Saving Money - Great Ideas and Tips To Help You Save
Saving money has become more important than ever. The more money you save, the less you need to make. The good news is there are literally thousands of ways you can cut corners. Saving money isn’t an “all or nothing” concept. Even small amounts add up to make a difference.
Most of the money saving tips listed here are practical and by making small changes you can easily implement them into your lifestyle. However some go to the extreme. Just use the ones that work for you.
Although everyone’s situation is different, hopefully these tips will spark ideas and help you save more money and be more frugal. By the time you’re finished here, you’ll be a money saving expert!
Saving Money on Food
- Create a food budget and stick to it. If you don’t yet have a budget, check out the “Create a Budget” section to get started.
- When shopping for groceries, make a list and buy only what you need. Get a dry-erase board and put it on your refrigerator. When something runs out or is getting low, write it on the board. This way you won’t forget anything.
- Clip coupons. You can find these in advertisement flyers in your local newspaper or go online to sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady and find them.
- Buy generic or store brands. These items often have the same ingredients and nutritional values as the name brands but are less expensive.
- Compare price versus amount. For example most of the time larger sizes of items are a better value. But sometimes the larger size is not a better deal than buying two smaller sizes. It’s always good to compare.
- Buy in bulk. You don’t have to join a wholesale club to do this but they usually offer more bulk items at better prices. If you have room to store these items, you can save a ton of money this way.
- Don’t shop for food at convenience stores. Their prices are always higher and they have far less selection than grocery stores.
- Eat out less. Saving money in this area doesn't have to be a huge sacrifice. Make coffee and breakfast at home in the mornings and bring it with you if you’re running late. Pack your lunch a few days a week. This can save a tremendous amount over the course of a year. Also by bringing healthy snacks to work or school, you avoid the temptation and extra expense of vending machine items.
- Make meal plans each week and plan around sale items at the grocery store. This not only saves money and extra shopping trips but it helps you avoid the “what’s for dinner” conversation every night.
- Cook at home. One of the least expensive ways to eat is to cook family styles dishes. It’s cooking in bulk. And the best part is you’ll usually have leftovers to eat later in the week.
- Keep a check on your refrigerator. Always try to eat or freeze food before it goes out of date. Throwing away food is like throwing away money. Saving money this way is easy.
- Share. Portions at restaurants are often too large for one person. By ordering one entrée and sharing, you'll be saving money and keeping your waistline in check! If you still have leftovers, ask for a doggie bag.
- Grow it yourself. If you have the room, time and inclination, you can grow some of your own fruits and vegetables. Saving money doesn't get much healthier than that.
Saving Money on Gas
- Walk or bike. If you live close enough to work or school this is a really good option. And it’s free.
- Take the bus. If you live in a city where public transportation is offered, you'll be saving money versus driving yourself.
- Carpool. If you live near co-workers or classmates, carpooling can help everyone by saving money on gas.
- Plan ahead. Plan things like grocery shopping around other scheduled stops you need to make instead of making several trips. By combining these into one large trip, you’ll be saving money and time.
- Unless you’re traveling, try to avoid buying gas from stations near major highways. They are usually always more expensive than the ones off the highway. They’re convenient and can therefore justify charging more.
- Apply for a gas station credit card. These offer special rebates on gas purchases.
- If you’re a member of a wholesale club check to see if they have an on-site gas station. These are usually always a few cents cheaper per gallon than other stations.
- Always use the lowest octane gas required by your vehicle. By using the lower octane, you could save a dollar of more per fill up.
Get a tune-up. Keep a record of scheduled vehicle maintenance like oil changes and stay on top of it. Also, check your tire pressure regularly and maintain proper air pressure. Believe it or not, these small things can save a lot of gas and prolong the life of your vehicle.
- When it’s time to purchase another vehicle, look for a smaller one with better fuel efficiency. Go online and compare makes and models before going to the dealership. By doing your homework, you’ll save a lot of time and driving from one dealership to the next. And that saves gas.
- Move closer to work or school. This is a bit drastic but it could potentially save a tremendous amount of money and time depending on your situation.
