I started this year off with a lofty goal. I want to build my own house. Over the past four or so months, a lot of changes have been made to my original plan to improve feasibility, but the original plan remains the same. Chief among them is that it now makes better sense to pay off my auto loan by the end of the year and purchase my land in cash.
That will give me equity and two assets to bargain with when it’s time to secure a construction loan. This is especially important because of record-high interest rates plus the biases around how self-employment income is verified and calculated means the bank isn’t about to give me as much money as I would like.
Maybe you don’t plan on paying off your car loan, buying land and building a house in the next 12 months. But, everyone could save a few pennies here and there. So, if you ever wondered how I manage to travel, buy a car, and now consider building a home while making less than half of America’s median income, here’s how you can do the same.
1. Cook Your Own Food
Eating out is expensive, especially in America. In most other countries, we pay for the food and move along. In America, you also pay wages to the waiter or waitresses. This significantly drives up the cost of food.
It is always less expensive to purchase your own ingredients and eat at home. Packing your lunch for work is also a good idea. If you can’t cook — learn how. You can save hundreds of dollars per month by following this one suggestion alone. That’s not to say you can’t ever eat out, but don’t make a habit of it.
2. Clean Your Car
When I first purchased Seth, tonnes of people stepped forward with advice on how to clean my car. One of the top recommendations were car washes and their membership plans. I can be a bit of a neat freak, so I seriously considered these. However, in the end, I settled on a hose, dollar store purchases, and my two hands.
Seth gets lathered up with baby shampoo, rinsed off and wiped dry. The Dollar Store also had great ArmorAll products to protect the interior, shine the tires, and clean my windscreen (Americans say windshield). I then use the hand vacuum to clean the interior. Mom is twice the neat freak I am, so when she vacuums her own car, she often vacuums mine and Dad’s as well.
3. Mow the Lawn
Another big expense for us unfortunate people who don’t live in the Cali desert is taking care of the lawn. Georgia is humid and gets a lot of rain and sunshine, making it the perfect place for your lawn to grow a foot high in two days. Georgia houses in the suburbs also sit on relatively large lots, so you’re looking at around $50 to mow your lawn every two to four weeks. Some neighbors mow their lawn every week!
If you invest in the tools to mow your own lawn, they will pay for themselves over time. My family has been saying this for a while now, but we’ve yet to act on it. Neither of the men in the household wants to mow the lawn in the Georgia sun, so we inevitably end up hiring this out. Don’t be like us. Mow your own damn lawn.
4. Style Your Hair
Black hair is the most expensive hair in all the world to maintain. It is unruly and Eurocentric ideals result in most of us feeling compelled to force our hair to conform to rules Mother Nature never intended for it. As a result, Black women spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on wigs, extensions, flat ironing, blowouts, and re-tightening dreadlocks.
If you can figure out how to do this yourself at home, your bank account will thank you. I get compliments on my hair almost everywhere I go, and I have been taking care of it myself since I moved to Atlanta in 2015. I don’t use a lot of gunk in my hair, so most of my re-twisting involves the use of an interlocking needle that cost me less than $10.
You may also notice that some of my hair is bleached. I did this myself as well. For women who have curly to straight hair, maintenance should be even easier for you. It will take some time and effort, but with some patience and creativity, I’m sure you can find ways to cut, style, color, and care for your hair on your own.
5. Clear Your Cookies
If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy a good dose of online window shopping from time to time. Unfortunately, this will come back to haunt you. Your cookies will store that information, which allows companies to serve you targeted ads. That new phone you looked at once on Amazon will continue to show up on websites you visit until you finally cave and splurge on a $1,000 purchase that was never necessary.
Everyone is susceptible in some way to these marketing attacks. So, the best way to avoid them is to clear your cookies often. I use CCleaner to clean up my desktop. You should also be able to wipe your browser history clean from the browser itself. Sure, that may mean losing the convenience of automatic sign-in, but needing to remember the password to your email and Facebook is a small price to pay for saving money.
6. Get a Certificate of Deposit or High Yields Savings Account
A few weeks ago, I shared the struggles I faced as an immigrant just trying to open a bloody high-yield savings account in America. I did, however, manage to pull it off. I now have two high-yield savings accounts and one Certificate of Deposit. They earn a much better interest rate than the 0.01% Wells Fargo had been paying me.
The interest compounds monthly, which means that I get to keep earning money on the total amount in the account, including on the interest they already paid me. Put simply, after I have already saved my money, storing it in a place that pays me higher than normal interest rates means I get to skim a little extra off the top.
Most of my savings are currently in my Synchrony Bank high-yield savings account, which has an APY of around 2.25%. I also have a Capital One high-yield savings account for rainy day funds, which has an APY of 1%. Highest of all is the year-long Certificate of Deposit I have with Capital One, which pays an APY of 2.7%.
Do you have any big goals you’re saving towards this year? What steps have you taken to fatten your bank account, so you can make that dream a reality? Tell me all about it in the comments below.
39 thoughts on “6 Easy Things You Can Do to Start Saving More Money This Month”
Oof you put the hardest one first! Haha jk it won’t be difficult for us in the slightest once we have a REAL kitchen cause luckily we both enjoy cooking (: the tiny hallway of an apartment kitchen and the sketchy/old-as-hell appliances just make us never want to make meals
Hahaha! I only eat out once per week, and that’s not every week. I can understand not wanting to cook in a setup like that. Still cheaper though!
