Money Saving Ideas
When you’re living on a budget, taking advantage of money saving ideas is a great way to make your dollars stretch and help your finances balance each month. Depending on your situation, drastic changes may be called for. But don’t stress yet – you might be surprised at how just a small change in your life can make a significant change in your wallet.
Check out the suggestions below. I’m sure you’re already doing some of these things, but you’re bound to find several new money saving ideas in this list for ways to trim enough off of your monthly expenses.
More Money Saving Ideas – Just Added!
To help save money and keep your home cool in the hot weather:
~ Don't put a television, a lamp, or other appliance near the thermostat for your air conditioner. The heat that is given off by these appliances will make your air conditioner run longer.
~ Operating an air conditioner can be expensive. Consider opening windows and using portable fans or ceiling fans to circulate the air. According to the Department of Energy, air moving at just 1 mph can make you feel three to four degrees cooler.
~ Be sure to turn off fans when you leave a room. There is no cooling benefit from the moving air unless you are in the room to feel it, so you'll waste energy and money running the fans in rooms that aren't occupied.
~ Use a fan along with your window air conditioner to help spread the cool air throughout your house.
~ In dry climates a bowl of ice placed in front of a fan will cool you as it evaporates.
~ Close curtains and window coverings during the day, especially on windows that face south or west.
~ If your home gets a lot of sun during the day, install white window coverings to reflect heat away from the house.
~ A simple money saving idea that will conserve electricity and keep your home cooler: use your microwave oven instead of your conventional electric oven or stovetop.
MONEY SAVING IDEAS FOR AROUND THE HOUSE
- Install a programmable thermostat and you could save about $180 per year in heating and cooling costs.
- Wrap your water heater to help it run more efficiently. You can also lower the temperature. Experts recommend 130 degrees which is hot enough to kill germs.
- Line-dry your laundry instead of using the dryer. Clothes dryers suck up a lot of energy, so you can cut your electric bill by using it sparingly. In cold or wet weather use indoor drying racks if it’s feasible in your home.
- Audit your cell phone plan. Are you paying for too many minutes each month that go unused, or are you paying extra fees for always going over your minutes? Make sure your plan is the most affordable plan that fits your cell phone needs. But be careful about making changes before your contract is up – you don’t want to incur an extra fee for making changes, unless the total savings for changing now largely out-ways the fee.
- Are you paying for bells and whistles on your cell phone that aren’t essential to the functionality of the phone? Be honest – custom ringtones, texting, game downloads and internet access are fun, but completely non-essential, and pretty expensive. Everyone wants the cool toys, but if you’re short on money each month this is one good place to cut back. Or, if money is really tight, you should have just the basic cell phone service. It’s irresponsible to pay for all the other stuff if your budget doesn’t balance.
- Landline vs. cell: Do you have both a landline and a cell phone? Many people use their cells almost exclusively which makes paying for a landline a waste of money. Think about this in your life. Definitely keep both if they’re useful, but if the landline is almost never used, consider saving that money each month.
- What are you paying for your television service? If you’re paying for premium movie channels or other extra channels that you hardly use you should cancel those from your monthly service. If money is really tight, this is one of those luxuries that should be eliminated for now even if you do use them.
- Save energy by turning off lights, fans and TVs when leaving the room. Enlist the entire family, and remind each other until it becomes a habit.
- Run your dishwasher only when it is full, instead of just partially full. It takes the same amount of water for either size load, so make it count!
- Here is another water-saving and money saving idea: take a shower instead of a bath. It takes about 35 gallons to fill the average bathtub, while a 5-minute shower uses less than half of that – only about 12½ gallons. You will save money and help the environment.
- Use washable cloth towels in the kitchen and garage instead of paper towels. The same goes for plates, bowls and cups. You will save money, and help the environment.
- Another money saving idea that also saves the environment: sweep instead of spraying when cleaning off your driveway, patio, sidewalk, etc.
