Seriously, who doesn’t want to find easy ways to save money? The catch is, first you have to make more money in order to save it. Once that is accomplished, there are clever ways to save so you always have money on hand should you need it. Saving money isn’t easy, because the temptation to spend is so great when you begin to feel comfortable with your bank account balance. However, saving money does not mean never having any fun; it means being sensible with the extra cash you have and that can eventually lead to becoming a millionaire.
Wealth Takes Time
Don’t try to save a nest egg all in one year; it won’t work. Small steps at a time will add up to big savings in the long run. There are many ways to set out a savings plan and still enjoy extra money coming into the household. For example, setting aside $500 a week for the next 20 years will build you one million dollars, and that isn’t even taking into consideration the powers of compounding interest. Saving doesn’t have to hurt, and it feels wonderful to know that you have extra money set aside in case of emergency, job loss, or perhaps a well-deserved vacation. There are many easy ways to save more money without feeling a pinch in your spending habits. Let’s take a look at a few.
Slowly But Surely
The first step in saving money is getting a grip on where you are spending it. There is an innovative program out there called “Shoeboxed”, which helps you store personal receipts and documents online. The service is free, and it will let you take a snapshot of where your money is going. This is an excellent way to see where cutting corners is practical. Once you determine where you are spending the most money each week or month, you can eliminate or reduce those expenditures and put the money you would have spent into a savings account.
Rebates and Coupons
Food and household necessities have to be bought, but do you really have to buy name brands at full price? Look for in-store sales flyers each week and find items that you would commonly use on sale. Once you have targeted items on sale, you can build recipes around them. Clip coupons for the items you plan to buy, looking in your local newspaper, magazines and online for the best coupon deals, and try shopping at a store that doubles coupons.
Store rebates are also an excellent source for cost savings. Search online for rebates or pick up rebate coupons at your local store and mail them in for cash returns. Families can even decide to eat out and use coupons – just consider using online coupons for Dominos, Pizza Hut, Edible Arrangements, Subway, etc.
There is really no reason to spend money on frivolous items when you can cut back without feeling the pinch too much. Take your lunch to work. Not only is this a healthy alternative and a great way to stay in shape, but it costs far less than eating out every day or ordering lunch and having it delivered to the office. Take leftovers to work and heat them up in the microwave. Make your own coffee in the morning and take it with you on the commute to work. Bring bottled water or soda if you have to have it, and supply your own snacks in order to avoid the vending machines.
Make Household Products
There is absolutely no need to buy expensive cleaning products for the home when you can easily make your own. Search online for laundry detergent recipes. The products are easy to put together and generally more environmentally friendly than store-bought detergents. Why pay nearly $5 for household cleaners when vinegar, water, baking soda and cheap dish soap can make an excellent cleaner that smells wonderful? Spruce up your home and save on laundry with creative products made directly from your own kitchen. Not only do they help save money, but they are generally chemical free. You can also make crafty gifts for special occasions at home rather than purchasing in a store.
Nights At Home
Yes, it is fun to go out to expensive restaurants and nightclubs with your friends. Everyone enjoys it and usually all those attending drop a pretty penny at the end of the night. It is just as much fun to entertain friends at home with a nice dinner, barbecue or a game night at a fraction of the cost. You would be surprised at how many of your friends would welcome not having to spend so much money just to hang out. Learn to cut hair at home and save on salon prices, especially for the men of the house. Spend movie night with the family at home instead of going out to a movie, which can be extremely expensive once tickets, snacks and soda are purchased.
It really isn’t hard to turn off a light or the television when leaving a room. In fact, over time you can save more money by doing this than you imagine. Also, do you really need every premium movie channel your cable company offers? Consider eliminating some of them you don’t regularly watch. Cancel magazine subscriptions and only purchase issues when you have extra money. Instead of buying books in hardcover when they first come out, consider eBooks or going to the library. Does anyone in your household really use the landline phone anymore? Most people are using just their cell phones, so the landline could be cancelled or consolidated into a 3-package system with Phone, Internet, and TV.
Travel Expenses and Exercise
It isn’t really necessary to drive everywhere. If you need something down the block at the store, put on your sneakers and walk. Not only are you getting exercise, but you are saving on gas costs. The gym membership may not really be necessary either. Exercise by going outside and walking or jogging. Most cable networks have countless exercise programs on demand or borrow a friend’s P90X DVD. Walk into the family room, choose a great exercise video and begin working out for no cost. When you travel, join hotel rebate and reward programs to get nights free or at a reduced rate.
High Ticket Items
Are you paying too much in interest on your home or car? Now is the time to consider refinancing the mortgage or car loan for a reduced interest rate. We all need auto and home insurance, but if you are in the process of saving more money rather than spending it, consider raising the deductibles on your insurance policies (if high deductible insurance makes financial sense) or bundling multiple insurance policies with the same insurance company to get a “Multi-Policy Discount”. In the event something unfortunate does happen, you should have saved the money you would have spent on low-deductible policies and can easily meet the higher deductible.
Then pay down the credit cards. Start with the highest interest card and pay more on it each month than you normally would. When you get that one paid off, begin on the next one. Stop paying high interest – if you aren’t making 20% APR on your investments, why should you be paying it out to a credit card company?
Do you need a new car because yours is going to cost too much to fix? Obviously, you have to buy something else, but it doesn’t have to be a new model sports car where the car payment, insurance, and gas costs will all take a huge chunk out of your paycheck. Look at used cars and lease returns with warranties, and a great deal of money can be saved over the life of the car loan. Stop being led into spending sprees by well-meaning friends. Learn to just say no and save more money than you’ve ever imagined. Suggest less costly entertainment rather than expensive nights out or retail shopping binges.
We all have spending triggers. Something has gone wrong at home or work and we feel the need to get over the pain with a new outfit, sports memorabilia, or collectible that simply isn’t practical. Learn self-control whether in a store or browsing online. Stop when emotions are running high, avoid these triggers and go out for a walk instead.
When you do have to spend, be a bargain shopper (Marshalls, Ross, outlet stores or only when your favorite shops have sales) and if you can’t explain to yourself why you need an item, don’t buy it. Comparison shopping and buying used items in thrift stores or on Craigslist can also allow you to have quality products at a fraction of the cost. Become a bargain hunter and you will be surprised at the amazing items that will fill your home.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
So, you’ve started to save and it is going well. What if there are items you simply have to have? First, give yourself a couple days to think about something you’ve seen to determine if you still want it. Often times, once you get home and spend time pondering the idea, you realize that you don’t need it after all. Then again, if you are really going to go ahead with the purchase, make sure it is an excellent bargain. Put money that you have saved in a retirement account or emergency fund so that you don’t have immediate access if impulse buying occurs. It brings peace of mind knowing the money is there but you don’t really have to use it at the moment.
When you save money, there is that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment knowing you are achieving your goals. You reduce stress by assuring yourself that should an emergency arise, you have the funds to handle extra expenses without wondering where the money is coming from. You can spend less, save money and still have a very fulfilling life.