My alarm blares its annoying tone at 5:50 AM six out of seven days every week. My feet immediately hit the floor (OK, maybe I hit snooze once or twice first, but I digress) and I’m off and running into a new day. Long ago, I began incorporating a handful of strategies into my morning routines to save money all day long. I discovered that if done regularly, five simple tasks could have an incredible impact on our cash flow. On the days when I drop the ball and don’t actually get my punchlist finished before 9 AM (I’m only human, after all), I know I’ll be much more tempted to overspend and place small cracks in our budget.
Brew Coffee at Home
I love coffee. That may sound like I have more actual agency in the relationship than I do. Let me try again. I need coffee. I can go a morning without it but I know my eyes will be sagging like Droopy Dog’s by mid-afternoon if I don’t have my faithful cup of joe in the wee hours of the new day. A recent study revealed that the average American spends $1100/year on coffee out. That’s $3 a day for those of you doing the math at home.
For the coffee that I purchase (Dark Roast Fair Trade at ALDI for $3.99), I spend less than $0.50/day to brew 12 cups that I share with my husband, so $0.25 a piece. In case you’re worried, we rarely drink it all and I’ve been known to freeze the leftovers to make a smashing Mocha Banana Protein Smoothie. My best brewing strategy is actually to set the coffee pot the night before so it begins brewing before my alarm goes off. This saves me time and is a much more pleasant sensory enriched wake up cue. But even if I don’t set the coffee pot, I know I’ll be tempted to run out and purchase coffee for ten times the price.
Want to save even more money on your coffee habit? Check out 7 Ways to Save Money on Your Coffee Habit.
Eat Breakfast at Home
Your mom always told you it was the most important meal of the day. What she might not have mentioned was that when eaten at home, it’s always the most economical meal of the day. Even a “cheap” drive through option pales in comparison to what you can make and eat at home. Not only will you save money on that fast food trip, you’ll be able to eat healthier options keeping you fuller all day long. When you eat nutritionally dense foods, you’ll be able to avoid the vending machine down the hall from your office or blowing your budget and your calorie count dining out at lunch.
Need healthy and affordable breakfast ideas? Follow my $50 ALDI Breakfast Meal Plan!
Throw In a Load of Laundry
This is another of my favorite morning rituals. As soon as I get out of bed, I begin gathering and sorting laundry. As quickly as possible, I start a fresh load in the washing machine. Our new washer actually has a timer just like my coffee pot so sometimes I even set it to begin washing before I get out of bed in the morning and then switch the wet clothes over to the dryer when I get up.
Tossing in a load of dirty laundry (preferably towels, jeans, or low maintenance attire) before 9 AM guarantees you’ll get at least one load done that day even if you don’t get any others finished. How does clean laundry save you money? For starters, you won’t rush out to purchase anything new because you “have nothing to wear.” True story: back before we paid off $127k in debt, we did this once. Ouch. The truth hurts. But your entire day will flow more naturally with this household chore out of the way. You’ll be able to focus on work (essential for people like me who work from home) and ditch the distraction of at least one menial task. Your focus results in increased productivity, which sooner or later should lead to a higher income.
Want to know my homemade laundry detergent recipe? Read 5 Ways to Save Money on Laundry.
Balance the Checkbook
More than once, I’ve talked about the ways we hide from our finances. Quickly reconciling your spending while looking ahead to what bills must be paid should be part of every one of your mornings. Not only will you have peace of mind about the amount of money in the bank, but you’ll avoid overspending throughout the day knowing what’s really available. Your daily check-ins will also keep you from late fines and overdue bills.
Never budgeted before? Don’t miss 31 Debt Free Missions: Build Your Budget.
You knew this one was coming, right? Even the cheapest lunch purchased out on the town clocks in around $5. Multiple that by 5 days of the week, 52 weeks out of the year and you’ve spent roughly $1300 per person per year. School lunch comes in a wee bit cheaper than that (and only $180 days out of the year). But still, you can estimate a family of four could easily spend $3000 per year on lunch. Wow. If you’re like me, you’d much rather put that big wad of cash toward something fun like a vacation or a household improvement. Packing your lunch isn’t completely free, but the amount of money you save by eating leftovers or a sandwich packed from home safeguards your budget.
In a lunch rut? You can find great ideas in Lunch Ideas to Help You Save MORE Money!
Typically, wise choices lead to more wise choices. So if you can begin each day by setting your feet on the right path, you’ll have the wherewithal to continue down that road. Make the choice to find your own money saving strategies to incorporate into each morning.
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
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