20 Ways to Save Money While Living Alone

Living alone can be a liberating experience. As a solo dweller, you can enjoy free reign over every couch, bed, and chair. And, if you have obnoxious household habits, the person in the mirror calls all the shots. But when you're young, the temptation to spend money abounds.  Whether you've just moved into your first apartment or have been on your own for years, the road to financial freedom can seem to move further away as the bills and expenses mount.
Consider these tips to save money on daily expenses and to better cope with mounting financial responsibilities.

1.      Make shopping lists and stick to them. Make lists for everything—not just groceries. This will ensure that you stick with a plan and resist the temptation to buy surplus items.
2.      Don't go with your gut. Shop for groceries on a full stomach. As you probably know, you're more likely to splurge when you're hungry and staring down aisles of food.
3.      Keep your thermostat down. Minimize your use of heating and air conditioning when you're out of the house. According to the Department of Energy, "You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours."[1] 
4.      Buy used. You can save a lot of money by buying used clothing, furniture, electronics, and—of course—cars.
5.      Never pay for water. Buy a water filtration pitcher or faucet filter so you don't have to buy bottled water. For fill-ups, purchase a large plastic or metal water bottle to keep yourself hydrated on purified tap water.
6.      Brew your own coffee. Unless you're paying for the atmosphere and company, skip out on coffee shops and brew your own cups of Joe.
7.      Get a health savings account. Set up a health savings account with your company. These accounts enable individuals covered by high-deductible health plans to deposit a small, tax-free portion of their paychecks into a medical expense account. 
8.      Enroll in a retirement plan.  Retirement should always be a priority, no matter what your goals may be. Enroll in your company's 401k or Roth IRA plan to start building a foundation for your retirement.
9.      Use nature's gym. Ditch the gym membership and head outdoors. Many public parks and high schools have equipment available for area residents. If you do opt for a gym membership, stick to community recreation centers.
10.   Buy monthly transit passes. Ride the bus to save money on gas while cutting back on your carbon footprint. As an added bonus, you can catch up on your to-do lists as you ride.
11.   Get a roommate. Why not cut your bills in half? You could save a lot of money over the course of a year.
12.   Dog sit for friends and neighbors. Offer to take care of pets for a small fee. It's a nice way to make a few extra bucks, while letting loose with a furry friend.
13.   Attend free events. Peruse your local arts and media newspapers. You're bound to find a few free events every month.
14.   Pack your lunch. Pack your lunch to save $100 or more every month. If you want to avoid making lunch every day, make family-sized meals on the weekends and store them for the week ahead.
15.   Skip on the bar. Host a party and have each guest bring a food or drink item. It shouldn't cost you a thing as long as everyone follows through.
16.   Ignore your Impulses. Impulsive purchasing can be very counterproductive to budget spending. If you find something you like, hold off until you have time to think it through.
17.   Sell your clothes. Sell your clothes at your nearest consignment shop or used clothing retailer. Gently used seasonal items can bring in more than a few dollars each.
18.   Buy a pay-as-you-go phone. Unless you're spending countless hours talking, texting, and browsing the web, prepaid cards should suffice.
19.   Talk to your pharmacist. If you're not feeling well, but don't want to fork over co-pay, consult your pharmacist. They may be able to recommend over-the-counter drugs to get you back in the swing of things.
20.   Rent out your apartment. Heading out of town for the weekend? You could break even on your trip if you rent out your apartment. Just be sure to conduct some sort of background check on your visitors.

[1] "Energy Savers: Thermostats and Control Systems." EERE: Energy Savers Home Page. Web. 22 Dec. 2011. <http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12720.
[2] Bachelor, Lisa. "How to Cut the Costs of Living Alone | Money | The Observer." Latest News, Sport and Comment from the Guardian | The Guardian. 24 July 2010. Web. 22 Dec. 2011. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/jul/25/single-people-save-money-bills>.


Dave, Amy and Jace said...

These are great tips! So many of these not only work for a single person but for a family too!

Amy said...

I have never thought about renting out a place if you're going to be gone for a bit... I finally am living on my own and... I will say my biggest problem is shopping - i have such a hard time creating and staying with a list!

Mimi B said...

I definitely need to not grocery shop on an empty belly. I get too much junk that way! And if you go to the doctor, ask for samples so you might not even have to buy a drug for temporary use.

Elizabeth said...

These are great tips for a family too! I can work these into our everyday lives, I try to grocery shop on a full stomach every time. Unfortunately I make the mistake of going shopping when I am hungry too often still lol. I really like this post though, thanks for sharing! (PP)

Danielle @ "We Have It All" said...

These are awesome tips for just about anyone. A lot of these I already do... but some I really need to work on.

Thanks for the reminder :)

Brittany H said...

These are great tips. I don't live alone, but a lot of these I can and need to practice. Especially sticking to my lists.

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