50 Ways to Save Money
The cost of living continues to increase, the economic downturn means salaries are not keeping pace. Here are a few easy ways to cut spending and save some much-needed cash.
1) Cut your own hair. Get an easy to manage style and trim your hair yourself every few weeks. You can still go to a professional to maintain your style, but you can reduce the number of visits to the hair salon from every six to eight weeks to every four or five months by trimming your hair yourself.
2) Shop end-of-season sales. Retailers tend to have their best bargains as the seasons end, to make room for next season's stock. Many leave out last season's clothes weeks or months into the new season. Shop for next winter during the spring, shop for summer during fall, etc.
3) Get a start of the season manicure/pedicure to get your nails in shape and then do them yourself for the remainder. If you want to go to the salon for a professional look, only go when you need shaping, and not just for a polish change that you could easily do at home.
4) Cancel the gym membership and take up a free exercise, like walking, jogging, playing basketball or soccer at a local park, or swimming or tennis, if you have a pool or court where you live.
5) Cut back on eating out, grabbing take out and carry your lunch to work.
6) Keep the lights off when you're not in the room.
7) Use a ceiling fan instead of the air conditioner during hot weather.
8) Use a space heater - be sure to get one that shuts off automatically - wear extra warm clothing and sleep on flannel sheets during cold weather to avoid running the heat so much.
9) Skip Starbucks and make coffee or hot tea at home and carry in a thermos for your commute to work.
10) Slice open lotion bottles to get every last bit of product out - you'd be surprised how much gets tossed - and add a bit of water to that last bit of shampoo or liquid hand soap to get an extra use or two.
11) Cancel magazine subscriptions and go the library instead. Or, set up a magazine swap with friends, so you can all make your dollars stretch. Pass along your Entertainment Weekly to your girlfriend when you get done and she can pass on her Cosmopolitan to you.
12) Have potluck night a couple of times a month with friends, where everyone brings a dish and everyone takes home a to-go plate.
13) Skip night movies and go to the matinee or go to the discount theater. Or, save movie theater trips for special occassions and sign up for a mail or online rental service, which is often cheaper than the theater, and you get more movies for less money.
14) Keep electronics turned off when you're not using them. Hit the power button on the DVD player as soon as you take out that DVD, keep the computer turned off, etc.
15) Burn candles at night if you don't need a lot of light. Use candles on the patio instead of outdoor lighting. Be sure to blow them out before retiring for the evening.
16) Don't buy dust cloths: Instead, cut up old raggedy towels or T-shirts.
17) Work out a trade for services. If you're a writer who has a friend with a yoga studio for example, offer to write up some promotional material in exchange for a few yoga classes. Too scared to try the do-it-yourself hair cutting suggestion? Find a friend who has a talent for hair styling and offer to make her a home-cooked meal in exchange for a haircut.
18) Plan outings to minimize mileage, and therefore, fuel costs. Don't double back to an area you've already been. Travel the farthest to the place the farthest distance away first, then make the rest of the stops along your route back home.
19) Have shoes that are still in good shape but are starting to peel or get scuffed? Use a permanent marker to fill in the scuffed spots and get another season out of them.
20) Cut back on the minutes in your phone plan; downgrade your internet speed.
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21) Cut out premium channels and stick to basic cable, or cut out TV altogether. It may be an adjustment, but there's always DVDs and YouTube. Cable plans are often outrageously expensive. And think of all the time you can devote to more productive tasks.
22) Use a tiny makeup brush to get the last bit of lipstick, lip gloss and nail polish out of containers.
23) Visit salons of beauty colleges for haircuts, manicures/pedicures, massages, eyebrow waxing. They often charge much less than regular salons because they exist to provide students with experience versus turning a profit.
24) Wash and vacuum your vehicle rather than having it done by a professional car washing service.
25) Carpool to work, school and social activities.
26) Drink from reusable water bottles and tumblers versus buying plastic bottles. Save money and the environment!
27) Shop at the local dollar store. Some items aren't worth buying here, as they come in such small packaging, the discount almost isn't worth it, but other items are a good quantity for a reduced price. Many dollar stores have cards and gift bags that are just as good as those that cost four times as much at regular retail shops. Plates and cups for parties and party decorations are also good finds at these stores, and some of the cleaning products are just as good as you find in other stores, for much less.
28) Don't waste money on ring tones. They're not necessary.
29) A good tip for all those singles out there: Cook up a recipe and freeze half the food so you can eat it later and it doesn't go to waste.
30) Join sites like Groupon.com and hunt4freebies.com to get updates on discounted products and services ranging from beauty products to vacations, along with offers for free samples.
31) Don't use plastic if you don't already have the cash in the bank to pay for whatever you're buying. Pay off all credit card debt as soon as possible to avoid paying interest rates, and, if you can't trust yourself not to overspend, cut up credit cards and pay with debit or cash.
32) Take advantage of the many stores that offer rewards cards to accumulate points every time you shop to count toward free items.
33) Clip coupons. Research when stores have double coupon days and stock up.
34) A cheap alternative to several beauty products? Vaseline. It can double as lip gloss, primer for eye shadow, even body lotion, if you don't mind feeling a bit greasy for a few minutes after the application.
35) Don't leave the faucet running while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, etc., and turn the shower off while shaving your legs or massaging shampoo into your hair. You can turn it back on when ready to rinse.
36) When you get a gift, save the gift bag and tissue paper to reuse.
37) Use witch hazel, which is super cheap, to treat minor bug bites, scratches and bruises, and even acne, versus a more expensive medication.
38) Ask your doctor if there is a generic brand for the medication you take and if it would be effective for you. If so, request to switch.
39) Clean or replace dirty air conditioning filters regularly, as dirty filters cause the AC unit to work harder and use more electricity.
40) Seal doors and windows to keep cool air from escaping during the summer and from getting in during the winter, which could drive up air/heating bills.
41) Walk or bike when possible.
42) Drink only water when out to eat at restaurants.
43) Cut up old greeting cards for scrap paper to use for grocery and to-do lists.
44) Quit smoking. It might cost money up front, in the form of patches, gum and other treatments, but it could ultimately save you a fortune in cigarette costs and healthcare bills. Health insurance is also cheaper for nonsmokers.
45) Head to your favorite vacation spot in the off season, when hotels and attractions often offer discounts. Added bonus: It will be less crowded!
46) Give the gift of time. If you can't afford an expensive gift for a love one, don't worry. Especially if your loved one is elderly, he or she likely has plenty of needs that you can meet. Offer to do yard work, clean house, cook or run errands in lieu of purchasing a gift.
47) Cancel your land line phone service if you have a cellphone and don't need a land to connect with a security alarm system.
48) Plan a cheap date. (Plan one, don't be one!) Have a romantic home-cooked and inexpensive meal, like spaghetti, on your candlelit patio, for example. Educate yourself on free attractions in your area.
49) Keep a log of every purchase you make for two months, then find superfluous items that you can eliminate or cut back in your budget.
50) Use energy efficient light bulbs and electric appliances.