- Personal Finance
Saving Money Tips
Saving Money is Possible on Even Small Budgets
Saving money is something everyone can benefit from. Saving money need not be complicated and can be achieved with the smallest of budgets.
To start saving money simply look at your current spending habits, and this will give you a basic starting point. Since the birth of my son we have became a single income household, making saving money extremely important, I was determined to figure out where we could cut costs and save money.
We plant a huge garden planted each year, that will save tremendous amounts on food costs for the entire year.
Determined to save even more money, I saved all our receipts for the month and noticed my fiancé purchases a lot of energy drinks, at a cost of $1.99 and up per purchase. By cutting out energy drinks and saving that money we are looking at saving $726.35 a year.
The amount that was shelled out over the last year on a seemingly small purchase, really adds up when you take a moment with some basic math skills to calculate the amount spent per year.
Everyone is guilty of an impulse buys at the market or gas station every now and then. Try instead keeping an envelop on your desk at home and putting the $1.99 a day in it (rounding up to $2.00 is easier), and instead drink more water, most work places have free access to water for employees (tap water).
Another place we were failing to save money was my fiancés lunch every day. He gets a discount at local deli, through work affiliations, the cost runs about $3.49 daily, while not at all healthy either. At a glance this seems like a steal compared to the costs of other alternatives in the area, but assuming you spend the $3.49 a day for a year on lunch, lunch alone has cost you $1,273.85 - that is enough money to buy a decent used car in our area!
There are many more examples I could provide, though evaluating your personal finances will better allow you to decide what areas will provide the best savings.
Take any expense you have that is not an absolute need, and multiply it by how often you pay it. Gym membership, tanning, hair nails etc, the amount you spend will likely shock you!
How Cutting Expenses Saves Money
After I started looking at our budget and where we were spending needless money, I started to come up with cheaper alternatives
First off I started packing my fiances lunch, using left overs so I don't need to account for the additional amount of money spent on his lunch anymore. After a few days most people throw out their leftovers, so send them for lunch instead. Your are not only saving food costs, but eliminating the waste your family produces, and potential lowering the costs for trash service.
I also started to cut our hair myself, my fiancé has very vast growing hair (lucky him) and needs a trim every two weeks in order to maintain a profession appearance at work. An average cut is from $21-$44 dollars. So assuming our salon charges the lower range of $22.00 a year, and you get a hair cut every two weeks that is a cost of $572.00 a year, just for him, not calculating my son and myself. Cutting our own hair has saved us a tremendous amount of money.
Getting your nails done is another expense that seems small initially, until you calculate what it costs for a year. I will admit I used to love to have my nails done on a regular basis, but at $50 a month, assuming I did not have any break in between, it costs $600.00 a year. You can still have pretty nails without shelling put so much hard earned cash, press on nails can be purchased at most dollar stores, or you can just paint your nails yourself at home.
Oil changes are another large cost per year, if you are like us and live a good distance away from civilization. We live 50 miles from the nearest town in either direction, so an oil change is a monthly expense for us. If we paid for the oil change service at a garage, it would be $50. That is another $600.00 a year expense, by doing it yourself we spend around $180 or less per year for oil changes, changing the oil is one of the simplest vehicle maintenances there are. If I can do an oil change, anyone can! Save the money and ask a family member to teach you or watch a tutorial video, the savings are well worth the time invested to learn.
Satellite and cable bills running from the low $30 a month and up. For this example I will use what I was paying before. I was paying to bundle with Sudden-link costing me $154.00 a month! That is $1,872.00 a year! Now I only pay a $30 internet bill and use a $7.99 a month Netflix subscription. That drops my entertainment expenses for the year to $455.88. I will admit that is still high, but I do make residual income through the internet, so it benefits me to keep it.
Utilities, our gas bill specifically, used to cost us over $2,160 dollars a year! Currently since we moved, we have free gas. There are many techniques you can use to reduce your heating bill! Make sure you are well insulated even if it means shoving a cotton ball in a drafty spot around a window, seems crazy but it will help. Alternative energy sources can save bundles and also payout in the end. Consider going green, and investing in a solar panel, many people end up selling power to the electric company and earning thousands of dollars a year! This is on my to do list, solar panel kits are not cheap but a worthy investment.
