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Save Money, Live Better: 10 Ways to Improve Your Finances

If you’re wondering how to save money and live better, you’re not alone. Saving money isn’t always easy, and it can be even harder to figure out the best ways to spend your hard-earned cash. Read on for 10 ways to save money and live better that are sure to help you reach your savings goals.

1) Have a budget

If you don’t have a budget, start one. A lot of people argue that budgeting doesn’t work because people ignore it. You may be able to find some examples of where budgets didn’t work but don’t let that discourage you from budgeting. Budgeting gives you control over your finances which will make your life easier and save you money in the long run.

2) Cut down on fast food

Fast food is typically convenient and inexpensive, but it isn’t a great way to save money. Save your hard-earned cash by avoiding fast food as much as possible. Not only will you have more money in your pocket at the end of each month, but you may also avoid some of those pesky health problems that are associated with frequent fast-food consumption.

3) Learn to cook

If you are looking to save money and live better (and who isn’t?), a good way to accomplish that is by learning how to cook. This can be a challenge if you haven’t picked up a spatula since home Ek class in high school or if your idea of cooking involves popping something into an oven and then mashing it between two pieces of bread. Start small with simple meals like stir-fry chicken and veggies or grilled cheese sandwiches. You don’t have to reinvent your kitchen! If you already know how to cook, look at some of these great recipes for ways to cut costs. How much is Walmart plus?

4) Take control of your finances

According to a survey conducted by AICPA and Bankrate, just 30% of Americans are in control of their finances. That’s a problem because even if you have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in your bank account, it doesn’t do you any good if you’re spending more than you make. The key to taking control is figuring out where your money is going. Start tracking all expenses on personal finance software such as Quicken or Mint so that you know exactly how much money comes in each month and where it goes. Then start finding ways to cut back on unnecessary expenses so that there’s more left over at the end of each month.

5) Use discounts wisely

If you don’t need to buy it and it isn’t on sale, hold off for a few days—or a few weeks. If you really need it now and it is on sale, that’s one thing. But if you are just getting something because of a big discount or to get free shipping, there are probably better ways to spend your money. When we see something, we want that isn’t a true need, but is still affordable (and if we can afford not to buy it), then maybe we should wait before making an impulse purchase and use our willpower to find another way to save money.

6) Share entertainment costs with friends and family

If you’re attending a sporting event or concert with friends or family, share your tickets to save money. You can share costs among four to six people without losing too much of an experience, and when it comes time to buy that next big-ticket item like a TV or new stereo system, there will be multiple people who are invested in helping you get what you want. (See also 7 Tips for Sharing Expenses with Friends and Family)

7) Eat at home more often

Instead of going out to eat (and paying $15 for a meal that could cost you less than $3 to make at home), consider a few nights each week where you just have dinner at home. Plus, you’ll get to spend more time with your family and friends. It’s also smart to have quick-fix meals like frozen pizza or healthy options like hummus and vegetables on hand when cravings strike for times when dining out just isn’t an option.

8) Eliminate luxuries you don’t need

Our financial situation isn’t always great (think about it—we wouldn’t be reading an economy tips piece if it were), but we can save money by eliminating luxuries we don’t need. Start by making a list of all your monthly expenses and then write down every way you can eliminate unnecessary spending from your life. What can you do without?

9) Negotiate rent, bills and everything else you can!

No matter how hard you try to save money and spend less each month, it’s hard to avoid feeling pinched if you don’t negotiate with your landlord and utility companies. If you need an extra boost of cash but are struggling to keep up with your bills as they are now, call and renegotiate a lower rate. Landlords are often willing to work with tenants who show that they care about saving money.

10) Earn extra income

Earning extra income is a great way to save money and live better. Simply take on a side hustle—and you can end up saving hundreds of dollars every month. Here are ten ways to earn extra income so you can spend less and live better.

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