Saving Money on Automobiles
- Buy a pre-owned vehicle. New vehicles depreciate very quickly so you could save thousands of dollars by buying pre-owned. Look for one with low mileage. Always check the bluebook value and compare it to the asking price. Also have a mechanic you trust look at the car. This way you’re more likely to find out about any problems before you make the purchase.
- If you’re thinking of purchasing a new vehicle, the end of the year is usually a good time to buy. Most dealerships want to unload as much inventory as possible to avoid paying the extra taxes. However, depending on economic conditions, they may offer more enticing rebates at other times during the year. Watch for these if you’re in the market for a new vehicle.
Also never pay “sticker price”. You can always negotiate a better deal. By going online and doing research before you buy, you’ll be in a better negotiating position, saving money on the deal.
You can save even more money by purchasing last year’s model. These are still new cars due to the fact that they’ve never been owned. However since the newer models are available the dealerships want to clear out the older ones to make more room. Salesmen are usually more eager to work with you on the price of these vehicles for this reason.
Saving Money on Housing
- If you’re in the market to buy a new home, don’t overlook the ones that are “For Sale By Owner”. These are sometimes cheaper because there a no broker fees to be paid. Also homes that have been on the market for a while will almost always be reduced.
Homes that are in neighborhoods where lots of houses are for sale are also usually less expensive. However, ask around and try to find out why so many of these homes are for sale. There may be something going on that you’re not aware of.
For example, sometimes if homeowners find out a large shopping center is going to be constructed across the street, they will try to sell before their property values plummet. Even if they're cheaper, you won't be saving money if you get stuck with this type of property.
- Always have the house you are thinking of purchasing inspected by a licensed home inspector. This may be a small upfront cost but it could end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars in future repairs. If any damage is found you can either request that the owners repair it or walk away from the purchase contract with no obligation.
- Cancel private mortgage insurance or PMI when you have more than 20% equity in your home. This is an insurance lenders require borrowers to pay when they get a mortgage and don’t have enough equity. They don’t automatically cancel this until you reach 22%. However you can request that it be canceled at 20% and save a little money.
- Sell your home and downgrade to a smaller house. This is perfect if you have more house than you need. Not only will your monthly payments be lower but you'll be saving money on lower taxes, insurance and utilities as well.
- Rent a less expensive apartment. Again the same principal applies. If you don’t need the extra room, downgrade. Sometimes just changing to an apartment in the same building with a different view can save a couple of hundred dollars per month.
Saving Money on Home Improvments
- When you need to make home repairs you can save a tremendous amount by doing them yourself. If you have the time and knowledge this can save a lot. However, this option is not for everyone.
- If you need to hire someone to make home repairs, ask friends, family or co-workers who they recommend. Get at least three bids if possible. Always make sure the bids are all inclusive and in writing. Also ensure the contractor you choose is licensed and insured. And never pay in full until the work is complete and to your satisfaction.
- Upgrading to energy efficient appliances can save a lot of money over time. If you just replace one major appliance every year or so, you can make your home more energy efficient without going broke.
Saving Money on Utilities and Phones
- By turning down your heat or raising your A/C a few degrees, savings can really add up. Also if your thermostat has a timer, use it. Set it at a comfortable temperature only during times when you’ll be home.
- Install a tank-less water heater. These only heat the water you need when you need it. This can save money by not heating water you won’t use right away.
- Make sure your home is well insulated especially around doors and windows. This is where most heat is lost. If you can afford energy efficient windows, have them installed. There will be some up-front cost but they will save you money in the long run.
- Close vents and doors in rooms you don’t regularly use. You will be heating and cooling less square footage this way.
- Cancel your landline phone service. You can use your cell phone or a call over the internet service like Skype. If you find you use your cell phone most of the time anyway, this would be a good option for you.
- If you’d rather keep your landline phone, go over the bill and cancel any calling features you don’t use. You can also add unlimited long distance and probably save money if you find you’re making a lot of long distance calls and paying by the minute.
