Whether you’re young and starting out, or if you’re someone who’s been around for a while but has recently seen a decrease in income, it can be hard to figure out ways to save money in your daily life. You’ll be surprised just how simple it can really be!

Ways to Save Money

The first step is to prioritize. What is the bear minimum you, as a human being, can live with? It’s really a matter of want versus need. Sure, we all want the newest, nicest items available on the market and all sorts of fantastic “extras” in our lives, but are those things stuff we actually need? In general, the answer is usually “no.”

As humans, we only need a few things to “get by” and live a reasonably happy life: Food & Water, Hygiene & Good Health, and a Social Life & a little Fun. In the following paragraphs, I will explain how you can achieve each of these elements for less than you normally would, or, in some cases, for free!

Save on Food & Water

Let’s start with water. Drinking out of the tap is virtually free, but is unappealing to many. To take advantage of the seemingly endless supply of water right in your own home, without having to deal with the unsavory “flavor” that is often associated with tap water; I suggest purchasing a water pitcher with a filter such as the ones made by Brita or PUR. For the reasonably small cost of a filtered pitcher, you’ll be saving money you would have spent on bottled or delivered water.

With food, you can really get creative. First of all, eat at home as much as possible. Perusing the store fliers that come in your mailbox every week can lead you to great deals and often have valuable coupons. Taking advantage of free “club” cards and “preferred savings” at the larger chain stores can often take money off your purchases and in some cases help you “earn” coupons for future visits as well.

Local stores are also worth looking into. Meat markets in particular can offer tremendous savings as they often butcher and prepare everything on site, taking out the cost of the middlemen and transferring the savings to you. As for fruit and vegetables, check for nearby Farmer’s Markets and Street Fairs. Or, if you have the space and the patience, growing your own produce can save you hundreds of dollars. Even something as simple and easy to maintain as a small herb “garden” (pots in a windowsill count!) can help save you money and add “spice” to your life.

Save on Hygiene & Health Products

I have two words to say on this subject: Buy generic. From soap and shampoos to medical prescriptions: buy generic. You will save hundreds—and in some cases thousands—of dollars. And it’s the exact same stuff! If you don’t believe me, feel free to compare ingredient lists on your favorite name-brand product (mouthwash, for example) with its store-brand equivalent. It lacks the prestige and fancy-pants packaging of the name-brand product, but just think of the money you’ll save!

Also, on the topic of Health, I’d like to point out that condoms and/or birth control pills are much less expensive options than either raising an unplanned child or an abortion. These items (the pills in particular) can also be found in “generic” forms and both protective items are often provided for free at clinics and other fine establishments. It’s worth looking into.

Save on Entertainment, not kill!

Most articles on saving money that I’ve come across have lumped “fun” things into the list of things that need to be “cut out” of one’s lifestyle if they want to be frugal. But, in my opinion, a life without at least a little fun isn’t a life worth living. We need fun, don’t we?

I agree that going out to expensive restaurants or to see every movie that comes out in theaters is a bit extravagant. However, if these are things that you really enjoy—and simply can’t live without—I suggest setting aside a monthly budget for them. Say to yourself, “I will spend no more than $100 on entertainment this month” and then stick to it. Be selective. Instead of seeing every movie that comes out, sit down and really think about what “needs” to be seen on the big screen and what can wait until it comes out on DVD or on TV. The same “want” versus “need” tactic can be applied to other fun things as well!

And although keeping up a social life on a frugal budget can take a lot of work, it’s definitely not impossible. Stay in touch with friends and family members online, or take advantage of many phone plans lowered rates on nights and weekends. “Snail mail” is also an inexpensive (and classic!) way of keeping in touch—plus, I don’t know about you, but I love getting things in the mail! Not to mention, entertaining at home rather than going out can save you a bundle. And it’s the perfect opportunity to show off your new-found cooking-at-home skills you practiced in Section One of this article!

Saving money and living well because of it can take time and effort, but, if you stick with it, it will become a happy habit. Before long, you’ll be wondering how you ever managed to spend so much in your past!

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