- Use a toaster oven instead of your large oven when possible. It uses much less energy.
- If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. This will keep the outside air out, and keep the inside air (that you've paid to either heat or cool) from escaping up the chimney.
MONEY SAVING IDEAS FOR THE GROCERY STORE
- Change your grocery shopping habits. Instead of going each night for dinner items, plan ahead and make a list to cover several days or even a week's worth of groceries. It's easier this way to control costs and stay within your grocery budget.
- Avoid single-serving packages. Generally these cost a lot more per ounce than larger packages of the same product because you have to pay for all the additional packaging. Go with normal-size packages and learn to serve up a single serving. The exception would be if you’re single – in their normal size of package many food products might get stale or go bad before you are able to eat it all, and this wastefulness if expensive as well. In this situation the single-serve packages make sense.
- Discover the joys of leftovers! Make a conscience effort to use up leftovers and stop wasting food.
- Plan ahead – shop with a specific list and stick to it. Add it up ahead of time to be sure you’re within budget.
- Buy on sale. Use the advertisements from the local market to plan your meals for the week based on what’s on special.
- Avoid impulse purchases.
- Use coupons! If you don’t use coupons when you grocery shop you’re just leaving money on the counter. Check your local grocery store ads as well as your local newspaper for coupons – usually the Sunday paper has the coupon booklets. There are also numerous internet sites where you can download free coupons. Another possibility is to register with some of your favorite companies and enjoy the coupons they send via email. I hear regularly from Lean Cuisine and Buitoni, and I know there are many others that do the same thing. A word of caution about coupons – only use the ones that make sense for you and your family, and that help your budget. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon.
- Try the store brand. Store brands are cheaper on a regular basis, and they are more often on sale than brand name products, so you win twice. You won’t like every store brand item you try – some just don’t hold up to the name brand – but often enough the store brand is a suitable substitute and much less expensive.
- Discover the local farmer's market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Many also offer flowers, baked goods, spices and more. The products are fresher, and often much less expensive than the grocery store.
MONEY SAVING IDEAS, FINANCIALLY SPEAKING
- Pay with cash instead of checks or credit cards. You'll be amazed at the effectiveness of this most basic of money saving ideas.
- Use the free generic bank checks instead of buying the fancy ones. Some of the patterned ones are awfully cute, but generic or fancy – they all work the same.
- Avoid fees for careless money-handling, like bounced checks or late payments. These are all expensive and add up very quickly, and are a complete waste of your money.
- Here's the first of two money saving ideas about automatic teller machines. Don’t use ATMs, Reason #1: Often there are extra fees associated with these transactions. And if you’re following the personal-budgeting-works.com budgeting system, you should be working with cash and avoiding your bank card.
- Don’t use ATMs, Reason #2: Money comes out of ATMs in $20 increments, even if you only want $5 or $10. And once it's in your wallet that extra amount will get spent. You waste hundreds of dollar each year using the ATM instead of working with specific amounts of cash.
- Each night, collect your loose change in a jar. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this adds up. Depending on your situation, you can designate it for something special, like a vacation fund, a special occasion dinner, etc. Or if your money is extremely tight, save this in an emergency fund, or use it to help with expenses.
- If you’re paying off credit card debt, try very hard to pay more than the minimum payment. The minimum payment usually just covers your finance charge and does little or nothing to pay off the debt. Try to double the minimum payment if at all possible.
MONEY SAVING IDEAS FOR EATING OUT
- Eat out less often. Make it more of a treat instead of the norm. Learn to enjoy family meals at home.
- When you do eat out, learn to split your meal with your spouse or child. Typical restaurant serving sizes are way more than is healthy to eat – and in some case more than it’s even possible to eat! Pay for one entrée instead of two and you just cut your restaurant bill in half – which means less tax and tip as well.
- Skip the soda or specialty coffee – it’s really expensive. You can buy a six-pack of soda in the store for the price of one restaurant soda. Instead, order a glass of water. It’s free, and the added benefit is that it’s healthier for you as well.
