June 18, 2018
If you want to save money, pay attention to how you’re spending it. Little luxuries like a latte every morning add up fast. But if you’ve been pinching pennies for a while and feel like you’re getting nowhere, it may be time to reevaluate your priorities. These tips provide specific steps you can take to reduce your bills and trim the fat from your monthly budget without scrimping on the good stuff.
1. Plan your meals
After a busy day, the last thing you want to do is more work in the kitchen. But if you plan for quick and easy weeknight meals, making dinner doesn’t have to be a chore. Avoid the take-out trap by prepping your breakfast or lunches for the week, and watch those few dollars a day add up to significant savings over the course of a month. Once you’ve planned your meals for the week, craft a grocery shopping list to keep you on track when you’re cruising the aisles. Also, remember that grocery shopping hungry is a recipe for disaster.
2. Cut the cord
Look carefully at the cost of cable or satellite TV and decide if it’s worth it for your household. Most of the time, you can catch your favorite shows with subscriptions to streaming services like Sling TV or Hulu. Not sure if cutting the cord makes sense for you? This cord-cutting tool will let you select which channels you can’t live without and recommend a streaming package that fits your viewing priorities. Cutting the cord may save you up to $100 per month, so it’s worth a shot.
3. Energy savings add up
Every penny counts, and that’s especially true of energy consumption. You may not realize it, but with a few minor tweaks and changes, you could increase your energy efficiency and save hundreds of dollars per year. An excellent place to start is the Energy Saver Guide published by the Department of Energy. It’s full of tips to help you save money at home, including how to conduct an energy audit, weatherize your home, and choose energy efficient appliances.
4. Plan for big purchases
Need a new car or plan to go back to school this year? Work those big purchases into your monthly budget as smaller line items so when it comes time to pay the bills, you’ll have enough set aside to cover the costs. This system works well even for luxuries and can help you appreciate the effort it takes to afford these items rather than feeling guilty about splurging.
5. Take advantage of discount days
Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on the fun. Look for coupons for local activities and entertainment or catch an afternoon matinee to see the latest blockbuster. You can also check out local attractions during free museum day or check online to schedule your next visit for a discount day.
6. Play it safe and stay in
Partying it up at home has lots of hidden benefits, including not having to call an Uber at the end of the night. Offer to play host and have your friends congregate at your place for a potluck dinner party or take turns having a weekly cocktail hour. If you have a large group of friends willing to chip in, you’ll get a change of scenery along with your savings.
7. Clean house
This tip applies to more than just tidying up. Go through closets and cupboards looking for things you don’t use anymore. Sell high-priced items in your local classifieds and have a garage sale to generate a little extra cash flow. And if you send things to a local nonprofit, remember to get a receipt. Those donations may be tax deductible.
8. Get it on loan from the library
You’ll be shocked by what you can get on loan from the library these days. In addition to books, music, and movies, you may be able to check out toys, games, tools, and even telescopes. Also, remember that libraries offer community classes on lots of topics from auto repair to computers to financial advice.
9. Give of yourself
Before you go out and buy a last-minute birthday gift, think about what that person in your life would truly appreciate. Volunteer together at their favorite charity, spend a day picnicking at a local park, or craft something truly one-of-a-kind. Often, you’ll discover that giving your time and attention is a much better way to show your love than any gift money could buy.
10. Repurpose, reuse, and recycle
Buying used is an attractive option if you’re looking for a bargain, and it’s also a way to cut down on waste. Shop thrift stores for clothing and furniture, and consider refurbishing electronics instead of forking out extra dough for the latest technology. That old iPhone may work just fine with a new battery and a little TLC.
11. Look into lowering your monthly bills
Car payments, student loans, and insurance bills can be expensive and may be the largest line items on your monthly budget. Do your research online and work the phones to see if you can find yourself a better deal that will lower your monthly payment. While cutting corners on expenses may add up over time, reducing these bills is the easiest way to get more bang for your budgeting buck.
12. Schedule time for finances
Last but certainly not least is scheduling the time to work on your finances monthly. If saving money is a priority for your household, set aside time to evaluate your spending, draft a budget, and invest wisely. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.