For Veterans(or anyone else for that matter)
We all know that military members don’t get paid anything close to what they deserve. And recently discharged veterans often have trouble finding gainful employment that compensates them as much as their qualifications justify. We are all hoping the economy gets better, and in a perfect world, unemployment wouldn’t be a problem and everyone would get what they deserve. Until the magical change takes place, however, let’s go over some day-to-day things that you can do to make your dollars stretch farther. We’ve focused on three things you can do to save money that won’t affect your quality of life.
Buy Clothes Second-Hand
Seriously, buying name-brand clothes is a waste of money. You can get high-quality clothes that will last you a long time at Savers, Goodwill, and other secondhand stores. My wife shops for clothes at secondhand stores all the time and people are always complimenting her on how she looks. Some of my favorite pairs of jeans have come from secondhand stores. The worst thing you can do is let your pride get in the way of saving money. If you believe in the Bible, remember that pride goeth before destruction. If you don’t believe in the Bible, remember that the type of pride that stops you from shopping secondhand is irrational and stupid.
Cook at Home Instead of Eating out
We talked about this in our last money-saving tip, but it’s such a big issue in American culture that it’s worth twenty articles. Seriously, the average fast food combo meal is going to cost you between $6-$8, sometimes higher depending on where you live. If you’re a dollar menu kind of person, it’s still going to be at least $3 plus tax, and maybe as much as $5. A cup of coffee costs an average price of $2.38. If you bought a coffee at that price every morning before work, that coffee is going to cost you $618.8 per year ($2.38*5 working days each week*52 weeks). Compare that with the 45 to 50 cents per serving of coffee you would spend on home-brewing your own coffee. You can save over $500 per year on coffee just by brewing your own. The exact same principle can be applied to each meal you cook at home instead of eating out. You can eat darn well for $1 per person per meal by cooking at home, depending on where you live. In more expensive areas, you can still eat like kings for $2 per person by taking the time to cook at home. The home-cooked food is also superior to restaurant food in many ways, not least of which is nutritional value and relative fat and sugar content.
Keep Track of What You Spend Money On
The more vigilant you are in regards to your budget, the more money you can save. If you’re anything like me, though, you don’t have the stomach for setting up a budget and constantly adding expenses and categories to an excel spreadsheet and living your life based on whether you’ve met or exceeded a budget you arbitrarily set in an attempt to be responsible. I’ve found that I get a good investment on my return by using www.mint.com to keep track of what I spend my money on. It’s a real eye-opener when you see that you spent over $4,000 on eating out over the last year. Suddenly I don’t feel like I have the right to complain that I drive a 1995 Toyota Corolla. Nothing motivates better than the realization of all the money you could have had right now if you’d exercised a bit more discipline in your spending and eating habits. I would recommend you use mint.com or another online way of tracking where you spent your money. You’ll want to log in at least once a week to make sure that Mint is classifying transactions correctly and see where you can change your spending habits.
These are three simple things that you can do to save money and at least maintain, if not increase your standard of living. You don’t have to do these things, but you should probably stop complaining about having no money if you choose not to.