- Don’t order alcohol in a restaurant for the same reason – it’s outrageously expensive. Food is essential. Alcohol isn’t (believe it or not).
- Just like in Money Saving Ideas For the Grocery Store, take advantage of coupons and other restaurant specials. Many restaurants offer less expensive early bird meals, a senior menu, or have a night when kids eat free. Often they mail out coupons for discounted meals, like buy one get one free. When your budget allows you to eat out, stretch your money by taking advantage of one of these money-saving promotions.
- Embrace leftovers! Don’t waste what doesn’t get eaten. Ask for a take-out container and make tomorrow’s lunch from tonight’s leftovers.
- Some restaurants offer a discount or free appetizer for completing a short survey of your experience with them. Take advantage of these special offers to help your money stretch a little further, but use them only if you have the money budgeted to go out to eat.
- Many libraries have summer reading programs for children that have two advantages – getting the kids excited about reading, and they often give certificates for free meals from local restaurants as incentives. Check to see if your library runs a program like this.
MONEY SAVING IDEAS FOR YOUR CAR
- Maintain your car on a regular basis. Proper tire inflation, clean oil, and clean air filters are among the things that help your car run better, and ultimately save gas. And a properly maintained car will most likely require fewer repairs as time passes.
- To save on gas, keep your car trunk or truck bed cleaned out. The heavier the vehicle, the lower the mileage, so don’t use your trunk as a storage room!
- Slow down! Driving at moderate speeds and avoiding quick stops and starts will help your vehicle use less gas, and make your tires last longer as well!
MONEY SAVING IDEAS IN GENERAL
- Here is one of the most fundamental, common sense money saving ideas – stop spending!
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Simplify your life. Make do with fewer things.
- Cut back on vices – they are all really expensive. This would be a great time to stop smoking, or cut back on the alcohol you drink. How many coffees do you buy each week? Cut back on habits that are not essential.
- Pack a lunch on work days instead of eating out.
- Many food items come in reuseable containers. Save and reuse these instead of buying expensive storage containers.
- Try the barter system. Trade your time for a service you need. For example, if your child needs tutoring or music lessons, get creative in how you pay for them. I have a friend who cooks dinner one night a week for the family of her daughter’s tutor. You could clean house, do house or car maintenance, yard work – whatever you are good at that would be of value to the other person.
- Make a Christmas budget – this is my favorite of the money saving ideas in this list. For some people this one change will make a huge difference. Don’t just randomly buy gifts for family and friends. Plan ahead to determine how much you plan to spend for each person you buy for. Remember to include any work gifts, your mail person, any other service workers, your kids’ teachers, etc. Even plan a little for miscellaneous in case you’ve forgotten someone. This type of planning has two excellent advantages: If you do this far enough in advance you can put away a little each month so you don’t go into debt in December; and you keep your spending under control by following your plan. Without a plan, it’s just too easy to overspend and get in financial trouble at the holidays.
- If you qualify, take advantage of senior discounts everywhere you go. Most food establishments offer one, and many department stores also have a designated senior discount day.
- Visit your local library instead of buying books or magazines for your family. And while you’re there, discover the wonderful free activities that many libraries sponsor for children as well as adults throughout the year.
- Another way to save money on books is to set up a book-sharing program with your friends. You each buy a different book, and then share the books among each other. If you do this with four friends, you each get to read four books for the price of just one.
- Ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs whenever possible. They are much less expensive, and insurance often covers generic where they won’t cover brand name drugs.
Recently I came across an excellent article at MSN Money –
91 Ways to Save On Almost Anything
taken from Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. I was happy to see that some of their suggestions are already mentioned here in my Money Saving Ideas section! This article is definitely worth checking out. You'll find many excellent common-sense and creative suggestions for saving money in all areas of your life.
And speaking of common-sense and creative ideas, I’d love to hear about your money saving ideas. If you have one you’d like to share, please submit it via the form below.
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