uemployedMoney-Saving Tips for the Fabulously Unemployed

Source: http://thelotusblog.com/2011/07/16/money-saving-tips-for-the-fabulously-unemployed/

Over the last three months I’ve become an expert in minimizing non-essential expenses. As a single woman that didn’t listen to Suze “8 months emergency fund” Orman as much as she should, I learned quickly that I had to cut back on spending. Below are a few tips I’ve compiled. Please read on… with an open mind!

1. Beware of a Good Deal
Every morning when I check my email the first thing I do is delete every “free shipping,” “one day sale” or “free gift with purchase” email. When money was coming in I loved to online shop, especially when there was an incentive. Now it’s best to just avoid these offers altogether so I’m not tempted. I also avoid coupons. Yes, avoid coupons. For me, coupons encourage me to buy things I really don’t need. Unless it’s a coupon for a staple like chicken breasts or vegetables or, um, Diet Coke, it’s really just adding to my expenses if I have to pay the remainder of an item I wouldn’t normally buy.

2. Go Out with Friends
When I was gainfully employed I was frequently the one to pick up the tab, particularly when dining with friends who were interns or just starting out in their careers. I didn’t dwell on the inequity and was happy to treat when I could. When friends who have benefitted from your generosity in the past offer to take you out to dinner or a movie, don’t protest, just say thank you and take them up on the offer. Don’t forget to send a thank you note the next day.

3. Go on Vacation
This is really only a good tip if you live alone and pay household expenses. I have a friend with a beach house who graciously let me stay there for a few weeks. During this time I saved on home expenses like water, gas and electric. I spent a little more on gas to get to the house, but once I was there I never had to fill up my car because everything was within walking distance of the house. Obviously, in order for this to work you have to make sure travel expenses are less than what you save in household expenses. In my case, it was worth it. Just don’t forget to turn off the A/C before you leave home!

4. Get New Clothes
Ok, not really “new” clothes. There are a lot of great clothing swap events (check Swap.com) that allow you to declutter your closet and get clothes, shoes and accessories for free or small entry fee. For the several swap events I’ve attended, my goal was to get rid of clothes rather than take some home. Also, all the clothes that are remaining usually go to a local women’s shelter or Goodwill. Going through my closet reminded me of what I have and sometimes felt like I was shopping in my own home when I found something new that I had forgotten about. While I didn’t take much home when I went to swaps, it still feeds the need to “shop” and see what’s out there. For high-quality items that are brand name or have tags, find a consignment shop in your area. Get over the fact that you won’t get anywhere near what you spent. Space in your closet is money in your wallet.

5. Indulge in Good Food
Not at a restaurant, at the grocery store. Don’t shy away from proteins. Similar to tip #1, you may have the tendency to go for the cheap food – snack or processed items that are on sale. Often these foods offer little nutritional value and end up costing more because they don’t serve as filling meals. You’ll end up eating twice as much. Any nutritionist will tell you to always eat something with protein when eating carbs or fruit because it makes you feel full longer. Indulge in nuts, peanut butter and other proteins when snacking or sitting down for a meal. When beef, chicken or your favorite fish is on sale, stock up and freeze them. The great advantage proteins have over other healthy foods is that you really can stock-up and save money in the long run. Sale on lettuce? Don’t be tempted to overbuy when you know there are only so many salads you can eat before it goes bad. Same goes for fruit unless you’re the type that really will freeze it and use for smoothies (don’t forget to add protein!). I don’t even want to calculate how much money good intentions have cost me. Be honest with yourself and spend wisely.