15 Simple, Easy, Basic Tips for Saving Money
The economy is definitely in a precarious place and all of us are thinking that maybe it's about time we started setting a little bit of money aside just in case things take a turn for the worse. Unfortunately, the task of trying to save money can seem a little bit overwhelming.
Here are fifteen tips to start saving money right away:
- 1. Deal with your debt. The single most important thing that you can do to start saving money is to stop throwing it away on paying off your debt. If you've been making just the minimum monthly payments on your credit cards or you have outstanding loans with high interest rates, now is the time to act. Do what you can to reduce the amount of debt that you have outstanding and to reduce the amount of interest that you are paying on your debt. That way, what you earn can actually go to you.
- 2. Take ten percent out of every paycheck and put it in savings. If you don't even let it get to the checking account, you'll be a lot less likely to spend it.
- 3. Start eating your fruits and vegetables. The cost of meat and dairy products is generally a lot higher than the cost of fresh produce. Start finding good health recipes that don't use a lot of complex products or expensive ingredients and you'll find yourself saving a lot of money.
- 4. Find free events in your area. People want to be social but this usually costs them money. They go to the movies or out to eat with their friends. Start going to free events instead - art gallery openings that have free wine, student film screenings and free outdoor concerts or movies are examples of things that you can do without spending money.
- 5. Reduce the amount of gas that you use. Gas is one of the most expensive things in our lives right now so a true money-saving plan means using less of it. There are many different ways to do this. You can become a hypermiler who goes to extravagant lengths to get a lot of mileage out of each tank or you can simply start walking to work one day each week instead of driving. Whatever you do, cut back on gas.
- 6. Learn to barter. You have skills that you can use to gain services from other people. Offer to babysit for your sister if she'll clean your house so that you can stop paying the cleaners to come in. Run errands for an elderly neighbor while you're out doing your own in exchange for tax help so you can fire the accountant. Identify the services that you can provide and the services that people in your life can provide to you and start spending time instead of money to get the things that you want. This also leads to better relationships and has other benefits in addition to saving you money.
- 7. Save energy. Energy costs money and those costs keep on going up. Open the windows instead of turning on the AC and you'll save the Earth while you save yourself some money.
- 8. Do your reading online and at the library. There is absolutely no reason that you need to pay for magazine subscriptions, newspapers or even books. Get used to the idea that you should do all of your reading for free.
- 9. Stop picking up the tab. If you're the kind of person who is likely to say "I'll get it" when the check comes around, you should know that there is no social reason in the world that you should be obligated to do this. It's a hard habit to break but it's one that can save you a lot in the long run.
- 10. Get crafty. A lot of money can be saved if you start approaching life with the DIY mindset. Homemade gifts are more personal and less costly than store bought ones. Materials in the home can be recycled into new crafty uses for decoration and function. Start trying to be this way at least a little bit and you'll find yourself saving money here and there.
- 11. Identify when quality matters. Many people think that they save money by buying cheap things but then those things are quickly broken or worn out and must be discarded and replaced. Learn to identify when quality matters so that you can spend a little more at the start to buy something that is going to last a long, long time.
- 12. Stop falling in to traps that get you penalized. Stop making late payments on your credit cards because then you have to pay a late fee. Stop parking in places where you are likely to get a parking ticket. Identify what these traps are in your own life and stop falling into them in order to save money.
- 13. Give up your vices. If you smoke, you're smoking away your money. If you drink, think about how much you'd save if you didn't. There are some vices that are really expensive and the fact of the matter is that your money could be going better places. You'll be glad that you did it in the long run.
- 14. Look for ways to reduce your regular bills. It's not just credit card debt that can be costly but all of the services that you pay for as well. Figure out ways to reduce what you pay each month. For example, ditch the landline and just keep the cell phone that you have. Or scale back from the includes-everything cable package to a package with fewer channels. Or bundle your services to lower the total monthly cost.
- 15. Create a budget. Ultimately the only way that you are going to be able to have a long-term savings plan is to create a realistic budget based on your income and expenses and then to stick with this budget. It's not fun but it's definitely the best way to go.
There are many different little things that you can do to start saving money. The most important thing, however, is that you be aware of your money habits and take the saving seriously in order to make some real changes in your life.