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- Frugal Living
Ten Easy Ways To Save Up to $100 A Month
Here are a few places where you can cut back on your expenses so you'll actually have money to put away for that new car or for retirement.
1. If there are four people or more in your family, consider joining a food co-op. We did this for years when our kids were young. There were about twenty families in our group. We'd order meat, dairy, cereals, and much more in large quantities and divide them up at a monthly meeting. We saved at least fifty percent on the food purchased and had fun and made friends in the process. The money I saved from my food budget went into a savings plan before I had a chance to spend it.
2. Shop at thrift stores. If you're a mall or catalog shopper this may sound like a ‘step down' in your standard of living. In actuality it's not. I've purchased good quality, name brand clothing for my family and myself for a fraction of the cost in retail stores. Many items are new or like new. The Goodwill is a great place for bargains. I have a Liz Claiborne blouse that cost two dollars at the Good Will. Infant and children's clothes are the best bargain as they are usually grown out of before they show any wear at all.
Also, lamps, furniture, small appliances, and decorative items can be purchase for a dollar or two. The stores are restocked every day, so there are always new treasures to discover. This is also an excellent form of ‘recycling'.
3. Pack your own lunch for work. Eating lunch at a restaurant can cost up to ten dollars a day or more. You may spend less at a fast food restaurant, but you'll pay more in the end for health reasons. Pack an envelope of tuna, apple, fresh veggies or even a frozen entrée to heat up in the microwave and you'll save up to eight dollars a day. Forty dollars a week invested in your retirement account will greatly improve your financial future and you'll be healthier too.
Pass up that five-dollar cup of coffee and go to your local fast food or gas station for coffee. I know it sounds awful, but 'gas station coffee' has been rating among some of the best prepared coffe around by a number of critics. It's usually much cheaper and just as good. Or, make your own.
4. Try to buy only what you need. Shopping for clothes can be fun, but buying three pair of slacks at a time in different colors probably isn't a ‘need' but a ‘want'. Also, figure out what you'll need (a sweater, new winter coat, swim wear, etc.) and plan for the sales. I needed a new winter coat last year and ended up with two, but spent very little money. One I purchased at the end of the season for seventy-percent off. They other I bought on half-price day at the Goodwill. It was a new, Lands End all-weather coat, fits perfectly and I even love the dark green color. It cost me five dollars, so I figured I could splurge and have two new winter coats.
5. If you smoke, quit. This will allow you to save a tremendous amount of money. If you drink alcohol, try cutting back. This will save you money and a lot of calories as well. Or at least cut back. In NYC smokes can cost $7 a pack. Seven dollars a week, twenty-eight dollars a month, it all adds to your savings.
6. Do you really need to go to the movies every weekend? Try going every-other weekend instead. This will add up to another twenty dollars a month. Many local libraries rent videos for free or a dollar. Or join a service like Netflix that costs about eight dollars a month and is cheaper if you rent more than two to three videos per month. Invite friends over and you'll find it more a more enjoyable evening than sitting in a dark room having your eardrums blasted out with a bunch of strangers. Take some of your own snacks when you do go. I know the theaters don't like it, but when they gouge their customers by charging two dollars for candy that would cost fifty cents anywhere else, I do not feel guilty about bringing my own. Buying popcorn and a soda for two people can cost nearly twenty-dollars! You can also take more healthy snacks, like nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Also, look for free forms of entertainment, such as art and music festivals, or ‘free' days that some zoos and museums offer.
7. Cook fresh foods instead of buying frozen meals. Substitute red meat for inexpensive cuts of chicken and whole grains, like brown rice. This could save you five dollars a week. Make a large batch of veggie lasagna or chicken and veggie casserole and freeze individual portions for handy meals. These freezer meals will be much cheaper than commercially prepared ones. Also, buy fruits and vegetables in season. They will be less expensive then and if you have room in your freezer, you can stock up. Berries and peppers are so much cheaper in the summer and freeze quite nicely.
8. The number one rule, according to many professionals, is " pay yourself first." Even a small amount of money deducted from your weekly paycheck and saved is a great start. Although investment portfolio's sound complex, if you find a good financial planner it is much easier and it is also much easier to stick to your plan. Just twenty dollars a week will be a little over a thousand dollars a year. Invested wisely, your money will grow more quickly than you'd think, much faster than it would sitting in banks that pay low interest rates and eat that up in fees.
9. Long-range investment type life insurance also serves a dual purpose. Your payments buy coverage that will protect your family or loved ones in the even of your death, while building up a cash payout when the policy matures.
10. Save consistently and leave the money alone once it's saved. Consider it ‘locked up' for the future and you'll soon have the peace of mind of knowing you have a cushion for bad times or a dependable income for your retirement.
Put all of these suggestions in use and you can easily save up to seventy or eighty dollars a month. Or, just try one or two and save twenty or forty - either way you'll have money in the bank with very little effort!
Pack a lunc and save a bundle!
Who says you can't carry your lunch in style?
Crock pots are an excellent way to make batches of soup, pasta sauce, stews, one-dish chicken or beef dishes. Assemble the ingredients the night before and plug in in the morning - by the time you get home from work your meal will be ready. This will help you avoid fast food or take-out when you arrive home tired and hungry!
These are glass (no off-gassing from plastic) and the seals are excellent. Freeze your home made soup or leftovers in it and pack it for lunch!