Personally, I don't know any billionaires. Do you? (I know, right?) So, since our monthly—or if we're lucky, bi-weekly—paychecks seem to come and go so freakin' quickly, I'm assuming that it's a fairly safe assumption that we're all trying to figure out how to make our money stretch. And voila—here it is. While there are probably a million times 10 ways for you to save money, I put together 10 hacks that are pretty easy to implement and can definitely help your bank account from going into overdraft.
Are you ready to save some extra dollars for a rainy day—or, at the very least, not go into (further) debt?
1. Set Long-Term Goals
I'm someone who grew up going to yard sales and thrift stores. It wasn't because we couldn't afford to buy the "new-new ish", it was that my mom enjoyed finding rare items at a good price. The influence definitely rubbed off on me, so I tend to lean towards the same kind of shopping experiences. The challenge is, when you already know that you're getting a great deal, you can find yourself buying so much stuff that you don't really need, which ultimately still means that you could be destroying your budget. Something that helped me to break this habit was to set long-term goals. For instance, rather than getting 15 outfits from a thrift store or 20 tees on Etsy (Etsy has some dope black culture stuff), I would tell myself that I'd rather remodel my living room or save up for a plane ticket to see my godchildren.
Setting long-term goals is a great way to encourage yourself to be a responsible spender while also preventing you from spending money, that you don't really need to, on all sorts of —let's be real, shall we?—randomness.
2. Eat Out Less
Did you know that the average American spends a whopping $3,000 a year, just on eating out? Geeze. Matter of fact, I've got a friend whose accountant scolds him on the regular. Why? It's because he easily spends double that amount because he never (ever) cooks at home. As someone who enjoys preparing my own meals and also going to restaurants, I can vouch for the fact that when I choose to only eat out 3-4 times a month (max), my expenses drop significantly. So, if you're looking for a way to keep an extra $250 a month in your pocket (because 3,000 divided by 12 is $250), eat at home sometimes. It's cost-effective and actually much healthier for you too (since you know exactly what is going into your food and who is preparing it).
3. Create a Shopping List and Food Calendar
I'm pretty sure you've heard somewhere that you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and that would absolutely be correct. When you already want to eat, suddenly everything looks good in just about every aisle. That's one reason why it's always wise to go grocery shopping with an already made out list in tow. Another reason is so you'll actually remember what you need (I can't tell y'all how many times I've bought paper towels over and over…and over again). Along with a list, you know what else can come in handy? A food calendar. If you're not familiar with those, they can help you to plan out your meals for the week, so that you shop based on what the calendar says that you are going to make. This can save you money because, if you like to eat a lot of produce, you won't get more than you actually need; that way, your fresh fruits and veggies won't spoil. As a bonus, a food calendar can save you time while you're in the store (if you're someone who actually hates to grocery shop) too because you'll know exactly what you need, so you can get in and get right out. You can get tips on how to use your Google calendar to implement this lil' hack here.
4. Make Your Place More “Green”
Are you sick and tired of your utility bills being totally off the chain? When's the last time you "green-erized" your home? That's not actually a word, but I made it up because it fits in this instance. Sealing your windows can reduce the drafts that cause you to change the temperature on your thermostat a lot. Getting a low-flow showerhead can help you to use as much as 60 percent less water (whenever you shower) each month. Make sure that your light bulbs are LED ones; not only are they cheaper than incandescent bulbs but many last for as much as 50,000 hours (there are approximately 8760 hours in any given calendar year, so you do the math). Defrost your refrigerator and freezer before around 1/4 inch of ice builds up so that they'll both run more efficiently. Stop opening your oven while you're cooking; every time you do, that causes the stove to drop 25 degrees which results in the oven needing more time to heat up again.
Unplug whatever you aren't actually using; you're wasting around a dollar of electricity for each day you've got something in an outlet that doesn't actually need it (this includes your cell phone. Let it charge up before going to bed and then disconnect it from the charger). The power grid that you're on is probably running at its peak between the hours of 4-6pm. So, try and make it a practice to turn on your dishwasher before turning in at night. It will put less strain on the grid and can actually cool down your house in the process. During the summer, try and keep your thermostat at around 75 degrees (turning on your ceiling fan can drop the temp about four more degrees) and 69 degrees during the winter season; it will save energy costs between 4-6 percent (besides, setting your thermostat lower doesn't make your home cool down any faster). Make sure your thermostat is electronic too; that can easily save you between 10-30 percent on your energy bills. Replace your HVAC filter every 90 days, without fail. That will keep it from working harder than it needs to.
