As the old saying goes, you need to spend money to make money. Unfortunately, many of us spend our hard-earned cash on things that end up just burning a hole in our wallet.
What if I told you that you could have more money in your pocket without sacrificing much in your lifestyle? You’d be surprised to see that with some mindful purchases you’ll make more money.
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robbins
If you’re starting a journey to a wealthier life, this is your map. Much of our money problems stem from bad habits and a lack of self-awareness. While this isn’t your typical personal finance book, it will enlighten you to the root cause of bad financial decisions and guide you on a better path. You’ll look at money in a whole new way.
According to a recent study the average 25 to 34 year old spends over $2000/year on coffee! Those daily $5 lattes add up quickly. Sure, it’s convenient to launch that app and have a magnificent cup of your favorite caffeinated brew, waiting for you at the mobile order bar at your local coffee shop.
On the other hand, by making your coffee you can enjoy a tastier and higher quality brew for a fraction of the cost of paying your barista. $30 will get you an Aero Press which will make some the best tasting coffee you ever had. Brewing my craft coffee in the morning has become an enjoyable part of my morning routine. What a great way to start your day!
Prepping your meals is something you should be doing even if you could afford to eat out every day. The health benefits are immense and you’ll save a ton of money. Crockpots make it convenient and economical.
By cooking meals in bulk, you’ll be buying larger pieces of meat which is cheaper pound-for-pound that smaller cuts.
Slow cookers also use less energy than ovens or stovetops, and they lower your dishwashing time and expenses. Since they are one-pot meals you end up using fewer dishes. There’s no need for a dishwasher for all those pots and pans.
There are tons of recipes for crock-pots. You’ll join a huge community of crockpot cooks and you’ll never run out ideas for a meal. I was surprised to find out that you can even make spaghetti and meatballs faster and easier in a slow cooker. Who knew!?
In short, they cost more upfront but they’ll make you money in the long run. With all our little gadgets our family uses 72 AA batteries per year. When you consider a 24 pack of Duracell AA costs $15.41 on Amazon, that’s $46.23 a year.
Now let’s take a look at the cost of replacing my regular batteries with some quality rechargeables. Our devices use 16 batteries at any given time. Since I want to have a set of charged batteries available at all times, I’ll need to purchase three 8 packs of Eneloop AA batteries at $18.99 each and a quality battery charger $22. That will bring our initial investment to $78.97.
During the first year of use, we’ll be paying $32.74 more than just using my old Duracells ($78.97 Rechargeables vs $46.23 Non-rechargeables). By the second year, I’ll save $13.49 ($78.97 Rechargeables vs $92.46 Non-rechargeables). From then on, we’re saving $46.23 per year and using those batteries virtually for free (there’s the insignificant price of electricity to charge the batteries.)
Reusable Water Bottle
By using reusable water bottles, a family of four can save over $24,000 over five years. Don’t believe me? Consider a Penn State University study that found that the average American can save $1,236 per year by using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. That’s $6,180 for five years. Multiply that by four (family of 4) and you have $24,570.
Moreover, if you are worried about the quality of your drinking water, you’ll want to consider that tap water is strictly regulated by the EPA and held to the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. On the other hand, this doesn’t apply to bottled water which is loosely regulated by the FDA.
Reliable Used Car
If you need to commute or travel regularly, you’ll probably need a reliable form of transportation. Uber rides can get cost-prohibitive, and a bicycle might not be feasible for longer distances.
A reliable gently used car offers a tremendous value. Since new cars depreciate much faster than used cars, why take the brunt of the depreciation by buying new? The minute you drive off the lot in your new car your car just lost about 10% of its value. Research shows that a new car will drop in value the most during the first year (around 20%), then 15% to 25% every year until the 5 year mark.
As of May 2019, the average new car in America costs $36,718. Let’s see how quickly this car drops in value over 5 years.
Here are some of the best choices for reliable used cars.
Now that you got yourself a good car, you’ll want to protect yourself and your investment on those crazy roads out there. A dashcam is cheap insurance for that unlucky day when someone cuts in front of you, slams the brakes, and blames it all on you.
That’s just one of many scenarios that can happen when millions of distracted people are zooming around on shared public roads. A dashcam is like a black box for your car. It records video of your drive. The footage can provide valuable proof to back up your claim with the insurance company or fight unscrupulous claims against you. If the dashcam saves you once it has more than pays for itself.
So what are you going to do with all that money you’re saving? Hopefully, you’ll invest it and grow your net worth. Stocks are a great way to expand your wealth. They give you small ownership of a company or group of companies. Some stocks will pay you regularly in the form of dividends. As the value of the stock goes up, so does the value of your investment.
While buying individual stocks is arguably very risky, index funds offer diversification by giving you ownership in hundreds of companies. If one company tanks, there are many others to keep up the value of your investments. Index funds allow you to invest passively in the best stocks. Companies like Vanguard do the work for you so you don’t have to pick individual stocks which can be a very time consuming and risky proposition.
In the long term, Index funds like VTSAX return about 7% a year, adjusted for inflation. You are essentially investing in the future of US businesses and the US economy. And that’s something that I’m comfortable investing in.
Real estate is a solid long term investment. With a growing population, it seems that demand will forever outpace the supply of homes.
Some savvy homeowners have figured out ways to live in their homes for free by practicing something known as “house hacking.” Here’s a simplified overview of how it’s done. You buy a 2-4 unit house. Rent out the other units and live in of the units. When done properly the rent you collect from the other units takes care of your mortgage.
After a few years, you do the same thing over again. But now you can rent out all the units of your first property on top of the new units in your second multi-unit house. In ten years, you’ll have a significant rental income along with a sizable real estate portfolio.
Without a doubt, this has the greatest potential to make you the most money. Bet on yourself! You are your best investment. The more relevant skills you have, the greater your potential to make money. You can buy a book, a course or a college education. Even a yoga class would be a great investment. It can strengthen you physically and mentally while giving you the energy and focus to achieve your lofty goals.
Life-long learning pays back in spades. Education shouldn’t stop once you’re out of school. In a rapidly changing world, you have to learn new skills quickly to stay relevant. Not only will you increase your opportunities to make money but you will enrich yourself in the process.
The money you save is just as good as the money you make. By learning more about the true nature of money, making better buying decisions, investing your savings, and most of all investing in yourself, you’ll be well on your path toward financial success.