Easy Ways to Save Money
Learn how to save money and avoid debt!
Many Americans are looking for ways to save money fast during these difficult economic times. We often fall into the trap of feeling that our current spending level is the best we can do. However, with a little creativity, it is possible to find easy ways to save money and economize whenever you are feeling a budget pinch, whether it is caused by a lost job, reduced salary, or simply because your oldest child is going off to college. I have known people who have used many of these money savers, and have discovered that they are quite effective.
SAVE MONEY ON UTILITIES
One way to save money on utilities is to give up your cable or satellite television. This does not mean that you will no longer be able to watch TV. Thanks to the nationwide switch to digital TV that was completed in June of 2009, approximately 99% of U.S. television households can get at least one local station over the air, and almost 90% can get five or more stations. Your daytime shows might not be in high definition, but many of your evening shows will be. Many young adults have given up their cable TV, and found that they feel very little loss, especially since they are still able to rent DVDs, or stream movies and televisions shows directly to their computers.
SAVE MONEY ON PHONE SERVICE
Another step you might take, if you have a cell phone, is to consider giving up your land line. Many Americans, especially young adults, have already made the switch and discovered that they do not miss having a land line. In fact, it is easier for them to deal with only one phone number. If you do keep your land line, switch to the least expensive telephone service possible that meets your needs. Also, call local service providers to see if you can get a package deal for cell service, cable service and your computer connection. Many people waste money by buying these services separately. Comparison shop for the best price on cell service, too. You may not need unlimited texting, long distance or some of the other services that you are paying for. Some service providers offer excellent low-cost service that could be adequate for your needs.
SAVE MONEY ON HOUSING
If money is especially tight, you can economize on housing by moving someplace less expensive, getting a roommate or taking in a boarder. A teacher at the school where I work regularly rents out her spare bedroom to foreign students attending a nearby university. She enjoys their company, as well as the extra money. Another way to reduce your house payment is to refinance. It is not too late to refinance and, in some cases, an ARM might save you money, especially if you expect to move in a few years. If you want to stay where you are and you have extra space, but do not want to deal with someone else living with you, it is possible to rent out a room, basement space, attic or garage to someone who only wants storage space! List your available storage space at sparefoot.com or storeatmyhouse.com.
SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES
Lower your grocery and food expenses by learning to cook at home rather than eat out. Preparing your own food includes your morning cup of coffee or latte, as well as taking your lunch to work. You can also save money on groceries by clipping coupons from the free flyers that are delivered with your mail. If you’re organized, try websites such as couponmom.com or grocerycoupons.com to find coupons for the items you normally buy. You might also want to give store brands a try. Often they are made at the same factories as the premium brands, and there is little or no difference in quality. Store brands can frequently be purchased at a considerable discount.
A simple way to reduce your food budget is to eat what you buy. This seems like a simple enough action to take. Sadly, however, Americans throw away tons of food every year. Canned goods are often left sitting on shelves for years. When you go shopping, ask yourself if you think you will eat this food within the next week. If not, postpone buying it until you do think you will eat it. You may be surprised how much money this will save you!
SAVE MONEY ON TRANSPORTATION
Take a hard look at your transportation. Are there ways to spend less on your auto expenses? Are you commuting to work in the most economical way possible? Is public transportation available? Could you arrange a carpool? In addition to carpooling to your job, have you considered carpooling with friends to social events? If you are making car payments, and having a difficult time making ends meet, check with your dealership or a company like CarMax to see if you could trade-in your car for a less expensive, but reliable vehicle that would be cheaper to drive. Finding one with lower payments and better gas mileage would be the ideal combination! Finally, compare prices between local auto insurance providers and see if you are able to save money on auto insurance. You may qualify for some discounts that you are not aware of … such as using the same insurance provider for your home and auto insurance.
SAVE MONEY ON CLOTHING
Now that you have reduced what you are spending for television, phone service, rent, food and transportation, there are still a few more areas where you could reduce your expenses. Clothing is an item where many Americans can definitely economize. Start by looking at your current wardrobe. Wash and repair all the clothing you currently own. Reorganize your closet, trying to combine old clothing in new ways. Pair an old jacket with another dress, and create an entirely new look! If, after reorganizing, you still need to add a few additional items to your wardrobe to freshen things up, start by shopping in consignment stores, thrift shops, and discount retailers. You may be surprised how much you can liven up your wardrobe for very little money! Most importantly … do NOT put clothing purchases on a credit card. If you are not able to pay for the item right at the moment of purchase, you should postpone buying the item. You may be tired of your current wardrobe, but it is not worth it to go into debt just to relieve your boredom!
SAVE MONEY ON UTILITIES
Next, tackle your remaining utility bills. Take shorter showers. Water your plants only when necessary. Save money on electricity by turning off your lights when you are out of the room. Turn off televisions, computer screens, printers and similar items when you are not using them. You may even want to unplug these items, especially if you are going to be on vacation. Keep your house a few degrees warmer than normal in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter. Remember that for thousands of years humans did not have central heat and air conditioning. Our bodies can adjust to some variation in temperature, if we simply layer our clothing!
HAVE A BUDGET
Make up a budget, and stick to it. Start by simply writing down everything you spend money on for a month. At the end of the month, total everything up into some logical categories … food, rent, transportation, utilities, insurance, and entertainment. Once you have a budget, compare your expenses to your income. If your expenses are excessive, look at the largest items first to see where you can cut back. Continue to find ways to save money on bills until your expenses are lower than your income. For example, if your entertainment expense is high, make a list of all the things you can do for free and limit yourself to just doing those activities. If you can manage to keep your expenses lower than your income, you will be able to start saving!
HAVE A SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Finally, have a savings account. Emergencies will come up. Be prepared so that you do not have to use credit cards for those occasional expenses that you know are coming, such as car repairs, new tires, household purchases, doctor visits, etc. If you save money for these items in advance, you will reduce the likelihood that you will be going into debt to pay for these expenses. With a little tinkering, most people are able to successfully maintain a balanced budget. I hope that you can, too!
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