There are plenty of ways to save money, this is especially important if you’re on a tight budget. I’m going with the “Eleven Best ways to Save Money” because seven and eleven are two of my favorite numbers and there are so many ways so I decided to pick eleven. Some of the best ways to save money are plain common sense, but as you and I know not everyone uses it when it comes to their finances. For example, I’m a sucker when it comes to buying computers and gadgets and I’m sure I could save more money by not always purchasing the latest iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. However, I’m not as bad as some of my friends and I feel everyone should be entitled to one vice. Why is it important for you to save money in 2013? Maybe you should be concentrating on putting together a budget for the new year? When it comes right down to it there are many things you can do to save money and I will illustrate those in detail.
Saving on your Grocery Bill
I picked this up a few years ago and as expensive as groceries have gotten I’m a big advocate of saving as much money as you can. First of all, if you have a big family Costco or Sam’s club is the way to go. I would recommend paying for the top tier level membership because they usually offer you a check based on your spend at the end of the year if you get a gold or business membership (I know this is true at Costco, not sure at Sam’s Club).
If you live in a small family or by yourself, I would recommend using coupons. The first thing you’ll want to do is get yourself a subscription to your Saturday/Sunday paper. This may cost you about $40-$60 per year, but it will pay off tenfold. Additionally, who doesn’t like to read the paper on the weekends? I would also recommend going to a few coupon websites online like Coupons.com and Smartsource.com. Another thing you should do is follow some of the coupon junkies on twitter and like them on facebook, they’ll provide you with valuable information and save you a lot of money. Use your common sense as well when couponing, buy items on sale with coupons. Don’t be afraid to go for generic brands if you don’t have coupons, you’ll be shocked at how much money you can save.
Cancel those Subscriptions
This one can save you a lot of money in the long run. How many magazines do you have laying around the house you never read. I know I use to have a lot, I can find all of that information online nowadays. You’re pretty much paying for advertisements which will make you want to spend more money. Cancel those subscriptions, they’re a waste of money! If you really need to see a certain issue of a magazine, the library is a great resource as their selection is quite extensive. Do you have a gym membership? Do you go? If you have a gym membership and you go a few times a week ignore the fact I’m writing this because I’m a big physical fitness advocate. However, if you have a gym membership and you only go a few times every few months, cancel it. You can go outside and get more done exercising through running, walking, going to the park and using the public equipment, etc. Also, if you only go a few times every few months just go to the gym and pay the guest fee, it’s going to be a lot cheaper.
Save on Everyday Expenses
By everyday expenses, I’m talking about a number of things. Make your own coffee before going to Starbucks or similar coffee shops. Bring your own lunch to work, do you know how much you can save doing just this? I would say at least $30-40/week and double that if you’re married. That’s a lot of money considering there are 52 weeks in a year. Go to gas stations that give you a discount on certain days of the week or for paying in cash. When you go to the drugstore, buy generic brands rather than name brand prescriptions and aspirin. Do your own oil changes rather than going to jiffy lube or similar places, this will save you a lot. Cook at home instead of going out to eat several times a month, restaurants are expensive and they add up.
Vacation Close to Home
Believe me when I say I’ve been all over the world to many exotic places like Mexico, Europe, Caribbean Islands, and all over the United States. What do most of these places have in common. That’s right, they’re all very expensive! If you have some saving goals or are trying to get yourself out of debt try going somewhere close within driving distance. What’s even better is if you have friends who live in that state you can stay with. There are so many excellent places within driving distance of my home. For example, I can be in New York City in three hours. I can be in downtown Washington DC in twenty minutes. I can be in the Outer Banks in less than seven hours. I could go on and on, and I have friends who live in the major cities I can stay with. If I go overseas I know I’ll pay a few thousand bucks just for a place to stay and the airline tickets. That doesn’t even account for how much I will pay for in incidentals once I get to my desired location.
Shop around for Insurance
I learned this one the hard way just a few years ago when buying home insurance. I was originally given a quote from State Farm and they wanted to raise it by a significant amount the next year, I think it was around 10-20%. This really upset me so I shopped around and found a price from Progressive for less than what I currently was paying. I complained to my State Farm insurance agent about this and he got mad at me and said he didn’t set the prices. I have heard similar stories from my friends since then about all kinds of insurance whether it be health insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, etc. It pays to go out and get a number of quotes. There are many places you can do this online like esurance.com, but don’t forget about the major companies as well because a lot of those search engines that match you with the lowest price pay the search engines to be there. The best advice I can give you is to do your research!
