25 Tips for How to Save Money
- Survive the snack attack!
Many of us do not stop to think about the true costs of a treat from the vending machine.It is estimated that the vending machine industry generated U.S. sales of about $22.1 billion last year.By 2010 it is estimated that total annual vended sales volume will exceed approximately $35 billion and some analysts estimate the growth to lead to annual sales of up to $56 billion!
It may be difficult to imagine that a 75 cent candy bar could be fueling a billion dollar industry.Visiting the vending machine once a day for a week at the average 75 cent rate adds up to $3.75 a week.Multiply that by the number of weeks in a year and you will have spent about $195.Cutting back on the snacks will not only increase the number of coins in your change jar at home but it will also cut back on the added weight of needless snacking.
- Does the cost of gas leave you short on cash?
There are many ways to combat the rising costs of gasoline.Aside from writing letters to your congressman the simplest solution to cutting back on your gasoline costs is to cut back on gasoline use.You guessed it.There are alternate forms of transportation that can be a lot friendlier to your pocket book.Public transportation and carpooling are simple ways to save money.If you are able, riding your bike to your destination is even more cost effective and can do great things to improve your health.If you insist on using your car to get where you need to go, make sure that it is running as efficiently as possible.Clogged air filters and under inflated tires can cut your fuel efficiency dramatically.Turn off the A/C unit and roll down the windows instead to save even more of your precious fuel.Making changes now will also help you in the future as experts estimate that the cost of gasoline is expected to reach and possibly exceed $4 a gallon in as little as a year.
- Just say no to "super-size"
Many of us have fallen victim to our grumbling stomachs and have bought the larger serving size portion version of our take-out meal.Researchers have determined that it costs just about 67 cents to "super-size" a fast food meal.67 cents seems like a bargain to a hungry drive thru customer.But often we do not realize that if the fast food companies included the ultimate cost of the extra calories gained from a super-sized meal, it would be far more than 67 cents.One interesting point from the study revealed that 67 cents actually buys you 400 calories.Other research has put a price of about $.48-$2.00 on every 100 extra calories consumed when overall health costs, gas mileage efficiency decreases due to excess weight, etc. are taken into consideration.By just saying no to a super sized meal, not only will you save 67 cents but you will have saved yourself hundreds if not thousands more down the road.
- Bubbly drinks leave consumer wallets looking flat
In 2003 the soft drink industry saw its greatest sales growth.For 5 straight years it is estimated that the soft drink industry sold 10 billion cases of soda annually.Parents, teachers, and health professionals attribute the problem of obesity in children and poor dental health to the consumption of these unhealthy carbonated beverages.As a result there is a nationwide push to ban the sale of soda pop in elementary and junior high schools.Instead of fueling the soft drink industry and harming our health in the process, soft drink money is better saved or spent on something more productive.Advocates for the removal of soft drink vending machines from our schools, suggest that the money that would have been spent on drinks be put back into the educational system to benefit the educational experience of the children.With the average American drinking an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year, there is definitely money to be saved in at least cutting back on our frequency of purchasing soda.
- Stay cool more energy efficiently
In the hot summer months many of us seek the refuge of our well air conditioned homes.Yet there is a price to pay for the refuge we seek from the hot summer sun.The costs of cooling our homes can cost us upward of a hundred dollars a month.A lot of how much we have to pay depends on the efficiency of our cooling system.Today's best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.In most cases the cost of replacing an old cooling system will pay for itself in savings in just a few months.Making an investment now can save you a lot of cash later.
- Would you like an extra half tank of gas?
With gasoline prices at historic highs and with no sign of a decrease in price in sight, many people are looking to save money on their gasoline bills.Did you know that all that you have to do to add an additional half tank's worth of fuel efficiency to your car is to keep your tire pressure at the recommended level?That's it!Maintaining proper tire pressure can increase fuel efficiency by about a mile per gallon.In addition you can also avoid the cost of having to replace your tires more often as proper tire pressure improves the life of your tires and the overall ride. Under-inflation of tires is considered the most common car problem on the road today.So although many people know that they should maintain proper tire pressure, few people actually take the time to pull out the tire gage and get the job gone.
- Baby food budget blues
If you have children you know that the cost of baby food can really put a strain on your budget.Many people buy baby food jars out of convenience.Some buy baby food jars because there is an assumption that they are of a higher quality.The truth is that the difference between jarred baby food and smashed fresh fruits and vegetables is small.Some dieticians argue that fresh produce is even better for your baby.Instead of paying upwards of 2 dollars for a pound of baby food, buy fresh fruits and veggies and use your food processor to smash them up yourself.Some produce, like sweet potatoes for example, are seasonal and there are times of the year when you can get several pounds for a dollar or less!With a little effort, a food processor and a freezer for storage, you can get up to 10 times as much healthy food for your baby for the same amount of money when you make it yourself.
- Sack lunches aren't just for grade school
In a recent study the average person is reported to pack lunch for work 2-3 days a week and then goes out to eat the remaining days.If this person then eats out for dinner on an average of 3 days a week and once or twice during the weekend, this person is spending $65 per week and $279.50 per month eating out!For many people an extra $279.50 a month can go a long way.Although it may require a little more time and effort you can save hundreds of dollars by making your own meals at home.Additionally it is a statistical fact that you can better manage your caloric intake and portion sizes if you plan your own menus carefully and prepare moderate portion sizes for yourself and for your family.It is easy to pack a simple lunch for less than $2-4 dollars a day.It is much harder to find a healthy meal at a take out restaurant for that much.
