Thursday, December 16, 2010

100 Great Tips For Saving Money For Those Just Getting Started Part 2 of 4 - 12/16/10

26. Plan your meals around your grocery store’s flyer. Instead of just planning your meals based on a cookbook or whatever you can dream up, plan all your meals around what’s on sale in your grocery store’s flyer. Look at the biggest sales, then plan meals based on those ingredients and what you have on hand, and you’ll find yourself with a much smaller food bill than you’re used to.
27. Do a price comparison – and find a cheaper grocery store. Most of us get in a routine of shopping at the same grocery store, even though quite often it’s not the one that offers the best deals on our most common purchases. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to find the cheapest store around. Just keep track of the twenty or so things you buy most often, then shop for these items at a variety of stores. Eventually, one store will come out on top for your purchases – just make that one your regular shopping destination and you’ll automatically save money.
28. Challenge yourself to try making your own things. Before I tried it myself, I thought homemade breadmaking was complicated and a waste of time and money. I came to find out that it was pretty easy and it was actually much cheaper, healthier, and tastier than buying a loaf from the store. Now, we rarely ever buy bread products at the store – and we save money by making that choice.
29. Don’t spend money just to de-stress. Quite often, I used to spend money just to wind down from a stressful day at work. Instead, I’ve found that I quite often feel much better by going home and taking some quiet time just to stretch and then meditate. I end up feeling much more together, happy, and ready to face an evening with the kids in the right mindset than I ever would by just blowing some cash after work. Instead of spending to de-stress, try some basic meditation techniques, stretching, or yoga and see how you feel.
30. Talk to your loved ones about what your dreams are. This seems like an odd way to save money, but think about it. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to plan for it. If you’re all planning and working together towards this dream, it becomes easier to stay focused on it and reach it. Set a big, audacious goal together and encourage each other to be financially fit – soon, you’ll find you’re doing it naturally and your dreams are coming closer than ever.
31. Do a “maintenance run” on your appliances. Check them to make sure there isn’t any dust clogging them and that they’re fairly clean. Look behind the appliances, and use your vacuum to gently clear away dust. Check all of the vents, especially on refrigerators, dryers, and heating and cooling units. The less dust you have blocking the mechanics of these devices, the more efficiently they’ll run (saving you on your energy bill) and the longer they’ll last (saving you on replacement costs).
32. Cancel unused club memberships. Are you paying dues at a club that you never use? Like, for instance, a gym membership or a country club membership? Cancel these club memberships, even if you think you might use them again someday – you can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it.
33. When shopping for standard items (clothes, sports equipment, older games, etc.), start by shopping used. Quite often, you can find the exact item you want with a bit of clever shopping at used equipment stores, used game stores, consignment shops, and so on. Just make these shops a part of your normal routine – go there first when looking for potential items and you will save money.
34. Keep your hands clean. This one’s simple – just wash your hands thoroughly each time you use the bathroom or handle raw foods. You’ll keep yourself from acquiring all kinds of viruses and bacteria, saving you on medical bills and medicine costs and lost productivity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t explore the world and get your hands dirty sometimes – that’s good for you, too – but basic sanitation does help keep the medical bills away.
35. Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts. It’s easy to spend online when you have your card information stored in an account – just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the account. That way, when you’re tempted to spend, you’ll be forced to spend the time to dig out your card – and really think about why you’re spending this money.
36. Give a gift of a service instead of an item. For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Offer up some lawn care as a gift to a new homeowner. These are always spectacular gifts for anyone – I know that, as a parent of a toddler and an infant, Ilove receiving a babysitting gift, probably more than any “stuff” I might receive.
37. Do holiday shopping right after the holidays. Most people use this technique for Christmas, but it works for every holiday. Wait until about two days after a holiday, then go out shopping for items you need that are themed for that day. Get a Mother’s Day card for next year the day after Mother’s Day. Get Easter egg decorating kits the day after Easter. Get wrapping paper and cards and such the day after Christmas. The discounts are tremendous, and you can just put this stuff in the closet until next year, saving you a bundle.