5. Ditch Your Cable (Watch the Streaming Services Too)
I'm an ambivert. So yeah, I've got cable in my home (if you're an ambivert or introvert, I'm pretty sure you're able to connect the dots). That doesn't mean that I don't have a conversation with myself, shoot, at least once a month, when I'm like, "Girl, you could save so much money if you let this cable go." My package is around $150 a month, and a part of what comes in that package, I don't even use, so that soft inner voice is spot-on. I'm honestly just lazy when it comes to switching over to loading all of the streaming packages vs. using a remote control. Plus, there are some Black cable stations that I dig. But the thorn in my side has absolutely nothing to do with y'all. $150 times 12 is $1,800. That's a nice chunk of change. So, if you want to put a down payment on a car or something, disconnecting your cable can definitely put you onto the path.
Oh, and watch out for the streaming services too. Yes, Netflix is (currently) between $13-15 a month, Hulu is (currently) between $6-12 a month and UMC is (currently) $50 a year—but if you've got all of these (and more), you're still spending a small mint. Choose wisely.
6. Bundle Your Insurance Polices
Insurance companies. Y'all, that's a Twitter thread all by itself. But the reality is they are a "necessary evil" and a business—and businesses like to offer deals. Another way to keep a little extra money in your pocket is to bundle your insurance policies. For instance, if you bundle your home and auto insurance packages, you can easily save as much as 16 percent on your overall insurance costs each month. Hmph. I'm thinking that you could probably save even more. It's all about hitting up your insurance company and doing a little negotiating. Most of them are open. If they're not, remember that there are always others who will gladly take your hard earned cash. You can check out some of the best home/car insurance bundles for 2020 here.
7. Always Use Coupons and Promo Codes
Something that I have downloaded on my browser is Honey. Basically, it's an app that, whenever you shop online, it tries to find any savings that might be relevant to it. Matter of fact, it works so well that PayPal purchased it for four billion dollars last fall. If, for some reason, the thought of an app "reading" all of your sites freaks you out (you might wanna get off of Al Gore's internet, for one), then use a site like RetailMeNot to check out the promo codes on there. Over time, I've saved a mint, using both. Oh, and don't forget about downloading coupons from your phone when you're at the grocery and drug store too. You ain't never too young to clip (and scan) coupons. If you'd like a few coupon hacks and tips, the Krazy Coupon Lady totally has your back. Go here to start perusing.
8. Avoid Using Autofill on Your PC
On the heels of what I just stated, let me just put it right on out there and say that I absolutely do not do what I am about to recommend. I think it's because I'm not an online shopaholic. But if you happen to be one, something else that can save you some money over time is to remove the autofill feature on your PC. If you use Gmail, click on the Google apps option on the far right, then click on "account" and "payment & subscriptions" and delete any of the credit or debit cards that you've got there. That way, if something that catches your eye, you won't make an impulsive move whenever the autofill info comes up on the payment screen. You'll actually have to get up and find your cards first, which could prevent you from buying the item in the first place.
9. Implement a 48-Hour Rule
Speaking of removing autofill, how about taking things up a notch and disciplining yourself to not purchase anything online that interests you until you've waited a full 48 hours later? I'm willing to bet that a good 6 times out of 10, you'll come to realize that you don't need or even want it as much as you initially thought that you did. Or, you'll come to the conclusion that you should wait until it makes more financial sense to buy it or until it comes on sale.
10. Put Your “Fun Money” in an Envelope
The definition of the word "tithe" is one-tenth of something. Just like many Christians tithe to their church, I'm a firm believer that you should also tithe to yourself; literally set aside one-tenth of your income that can go strictly to whatever you want to spend it on. But just to make sure that you don't tip over into your money that's set aside for other things, consider pulling that tenth out of your account and putting the cash into an envelope. There is something about seeing cash and breaking bills that can psychologically make us want to be more cautious with our spending. Plus, once that's gone, it's gone until the next payday, which can also keep you from overspending. Be good to your coins, y'all. They are so much better to you when you are.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
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Tennis legend and entrepreneur Serena Williams is generously sharing her secrets on how she prevents the appearance of stretch marks during her pregnancy.