Also make sure you’re not being charged for things you don’t need like telephone replacement insurance or inside wire maintenance. These can be easily canceled and can save you a few bucks each month.
- You can also bundle phone, cable/satellite and internet and save on all three. Both phone companies and satellite/cable companies offer this option so check with each to find the best deal.
- Review your cell phone plan and make sure it still works for you. If you constantly go over your minutes each month, you will probably be better off upgrading to different plan. Overages can really add up. Take advantage of free nights and weekends or calling circles if you have these, too.
Saving Money on Entertainment
- Lots of restaurants have daily specials. By going online or calling ahead to check on these, you can save money. Also some even offer coupons or freebies for joining their mailing lists.
- If you enjoy going to the movies why not try the matinee. This is less expensive than the later shows. If you eat before you go, you may be able to avoid the temptation of the movie theater snacks. However, if the popcorn just smells too good, buy one and share it.
- Another option is to join a program like NetFlix. They offer really affordable packages with unlimited movie rentals and no late fees. Plus the movies are shipped right to your door or you can download them and watch on your computer.
- Check out books, movies and music from your library. Most libraries have a decent selection and they’re free.
Saving Money on Clothing
- Buy at the end of the season. Stores mark clothes down significantly during this time to make room for the new inventory. The later in the season, the more you can save. However, if you wait too late the selection tends to get picked over and you’re left with odd sizes and mismatched pieces. So don’t wait too long.
- Buy basic pieces that can be mixed and matched. You will need less clothing this way. Buy a few trendy pieces and accessories to dress up the look.
- Shop at consignment shops or Goodwill stores. This type of shopping takes a bit more time and effort but the savings are unbelievable. You have to inspect the clothing for damage but you can often find practically unused name-brand clothing at a fraction of the cost of new.
This is an excellent resource for childrens clothing. Since they outgrow their clothes so quickly, they are often undamaged and almost like new. If you have the time, you can save a bundle this way.
- Try hand-me-downs. This is a great option for children also. Ask friends, family members or neighbors who have older children. Most will be glad to pass along clothing they no longer need.
Saving Money by Consolidating Debt
If you’re carrying a lot of high interest debt, you could potentially save a tremendous amount of money with a debt consolidation loan. If you’re a homeowner, you could check on a home equity loan for this purpose. Not only would the interest rate most likely be lower but the interest paid would be tax deductible.
Even if you don’t own a home, check with your bank or credit union to try to roll these debts in one loan with an affordable monthly payment and a reasonable interest rate.
Sometimes things like medical emergencies happen and debt can’t be avoided. However, if you have irresponsible spending habits, correct that problem before you do anything else. Make sure this is not just a band-aid fix. If you consolidate your debt and then rack up more debt on top of it you’re in far worse shape. Check out the section on debt for more information and help on this subject.
Saving Money by Working from Home
If you have the personality and discipline, this can save money in so many different ways. You could save money on gas, car maintenance, clothing, dining and childcare just to name a few.
If you’re interested in this option, evaluate your current job. Some jobs lend themselves well to telecommuting or working from home. Others don’t. If you can see the possibility of this with your job, talk with your employer. Just because no one is doing it now, doesn’t mean your boss won’t be open to the possibility.
Be prepared and do your homework before you discuss this with your employer. Let them know you’ve really thought this through and supply them with details of how you see it working. Reassure them that this will not only help you but will help them by retaining more productive and happy employees.
If your job can’t be done outside the workplace, you still have options. You could start a home-based business part time and see how it goes. This should be something you enjoy and are good at. Offer excellent customer service and your reputation and income will grow. If your goal is to eventually replace your current job and work from home this is a great way to do it.
Please be careful if you search the internet for work-at-home opportunities. Most of these are scams and promise unbelievable secrets in exchange for a small fee. If they say you can make millions of dollars by working two hours a day don’t fall for it.
The only way you will make significant income from home is to work for it. However, if you choose to do something you enjoy, it’s not like working at all.
So, do you feel like a money saving expert yet? Hopefully these tips will help you and spark new ideas to save even more.
Check out the section on making more money if you’d like to find out more ways to increase your income.
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