A Simple Way to Save Money: Be Lazy
With the new year, it’s a great time to recommit to spending less money and saving more money in order to achieve financial success. And some of those ways that you can save more money are pretty simple—they are ways that doing less will save you more. In this article I’ll talk about 7 ways that being financially lazy can actually fatten your wallet. Pretty cool, right?
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7 Simple Ways to Save More Money by Being Lazy
Here are 7 simple ways that you can actually save more money by being lazy!
These simple tips, if you follow them, really can help you to save more money and build wealth over time so that you can work toward financial security and ultimately financial freedom for you and your family!
1. Shop less often.
One of the most important ways you can spend less money so that you have it available to pay down debt and save and invest is to simply shop less often. That applies to both shopping offline and shopping online. And it applies to grocery shopping, clothes shopping, gadget shopping, and more. The fewer times you go to the store, the fewer chances you have to make impulse buys and to overspend. How many times have you come home with a $48 gallon of milk? I don’t really mean that milk actually costs $48. But you “run to the store” to get just one thing, and you leave with a cart half full of stuff you never intended to buy (and don’t need). You can cut your grocery bill and similar bills by reducing the number of trips you make to the store.
Do you want help to slash your grocery budget? Find more than 50 ways to save money on your groceries.
And also get in the habit of making do with whatever you already have. (That includes substituting foods you have on hand if needed when making your favorite meals so that you don’t have to run to the store for just one thing.) Remind yourself often of the wonderful old saying “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
Yes, I know that’s not overly cool in our disposable modern economy, but the less money you spend on stuff, the more money you can spend on building your financial stability and wealth. Would you rather have more gadgets or other toys, electronic games, purses, clothes, cars, and other paraphernalia, or would you rather have the money available to fund your awesome financial goals and dreams?
By shopping less often, you can also spend less money on gas, wear and tear on your car, vehicle maintenance, and more. Learn more than 30 ways you can save a ton of money on your transportation costs.
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2. Stay home and shop online more.
A great way to help ensure you don’t impulse buy is to shop online (with a shopping list). You never have to shop on an empty stomach that way so you won’t be tempted to buy more than you intended because you are hungry, you are one click away from “delete” so you can easily put back items you really don’t need or that don’t fit into the month’s budget, and you can know exactly how much your total is at any time so you won’t go over your planned spending amount.
In our family we buy many of our nonperishable food items and other household items from walmart.com, and I know that Amazon is another option for that as well (though from the little bit that I’ve looked into that, their prices aren’t as good, so we have not really used Amazon for that).
3. Shop online less.
Conversely, if you shop online when you are bored or stressed or just as a means of passing the time, then stay offline to help you have financial success this year. Get on only when you have a specific purpose to buy budgeted-for items. If you shop recreationally, then let’s help you find some free hobbies and pastimes that you can do instead. Discover more than 70 ideas for fun free and cheap activities that you can do with your family. You can also find great ways to save money on entertainment.
Check out these related activities:
103 Best Fun Free and Cheap Fall Activities for Kids
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12 Top Tips to Save Money on Entertainment
4. Enjoy free entertainment at home.
Related to the point just above, it’s also a great idea to find ways to save money by spending more time in worthwhile activities at home. Start a weekly family game night. Read more to your children. Read more yourself. Watch movies online or on (free or cheap) TV rather than going out to the movies. Cancel cable or satellite and find free and cheap options (like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sling). Cancel magazine subscriptions and get them from the library instead. Spend less money on your smartphone plans.
And cook and eat at home more. I know it’s fun to eat out as a family, but wouldn’t it be fun to help your kids have the outstanding experience of a debt-free university education by saving for their college instead? Or to pay your house off decades early and be in complete control of your income? Or to retire decades early and have true financial (and time) freedom? Or to help your children buy their first home with cash so that the cycle of debt in your family ends for good? How amazing would that be?
The average American family spends about $300 a month eating out. But what if this year we forget about average and we focus on being incredible? What if you make a goal to spend $300 a year total eating out? (Our family spends less than that each year eating at restaurants. Learn how we save money eating out.) If you were previously spending as much eating out as the average American family, that would give you close to $300 per month, more than $3,000, per year, that you could use to pay off debt (learn how to get out of debt), build your emergency fund, buy an inexpensive car with cash, put money in your Roth IRA, and save toward your kids’ college.
Learn great ways to save money on entertainment.
Check out these related articles:
7 Ways to Slash Your Cell Phone Bill (We Saved over 75% with Our $3/Month Smartphone Plan!)
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5. Automate your finances.
One of the best ways you can find financial success and build wealth over time is to automate your finances. Putting your money on autopilot helps you to effortlessly reach your financial goals over time. To help you win with your money, you should automate your saving, debt repayment, investing, and more.
Automate your saving. The first thing you should automate if you haven’t already is your saving. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start with that. Build a starter emergency fund of at least $1,000 and up to one month’s worth of expenses (depending on the stability of your current financial situation and your personal desire for security and tolerance for risk).
How quickly can you fund your starter emergency? Try to get that taken care of in a month if you possibly can. Are there things around the house that you can sell? (Of course there are!) Where can you reduce your spending? If you haven’t already set up your monthly budget yet, then let’s get that taken care of.