Recycle Cans and Bottles
This one will save you money, how much may not be very substantial but it’s also for a very good cause. I do this because it adds up after a while, I drink a lot of ginger ale as it’s my favorite uncola. We get five cents on the can, this can add up over the course of a year. Additionally, if you drink bottled beer, soda, or juice you can often get five to ten cents back for recycling as well. Take all of this into account and the effect you’re really helping the environment and it’s a no brainer.
It’s always nice to have a few high growth stocks in your portfolio, I always do and it helps me immensely because I monitor when the best time to buy, sell, and trade. However, if you’re looking to save money investing you should really look at some of the high paying dividend stocks that are excellent investments. You should also think about starting a Roth IRA, there are different rules on how much you can contribute whether you’re married or single, income level, and the rules seem to be changing every year so do some research on this. Additionally, I always max out my wife’s employer’s 401k plan. I know 20% is the most I can afford to contribute, the employer matches around 4-5% and I have it allocated in such a way it grows.
Give to Charity and make Donations
Giving to charity might not necessarily sound like a great way to save money, but it is. First of all, it’s tax deductible, so you can write it off at the end of the year. I feel it’s a great way to save money because of the way giving makes you feel. When we feel good about ourselves, we’re more productive. When we’re more productive, we enrich our lives and accomplish more. This in turn leads to greater wealth. My favorite organizations to give to are ADA (American Diabetes Association), NKF (National Kidney Foundation), and St. Jude’s Hospital. Making donations should become routine, I do it regularly. My favorite charity to donate goods to is the Salvation Army. It’s a great charity and they help out the community in several different ways. A couple of times a year, I try to clear out some of the clutter in my house (used clothes, used appliances, used electronics, used furniture, etc.) and make a donation to Salvation Army. They give you a receipt every time you donate goods and the most (that is tax deductible) you can donate in one year without an appraisal is $4,500. There are other similar charities to Salvation Army like Goodwill and Catholic Charities.
Use the Library
Using the library is an excellent way to save money, it’s a great resource for information as well. The more time you spend in the library, the smarter you will become. I have noticed the library has books, magazines, newspapers, audio cd’s, etc. on just about every subject you can think of. When I need to find out more information about a certain subject, I’m not going to go out and take a course on it or buy a book on it. I know when I quit buying books regularly on Amazon.com and started going to the library more often I started to save a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy books on Amazon.com but not near as much as I use to. The first place I will go nowadays is the library. The library can be a great place to work on developing a new skill set. Adapting new skill sets will not only help you save money, but they’ll bring in multiple streams of revenue.
Save on Entertainment
Do you have cable television? I had it for years and one of the things I started to notice is they would play the same shows over and over again, especially on movie channels (which you have to pay extra for). I cancelled my cable television, I find I can get better options out there with services like hulu+, netflix, amazon prime video, and roku for a fraction of the price. While I never have more than one service at once I am partial to hulu+ because it has such a wide variety of shows. I don’t visit the redbox as stacking up late fees and paying for movies is just not my style. As for other forms of entertainment, my wife and I like to do fun things and occasionally will spend some money on a show or concert. However, we don’t over do it and we opt for free entertainment as well. For example, who knew reading a book in the park and people watching could be so much fun? Also, one of our favorite activities is going to the Potomac River to feed the ducks and enjoying the scenery in Old Town Alexandria. What I’m getting at is there is
all kinds of free entertainment out there and often times it is more gratifying than sitting in front of a television, paying a fortune to go to a crowded organized event, or doing what the masses are doing.
Monitor your Utilities
I learned this one from my parents and believe me I have seen a big difference in my utility bills. I will say I do keep the air conditioning and heating on, but at reasonable levels. I usually keep the thermostat right around 67-70 degrees in both the Summer and Winter and it really helps. I don’t go overboard as I know it would be uncomfortable and that’s not the way the home should be. I do take two showers a day sometimes, however when I do take two one is at the gym so that doesn’t count. Also, I’m careful not to leave water running in the house to the point it creates waste. I always shut off the lights in a room when I’m not using them, this is kind of habit forming. I didn’t always do these things. For example when I was in college, I never watched utility costs (probably because I always had roommates and no one else did) and I found we could end up with some pretty hefty utility bills. Now that I do this, I have noticed my utility bills are at a very reasonable level on a month to month basis.