The other day, one of my friends and I were having a discussion about finances. I don’t know how the conversation started, but it seems like most of my discussions these days seem to circle around that single topic. I don’t know whether it is because I am just so passionate about it, whether people see me as a resource to bounce ideas off of, or whether that is the state that many people in their 20s are in: student debt that really piles up due to parents not being able to afford to help send their children to college after the crash of the housing market.
Anyway, my friend turned to me and said, “We are paying about $700 a month in minimum payments for student loan debt. There never seems to be enough money to get rid of them faster.”
This particular friend does not have much time. Her job requires her to travel about 75% of the time. So, I understand that not everything that works for me will necessarily work for her. She doesn’t have the time to go to more than one grocery store or make her own clothes. Getting a second job is not an option. So, what can she do to get a little more money towards the student loans a month?
When you don’t have much time or money, you really have to make saving money a mindset. Here are some quick tips for saving money on a busy schedule:
1. Don’t pay for cable or any tv subscriptions. If you are really too busy to take a few minutes to plan savings or work out, you really don’t have the time for tv.
2. Become friends with your crockpot. Being able to throw ingredients in the crockpot in the morning and having dinner ready when you get home can save tons of time. There are so many crockpot recipes floating around the internet and a lot of them are actually vegetarian, which can save money over buying meat!
3. When buying items online, always take the time to check for a promo code. Websites like Retailmenot.com make it very easy to see if there is a promo code available for what you are buying in a matter of seconds, or you can also google the store and the words “promo code.” It is amazing how much money you can save.
4. Find the time to make a meal plan. You might be writing a list while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room or reciting it to your phone while stopped at a traffic light. Just keep in mind the principles of a meal plan: carry over as many ingredients throughout the week as possible.
5. Double your dinner recipes. It often takes little time to make more of what you are already making. Doubling recipes can allow for more leftovers, which can mean more money in your pocket. If you are making a casserole, consider freezing a second one so you have a meal later when you are so busy you are considering picking up fast food for dinner.
6. Use an app to keep track of your spending. Taking a couple seconds after you purchase something to record your purchase is easy to integrate into a busy schedule. I personally like the GoodBudget app for keeping track because it is simple and syncs with LD’s phone. But, find the app or method that works for you.
7. Let all big purchases sit in your cart for a few days. Make sure that you really want the item before you purchase it, and as a bonus, sometimes letting the items sit will get you coupons to try to encourage you to buy them.
8. Know what time of the year is best for certain purchases. Here is a good list of when to buy what from Frugal Living.
9. Budget for less than what you actually make. I have written about how to make budgets before and hiding money from yourself can always be a valuable way to save money. Most people’s spending is proportional to what they make. When they get a raise, they typically spend more. Stop that cycle for yourself by telling yourself you make less than you do.
10. Consider buying clothes used. Ebay has a lot of nice clothing for both kids and adults that often was never worn. I have seen designer clothes on there for a fraction of the price after a dress was worn once, or the woman selling it lost or gained weight and no longer fit into it. Most busy people already shop for their clothes online, so it is just a change in website.
11. When you do get time to go out. Consider pre-gaming before you go, or hosting your friends instead. Alcohol at bars is SUPER expensive and having everyone bring a bottle to share can save each person a lot of money.
12. If you are married, talk to your spouse and make sure the two of you are on the same page. If one person believes that the loans are not an issue, they will be less likely to feel the same way about saving money, which can be detrimental to your savings plan. Making sure the two of you are on the same page can save you a lot of time and emotional frustration because you have a common goal and will fight about money less.