Williams is married to Reddit co-founder and businessman Alexis Ohanian. The couple share a 5-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., who goes by Olympia. Williams and Ohanian are currently expecting a second child, which has since been confirmed to be another girl following a recent gender reveal celebration.
Although Williams didn't disclose any information about her pregnancy routine in the past, the 41-year-old changed her mind this time around because she developed a step-by-step regimen that has proven to be effective so far in her goal to reduce stretch marks. In the YouTube video "My Belly Routine featuring Olympia," shared last month, Williams opens up about the particular products she uses regularly and some she applies on multiple occasions.
Serena Williams' Belly Routine
Serena Williams YouTube
At the start of the clip, Williams revealed another factor contributing to the release of the belly routine video: her determination not to get stretch marks.
"I thought it would be really good for me to show you what I use on my belly because I love beauty products. I love my makeup. I love all that stuff," she said while mentioning the products she used when she was pregnant with her first child. "But when I had Olympia in my belly, I didn't really put a lot of things on. I just put like, lotion and stuff. This time around, I'm like, I don't want to get any stretch marks."
Williams added that when she was pregnant with Olympia, she got little stretch marks and was willing to do anything to not have any for her second pregnancy.
Raw Cocoa Butter And Raw Shea Butter
Serena Williams YouTube
Further into the video, Williams shares that she begins her daily routine by rubbing raw cocoa butter on her belly, which reportedly improves blood circulation and prevents UV rays damage.
"I'll show you what I do. I have my own concoction... The best thing to do, I heard, was cocoa butter. So I order cocoa butter," she explained. “So I got raw cocoa butter, and I just rub it on my belly in the morning. Every morning I wake up, I just rub it on. The lower area is also super important for me. So I get a little bit on the lower area as well."
In addition to rubbing the cocoa butter on her belly regularly, Williams would apply it to her breasts and back. The next step is raw shea butter. Williams claims she usually combines both butters and rubs them on her belly, back, and chest, but she placed them one at a time for video purposes.
The main benefit of using raw shea butter on one's skin is retaining moisture.
Pure Vitamin E Oil
Serena Williams YouTube
After lathering herself up with cocoa butter and shea butter and the products set in, Williams applied pure vitamin E oil to improve her skin's elasticity.
"Say ten minutes has passed, I'm like, okay, that's all set and feels good. I get pure vitamin E oil," she stated. "Vitamin E oil is good for storing, and I'm just trying to make my skin more elastic, so I rub all that vitamin E oil on there...Again I get the lower part because that's where most of the stretch marks occur. So I get all that area, and then anything extra, I put on my back."
Pure Coconut Oil And Bio-Oil
Serena Williams YouTube
In the latter half of the clip, Williams disclosed the items she uses on different occasions, including pure coconut oil, especially if she notices that her belly feels dry after applying her go-to products.
"In addition to the products that I've already used on my belly, I usually like to switch it up. So at night, I'll change up my routine a little bit or during the day if I feel like my tummy's a little dry. I add on this pure coconut oil," she said.
Following that step, Williams explained that she started incorporating bio-oil into her routine because of the rave reviews she received from friends and family.
"Another one that I use, people swear by it, I started using is Bio-Oil," she stated while listing one of the oil's benefits. "It is natural, and it's for stretch marks."
Serena Williams YouTube
Williams wrapped up the video by suggesting that individuals currently expecting, like herself, invest in belly masks because they were created to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
In addition to that statement, Williams also shared the best times to use the masks.
"Another thing I've been trying are these little [belly] masks.
So it's really cool. They're like stretch mark targeted sheet masks. You put the whole mask on your belly. Super fun if you want to have like a day just for you to just relax and rewind. Take a deep breath and spend time for you," she stated.
For Williams' full video on how to reduce stretch marks during pregnancy, click the video below.
My Belly Routine featuring Olympia
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Feature image by Serena Williams YouTube