Money Saving Tips
Real Tips for Real People
I've read numerous personal finance articles, many of which promise easy tips on how to save money every month. The problem is, most of these so called "tips" aren't very easy or convenient. For example, one of the most widely touted "money saving tips" is to downgrade your cell phone. Ditch the minutes, ditch the data plan, just use the bare bones basic phone! Its so easy! It isn't realistic. Granted, we don't need to be connected to everything at every time, but it sure is convenient. I also hate the one about driving to 6 different stores to get the best deals on each item. How is that easy? And after you factor in the gas and your wasted time, is it really money saving?
I decided to offer some realistic tips that pretty much everyone can do without giving up as much. I've also decided to add a little break down of exactly how much you can save per month by following these tips, as I truly believe that seeing real numbers on paper can help give people that little extra boost they need to make the small changes. Keep in mind, all of the total monthly savings amounts are based on a single person. Making these changes for multiple people will lead to even greater savings!
I'd appreciate any feedback, or any additional EASY money savings tips you might have.
At the Grocery Store
1. Buy Generic
Sounds easy, but too often people get suckered in by the name brand. For most products, they are pretty much the exact same thing. I can buy brand name corn flakes for $4, or I can buy the store brand for 99 cents. They taste exactly the same. Other items that are pretty much the same:
milk, bread, eggs, sugar, flour, spices, canned goods, noodles, packaged mixes, frozen vegetables, pre-packaged deli items, peanut butter,crackers, and most cleaning supplies
Some things aren't exactly the same, so here is a list of items that I always trust my name brand on:
pickles, chips, toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, frozen pizza and fresh meat
You can save between 50 cents and $2 per item by switching to generic. If you swap out just 10 items on our weekly shopping list for the generic brand, you can save an average of $10 per week. Total monthly savings: $40
2. Use the Rewards Card
Most grocery stores offer weekly deals that you can only receive if you are a member of their rewards club. It is free and easy to sign up for, so I never understood why someone would pass this up. I am usually able to save between $5 and $10 per trip just by using this card. In addition, the grocery store I use offers a points programs. Every three months, I get a gift card in the mail based on how many points I've accumulated. My gift card is usually about $10, but that is $10.00 of free grocery money (and I am single, a person shopping for a family would accrue more points, thus get more free money). My advice is to find the grocery store nearest you that offers the best rewards card, and use them for most of your grocery needs. Total monthly savings: $40
1. Sack Lunch It
Ok, so pretty much every single article about how to save money includes this tip. However, I will break down the cost for you:
Everyday for lunch, I have a sandwich, a little baggie of chips, and an individual pack of baby carrots. Sometimes I'll bring some cookies too. The sandwich has bread (I spend $4 per loaf, because I like rye bread, but if you are on a budget you can get white or wheat for 99 cents), Meat (I spend $10 for a pound of roast beef. If I'm on a tight budget, I will get turkey instead for $7. If I'm on a real budget, I will buy the prepackaged turkey for $5), cheese (I get a quarter pound of my favorite cheese from the deli for less than $3) and mayo (the jar is $5, and lasts me 3 months, and as most people have too many condiments in their fridges, I won't include this in my final tally). The chips cost $4 for a big bag that lasts me the week, and the carrots are $3 for a pack of individual bags. If I chose to reward myself with cookies, I get the $1 generic bag. The total cost for my lunches for the week: $25.
Now let us assume that you eat out 5 days a week, at a cost of $10 per day. Weekly cost: $50
Total monthly savings: $100
Yes, this one is in every advice article too. However, I have a better suggestion than either giving up coffee (not likely) or making it at home (too much work too early in the morning). Invest in a coffee maker for the office. You can get a cheapy one for about $10. You can also set up a coffee fund at the office and everybody can chip in. This will make the weekly $6 cost of a bag or can of coffee almost negligible for all involved. Assuming you spend $2 per day on coffee, giving up the coffee shop can save you $10 a week. Total monthly savings: $40
1. Cut out the pop
Yes, it does sound like a sacrifice. Everyone loves pop. Its cold, its tasty, its refreshing, but it really isn't necessary. It is bad for your teeth, and it packs on the calories. It also stealthily robs your bank account. A 6 pack of name brand pop costs about $3. Most people who drink it tend to drink 2-3 cans per day. This can be up to $9 per week. Water is free, healthier, and honestly it is much more refreshing. Total monthly savings: $36
2. Stop Smoking
Yet another one that appears on every list. I know this one can not be considered easy, but I couldn't pass it up. Everyone knows the long term health risks associated with smoking, and there have been numerous articles that showcase the cost. But in case you didn't see those, assuming you smoke a pack a day, cigarettes will cost you $28 per week assuming the average price of $4/pack. Total monthly savings: $102
I will also add here to make sure that you fill your dishwasher and washer for every load. I can not begin to calculate the savings based on water and electricity usage, but every little bit helps.
At The Restaurant
1. Skip the Appetizers, or Order One as your Meal
Appetizers at most restaurants cost about the same amount as a regular meal. In addition, they have enough calories to actually be a full meal. Ordering both an appetizer and an entree is bad for both your belt line and your pocket book. If you absolutely must have the appetizer, ask for it as your main dish. If you eat out once a week, this could save you $10 per week. Total monthly savings: $40
2. Drink Water
Alcoholic beverages are the items with the highest mark-up at restaurants. Why do you think waitstaff always asks you if they can get you anything from the bar? They are trained to try to sell alcoholic beverages. If you must have a drink, have a beer at home before going to the restaurant, and stick to water once you are there. In addition, pop and other non-alcoholic drinks are also incredibly marked up. They charge you $2-3 for about 12 ounces. Isn't a can still about 50 cents in the machine? If you switch from pop to water during your one dinner a week you will save $2 per week (not a lot, but every little bit counts). If you like to drink at a restaurant, but switch to water, you can save about $10 on your weekly bill. Total monthly savings: $8-$40 (average of $24)
Money Saving Step
Using Rewards Cards
Bringing a Sack Lunch
Using a Coffe Maker
Giving up Pop
Skipping the Appetizer
$422 a month!!! That is a lot of extra money. Even if you can only follow half of these tips, that is still $200 per month!! And like I said in the beginning, this is for a single person. A family who utilizes these tips can save even more! Some of these may be harder for you than others, but surely each person can make a few tiny sacrifices and follow a few of these. Good Luck!
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