38. Join up with a volunteer program. It’s a great way to meet new people, get some exercise, and involve yourself in a positive project that can lift your spirit. It also comes without a cost to you and can provide a lot of entertainment and a fulfilling day when you’re in the right mindset. I’ve come to spend more and more of my time volunteering, serving on various committees and groups in the community – and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
39. Reevaluate the stuff in the rooms in your house. Go into a room and go through every single item in it. Do you really need that item? Are you happy that it’s there, or would you be just fine if it were not? If you can find stuff to get rid of, get rid of it – it just creates clutter and it might have some value to others. You also improve the perceived value of your house – and you’re likely to get a lot of cleaning done in the process. It’s a frugal win-win-win.
40. Try generic brands of items you buy regularly. Instead of just picking up the ordinary brand of an item you buy, try out the store brand or generic version of the item. Likely, you’ll save a few cents now, but you’ll also likely discover that the store brand is just as good as the name brand – the only difference between the two, often, is the marketing. Once you’re on board the generic train, you’ll find your regular grocery bill getting smaller and smaller.
41. Prepare some meals at home. Get an accessible and easy-to-use cookbook (my favorite “beginner” cookbook is Mark Bittman’s excellent How to Cook Everything) and try making some of the dishes inside. You’ll find that cooking at home is much easier than you think – and way cheaper and healthier than take-out or dining out. Even better, you can easily prepare meals in advance – even handy fast food type meals.
42. Switch to term life insurance. Repeat after me: insurance is not an investment. Switch to term insurance instead and use that difference in cost to get yourself out of debt and start building some wealth. Universal and whole policies are much more expensive and offer a sub par investment opportunity – you’re much better off getting yourself free of a debt burden than spending extra on such things.
43. Go for reliability and fuel efficiency when buying a car. A reliable and fuel efficient car will save you thousands over the long haul. Let’s say you drive a vehicle for 80,000 miles. If you choose a 25 miles per gallon car over a 15 miles per gallon car, you save 2,133 gallons of gas. At $3 a gallon, that’s $6,400 in savings right there. Reliability can pay the same dividends. Do the research – it will pay off for you.
44. Don’t go to stores or shopping centers for entertainment. Doing so is just an encouragement to spend money you don’t really have on stuff you don’t really need. Instead, find other places to entertain yourself – the park, the basketball court, a museum, a friend’s house, or even in your own home. Don’t substitute shopping for entertainment and you’ll be way better off.
45. Master the ten second rule. Whenever you pick up an item in order to add it to your cart or to take it to the checkout, stop for ten seconds and ask yourself whyyou’re buying it and whether you actually need it or not. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back. This keeps me from making impulse buys on a regular basis.
46. Rent out unused space in your home. Do you have an extra bedroom that’s not being used? Rent it out. In our home, we could, if times were tough, rent out our entire basement – it has a “living room,” a bedroom, and a bathroom and has a stairwell right by the kitchen. If we found the right person, this would bring in a lot of extra money.
47. Create a visual reminder of your debt. Basically, just make a giant progress bar that starts with the amount of debt you have and ends with zero. Each time you pay down a little bit, fill in a little more of that progress bar. Keep this reminder in a place where you’ll see it often, and keep filling it in regularly. It keeps your eyes on the prize and leads you straight to debt freedom.
48. Get rid of unread magazine subscriptions. Do you have a pile of unread magazines sitting around your house? Likely, it’s the result of a subscription that you’re not reading. Not only should you not renew that magazine, you should give their subscription department a call and try to cancel for a refund – sometimes, they’ll give you the prorated amount back. I’ve had to cull my subscriptions in the past, but I’ve never regretted it.
49. Eat breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast fills you up with energy for the day and also decreases your desire to eat a big lunch in the middle of the day. Not only that,breakfast can be very healthy, quick, and inexpensive. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning is often the one thing that keeps me from running out to eat an expensive lunch later in the day – and it keeps me peppy and full of energy for the entire morning instead of in a coffee-laced daze.
50. Swap babysitting with neighbors. We live in a neighborhood with an army of young children out and about. Because of that, there are a lot of parents out there who are quite willing to swap babysitting nights with us, saving you the money of hiring one for an evening out. A few families even take this to incredible extremes. Try to find another set of parents or two that you trust, and swap nights of babysitting with them. That way, you’ll get occasional evenings free without the cost of a babysitter, saving you some scratch.

Written by Trent @ The Simple Dollar!



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