Clothing, is another huge expense, it is not necessary to have everything be designer! I may be the only one to ever do this, but I only have two or three nice tops and two good pairs of jeans, that is it. I see no need to sit around the house in designer jeans, or even own them for that matter. I do buy LEI they fit the best, and only run aroumd $17.00 a pair; but I have not purchased anything in three years! The average person spends $1700.00 a year on clothes, that is a per person figure! I have a family of four that seems like an obscene amount of money for clothes. Consider keeping what you have now, and limiting the nice outfits for dinner parties, gathering, appointments etc. I also only own three pairs of shoes, one tennis shoe, one boot and one dress shoe. I have not purchased shoes in over three ears! Granted being a stay at home mom it is fairly easy for me to limit the amount of apparel I have. For a working mom I would suggest limiting to 10 outfits, that you can easily interchange for work. Repair your clothes and shoes instead of buying new items all the time. If you can't do it yourself search social media, seamstresses and shoe repair still exist! If I do purchase clothes for my son or fiancé (business attire at work), I do so on eBay or Schoola.com, saving a bundle. I also shop eBay through Ebates.com and get cash back for my purchases - can you say CHA CHING!
Car insurance is another large expense, you see commercials all the time for different companies that can save you money. When you are close to a policy renewal date, it is time shop around! I had been paying $186.00 a month for liability on two vehicles, and after shopping around I found a company that offered me $49.00 a month!
Food expenses are immense for most families you can coupon and save money. The downside is often coupons are for high priced items to begin with, so saving $0.50 on a $10.00 product, does not add up to a significant amount. I make my own bread at a cost of $0.50 per loaf versus the $1.75 loaf at the store. Purchasing prepackaged food is not only unhealthy, but you are spending more for less quality! Try making things home made instead of buying anything prepackaged, you will get an energy boost as well as a little more money left at the end of the month!
Disposable razors, these little guys while very convenient do not tend to last very long prompting us to buy more and more and more. Try investing instead in a razor that you only have to replace the blades, taking care of these blades will make them last longer and you will save a lot of money too.
Investing in a razor like this will save a bundle. You only have to replace the blades as needed!
Whenever I need to make a purchase I check E bates for cash back! If I have to spend I may as well get something back for my efforts. Sometimes the cash back is only 1% but that is better than none. Always check there even if it is a routine purchase for health and beauty aids or groceries, most stores have a "site to store" option and you can pickup your items the next day at your local store. Not to mention this saves you time since you do not have to wait in line you just pick up! Couple this with your credit card that gives cash back for grocery items and you just made a little profit off of your purchases!
Ever notice that why you have left overs they seem to sit in the fridge untouched until you inevitably toss them in the bin? What if I told you the average family of four will waste $2,275 a year in food. Staggering number, appalling considering all the starving people in the world. Now lets talk about improving this.
Let your freezer be your friend. We as humans like variety and that could be one culprit in the amount of food waste every year.
No one wants Mom's meatloaf every day. So once dinner is done place your left overs in freezer containers or bags. Then you can thaw it out and have it for another time without wasting your labor in cooking or your hard earned dollars!
A misconception is that when a fruit or vegetable has a bruise or spot it needs thrown out. This is absolutely false, you can still use it by cutting off the bad portion. A use by or a sell by date does not mean it cannot be consumed past this. This is a common misconception making up for a lot of food waste every year.
You can absolutely tell when something is going bad, I have consumed food weeks after the "sell by" and remain unharmed.
You will be able to smell a bad item long before eating it would ever harm you. If it worries you to much look into canning and preserving items before the so called "use by" date. The use by dates are there merely as a legality to protect food manufacturers.
Did you also know that the United States is the only country to refrigerate eggs! The FDA has these regulations in place to protect business, I can understand that too. Although I do not let the use by dates rule what I eat. As a result I almost never waste food, unless my 17 month old tosses it on the floor that is. Then I use it for compost or feed it to his pet goat.
