Tuesday, January 25, 2011

4 Simple Ways to Save Money and Stay Healthier

As a commuting student, I have noticed that there is always someone/something nearby that is very willing to take my money, and when the temptation of food or a snack is involved, then the logical money saving side of my brain usually loses out. After falling to the temptations of the vending machine or coffee shop too many times, I realised that it could be easily avoided. I began to mentally formulate several simple ways of saving anywhere from five to twenty dollars a day. Many of you will take these tips for granted, as strategies that you already exercise or have already heard of, but I am posting these for those of you who are new to saving money in simple ways.

1. Pack your own lunch.
I am sure you have all heard this one, but I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it makes. Even eating at a cheap fast food place (let alone that expensive cafe!) will quickly add up to $10 or more, and if you are doing this 5 days a week, that’s $50 you could potentially save. It only takes an extra ten minutes of a morning to make yourself a fresh sandwich, and you will enjoy it just as much as that fatty, unhealthy packet of chips or burger. A hint to keep the sandwich fresh is place dry ingredients closest to the bread. This prevents any wet ingredients, such as sauce, or a juicy tomato, from leaking on to the bread.
2.       2. Take a thermos of coffee.
Almost everyone likes a cup of coffee at work/university, and this really is a wallet buster. I unfortunately got into the habit of buying a cappuccino on the way to uni every morning, and quickly realised this was eating into my bank balance. A coffee will easily set you back $4 or more, a cost of $20 or more a week. I realised that in doing this, I was spending around $600 a year on coffee alone! Even if you simply cut down to having a coffee every second day, I can guarantee you will notice more money left at the end of the week.
3.       3. Get rid of that spare change.
A heavy wallet full of spare change is your greatest enemy. I have found that when I walk past a vending machine with a heavy pocket, I immediately feel the urge to “get rid of some change”. When I walk past a vending machine with only $20 notes in my wallet, I know that I am unable to use them, and the temptation is immediately gone. This tip is both a money and a calorie saver. That pesky snack machine you walk past every day at the train station or at work will always tempt you, but if you know you are physically unable to use it, then you will not be tempted.
4.       4. Idle spending/eating.
For me, this one is a big one. Having to spend time at the train station every day waiting for the train into the city for uni has often left my wallet somewhat emptier. While sitting and waiting, if you notice a snack machine, or a cafe, the natural thing to do is to “fill in some time”. Obviously this is a bad habit I got myself into. Thankfully I am not prone to weight problems, as I am sure this would play an exacerbating role if I was, and I am glad that I have found a solution. Timing my arrival at the station so that I have no more than 5 minutes of waiting time prevents me from making the wait in the line at the cafe, or fumbling in my wallet for spare change for the snack machine.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful, they have definitely saved me a few dollars!

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