Many people are feeling the weight of the ever-increasing cost of living. If you feel that no sooner has your salary been paid into your bank than it is gone again, it’s time to get creative.  We’ve compiled 20 creative strategies, from planning and tracking your spending to uncovering hidden savings opportunities, that can help your money stretch further : 

Create a Budget

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The first step to making your budget go further is to create one. Some people know what they can spend each month but are often just guessing. Use a spreadsheet or a free app to track your income and expenses. Knowing where your money goes is the first step to making adjustments.

Set Spending Goals

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Once you have a full picture of your finances, you can identify areas where you can cut back. You can then set achievable savings goals, aiming for a mix of short-term, such as a weekend getaway, and long-term goals, like a down payment on a new home.

Track Everything

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To ensure you still meet your budgeting goals, you should monitor your spending daily or weekly to keep you on track. Many banks offer free budgeting tools, or you can use budgeting apps that are quick and easy to use.

Automate Transfers

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Setting up automatic transfers to your savings account will ensure you save even a small amount each month. As you get control of your finances, you can increase the amount each month. 

Challenge Yourself with a No-Spend Day/Weekend

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If you tend to be frivolous with your money, challenge yourself to a period of no spending. There are many free or low-cost ways to entertain yourself, from free museum days to hiking or local events. 

Embrace the 52-Week Challenge

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There are many variations in saving challenges, but a common approach involves saving a set amount that increases by a dollar each week (week 1 = $1, week 2 = $2, etc.). By the end of the year, you’ll have $1,378 saved.

Plan Your Meals

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Plan your weekly meals and create a grocery list based on that plan. This will ensure you stick to what you need at the grocery store and stop you from ordering in when you find nothing in the refrigerator when you get home from work.

Buy Local Brands

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Instead of buying expensive brands, save money by trying your local store’s brand. The products are often similar but at a fraction of the price.

Explore Discount Grocers

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Discount grocery stores or warehouse clubs, such as Costco, allow for cheaper items or bulk buy staples that will save you money after the initial upfront cost. You just need to make sure you have the storage space.

Use “Too Good to Go” Apps 

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In a bid to reduce food waste, there’s an array of apps such as “Too Good To Go,” which allows users, including stores, to upload food items that are about to expire. You search your area to see what food is on offer at a discounted price and go and pick it up to save it from going to landfills.

Upcycle

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Instead of buying new furniture or clothes, transform your old stuff by fixing it up and personalizing it. You can do this with cheap items from thrift stores and charity shops. 

Embrace Board Game Nights 

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Instead of paying for expensive days out of cinema rockets, gather friends or family for game nights or movie nights at home. Each guest can bring potlucks or shared snacks to keep costs down.

Utilize Your Library

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Libraries offer several free resources like books, audiobooks, movies, and even museum passes you can borrow. You can also use their printing services rather than buying a new printer that you only use once in a while. 

Embrace Energy Efficiency

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Switching to LED lightbulbs and unplugging unused electronics can help reduce energy bills. One of the biggest changes you can make to your bills is to adjust your thermostat for seasonal changes and have it automatically adjust, if possible.

Negotiate with Service Providers

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Don’t hesitate to call your internet, cable, or phone provider and negotiate a better rate. They often offer deals to retain customers or have specialist loyalty packages you can tie into.

Shop around for Insurance

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Many people stick to the same insurer year after year when better deals are available. Compare quotes from different insurance companies for your car, home, or renters insurance to ensure you get the best rate.

Sell Unused Items

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If you need to boost your budget, try decluttering your home and selling unwanted items online through platforms like eBay or Vinted. You can even hold a garage sale to clear out bulkier items.  

Explore Side Hustles

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Another way to boost your income is to engage in a side hustle.  If you have extra time and skills, consider freelancing online or taking on a side hustle like pet sitting or house cleaning to bring in some extra income.

Cash in on Rewards Programs

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Utilize cashback credit cards or store loyalty programs for everyday purchases to earn rewards that can be redeemed later. 

Embrace the Delayed Gratification

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One of the biggest impacts on our monthly budget is impulse purchases. Avoid buying unnecessary items regularly by asking yourself if you truly need them before buying them. Waiting can help curb unnecessary spending, and you will enjoy treats more when you truly deserve them.

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