There are some great deals on bulk buys all over the net! Take advantage of them and save some major money!
Buy in bulk!
Whenever possible buy in bulk. Here in WV we have Sam's club, other states have Costo or similar bulk buy stores. The fee costs me $49.00 a year. I save a fortune buying certain items this way. I buy meat and grains, flower etc. I then bring it home and portion it for meal sizes into freezer bags and date. This also helps me to not overcook, causing to much left overs. As well as helping me control portion sizes. Ever thaw out a package of meat that you did not portion, you cook the whole pack and your tempted to eat more than what you really need to. This will help with that as well.
For flour and grains I use glass gallon jars for these as they are very shelf stable as long as they are in airtight containers. If you would like to know more about properly storing foods, you can find out how here.
Automotive needs are also a great buy at a bulk store. You always need oil and I can buy it buy the case for around $15.00 a case versus $2-$5 per quart depending on the brand
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Replace the bottled water for a reusable bottle and take your own water with you! These are great for packing lunches too!
Rubbish And Refuse
During my research for another article I found out that most plastics are not recyclable, even though we thought they were!
1500 bottles of water are used every minute! Do you buy bottled water? If so you should consider purchasing a stainless steel drinking bottle. The initial investment will run from $12-$15 but it will save you so much money over the year!
Bottled water is often nothing more than tap water. It is not safer to drink than the water that comes from the kitchen sink! All water goes through a treatment facility before it is piped to your home. You pay 2000 times more for bottled water, than you would pay on your usage bill from the water company! Not to mention there is no risk of BPA exposure with a stainless steel reusable bottle!
This will also cause you and your family to produce less waste. If you can control the amount of waste you produce, you could eliminate your trash service and save a bundle!
Buying fresh local produce will help eliminate waste, and you can compost the scraps! Consider finding a local farm that butchers meats and ask them to wrap in parchment paper instead of plastics. Paper products can be burned, used as a fire starter for you BBQ, fireplace or backyard fire pit. Reusable bags can be great too! They save you from having countless plastic bags in the cupboard or in the trash. Some big box retailers like Walmart have a drop off for plastic bags. If you do use them, save the trash bill and drop off at the retailer.
My trash bill is not a large run, $16.00 a month or so. Yet that is about the cost of a case of diapers!
If you recycle look into Recyclebank, you earn points for recycling and can use those points to purchase products. Free money (well points) are always a plus and adds to the budget.
Yearly clothing expenses
How much do you spend a year on clothes
This is one of the largest expenses for families (outside of the household bills). A trip to the mall can end up costing several hundred dollars, after shopping, lunch etc.
If you would like to find ways to save on family entertainment I have an article devoted to just that, you can read it here.
Electronics play a large role in the cost of entertainment. All to often people replace nonfunctional electronics with new ones. It is often cheaper to have your device repaired, rather than buying a new one and trashing the old.
If you have a gamer, you know just how expensive entertainment can be. I have a 16 year old nephew and he can beat a $50.00 game in a day! Consider purchasing a used game via game-stop, eBay or Amazon. This will save tons of money throughout the year.
This past Christmas I purchased 3 games for him and spent under $10.00, I purchased used!
If you opt for using game-stop you can trade in old games for credit towards new ones, if you have a membership there are even more rewards available!
Cloth diapers will save a fortune over time. As well as being better for you babies bottom!
This is one of those ideas that you love or hate. There really is no in between. You can save a fortune using cloth diapers over disposable ones.
I use a mix of both, cloth is convenient at home. Not so much when the little one poo's when your out and about, then you have to ride around with the diaper.
The initial investment can be pricey if you purchase your cloth diapers from a retailer. You can easily use old t shirts and any cotton cloth you have laying around to make them yourself and save a bundle.
In the long run they are well worth it, you can spend in excess of $700.00 a year on diapers alone, once you go to pull-ups for potty training it gets even pricier!