Simple substitutions are a great way to eliminate old habits and establish new and better ones. In diet and nutrition, men and women are advised to substitute water for sugar-laden sodas, to use herb mixtures to replace salt and even to substitute applesauce for fats when baking cakes and muffins.
But, diet isn’t the only place where substitutes can work wonders. Substitutions can also help you save money; money which you can then use to pay off debt or grow your savings. The best part: None of these suggestions require a major negative change in your lifestyle; in fact, in many cases, you’ll find your life is improved and enriched.
Have a look at this list, and see if you can think of other ideas that will help you live a better, more financially sound life:
- Instead of buying a new wardrobe each season, invest in one or two low-cost accessories that can breathe new life into old clothes. Consider classic and time-tested styles or ride the trends and add an item that reflects current style changes. You can also update your wardrobe by visiting consignment and thrift stores; for best results, look for stores located in more affluent areas or those affiliated with hospitals or private schools where you’re more likely to find a selection of designer clothes at rock-bottom prices. Your experience can vary a lot from store to store, so visit several to find the ones you like. Other alternatives: Search eBay and yard sales for like-new items. Again, affluent neighborhoods are your best bet.
- Instead of going out to eat, surf the Web to find an interesting recipe to try. Even if it requires ingredients you don’t have on hand, it’ll still be cheaper than going to a restaurant, and you’ll pick up new cooking skills along the way. Packing lunch for work is also a big money-saver; avoid boredom and the temptation to go out by incorporating foods with different textures and colors and adding some treats.
- Instead of buying a costly ticket to a concert or other event, subscribe to a movie-streaming service or get out of the house and look for a local event that’s free or low-cost – and maybe even supports a local group. Or, look for places to volunteer for an hour or two and network with caring people in your area.
- Instead of paying for a gym membership, walk or ride your bike to run errands locally. Join a biking or walking group to expand your circle of friends and contacts and build a network of people who can support you in your goals.
- Instead of resigning yourself to high interest rates and late fees, sign up for a debt consolidation program to learn how to pay off debt in a fraction of the time and save money while doing it. Double-charge your efforts by signing up for a debt consolidation program that also offers credit counseling and money management tools, so you can learn good financial habits at the same time as you’re paying off your debt.
Changing just a few choices can have a major impact on your finances. It all begins with a commitment to trying something new, and considering where your old money habits have gotten you, that’s probably not a bad idea.