15 ways to save money without losing your sanity.
Thrifty living is a mindset, one that causes you to consider every purchase, or at least those buys where you might pull out a credit card to make a payment. Some people take thrift to the maximum, by participating in “extreme coupon” schemes. While this approach may work for them, you can still be thrifty without getting radical.
1. Track your spending – Before you embark on a thrift campaign, track your spending habits for one month. Review your checking account withdrawals, which will include ATM and debit purchases. Examine your credit card statements and track your out of pocket (cash) purchases. You’ll soon see some behaviors emerge like your daily visit to the coffee shop for a $4 latte fix.
2. Review your utilities – Everyone wants to be connected, but the price of that connection can be a budget buster. If you have cable, a home phone, Internet connection and cell phones, these costs can add up especially if the services are purchased individually. Consider bundling your home phone, cable television and Internet access to one account. Bundled, you’ll save money and may be eligible for a special promotion for the first year of your contract.
3. Cut back on take out or eating out – You’re pressed for time and you don’t have a moment to spare for cooking. Or do you? Eating out is a habit and can be a bad one in so many ways: you never know how many calories you’re consuming, what the ingredients are in your food and you’ll pay way above what you would pay had you cooked it yourself. Set aside one afternoon a month to plan meals and to cook. Store those prepared meals in airtight containers and freeze them. You don’t have to eat your frozen foods daily, but by decreasing your take out budget and increasing your in-home dining, you’ll save money.
4. Ask for discounts – Never pay sticker price for anything. Whatever is available for sale can be negotiated. You already dicker over the price of a new car, so why not negotiate what you pay for that new suit, movie tickets, maid services or magazine subscription? You may be eligible for discounts because of your age (AARP) or for the group that you belong to (AAA) or where you live.
5. Use coupon sites – Groupon, Living Social and Amazon make it easy for you save money on your purchases. Daily sent to your email inbox specials on everything from foot massages to show tickets and even vacation packages are sent your way. Sign up with all three and compare the deals – you can even buy gifts at greatly discounted prices.
6. Review insurance coverage – If you bundle your homeowners and auto insurance, you can save approximately 10 percent by having both policies written by the same company. You can also save money by dropping collision coverage on an aged car, raising your deductibles or selling that third car you seldom drive, but still must insure.
7. Make it yourself – So, you’re not particularly talented and must buy your gifts, right? Think again. That pricey art store find has been marked up by 300 percent, but may be something you can make yourself by taking an art class through your community arts program. You’ve wanted to learn how to work with clay, make jewelry and paint a picture for some time. Work with an expert who can help you create a masterpiece, suitable for gifting at Christmas, on a birthday or for some other special occasion.
8. Vacation off peak – If you vacation when everyone else goes away, then you’ll pay top dollar for your beach rental or hotel stay. With school-age children you may not have much of a choice for when you can travel. However, if your children are grown or you have some flexibility with their schedule, then book your beach stay in the shoulder months (May and September) and enjoy deep savings.
9. Travel off peak – Just like taking a vacation, if your flight plans have you traveling when everyone else is on the road, then you’ll pay top dollar for your trip. Book your flights to leave and return during the middle of the week (Tuesday or Wednesday) or, if you must be someplace for the holidays, fly early in the morning on Thanksgiving or Christmas to reach your destination. Holiday travel is cheapest if you can fly on the holiday itself.
10. Join a warehouse club – Daily discounts can be had at Costco’s, Sam’s Club and BJs, the top warehouse clubs in the nation. Shop smart, however, as most items are bulky and you could waste food if you don’t use that five pounds of choice cut meat fast enough. You’ll pay an annual membership fee to join a club, but with judicious buying you’ll recoup that fee within two or three visits to the club.
11. Limit your gift giving – At Christmas, do you have 17 people on your gift list? If so, then gift giving can be a source of consternation for you, putting enormous pressure on your budget well into the new year. One way to avoid this is to simply cut back on your list. Limit your gift giving to children or do what many families do – they choose a name out of a hat at Thanksgiving time and buy a gift for that person only. Typically, a budgeted amount is set, which means you’ll likely spend more for that one person. However, you’ll avoid expending the time, energy and miss the aggravation of shopping, allowing you to truly enjoy Christmas.
12. Cancel your gym membership – Unless you’re an avid fitness club user, your gym membership may come at a cost that is killing your budget. Why not explore other ways and places to work out? It may be cheaper for you to buy exercise equipment and work out at home then to travel to the gym to work up a sweat. Also, if your company has a gym on site, plan your day accordingly and go to work early enough to work out, shower and get to the office at company expense.
13. Do it yourself – Do you rely upon service providers to handle jobs you once did yourself? That includes hiring someone to cut your lawn, blow your leaves, wash your car, clean your laundry, color your hair, watch your kids and more. Review what you can do yourself or, in the case of child care, trade off with other parents who can trade of watching kids for a date night out.
14. Go generic – Needed medications need not bleed your budget. If a generic version of a particular drug can provide similar results, then use it instead of the name brand drug. Shop at a local pharmacy that holds costs down too. For example, you may be able to get your pills for $4 per month or $10 for 90 days. Talk to your doctor about splitting pills as another way to save.
15. Pay online – The price of a postage stamp is a pittance in the grand scheme of things. However, if you pay 10 bills a month, you’ll shell out $5 a month or $60 a year. Moreover, you’ll expend time on line at the post office, buying stamps and envelopes. Likely, your bank has an online payment feature, a free service that is part of your checking account – use it and save money.
Not every tip is something you’ll begin doing, but does provide a good place to start. You don’t need to live like a pauper to save money, but you may soon find that you can still live like a prince, but without paying a king’s ransom to maintain your lifestyle.
- Shavon West
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Last update on 2019-04-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API