’re interested in figuring out what to do with all your newly acquired savings, perhaps one of our other articles could be useful to you: The Best Banks for Students and Young Professionals.