Finessing the System: 10 Ways to Ball on a Budget

Face it, college loans are taking most of your annual income. We’re all going through it together. But just because you aren’t making it rain in South Beach doesn’t mean you can be ballin’ on a budget. Check out these quick tips on how YOU, yes YOU, can save a few dollars in your everyday life

 

Get an unlimited bus pass

Not only is it great for the environment, but it’s great for keeping your bank account in the green zone. Who needs added car payments when the bus goes almost everywhere. With dozens of transit apps out there, the system is even easier to navigate. Don’t worry about having to pay to transfer. With an unlimited pass, you’ll be saving money and seeing the sights of the city

 

Lunch specials

If you’re planning on getting take out, find out when the lunch specials are. They’re cheaper, and usually similar sizes to dinner platters. Instead of ordering dinner at 7pm, order it around 4:30 and heat it up later.

Buy in bulk, but also don’t buy in bulk

It’s to your advantage to buy certain things in bulk – pasta, bottles of water, your favorite snack that smiles back – but sometimes it’s best to downsize. Buying 2 gallons of milk for someone who doesn’t drink it regularly probably isn’t a good idea. It might spoil before you get around to finishing it. Instead, go with the quart sized cartons and save cash.

 

Store brands are your friends

Nine times out of 10, there will be a generic version of basically every product. Try out the store brand version of bread, yogurt, milk, pasta, and even chicken before you write it off. Most of the time it tastes the same or even better.

 

Sign up for loyalty programs

Stores love to give discounts to people who shop often. Even if you rarely visit a store, sign up for one of their free cards and start earning points today. *Side note* If you’re a frequent shopper but don’t have a card, make sure you click FORGOT CARD. Discounts get applied to your purchase anyway. Ch-ching!

 

Enjoy half priced afternoons and early bird specials

While everyone else is at work or sleeping in, get up and take advantage of early morning discounts. When no one is likely to be at the movies on a Sunday at 9am, you’ll be sure to find yourself a half priced ticket. They might even throw in a discounted oversized tub of popcorn.

 

Don’t count out dollar stores

If you’re like me, dollar stores can skeeve you out sometimes. But if you need paper goods or holiday decorations, they’re the perfect place to go. Where else can you get a five foot Christmas tree, 100 paper plates and 15 feet of garland in assorted colors for under $10?

 

Save the planet and your wallet

Your parents have been telling you this since the day you were born, but it really doesn’t register until you’re the one paying the bills. Turn off the faucet and lights when you aren’t using them. Every little bit of conserved water counts. Seriously! You can find out how just how much water you actually waste. Try opening up the curtains during the day and using natural light to illuminate your world. At night, use candles (please blow them out before bedtime). Your significant other will think you’re being romantic, but really, you’re being economically savvy.

Check out your town’s free events

Chances are, there are tons of free or cheap events to do in your town or city. A quick Google search will lead you to weird, and fun, events you never knew about. You’ll be happy because you got to do something out of your element, and the organizers will be happy because someone actually came. You might even make a new friend!

 

Be smart about laundry

You no longer have to wear the same underwear for four days straight. If you’re finding yourself low on undergarments and quarters for laundry, take some to the shower with you. A quick scrub-a-dub-dub to a few pairs will help you last until you can dig in the couches for some change. That’s how they did it before machines, right?

 

Give a few of these a try this week. I dare you. You’ll be amazed at how much you really can save with just a little bit of thought and a little bit of coupon clipping. Always remember that money doesn’t grow on trees.

 

Published in the Spring 2016 issue of Adulting.

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