No matter your current financial situation, you’re probably always looking for ways to save money. If you’ve already made a budget and been buying off-brand groceries, it can be tough to find creative ways to save a few bucks every week. Saving money doesn’t take too much creativity, it just requires you to examine what you spend your money on. If you want to save more money in 2014, read ahead for some ideas on how to keep your spending in check and have more money to go around at the end of the year.
Saving on Entertainment
Almost every kind of information available can be viewed online. That means that all those magazine and newspaper subscriptions you have can be canceled to save money. If you’re an avid movie-goer, maybe sacrifice how many times a month you go. Instead of once a week, try going once every other week. That freed time could always allow for extra-curricular activities or time for self-development. If you can’t stay away from the movies, try going to matinee shows, or even better, go to your local dollar movie theater and see new movies at a fraction of the price.
Saving on Automotive Costs
Most likely, a huge portion of your earnings are spent on transportation. Simple maintenance such as keeping your tires pumped up and changing your air filter regularly can save you hundreds of dollars a year in gas costs. You can also try to cut down on how much you drive. The one-time purchase of a cheap bike will eventually save you hundreds in gas money, and walking when traveling short distances will be a healthy practice for both your wallet and your body.
Saving on Lunch
You might not realize it but buying lunch on-the-go can cost you as much as 800 dollars per year. You’ll be surprised if you were to keep track of your lunch spending after just one month. It may be discouraging to see how much of your paycheck is spent on a lunch break. By packing yourself a sack lunch everyday, you can add a substantial amount of money to your savings account. Another benefit to packing your own lunch is that you are more likely to eat healthier instead of resorting to greasy fast-food. Consider taking leftovers from dinner the night before as your lunch the next day—this will cut down on prep time and save money as well.
Saving on Family Expenses
Until you are a parent, you might not fully realize the cost of having a family. Aside from more food and clothing expenses, you have to think about diapers, medicine, doctor’s appointments, and the list just keeps going. Most of these things are necessities, so it’s impossible to cut the cost out of your life completely. The key here is price comparison. Instead of buying the name-brand version of a drug, buy the generic version. Check out and compare prices when it comes to things like life insurance, baby products, and medicines. It may take a couple extra minutes of time at the grocery store when comparing products, but it will definitely save you some money. Sometimes, every little penny counts towards saving.
Saving on Household Energy
Even if you don’t spend a lot of time at home, your house might be sucking extra energy, and thus sucking extra money right out of your wallet. Use Energy Star rated appliances and make sure that your home is well insulated. Simple things like cooking with a lid can also save you bundles. Turn off lights when you can and turn off the heat or air when you’re not in the home. Becoming conscious of your energy use is a good practice for your family. Remember: if you’re wasting energy, you’re wasting money.
Saving on Cable
Perhaps you have always had cable as an expense worked into your monthly budget. However, nowadays, every television program that you watch is available online. If you rarely watch TV, paying anywhere from $50-$150 on cable every month (depending on your service) is a huge hit to your bank account that you really aren’t benefiting from. With everything from news to television shows available online, ditch the cable and sign up for an online TV company like Hulu or Netflix. Paying $7 or $8 a month for your television will be well worth it—especially if you only watch $7 worth of TV every month anyways.
Saving on Unnecessary Purchases
For some people, having a credit card is the cause for a lot of extra and unnecessary spending. If you really want to save money this year, be extremely careful with your credit card use. Perhaps you decide you’ll only use the credit card for purchases within a certain category. Like you’ll only use the credit card when you are buying gas or groceries. That way, when you are tempted by other expenses, you won’t be able to justify the purchase. Defining clear rules about how you will use your credit card will really keep your expenses down. You ay also want to remove your credit card number from your online accounts. If you are a big online shopper, don’t enable your habit by making it as easy as clicking a button to purchase something you want but don’t really need.
Once you get on track with your finances and have made these money-saving habits work for you, it’s time to take care of other looming expenses with the extra money you have saved. Set up an emergency fund and pay off all debts as your first form of savings. Paying off your debt will save you money in the long run. People tend to be overwhelmed at the thought of paying off debt. Don’t be. Contact your debt agencies and schedule payments. No matter how low they may be. Most places will be willing to work with you and your budget. If you’re stressed about debt, think about how relieved you will feel when it is gone. Stick to your savings plan and create a strategy for getting debts paid off.
Make (and Stick to) a Budget
Learn to pay yourself first. Take your money out of your checking account and put it into your savings account. Or even better, create an auto deposit so that a portion of every paycheck goes into savings automatically. That way, you don’t even have to think about transferring the money. Setting aside a certain amount to go into savings is an essential part of budgeting. From there, strategically divide the rest of your income as it applies to monthly expenses such as rent, food, utilities, gas, etc. As you divvy up money for every expense, you will realize there are areas where you are spending way too much, and maybe even areas that can be cut out completely.
Make Your Money Work for You
Once you have saved enough money, you can use some of your savings to make more money. Your money will grow a lot faster when you invest it. Start off with conservative investments like certificates of deposit or bonds or an IRA account. Invest regularly, and you will see the fruits of your labor in no time! Be cautious with investing however—you must be prudent and reasonable about your investments. Just because you have money to invest, it doesn’t mean you should go crazy. You must realize that investments can often be risky. Stick with what you know, and invest reasonable amounts.
When you’re trying to save money, the main thing to remember is to not get overwhelmed or discouraged. Saving money takes time. You will need to be patient, but over time, you will see it add up. Once you start to see that growth, saving can be addicting and you will find yourself trying to save a little here and there in everything you do.