Saving money is hard. Really hard. In order to set money aside as savings, you have to have extra money. And one way to do that, is to cut costs. It’s true that seems easier said than done, but there are resources out there to help. One such avenue is Quora, a question and answer website with over 190 million users worldwide. A great source for tried-and-tested advice–including advice on how to save money, Quora users post questions and other users answer them. Still other users vote for the answers they like the best. So you’ll find kindred spirits—those who ask the same questions you have—and the answers that many have found to work.
How do Quora users suggest you find extra money to save?
1. Don’t buy things you use temporarily; instead, get them for free or inexpensively.
For example, “If you need something because of its use rather than its existence, then you need to check whether you can just get and use it for free or at lower price,” says Quora commenter Jenny. “I have very few books on my bookshelf, but I borrow books from the library each week. It works better than purchasing books, keeping them on a bookshelf, and seldom opening them.”
Justin, another Quora commenter, says, “I use public transport a great deal. I take busses and trains to commute rather than paying to own my own vehicle. This saves me money in fuel costs, the price of acquiring and maintaining the car, as well as insurance. Also, I walk.”
2. Small changes can add up to big savings.
“Switch out all your old lightbulbs with LED bulbs. Ditch the hot water heater which uses energy 24/7 and invest in a hot water on demand system. And turn off the lights when you leave the room,” suggests Quora commenter Denise. “Since making these changes I have cut my electric bill by more than two thirds.”
And consider little luxuries you may take for granted.
“Even if you only drink only regular coffee instead of fancy coffee drinks, making your own coffee at home can save you $1,300 a year,” comments Bryan.
3. Be disciplined.
Quora commenter Danielle offers these great ideas:
“Plan your meals for a week, make a grocery list based on that and shop strictly by the list. Unsubscribe from email lists for special offers. End all auto-charging subscriptions except for basic utilities. Don’t hang out with people who are obsessed with materialistic things—it’s contagious.”
Danielle also recommends not buying clothes that need to be dry cleaned and not having a hair style that requires frequent touch-ups.
4. Start saving.
Start saving, even if you have to start small. Quora user Julie has a novel system: “Get a jar and put 5 cents in it,” Julie says. “Increase it by 5 cents each day for a year and watch your money grow.”
Using Julie’s system, you would deposit 5 cents the first day; 10 cents the second day; 15 cents the third day, and so forth, for a year.
5. Decide; Save; Buy
Most people buy something, often on credit, then earn money to pay off the debt.
But Ron suggests flipping the process around, to what he calls “new things from new money.”
“This was a rule I created for myself around 2010,” Ron says. “When the decision is made to buy something, it must be paid for with money earned after making the decision.”
As an example, explained Ron, “Even if you have $10 million in the bank, if you decided you wanted to buy a $5,000 ATV today, you can’t just go write a check for it–you have to wait until after you’ve saved up another $5,000, then you can buy it.”
Ron says this works at any income level, and there are immediate benefits to this shift in thinking:
- You stay focused on things you want, so you save more and spend less
- You never reduce savings by blowing money on impulse purchases
- You spend more time considering if you really want that thing, and if it’s worth saving for longer to splurge on extra bells and whistles
- More often than not, by the time you save up the money, you won’t really care about it anymore
“I’ve done this for my last four vehicles, furniture and everything else,” Ron says. “The cool part was that most of the stuff I thought I wanted and would have just bought, I realized I didn’t want it that bad when it came time to part with the saved dollars.”
Spending is really about setting priorities. And your long-term financial health should be the biggest priority of all.