- Personal Finance
5 Ways to Save Money
Layoff the Gadgets
Chances are, if it's a viable product it will be around two years from now, but at a much cheaper price. Remember when LCD televisions first came on the scene? They were the province of the rich and hard-core techies. Now every Joe Blow has one to watch his NASCAR on. In fact, one of the only technological items in recent years that hasn't seen a huge price decline is Apple's IPod. Even so, there are still lots of knockoffs. Wait a while, save a lot.
Layoff the Lattes
Ok, I must admit this is my weakest area. It's not helped by the fact that my boss sometimes sends me down to get coffee for everyone, this only fuels my addiction. Let's take a look at some numbers, shall we?
Grande Vanilla Latte w/tax= $3.50 x 5 days= $17.50 x 4 weeks= $70 a month
You can see how this escalates. With seventy bucks I could have a really fun weekend out with my husband, or I could go and visit family. Lattes aren't the only culprit though. Ask yourself if you really need weekly nail work, or massages. These things are treats, not necessities.
Grow a Garden
The benefits of a garden are many. You will save money on produce at the store. You'll cut carbon emissions from transportation. You can grow organic produce. You can get off your behind and get some exercise. During WWII many families had Victory Gardens, and a great percentage of American produce was grown at home. With words like "recession" and "shortage" lurking around like creepy strangers this is a no brain, feel good step.
Yes, I know you are busy, so am I. But what are weekends for? No, the answer is not shopping. Yes, I know many people have children. But you are not doing them a favor by overloading them with soccer, and ballet, or by letting them play Xbox 360. Make them contribute to the family by helping with watering and weeding. It's not a difficult chore, and it's very grounding.
I personally like to grow broccoli, spaghetti squash, and green beans. Beans and broccoli can be frozen and squash keeps well. If you don't have a yard, tomatoes and peppers grow well in pots. Make some salsa!
Cook at Home
I know a lot of people are naturally taking this step as a budget cutting measure, but it bears repeating. Lunch is a particularly sneaky culprit. It's so easy to forget to pack a lunch in the rush to get out the door. Then come twelve o'clock you're starving and even the soyburger mash at the local fast food joint looks delicious. Let's look at a mistake I recently made.
Arby's Chicken Popper Meal w/tax= $7.00 (It was yucky).
Bread $2.00 + Meat $2.00 + Mayo $1.50 + Banana (2 lbs) $1.60 = $7.10
Divide this by 5 (that's about how many lunches I can get out of the ingredients)= $1.42 per lunch. I drink water most days. Sometimes I also eat Michelina's Lean Gourmet meals, which are all under 400 calories and costs $1.00 at the store.
One of my favorite cheap dinners at home is English Muffin Pizzas:
- I package whole wheat english muffins
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- Italian spices
- Low fat mozzarella
- Organic salad greens
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix some italian spices into the tomato sauce. Cut muffins in half and spread about a tablespoon full of sauce onto each half. Sprinkle mozzarella onto muffins and top with pepperoni. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and muffins are browning. Serve with salad or other choice veggie.
This meal, all said and done, costs less than $8.00 and can feed up to four, depending on the size of stomachs involved.
This may be the single most important point. You do not need more stuff, period. Most of us have way too much junk just lurking around the house. It felt so good when we bought it, but now we can't even remember where we stashed it. When you do need something, whether it be clothes, furniture, or gadgets, stop yourself from rushing out to Wally World and see what you can find used. Many times Goodwill has clothes with the tags still on, for a fraction of the price. Ask a friend who is the same size as you to pass unwanted clothes your way (a large portion of my closet comes from my mother). Utilize Freecycle as a great way to give and receive (especially for things like baby clothes and furniture). We are undoubtedly a throwaway society, which not only contributes to our financial poverty, but also our environmental degradation.
At the end of the day what we have to remember is that stuff is not going to complete us, not matter what the commercials say. Focus on family, good works, and the world around you, and you'll feel a whole lot less empty.