With the economy in the doldrums, and unemployment reaching highs not seen in decades, people are hurting all over the country. With reduced incomes comes the necessity to cut back and get by with less, to reduce, re-use and recycle the things we have.
While getting by with less is great, you don’t have to completely do away with everything. There are many simple ways to reduce your spending, and save money every month.
Today we’ve put together a nice long list of easy ways to save money every month on recurring expenses, on money leaks and on just about everything else. So let’s get started.
Record your expenses.
The first step to saving money is to figure out how much you spend. Keep track of all your expenses—that means every coffee, newspaper and snack you buy. Ideally, you can account for every penny.
Once you have your data, organize the numbers by categories, such as gas, groceries and mortgage, and total each amount. Consider using your credit card or bank statements to help you with this. If you bank online, you may be able to filter your statements to easily break down your spending.
It’s hard to tell where you’re headed if you haven’t mapped out where you are! The word ‘budget’ gets a bad rap — but it’s not about depriving yourself or taking things away — it’s about adding freedom to your life.
When you take control of your spending and saving, you give yourself the freedom to make certain choices when you want to make them.
Bottom line: budgeting isn’t as scary or as difficult as it sounds — it’s just about making sure your money goes where you want it to go.
Save On Recurring Expenses.
One place people should be looking to save money are on the big recurring expenses that we all have every month. Let’s look at a few places you can save.
• Cell phone bill: JD Powers reports that the average annual wireless phone bill is $1,152, or about $96 a month. Why pay that much when you can get a great smartphone via a pre-paid wireless provider for hundreds less every year.
• Home phone: Some people will cancel their home phone service altogether in favor of either cell phone service only, resulting in savings of hundreds per year. Of course if you still need a phone you can go with internet telephone service instead, which often costs much less.
If you need to have a land-line for a home security system or something along those lines, consider canceling extra options on your phone like voicemail, call waiting and caller id to save on things you don’t need or use.
• Internet service: Try switching your internet service to another provider in order to take advantage of new subscriber deals or promotions.
Switch from one internet type to another – DSL to cable or fiber-optic internet. Switching can often get you great initial deals, and then you can hop providers to get another great deal when the promotion ends. Also consider bundling your services like phone, internet and TV to save.
• TV and entertainment: there are a variety of ways to save on your TV and entertainment costs. First, you can switch cable providers from one to the other to get in on a promotional offer.
If that doesn’t work you can always cut the cord altogether, and save a ton by setting up a home entertainment system using streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and other free content providers.
• Gym membership: Have you heard the one about the guy who in 1997, joined a pay-as-you-go gym and never went? Over those 14 years, it’s cost absolutely nothing. Yet plenty of people are happy to shell out £40 or £50 a month by direct debit to a gym they never go to. £50 a month for 14 years is £8,400 and that doesn’t include the crisps you have to buy from the vending machine after each visit.
If you use the gym three times a week, great. If not, cancel your membership immediately. You’ll soon save enough to buy your own bike and, if you’re so inclined, a rowing machine. And if you can still afford it, a crisps vending machine. Consider running home from work three times a week. It’s free.
Clear your credit card debt.
One of the golden rules of financial planning is to clear your most expensive debts first, in other words your credit cards. OK, credit cards offer a convenient way to pay for goods and services but if you can’t clear the balance every month, consider a low-cost loan as an alternative.
Do the sums: a credit card debt (APR 16.8%) of £2,500 over five years will cost £1,212 in interest. A loan at 7.8% will cost £527. A saving of £685.
Did you know that you can negotiate in almost any kind of purchasing situation?
Though you might have previously thought negotiation was only for the bigger purchases such as home buying or car shopping, you can also negotiate at retail stores and online too.
You can even negotiate to lower your bills!
Slash excess spending.
Every so often, it’s a good idea to track your purchasing history to see where your money is going. An easy way to do this is by using budget apps like Mint.com or BillGuard.com.
Then, once you see where your money is going, you can make adjustments where necessary. Do you really need to buy that new iPhone or Android device ever time a new one comes out?
Make coffee at home.
Spending $4 to $5 on coffee every day definitely adds up. So and allow yourself a few days a week to buy coffee at cafés, and make it at home the rest of the time.
For heaven’s sake, quit smoking.
If you’re still a smoker, you have to know by now that your habit is not only expensive, but potentially deadly as well. If you want to add years to your life and save a boatload of money, the easiest thing to do is to stop smoking altogether.
You can quit cold turkey, try some of the many anti-smoking products that are out there, or switch to an electronic cigarette to buy some time. Whichever path you choose, you will be much better off.
Install a programmable thermostat.
Installing a programmable thermostat is a no-brainer if you want to cut down on energy usage while you’re not at home, or simply regulate the temperature in your home.
By setting it to heat or cool your home at certain times, you can ensure that your utilities aren’t being wasted while you’re at work or asleep – and save money in the process.
Buy used when you can.
You can often find the exact item you want with a bit of clever shopping at used equipment stores, used game stores, consignment shops, and so on. Just make these shops a part of your normal routine – go there first when looking for potential items and you will save money.
Clothes, for example, often cost pennies on the dollar when bought used – even if they were only worn once. By buying used most of the time, you can save a ton of cash.
Look for Free Events.
Going out doesn’t to socialize with friends doesn’t have to be costly. Many areas run free events that are open to everyone. Check notice boards and your local newspaper for things that might appeal.
Some of these events will even provide food and drink!
Trade down your car.
So, you bought an American sports utility vehicle (SUV) that nets 15 miles to the gallon on a whim. Obviously we’re all very impressed – especially by the personalised number plate and the way you can Tweet while negotiating narrow lanes outside schools.
But can you honestly justify the ongoing expense? If not, get rid of it. Then visit a car supermarket, where you can choose from thousands of cars at knock-down prices. If you’re a true money saver, consider an ex-rental model which you can pick up for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store.
If you want to save money while also giving generously, creating your own homemade gifts is one way to accomplish both goals. You can make food mixes, candles, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively.
These make spectacular gifts for others because they involve your personal touch — something you can’t buy from a store — and quite often they’re consumable, meaning they don’t wind up filling someone’s closet with junk. Even better – include a personal handwritten note with the gift.
Avoid extended warranties.
Electrical goods are more reliable than ever. If your new radio won’t last three years perhaps it’s not worth buying in the first place. Think about it: how many times has your fridge broken down in the last five years?
And do you really need the hassle of claiming for repairs to a £10 toaster? The truth is, there are many ways to save money. Find the ways that work for you, and slowly start incorporating the strategies into your life.