12 ways to save money
Spend an afternoon going through all of those items that you have set aside to either give away or sell, including the toys that your children grew out of and that china pattern you received for your wedding and never used. Then, pick a date and time and start spreading the news about your "junk" sale.
Set realistic, but fair, prices so that you can both rid yourself of now unnecessary items (but hopefully someone else's treasure) and make a little extra income. At the end of the sale, the money that you make should be put into a savings account, for either a retirement fund or college fund.
Live Within Your Means
You need to know the difference between a need and a want. Spend money on necessities first, but do so with a smart mind, because you can find sales, coupons and bargains on necessities. If you have money left over, and if it is in your budget, perhaps splurge for that cute pair of shoes that you spied when walking home from work, which also happen to be ON SALE!
We were inspired to collect our change into one container after an afternoon of spring cleaning when we found countless coins, and even a few dollar bills, inside of pants pockets and even in couch cushions. If you don't have a piggy bank, no need to go and purchase one. Instead, use a small dish or even a small storage container to hold your change. Suggest to your spouse, and even your kids, who will probably want to start their own piggy bank, to empty their pockets into the coin container each night upon returning home from work or school.
Once a month, count your change and separate by coin type. If you have enough to fill a bank coin roll (and you can find the paper rolls online) do it yourself and then head to the bank for an even swap - they will give you bills for the coin rolls. Take those bills and either put them into your bank account, or use them as your "play money."
Who doesn't like shopping? We adore it, but it doesn't really help us save money. Actually, if you change your shopping habits, and where you shop, you could save money.
Do a little dream shopping online or at the mall, and pick out something that you crave, although don't purchase it. When the time comes and you need a dress for an upcoming family wedding, hit up a thrift store and start browsing for a shape and pattern that looks similar to your dream dress. If you are looking for a new bake pan, why not drive around your neighborhood to see who is having a garage sale, instead of heading to the mall to lay out some money on a pastel-colored bake pan that you think is cute.
Secret tip: our favorite place for a little second-hand shopping is estate sales - trust us, they are amazing for items such as furniture, appliances, and even jewelry.
Limit your Expenses
As an experiment, you and your spouse should write down what you spend on food and drinks when you are outside of your home. That means each cup of overpriced coffee, the occasional afternoon cookie, lunch out three times a week, and even an apple from the farmer's market need to be accounted for. (This experiment helps with your financial books, because it is difficult to rely only on receipts when you pay cash for food and drinks, which most people do, because many restaurants, cafes, and markets don't provide you with a receipt.)
After a month, you will both be able to see how much wasted money is spent on food and drinks that you can easily make at home and bring to work or school. To avoid future unnecessary spending, limit lunch out to one day a week, in addition to coffee and other snacks.
Don't Pay Unnecessary Fees
If you added up all of the fees that you pay, due to tardiness, poor planning, or your occasional blasé attitude, you could be saving $10 to $20 a month. What extra fees, you ask? The late fees you pay at the library, movie rental store, and on trains add up. In addition, we are all guilty of paying ATM fees when we are in need of money and can't find our bank near-by. Best advice - just don't do it!
If you live in an area that has a decent public transportation system, use it. The money you are saving by taking a bus or train will add up, and also because the fares rarely change, budgeting should be easy.
If public transportation is not an option, set up a carpool system at work, or at your child's school. Even as part of a carpool group, you are only responsible for gas payments every other trip, or even less if there are 3 or more people in the carpool.
Smart grocery shopping should be considered an art. It is so easy to go up and down each aisle and just throw in what looks good, without looking at, and comparing, prices.
Instead of mindless grocery shopping, buy a Sunday newspaper and clip coupons to use on your next supermarket run. Shop sales at your favorite market, and if some stores require you to have a "club card" to get the savings, sign up because the majority of cards are FREE! In addition, buy bulk, even if that means shopping at Costco or Sam's Club - the savings add up.
Secret tip: Buy store brands and forgo spending the extra $1.55 on the box that has a cute cartoon character. You will be shocked at how yummy store brands can be.
Get it for Free
If you do a little hunt, you can score free samples and even free makeovers and haircuts. Go to salons with stylists in training and you could get a free hair style (such as an updo), free hair cut, or even free hair color.
For free beauty products and makeovers, head to your local department store. Scour the beauty section for skin care, cosmetics, and perfume samples. Also, sit down for a "consultation" to learn more about what colors look best on you. Go home and surprise your husband with your made-up face and plan a night in - see how easy (and fun) saving money can be!
Credit Cards with Rewards
The average American carries $8,600 in credit card debt, so using a credit card may not be an option for every family. If you are comfortable adding a new credit card to your wallet, search for a card that gives you a reward, whether it is cash back, airline points, or shopping points. Don't accept a credit card that doesn't offer you incentive to choose it over one of the hundreds of other cards out there.
If your employer offers a 50-cent match for every dollar you contribute to your 401K, do it! Even if you add $60 a month, you will net over one thousand dollars a year-plus, you defer paying taxes on your contributions, giving you a bigger paycheck now. Even if you feel like that $60 could be used elsewhere, promise us that you will contribute a consistent amount of money each month. The money from your 401K is vital for your retirement, so make wise decisions now.
If you are doing everything you can to save your money, including following some of our amazing tips, but are still having a little trouble balancing bill payment, grocery bills, and buying that little something extra, get a part-time job. Apply to be a barista at a coffee shop on weeknights or weekends. Offer to watch your neighbor's children twice a week so that she and her husband can go on a date. Teach singing or piano lessons to neighborhood children. Use that secret talent that you have and try to market it.
If this option is possible for you, take that money and spend it when you WANT that new scarf or decide to splurge on a fancy birthday dinner for yourself and your spouse. Try to save your full-time job's paycheck, or your spouse's paycheck (if you are a stay-at-home mom) for bills and other payments. You will feel happier having money in your pocket, and you will worry less. Keep in mind, this still requires you to spend the extra money smartly.