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Six Money-Saving Tips For When Life Gets Hectic

Life is busy. With full time jobs, school, family, friends, pets, kids, appointments, and errands, we barely have enough time to relax, let alone keep our finances in order. Sometimes a hectic life is what really wreaks havoc on our finances; we become so busy that we forget about frugality and budgeting and just want to get things done without caring about the cost. Here are some tips to help you keep your finances in order when your life is anything but in order:

#1. Freeze Your Food

For me, cooking is one of the first things to go when life gets busy. When I’m working all day and studying all night, the last thing I want to do is slave away in the kitchen for a nice home-cooked meal. I want something fast and a frozen box meal usually doesn’t cut it. Fast-food is a good fix, but it hurts your wallet and your waistline.

My solution? I cook in bulk when I have time and freeze half the leftovers. Often, on weekends, I’ll cook a batch of chili, pasta, lasagna or some other dish that freezes well and put half on ice. During those busy weeks, I’ll pull out the frozen dish on Monday morning so it can thaw during the day. By evening, I’ll have a fresh, home-cooked meal that I can eat all week. It’s a pretty sweet deal for not even have to cook anything!

#2. Save the Date or Automate

When you get busy, it’s easy to forget your own birthday let alone when your water bill or rent is due. When you’ve got a million other things on your mind, how can you possibly remember that your water bill is due on the 12th, electricity on the 25th, and rent on the 1st? Even if you can remember the due dates, the first of the month may come and go before you even realize what day it is.

A simple solution is to set up your bills to be automatically paid every month. You can usually set up bill automation through the individual utility company, but you can also try to set up bill pay through your bank, too. If you can’t automate your recurring expenses, try setting up a reminder alert on your cell phone or a calendar on your computer.

#3. Stock your Car or Purse

Vending machines and office cafeterias can be a fiscally and physically fit person’s worst nightmare. To avoid these junk-food traps, try buying healthy snacks such as granola or protein bars, raw almonds, homemade trail mix (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and chocolate chips), or crackers in bulk at the grocery store; then, stash individual serving sizes of the snacks in your purse, car, cubicle, or locker. Not only will you avoid vending machine prices, but you’ll save money in the long run by buying in bulk from the grocery store.

#4. Turn Things Off

Since many of us are so busy, we’re probably not at home as much of the time. It’s common sense to turn off the TV and lights in a room when you’re not using them. However, try unplugging unused kitchen appliances, electronics, lamps, and power strips when you’re not at home during the day. Simply plug them back in when you need to use them; you just won’t be draining energy while you’re at work or school all day.

#5. Do Less Laundry

Unless you’re full time job involves some sort of heavy lifting or outside work that leaves you sweating through your shirt every day, it’s pretty likely that your work attire doesn’t get too dirty. That said, if you have a desk job or any sort of office job, you could probably get away with not washing your dress pants, skirts, or dress shirts every time that you wear them.

This tip is really up to your personal discretion, but if you’re okay with it, it could end up saving you time and money in the long run. Less dirty clothing means less laundry time which means less water and electricity used by washing your clothes. Don’t forget about avoiding unnecessary wear and tear that washing machines can cause to your clothes if they are being washed every week. Remember: there is a very fine-line between dirty clothes and clean clothes, so make sure to really consider the choice before wearing a shirt ten times without washing it.

#6. Move Weekly Errands to Bi-Weekly

Grocery shopping and other errands can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when your free time is limited. Try buying in bulk at the grocery store so that you only have to go grocery shopping every other week. Like I mentioned earlier, buying large bulk items will save you money since bulk items are usually cheaper by volume.

For the male readers, try getting your hair trimmed shorter so you won’t have to get a haircut every two weeks. For the female readers, opt out of professional hair and salon services every month and see if you can stretch the length of time in between visits. Better yet, choose do-it-yourself hair and nail services which are cheaper and less time-consuming. If you use a personal trainer, forgo weekly visits for monthly visits or even no visits at all.

The options are endless when it comes to your shortening your errands list, but review your personal schedule and see which tasks you can move to every other week or even monthly. You could end up saving yourself tons of time and money.

Plan It Out

Nowadays, life is so busy that it’s easy to forget about frugal ideas in favor of just getting things done. Sit down and plan out your week to see where you can save on time and money. There are still ways to get everything done without breaking the bank; you just have to get a little creative. Use these tips to brain-storm about how they can work for you in your own life so you can get control of your time and your money all at once!

What About You? How do you save money when your life gets harried? Or are you guilty of letting your spending slip in frantic times?

Published or updated on March 17, 2010

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About Amber Gilstrap

Amber is a twenty-something CPA from Kansas City, Missouri who loves writing, working out, and---of course---finding fresh ideas for saving money. Follow her on twitter @amberinks.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Jenny says:

    An old theatre trick for freshening up clothes is to fill a spray bottle with vodka and give them a spray down. It works better than febreeze and you can get the real cheap stuff. We use this after any show since we can’t wash the entire cast’s costumes every night. We also use on costumes that can’t be washed because they are old and detailed or too expensive to dry-clean. It leaves no scent, only takes away any malodor. No worries about going to work smelling boozy!

  2. I’ve been to this blog before but this is just about the best blogposts yet. continue the good work!

  3. Hank says:

    I love the idea of stocking the car with healthy cheap alternatives. I’m always falling into a junk food trap.

  4. Pat says:

    The tips are okay, but #1 should be tweaked somewhat. Cooking a meal at home is NOT time consuming and it can actually create less stress in your life. From experience, cooking a meal for yourself at home de-stresses you and it’s nice, fresh, healthier, and NOT EXPENSIVE. Most meals only take 30 minutes or LESS to cook. You shouldn’t have to trade in quality everyday to save pennies. In other countries, cooking at home is not a chore, but a necessary part of life. Americans need to start thinking that way.

  5. Austin says:

    Thanks for these nice tips. And yeah, feels good that I follow the hair trim tip, end up going for a hair cut only after 6 weeks 😉

  6. David Weliver says:

    My wife and I are trying to do more and more of #1…we do just fine cooking the big meals and saving or freezing them, I’m just notoriously bad at forgetting about the frozen food or getting “bored” with it. I’m workin’ on it!

  7. T says:

    Freezing food made sense until I sat down to do it. What do you freeze the food IN?

    • KB says:

      I recommend getting a set of different sized Pyrex bowls. I like the ones that come with circular and rectangular bowls. They are great because they are oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe!

    • Carrie says:

      I usually just buy the Ziplock freezer bags. But, the Pyrex bowls sounds like they would work well, too!

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