Spending nearly $100 at Target, $50 for dinner and drinks at your favorite neighborhood hangout and $35 for a fresh manicure… It all adds up, and if you do the math, you’ll see that it makes a serious dent in your bottom line month by month.
That’s where Miami-based money expert Victoria Lowell comes in. As the founder of Empowered Worth, Lowell helps women become financially independent—one dollar at a time. She even published a book about saving money and investing, where she offers insider knowledge on mastering your finances and creating a better future in a flash. We asked her to share five important money-saving hacks that you can start using ASAP.
1. Use your budget as a road map
“Looking at your monthly budget is a great way to find areas where you can spend less. Your ‘must pay’ monthly expenses will stay the same (rent, utilities, car expenses), but optional costs, which are different for everyone, are where you should look. Activities such as eating out, buying new clothes or pursuing hobbies should be reduced or cut out (at least for a period of time). If you don’t have a budget, sit down and write one out to get an idea of how much you are spending every month.”
2. When in doubt, stick to cash
“While trying to save money this month, it’s crucial to limit your chances of indulgence. Cash is the best tool for controlling your expenses. Try putting your credit cards away this month and using only cash when shopping. Give yourself a daily allotment. If you don’t have the money, you can’t make the purchase. Discipline is the key to your success.”
3. Put your closet to work
“One thing I have come to embrace is the money in my closet. Many of us spend a fair amount on clothing and accessories, yet rarely do we find ourselves using everything. In preparation for raising $500 this month, take some time to clean out your closet and look into selling new or gently used items through consignment. There are many local consignment stores in our communities, as well as some great online sites where you can sell these items. Don’t forget you can always go with the tried-and-true method of hosting a garage sale. I know a group of ladies who pool together and do this at the end of the school year, earning an average of $300 each.”
4. Keep the change (literally and figuratively)
“Now that you’re using cash as your primary method of payment, you’ll have a better handle on your expenses. Maybe not the first week, but before you know it, you’ll realize you’re not running through your money as fast as before. Clean out your wallet every evening and put your change in a safe place. All those nickels, dimes and quarters you rarely paid attention to will add up at the end of the month. Who knows, maybe you’ll embrace this financial change and make it part of your everyday routine (!).”
5. Channel your inner chef
“Ordering lunch has become the status quo. This month, go old-school and brown-bag your lunch. Yep, take leftovers to work, make your coffee at home, skip happy hour and enjoy home-cooked meals in the evenings. Food delivery services are a great convenience, but we don’t realize we are paying a premium for it. I have clients who tell me they need to get Starbucks at least once a day. When we do the math, those lattes may add up to an estimated $120 a month. Think of all the things you could do with that instead.”