I CONTRACTED part-time for nine months last year. As April 17 approached this year, reality lead to realization: 2017’s self-care phase had been well-executed, my tax planning not so much.
Where to find the thousands I owed? As I firmly believe savings need to stay there, I offer nine near-term ways to cut costs and make more money for those in similar ruh-roh situations. Some of these solutions I’ve used, others not:
- Excise (some) splurges. I saved $690 a quarter by canceling facial, hair removal and other appointments. My experiment of surviving two months pedicure-free still disturbs and reassures me so much… that I plan never to repeat it. Still, the experiment was cool. Yes, self-care can go on pause.
- Dine free. My family used to frequent Costco to buy in bulk—and “save” on dinners with store-proffered samples. While one could customize a similar organic-only lifestyle at farmers markets and Whole Foods, I’ve opted for Thrive Market and Imperfect Produce. Both grocers circumvent the middle(wo)man and deliver to my door for 25% to 50% off full price. Turns out ugly produce tastes the same.
- Date for what you’re worth. I’m uncomfortable perpetuating gender imparity, so won’t suggest damsel-in-distress tactics like dating to eat. Me faking anything is just too painful. A better option: Meetups and networking events can offer an awesome abundance. Worst comes to worst, take snacks from work.
- Gig your way to the top. Americans have long celebrated Lyfting themselves up by their bootstraps, though maybe with a different spelling of the word. At my gym, the admin works as a Stitch Fix stylist to make extra while at work.
- Play truth or d-Airbnb. Renting extra bedrooms also generates cash. While I loathe people in my space, disturbing my routine, carpeting my bathroom with hair and occupying the art room I designed for two years, I’m also grateful to have an option not everyone has. (I recognize hosting randoms isn’t 100% safe, but so far my intuition has proven sharp, even in the app.)
- Sell out. Extra furniture keeps Craigslist in business, as do “I’m-over-it” designer clothes and jewelry for secondhand stores.
- Expand stable income. Cashflow works both ways—spending less and making more. Get a new job with a larger salary and/or signing bonus. Gift your talents via contract work. Schedule C is a great way to expense working dinners, the home office, gas, mileage and more. You can also find ways to monetize your passions—be they writing, painting or teaching.
- Reduce recurring expenses. Some money is well-wasted, but you can always waste less often. When weekly massages happen bi-weekly, haircuts every 10 instead of eight weeks, and the cleaning and yard guys-and-ladies visit slightly less, bam! That’s $860 saved per month.
- Go green. Reduce the heat when you sleep and shut it off when not at home. Turns out, humans sleep better in the cold—68 degrees, to be exact. There’s special symmetry to saving green by living that way.
Caitlin Roberson is the author of 30 Ways to Happy. Her previous articles were My Space, Money Well-Wasted and Self-Tithing. Caitlin obsessively lifts weights and attends hip-hop classes, so she can tithe in Napa, guilt-free. Follow her on Instagram @CRobRobber.
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