For sure! We’ve been trying to get more ready-made meals or less prep type things (/
Great tips!! So funny how we always spend money for convenience…but it’s not very convenient for our bank accounts. I really need to start cooking more and stop eating out
Thanks, Rosie! That’s true, although if time is money, sometimes it’s better to pay someone to do something. That’s one of the things I’ve learned from a business perspective. Much harder to apply profitably in our personal lives! 😂
Good advice, Alex! Concerning hair, the easiest way to maintain that crap is to shave it off 😀
Haha, I’ve heard differently from some guys. They say haircuts are expensive. That’s why a lot of my friends grew out their hair!
I followed all the tips you give except cutting my own hair. We paid off our house before I retired. We own the cars and my husband keeps them clean and mows the lawn. By the time he can’t do it we will use our grandson who is ready but a little reckless–at 9– to be trusted with power tools.
Boys and power tools! What a dangerous combination! 😅
I’m curious as to why you don’t cut your own hair. I haven’t cut mine in ages, but I can imagine that’s quite a bit of work!
I have very limited spatial understanding, so cutting straight on a round object like my head would be disastrous.
Buahahahaha! I can imagine that would be. I don’t think I have that skill either.
I have no zero zip hair styling ability. Never have. Wouldn’t dare try .
Me neither, believe it or not! But when I came here I couldn’t afford the prices in ATL. It was $30 back home and then around $100 here, but I wasn’t legally allowed to work here and my third world clients couldn’t afford to fund those hair sessions. 😅 What is that saying again about necessity being the mother of invention, something like that?
I hear you about the prices. And here there is no expertise for my daughter’s hair. I remember sitting with her in a black salon and having the women come up and touch my hair since they couldn’t believe it was so fine! (thin, not excellent!) A great reversal of the request that usually goes the other way.
Hahaha, I did say that Black people love to touch hair too in a few posts. I don’t know why so many African Americans like to pretend like it’s not true!
I remember one of the reasons I chose to move to America instead of Europe was that I didn’t think I would find anyone to take care of my hair over there, especially in Germany. Look at me now! 😅
I know. That’s why I loved the twist about my hair being the object of curiosity.
Glad you got to experience proof for yourself 😂
Ditto on doing your own hair! Ever since I stopped relaxing my hair in April 2013, I’ve only been to the salon twice– both times because I wanted braids and don’t have the patience to hold my hands above my head installing hair for hours. I shudder to think about how I would’ve fared financially if my mom or I still relied on regular hairdresser visits.. or worse, had a liking for human hair weaves.
I don’t understand how anyone spends all that money on weave. Is it really that serious?? 😂 I’m glad you’ve also been enjoying your natural hair.
Styling your hair is even more expensive in America than Jamaica, so when I came here, I knew I had to figure it out myself. Interlocking my hair was a US equivalent of about $30 every 6 weeks in Jamaica. Here, the lowest I saw in 2015 was around $65 with more regular prices going all the way up to $130. I was saving for my paperwork, so there was no way I could afford that. I’m glad I never factored it into my budget. I don’t miss salons one bit!
Oh yes, I forgot salon visits were double the price omg. Yes, I don’t know how or why people find that money at all. YouTube tutorials have been my best friend if I ever want to get fancied up… so nice when people ask where you did your hair too and i can point on myself and say “moi” 😊
I hate YouTube tutorials. I just don’t like watching things 😅 But best believe, I had to suck it up and watch some videos to learn how to interlock.
Sending you be well vibes.
Thanks. I need it! I don’t remember the last time I’ve been this sick 😭
Hope you are soon back to full health!
I hope so too, Peter. I’m sick of being sick!
Very sound advice. I am still doing most of the above. I styled my own hair for about 3 years when I was letting it grow and now I only go to hairdresser’s every 8 weeks for colour, but I do that too myself when travelling. I love cooking, so that is a pleasure. Good luck with savings.
I’m sure you had a solid control of your financial affairs, especially without a mortgage!
What’s your favourite meal to cook?
Cooking your own food is about a thousand times more healthy than eating out, even if you eat at “health food” restaurants. Just saying… Also, I don’t get why American culture tries to force white hairstyles on everyone. “Natural” hair should be just as acceptable in business as “Eurocentric” styles.
I agree, provided that the person knows how to cook 😂
It’s not just American culture that pushes White ideals onto Black women and Black hair in general. It happens even in Jamaica, probably because we have to do business with the kind of commerce and capitalism IE America. The people with the most capital and resources usually get to decide what the rest of the world’s population should aspire towards. Just one of the many reasons I enjoy working from home. What I look like and dress like becomes irrelevant.
You have a point about knowing how to cook – life expectancy can be quite short with a few cooks I know 😉
Didn’t know the issue was so universal, but, yeah, the people with capital and resources write the rules
The last friend that cooked for me, I’m convinced he somehow brought the salmon alive. I never ate anything he ever made again 😂
It amazes me that Americans don’t generally consider 1 and 6 as standard practice! There were just 10 years out of my 44 that I haven’t had some kind of savings and that was because I spent what I had on education and it accrued a lot of debt during my masters.
As for eating out, cooking at home is an enjoyable experience and as you said, a hell of a lot cheaper.
I would say from 18 to 22, the only savings I had was $100 US as my emergency funds. Like you, that was a s a result of college. No debt from that though. Next year, I will probably deplete my savings on building the house, but that’s temporary.
My American friends really love eating out. When I eat out, most times I get takeout, so I don’t have to pay 20% in tip. As for high yield savings accounts, a lot of people don’t even know they exist. Hopefully this opens their eyes!