Unless you’re in the top 5-10% in terms of household income you’re probably looking for money saving tips. The problem most people run into is that you don’t want to sacrifice anything. If that’s what you’re looking for, I wish you luck and please pass on the good news to me when you find the magic bullet. That is virtually impossible as anything you spend money on is by definition of some value to you so if you cut that expense you lose that value. Certainly there are a few easy ways to incrementally reduce costs like using energy saver light bulbs or turning off lights in rooms as you leave; however, my guess is most of us already do these things or at least we think we already do these things. So how can you save money?
I read many articles discussing “money saving tips” that suggest things such as purchasing energy efficient appliances. That is certainly a fine idea however its very likely that if the reader could afford to replace their appliances they are likely not so worried about their spending habits.
Here are a few practical money saving tips:
Review your utility bills – I do this once a year to see where I’m overspending. Lifestyles change, your taste in television changes. I often find a set of channels that I no longer watch or watch infrequently that I’m paying for because a certain show was on that channel. Guess what, it probably got cancelled so you don’t need it anymore. Maybe your family has tablets now and doesn’t need as much data on your wireless plan. This may yield nothing for you but its worth a few minutes to ensure you are not paying for something unnecessarily. This is also covered in Manage Your Money, Don’t Let it Manage You.
Follow your budget – So many people create a budget but make exceptions through the month which renders it useless. Granted, certain emergencies can not be helped; if your car breaks down or a tree falls on your house these things have to be repaired however if you’ve spent your clothing allowance for the month, wait until next month to buy new clothes and even then ensure its budgeted. If you dip into savings each time you get the urge its no longer a budget it’s a pipedream on paper. For more on budgeting, checkout a previous article on budgeting.
Stop eating out – I’ve had several people tell me that they can eat out for the same price as cooking. Maybe if you order off the dollar menu its comparable in spending, but you won’t, you’ll order what sounds good or stop at some place that doesn’t even have a dollar menu. Not to mention, eating out has about double the calories and quadruple the sodium of freshly cooked meals.
Make a grocery list – I admit, I am no longer allowed to accompany my better half to the grocery store because I do not stick to the list. I’m more of an “oh, this looks good” or “lets have this tomorrow night” which adds up to higher bills at checkout.
I could drone on and on about small money saving tips, however the bottom line is to pay attention to where your money is going and maintain control. It really is that simple.