- Personal Finance
Save it! Tips for Saving Money
Practical Ways to Save Money
In these tough economic times, everyone is looking for ways to spend less and save a little more. In the U.S. we're used to going where we want to go, eating out when we feel like it, and buying whatever strikes our fancy. Here are a few tips on saving money that have helped me:
1. Don't go shopping when you don't need something in particular. This is a tough one for me. I love to shop and "browse" the stores. The problem is that once I'm there "just to look", I always see something that is so cute, so awesome, so pretty and so cheap that I tell myself that I have to have it. Later when I get home I realize the I don't need it and wish I hadn't spent the money. Staying away from the stores is the best tactic for me and I only allow myself to go when I really need something.
2. When I do go to the store to get something I need, I set a budget for myself before I go. I decide what a reasonable price would be for that item and I look for the item priced within that budget. For example, if I need a new white blouse for work, I decide that I won't spend more than $25.
3. We eat out once week, as opposed to many Americans who eat out almost daily. It's easy to get into the habit of eating out frequently but it is more economical to eat at home.
4. At home we eat left-overs after I cook a big meal. It saves time and money!
5. We have learned to pack our lunches for work and only allow ourselves to eat out with coworkers once a week, and when we do, we stick to low cost items on the menu and drink water.
6. Before going shopping for groceries, I make a weekly menu, or at the very least, a menu for the next 4 days. I make a shopping list based on that menu and buy only the items I need to put together those meals. I skip the snack and soft-drink isles as well as the candy isle.
7. To save baby-sitting costs, we took turns babysitting with other couples. This not only helped us, but it helped other young couples who needed a date night.
8. Instead of hopping in the car anytime we felt like running to the mall we consolidated our trips when possible and made one trip to take care of several errands.
9. Thrift stores are a great place to save money on clothes, toys and household items. It takes some time to sort through all the merchandise but with practice you'll be able to find great items at a fraction of the cost.
10. When making donations to thrift stores or charities, make sure you get a receipt-I was amazed at how much difference it made on my tax return.
11. When a hole develops in your sock, fix it! When a buttom comes off your shirt, sew it back on! You'd be surprised how many people simply stop using that garment just because it needs about 5 minutes of attention and care.
12. Learn to cut your own hair! I grew up in Africa and we had no other option than to cut our own hair, or each other's hair. I still cut my own hair and once in a while I go to a salon to get it shaped up. There are many great tutorials on Youtube.
13. Instead of going to a salon for a manicure and pedicure, take turns doing each other's manicures and pedicures with your best friend or your sister. At-home manicures are probably more sanitary that salon manicures!
14. New isn't always better. Learn to appreciate your car even when it's 8 years old...and enjoy not having a car payment!
15. Downsize your cable package. Many of the channels that you're paying for are probably not of any interest to you.
16. Switch banks if your bank is charging you fees for just about everything. It's worth the trouble in the long run.
17. Call your credit card companies and ask them to drop the interest rate.
18. Consider transfering a high balance on an existing credit card with high interest rates to a new card with zero interest for the first year. Work hard at paying off the balance during that first year.
19. Enjoy great family times at home instead of going out. Going to the movies can easily cost $50+ for a family of four. Find great parks to enjoy with the family, go on walks, or when the weather is bad, play table games at home. Make arts and crafts projects with the kids instead of taking them shopping. They will have great memories of those special times together.
20. Join a local library and check out books and DVDs instead of buying them.
21. Turn off the lights when you're not in a room and unplug appliances that you don't use often. You'll soon notice that your energy bill is going down!
These are just a few ideas for saving money, and although they each seem fairly insignificant, in the long run, you'll notice the savings!