There are two ways to increase your cash flow in a month: either get more money in, or spend less money. I try to tend to do both. To get more money in, I teach summer school, rent out rooms in my condo, and tutor on the side. This post will be about things that I try to do to limit my spending in a month:
Pay for things in cash: This was discussed in a previous post, but by spending cash rather than on credit you tend to spend less. Additionally, by only hanging onto large bills you will be less willing to break them. As well, I save my change and put it in a big container on my front table.
Leave your wallet at home: For me, I tend to be a spender, unless I don't have my wallet with me. I know that if I am going for a walk and will be going by WalMart I will go in there and pick something up (or the video game store or the beer store or wherever). This goes doubly so at work: I never bring my wallet, and then there is no temptation to spend.
Pack your own lunch/coffee: This relates to above, but you can spend a horrendous amount in a day/week/month on this stuff. In math class, I always give my class a question that says instead of spending $3 per day at Tim Horton's, Billy saves this money in an account that earns 5% compounded daily over the next 30 years. How much will he have? I will spare you the math here, but the answer is $76,238. If you change the number to 8%, it is $137,153. If you change the number to 10%, it is $208,896.
Cut back your cable/internet:I did this when my girlfriend moved in and saved almost $50 per month!
Go to one car (or less!): I do not have a car, and walk everywhere I go. I bought my house so that it is a 20-30 minute walk from my school. Because of this, I am able to not spend a huge amount of my monthly money on gas, insurance, and the payments for the car initially
Cell Phones: As well, I do not own a cell phone. If you have to have a cell phone, please get the pre-paid option, so that you will not end up with large bills at the end of the month.
Shop Around: Finally, I try to shop around. That is, I buy things when they are on sale. Not that I will walk into a store when it says "Sale", but when I decide to buy something I shop around for a few weeks until I buy it. If you are looking for a hardwood floor, there is nothing wrong with putting a few weeks planning into the purchase, and then finally picking the best price for the best product.
Eat At Home:Although my girlfriend wants me to point out that I took her out for lunch today (it's true), we generally eat at home. The savings here are enormous (as compared to before where we would probably eat out once or twice a week). Two meals and a drink each and you are looking probably at $40-50 for the evening.
I hope this helps some people out (or at least gives them some ideas). If you have any agreements (or suggestions or contentions), please feel free to leave me know by leaving a comment!