5 Easy Ways to Save Money
I will admit, when it comes to saving and budgeting I was a late bloomer. It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I woke up and took charge of my (and later “our”) finances. Today I run the household budget as I have for the past 20+ years and it’s been quite the learning curve. I really ramped up our saving habits when my boys were about 4-6 years out from starting college. Those numbers were frightening to say the least! Now, you don’t have to have looming college expenses in order to get your finances in order. Anyone can benefit from paying attention to spending habits.
There are many easy ways to save on both big and small purchases or services. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Aside from our mortgage, our monthly food bill is our biggest expense. This is where you can make a big impact on your savings. Make a weekly plan for the meals you want to prepare at home. Bring a grocery list with you and FOLLOW it. Sometimes I do switch the plan up if I see a particular item on sale. For example, if pork tenderloins are buy one, get one free, that becomes a week night meal and I will freeze the second one for a later date. I use coupons, but ONLY for those items I buy on a regular basis. There’s no point in using a coupon on a product you don’t’ need or will likely not use in order to save a few cents. We do eat out or order out on occasion, but keeping that to a minimum saves a ton of money. If you’re looking for a delicious and super easy recipe idea, check out this recipe for crab cakes!
Fees and interest
Avoid bank fees by shopping around for products that don’t charge you monthly fees on your accounts. Most institutions waive fees if you have a regular direct deposit, or you maintain a minimum balance. It’s also wise to avoid any ATM out of network fees. If you know you’re going out of town and your bank doesn’t have an ATM where you will be, take your cash out before you leave. Avoid racking up credit card interest by paying your balance in full monthly. I know this may not always be possible, but it saves quite a bit over time anytime you can swing it.
Out of all our expenses, these are the ones that irk me the most. The big name companies are usually not willing to budge so you are between a rock and a hard place. That said, we cut the cable and now stream and use a basic antenna. It’s not perfect, but it’s something we can live with in order to save about $70 a month. My full-time employer offers a 10% discount for using their wireless carrier, so that’s a no-brainer. Really analyze what plan is the most cost-effective for you and/or your family. Most people would rather gouge their eyes out with a teaspoon, but taking an hour out of your day to research and talk to these companies about your options can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Like the tv/internet/cell situation, insurance is another expense that is important to research and compare. You usually reap the most from having all of your insurance with the same company – hence the litany of insurance commercials on all the time! Here’s an example; we used to have an umbrella policy (this is a liability policy that covers you in the event of an accident that injures someone and they, in turn, sue you. It keeps you from losing your major assets like your home.) It was only about $120 per year, until our sons started driving. It then shot up to $1,100! Needless to say, I called our agent and we worked out an alternate solution by upping our homeowners instead to cover any potential mishaps. So again, do your research and really compare what your best and most affordable options are.
Other overlooked opportunities
I just covered some pretty hefty expense categories to find savings, but there are plenty of smaller ways to save yourself some cash.
- Clean your own house. We live in a area where a good percentage of people have cleaning services. While I secretly envy these people, it doesn’t bother me enough to part with $100 a week. Also, I know when I clean myself, it’s done right and to my standards. It’s also nice that the hubs really pitches in as well! I find putting it on the calendar and carving out a few hours for cleaning works for us and I feel SO GOOD when it’s done!
- Stretch out beauty services like pedi’s or hair color by doing your own touch-ups in between. I may treat myself to a pedicure one month, then do my own the next time. Or, if you need to color your hair every 6-weeks, stretch that out by putting in temporary color on the roots for a week or two.
- Make your own coffee. Luckily, I’ve never been a Starbuck’s junkie (just tastes burnt to me). But, I know I am not the norm so if that morning latte is your thing, try just treating yourself on Fridays and the rest of the week, craft your own caffeinated creation. We just bought one of those Italian stovetop espresso pots and it’s so much fun to use! What I pay for the espresso coffee in a can would maybe get me TWO whole Starbucks coffees!
This is just a snapshot of ways to save extra money. I could go on and on, but we can save that for another post. What I’ve discovered in my journey of becoming a saver, is that it’s a fun challenge and the reward of watching our savings grow far outweighs the gratification of anything I would have spent that money on. ESPECIALLY when those tuition bills roll around!
Do you have any favorite savings tips? I’d love to hear them!