And do you want to really supercharge your saving or debt repayment (see the next paragraph)? Then participate in a no-spend challenge for a week, two weeks, a month, or more. (I am planning to do a no-spend challenge with our family in February—will you join us?)
Automate debt repayment. Once you have a starter emergency fund, get really focused on tackling your nonmortgage debt, and get it out of your life. Release yourself from those shackles so you can marathon to your financial freedom.
Automate bill pay. To help you make sure you manage your money well and don’t have to pay late fees, automate as much of your bill paying as possible. You’re not still writing and sending your bill payments yourself, are you? We seriously write about two checks per year. If you haven’t automated your finances yet, simplify your life by setting up bill pay today for all of your recurring bills.
Automate investing. If you are participating in your company 401(k) or similar plan, then you are already doing this. Awesome! But now let’s take that a step farther. Have you opened a Roth IRA yet for you and your spouse? Once you have contributed up to the company match if one is available in your company retirement plan, it is a great idea to invest additional income (until you are investing at least 10 and ideally 15 percent of your income) for retirement in a Roth IRA. (The reason is that a Roth IRA generally offers a lot more options for mutual funds—and therefore potentially better returns—than company retirement plans do.)
If you haven’t done so already, you should open a Roth IRA today. (Sign up below for the cheat sheet for how to open a Roth IRA—opening an account takes less than 15 minutes!)
6. Leave your investments alone.
Once you have set the asset allocation you are comfortable with for your retirement investing, set it and forget it to help you achieve financial success. I recommend a simple allocation of all stock mutual funds, with 25 percent of your investing going into each of four categories: large cap stock mutual funds, mid cap stock mutual funds, small cap stock mutual funds, and international stock mutual funds (which follows the recommendations by financial expert Dave Ramsey). Learn more about how to start investing for retirement here.
If you are investing, you should be investing for the long haul (a minimum of five years in the future). So don’t worry about what your investments are doing right now. As long as you are confident that you chose good mutual funds, then looking at your statements every quarter or every six months is plenty. Even reviewing your portfolio performance once a year is probably enough. Stop looking at your monthly balances, don’t check the stock market daily, and turn off any investment updates you get (like the helpful but potentially nerve-racking weekly email net worth updates we get from Personal Capital). All you need to know is that your mutual funds are continuing to perform well over time. What they are doing this week or this month really doesn’t matter very much.
I love this investment advice paraphrased from Dave Ramsey: Investing in the stock market is like riding a roller coaster. You won’t get hurt if you don’t jump off during the middle of the ride. What this means is, when the stock market is diving like it has been in recent weeks and months, just hang on. Don’t pull out your money! If you do, you just locked in your losses. Again, ignore the news and your portfolio statements and things like that, and just remember the long-term potential growth. Over the last 70 years, the S&P 500 has returned a historical average annual rate of return of about 12 percent. So focus on that positive bit of news and the goals that compound interest can help you achieve, and again, ignore what is happening in the stock market this week or month.
Want to know how we choose our mutual funds? Sign up below and I’ll email you the cheat sheet!
7. Be content with what you already have.
When you learn how to be content with less, you can save more money. Sometimes a lot more money. (Check out these people who do just that and as a result are able to retire in their 30s and early 40s—literally decades younger than the norm!) Living on less and saving more makes many more options available to you throughout your life. If you are happy to live below your income, you will be able to do things such as the following:
- Retire with dignity.
- Take a lower paying but more fulfilling job.
- Retire earlier or work less if you choose in order to pursue various dreams and goals.
- Pay for or help pay for your kids’ college.
- Stay home to be with your children or to take care of elderly parents.
As part of an intentional decision to be content with less, decide to appreciate the little things in order to more easily live within your means. One way to do this that will have a powerful effect on your money is to turn what are probably now regular occurrences to occasional, mindful splurges. So, for example, instead of eating out regularly, choose one night a month to take the family out to an inexpensive but fun restaurant.
Instead of buying the kids toys or video games or electronics regularly, save them for birthdays and Christmas. (And while you’re at it, lower the expectations for Christmas and birthday gifts, too. And don’t feel guilty about doing so! Use the money you save to pay for your child’s college education or even your own retirement, and your children will thank you down the road.)
Instead of going to the movies every weekend by default, choose just a few of the best movies of the year to indulge in (or just wait till they all come to Netflix or even the local library—that’s what we do!). Instead of buying the latest and greatest smartphone, use the one you have until it dies.
Deciding to be content with what you already have really can have a huge impact on your financial well-being and help you attain financial freedom for your family—perhaps literally decades earlier than the average.
Read this article to learn powerful principles of contentment that will help you to win with money.
This year, let’s be lazy—in a good way. Let’s be lazy so that we can work toward financial success. Let’s work to achieve our financial goals and reach our dreams by spending less money on stuff and saving more money in order to bolster our bottom line. Let’s shop less to save more.
Let’s find inexpensive ways to spend more meaningful time with our families. Let’s focus on (less expensive) experiences instead of on things. Let’s automate our finances so that we are saving, spending, and investing intentionally in ways that are moving us toward our financial goals—and ultimately, our financial freedom.
What do you think about these tips for ways to save more money by being lazy? I would love to know your opinion! Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Invitation to Share
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