This is quite a different post for me, and a style I don’t think I have ever done. As a graduate student, money is often tight. I have a budget and since making a realistic budget I have yet to overstep boundaries. There have been some unexpected expenses, but I have money set aside for that. However, in order to stay within my budget I need to make smart choices about how and where I spend my money.
- Couponing: I always keep my eye out for store and manufacturer coupons, but I also make sure not to use coupons for things I do not need. That is important, by saving money on something I will never use, I am not actually saving money at all. For all stores that I frequent with apps, the app is downloaded on my phone and always checked before I head over to the store. Often times, stores will have promotions and coupons in the app that you would otherwise not find. Plus, it is super convenient. In this day and age, when don’t we have our smartphones on us? (Including when they are dead and useless).
- Browser Extensions: This is a new one for me, and I have been playing around with it a hot. Honey is a great one, it will notify you if there is a lower price available for an item you are looking at. It also shows you coupons for the website you are on when available. The downside to Honey is that I, like many other people, am impatient and shop almost exclusively on Amazon. This means that my free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime usually goes away for the better deal Honey is offering. You win some and you lose some.
Another one that I have just started using is Shoptagr, so far I love it. With Shoptagr you can save items that you are interested in, and receive a notification when it goes on sale. This is a great option for something that I know I want (i.e. a smart watch), but am in no hurry to get because again, I’m broke.
- Returning defective items: I am not one to go seek out human interactions, and therefore, I used to never return a thing. Recently, I have returned several items that I bought in error (i.e. not writing down what I wanted before leaving and then guessing at the store), or that didn’t work properly. Now here’s the really hard thing: returning things instead of exchanging them. At some point I decided that if something didn’t work properly, it might be better to return it and go do some more research over a longer stretch of time than to exchange it and potentially run into the same error. Of course, there isn’t always time for reflection, but when there is I definitely recommend using it wisely. In addition, go to the manufacturer whenever possible. Even if an in-store return is required, oftentimes voicing your frustrations to the manufacturer is welcome. Remember: they want to make a profit. Your bad reviews prevent that.
Making smarter financial decisions helps free up money to spend recklessly again. Oh wait, no, that’s not the right conclusion. Let me try again… making smarter financial decisions every day turns it into a habit.
Habit (n). a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up
Once a habit is formed, subsequent implementation of the process is mindless and effortless. I mean, you still have to open that app, but you cannot imagine stepping foot outside the house until you do so, so it’s all part of the plan! Then, you can take all that money you’re saving and buy something you really want (i.e. that smartwatch you saved to Shoptagr which totally went on sale).