|Top Ten Tips for saving money in today’s economy…One good outcome of the economic recovery is that people are becoming more careful with how they spend their money. For many of us, this means acquiring new financial habits. Here are our Top Ten Tips for stretching a dollar today. The first four are good overall things to do:
1. Create a budget. Drawing up a budget may not be anyone’s favorite way to pass the time, but it sure pays off when it comes to saving money. You can’t cut expenses without knowing what you have coming in and how it’s going out. Making a budget instantly highlights the places where you might make some cuts. Without a budget, it’s hard to keep saving money over a long period of time, because you don’t see where your expenses may be going up.
2. Trim your debt. Credit cards are certainly convenient. But you want to minimize what you owe, as credit cards usually carry the highest interest rates. Watch what you spend with these cards–this is where that budget comes in–and make it a rule to pay off your outstanding balances each month. This can save you big money by eliminating those monthly interest charges.
3. Spend less. Review what you spend on everything, and look for opportunities to save money. For example, check with your phone company for cheaper rates and cellular calling plans. Think about cutting out newspaper delivery or magazine subscriptions you don’t really need. Bring coffee to work in a thermos. Use the public library instead of buying books and renting movies. These things all add up–and the more you look for opportunities to save, the more you’ll uncover.
4. Save more. Get into the habit of regularly putting money away each week or each month. It doesn’t matter how small the amount, you can always increase it once you find yourself with more on hand from your other money saving efforts. Saving itself motivates you to keep at it, as you watch your nest egg grow. You might want to have a regular amount deducted from your paycheck and deposited directly into your savings account. Many people find this a painless way to quickly build up cash assets.
These next six tips give you some great specifics:
5. Buy in bulk. Plan meals in advance so you can take advantage of bulk savings. Cook in bulk so you have leftovers you can re-heat quickly when you’re in a hurry instead of using more expensive convenience foods. Buy fresh ingredients and generics for any prepared foods you need. But make sure what you buy in bulk will be used before it goes bad. Throwing food away doesn’t save you money.
6. Compare places to shop. Don’t assume big box superstores have the best prices. Check out farmer’s markets where buying direct from the producer can save money. Bulk buying can also work well here, letting you save on staples like corn, potatoes and rice. Local shops and smaller markets can also run specials that offer outstanding value–you just have to watch for ads and signs in windows.
7. Check sales carefully. Many “huge” mark downs are just creative marketing ploys–the items aren’t selling at the lowest price out there. Try to check out “sale” prices from a range of different sources. Especially with high ticket items, make sure the price you’re paying isn’t lower somewhere else.
8. Eat in. Have your beverages at home too. A take out cup of coffee can cost twenty times what it does to make at home. So think before you buy a soda or coffee or grab that fast food you don’t really need. Have something more nutritious at home and save money. Enjoy that nice meal out, of course, but that’s a special event, not an impulse purchase.
9. Consider buying used. Cars on average lose a third of their value in the first two years, so buying a car that’s twenty-four months old can save big money. Many items can be found “as good as new” in consignment shops, thrift shops and on the internet. The list is extensive: clothes, electronics, kitchen appliances, pots and pans, toys, gardening tools, musical instruments, outdoor sheds, to name a few. And you not only save money, you’re also preventing perfectly useful items from packing our landfills.
10. Reduce your consumption. In addition to buying used items, think about using fewer things overall. If we could all consume less, we’d create less waste, use less energy AND save money. Turn down the thermostat and turn off lights around the house. Don’t waste food. Don’t use more shampoo, detergent and household cleaners than you need to get the job done. You’ll be good to your wallet while being good to our planet.
Always remember, little things can quickly add up to huge savings. And for savings relating to home financing or refinancing, please feel free to call or email us with any questions. We’re always glad to talk…. Have a great day!