The Best Ways to Spend Less
As costs (on everything) rise and paychecks are spread thinner and thinner, it becomes more and more necessary to save on everyday items to help stretch the mighty dollar. You too can save big and spend less and put money in the bank!
Lower the Power Bill
Lower your power bill every month by following a few simple steps. Remember to turn off the lights when you leave the room. Unplug electronics or utilities when you are not using them. Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. If you are not actually watching something, turn off the television.
Cut the Cable
This one may be more difficult for people to accept, but cable is a huge and unnecessary expense. If there is a show or two that you really want to watch, check to see if it streams online for free or if hulu.com or another website may play the episode for free. Use the time you aren't watching television to do something constructive like cleaning the house, reading, talking with family or friends, planting a garden, trying a new recipe, etc.
Cook at Home More
Cooking at home is so much cheaper than eating out. Make a list and stick to it when you go grocery shopping. Pre-planning a menu for the week will help you to be organized and carry out your plan. Consider making meals that will have leftovers for lunch the next day.
When You Do Eat Out...
There will always be days when you didn't plan well enough or you are too tired to cook or you just want to treat yourself or your family. So, when you feel like eating out try to pick days or places that have a "kids eat free" option. Many restraunts will have coupons online or special offers, always check before you leave. Most restaurants will have a menu available online that could help you budget your spending for the evening. Drink water in the restaurant (it is free and those sodas/tea/alcohol add up quickly)!
Keep Your Car Serviced
Keep your car services properly with oil changes and inflated tires to help save on maintainace and gas costs. Additionally, drive the speed limit and avoid using the brakes a lot to help save on gas too!
Buy Sale Items
From grocery to household to personal care items, you can save big by buying in bulk when items are on sale, using a store loyalty card, and/or matching them with coupons. The key is to not buy things that you don't need simply because it is cheap. Buy what you need at the right time.
Skip the Coffee
Ok, ok. I know "skip" the coffee is probably not going to happen. How about "skip the expensive coffee". If you skip the expensive Starbucks coffee and go for the home brewing, you can save a significant amount of money in a year's time.
Take Your Lunch
Take your lunch to work. You can make meals ahead of time (sandwiches, cheese and crackers, whatever) for a no fuss morning. If your work has an employee freezer, try taking a couple of frozen meals for back-ups when you walk out of your house in a hurry and forget the lunch you packed.
Pay Off Debt
Nobody likes the worry or stress associated with being in debt. Use at least one of the above ideas and put that money toward paying off your debt. For instance, you cut the cable and made the coffee from home this month? Congratulations! Take that $200 or so and put it toward your credit card bill in addition to whatever you were paying to begin with this month. You will ultimately save big with this by cutting the interest charges, but you will also eventually accomplish being debt free (don't buy anything else that you don't have cash in hand for!!)
Put something every single week in a savings or 410k plan. Once your debt is cleared, you can take that money and put it toward savings, but for now always put something in a savings (do it before you pay the bills to ensure that it is not getting skipped over). This is great to have for emergencies to help avoid further debt and great to help with the retirement plan.
These are just some of the basic ways to cut your bills and start saving money. Preparation is difficult when you are tired and your energy is low, but a little preparation (planning meals, making lunch, cutting coupons, etc) can help stretch your dollar and secure your financial future!