- Coupon clipping for internet users
If you are looking for more opportunities to find coupons that can help reduce your grocery bill, go to websites for coupons on popular products that you buy.Coupon clipping has gone high-tech and you can find the coupons you need with a simple click of the mouse.Excellent examples of websites and companies that are frequently offering coupons to customers free of charge include: GetLocalDeals, HotCoupons.com, and ValPak.Start by using a search engine to look up the websites for products that you use the most. You may be surprised to find how frequently companies provide e-coupons or printable coupons for their customers to print out.Some companies offer to put their loyal customers on an e-mail or traditional mailing list and will regularly send you coupons to use on the products that you use regularly and on products that you may be interested in trying for the first time.
- Don't let washing you car, clean out your wallet
Most of us have cars that we are responsible for maintaining.This includes washing our cars on a regular basis.Saving $3-7 a month or even a week, depending on how often and where you wash your car, is as easy as finding a hose and some soap.Some car wash companies charge as much as $10-$15 just to wash the exterior of your car!You can imagine how quickly the cost can jump if you choose to have someone else clean your car's interior, have it waxed, etc.It is estimated that a trip to get your car cleaned inside and out could run you anywhere from $40-$160.You can save yourself a lot of money by rolling up your sleeves and getting it done yourself.A single car wash franchise can make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.By not doing the work yourself all you are left with is a couple more minutes of your time.
- Junior sizes for smaller prices
You could probably guess that clothing sold as "junior" or "child" is cheaper than clothing found in the woman's or men's department of the store.But did you know that although size names may be different, you may be able to find a child's or junior's extra large piece of clothing that is the exact same size as an adult's medium or small piece of clothing? This is especially true with things like T-shirts and jackets.A huge advantage to shopping for larger sizes in a junior department is that the prices are significantly less if you buy a "child" versus and "adult" size.By buying from the junior's section of the department store, you can save an average of $3-5 on just the cost of a shirt if you are shorter or a little smaller than the average adult.Of course this rule is also applicable for parents who are buying their children's clothes.
- Because money talks, salesmen don't want you to walk
Bigger purchases are always negotiable.Price matching and price comparison services are offered by almost every store, although not all of them will advertise this.The fact of the matter is that a business would rather have your business on bigger purchases at a discount than not at all.You hold the cards in the big transactions.This rule usually applies to electronics, home furnishings, appliances, cars, homes, etc.Make sure that you shop around and find the best price.Then take that price to other companies selling the same product and let them fight for your business.You may be surprised how much they are willing to cut off of the asking price to get you to make a purchase at their store.After all, what do you have to loose?By asking for a price match you have nothing to loose and a great deal of savings to maintain.
- Budget for savings
Putting away money in a savings account is easiest when your savings is treated like any other payment on your budget.You can decide how much your savings "payment" will be every month or you can choose to contribute an amount to your savings that is a percentage of your weekly or monthly earnings.Just as you cannot dip into and take out of the account you pay into for utilities or house payments, try to treat your savings account as if it were un-accessible or only accessible in the case of a real emergency.It is also helpful to have a savings account separate from your accounts with more activity.When your emergency savings fund is out of your sight it is easier to not rely on or think too much about the funds that are there.Budgeting for savings takes a great deal of self discipline but the rewards, such as peace of mind, are substantial.
- Ask for discounts on car insurance
Car insurance premiums are not the same across the industry.Likewise, the same policy is not right for everyone.Many people make their car insurance provider decisions based solely on a quote that they receive.Often these quotes are not representative of the possible discounts that exist if you dig a little deeper.For examples, there are several car insurance companies that offer discounts to students, parents with driving students who have good grades, parents who just had a baby, individuals who choose to have home or life insurance bundled through the same insurance company, etc.Unless you have a really good agent who looks to save you money at every opportunity, you may not even know about the discounts that you could be benefiting from.Ask your insurance agent if there are any applicable discounts that can help to reduce your monthly payment.Even a few dollars a month over the course of a year can add up quickly.
- Take full advantage of your employer sponsored retirement fund now
If you are a child of a baby boomer or even a late blooming baby boomer you are probably looking at the trends with social security and worrying about what you will do for money when retirement time comes.Saving money for retirement is more important than ever and yet fewer and fewer people are doing what they need to make sure that they have enough money saved.
Employer sponsored retirement funds are all that some of us will be able to count on when it comes time to retire.That is why it is so important to fully utilize the benefits that an employer sponsored retirement fund provides.Sacrificing during your youth to have that money invested and work for you as you age is the best option for those looking to have enough to retire in their 60's.
- Buy bulk
Warehouse shopping is very popular and for good reason.Places like Costco and Sam's Club offer bulk items for sale at a discount that ranges on average between 10%-25%.If you are buying for a family bargains like this are very appealing even if you are required to pay a yearly membership fee.Warehouse type stores aren't the only places to find a good deal on bulk items.
If there is an item that you buy a lot, and it can't be found at a warehouse, see if your usual supermarket will give you a discount for buying it by the case.Many supermarkets also have what they call case-lot sales.These sales usually occur in the summer months and you can find great deals buy buying your frequently used items in cases.Buying bulk on a small scale offers equivalent economic values.Many stores have a bulk food section where smaller portions of lower cost items can be bagged by the consumer at a savings that is dollar-by-dollar comparable to buying by the case.
- Save money, stay healthy
It doesn't pay to be overweight; in fact it is costing you money.Aside from the fact that the average American eats more than the recommended daily caloric intake and does not obtain the recommended daily portions of fruits and vegetable, when we do it we are not making healthy or financially sound choices.Researchers have calculated the approximate costs of eating more than your recommended caloric intake.They have found that for every 100 calories a person eats beyond his daily needs, the price in terms of food, medical care and gasoline rises anywhere from 48 cents to nearly $2. The heavier the person, the greater the cost.With the average cost of a super-sized meal being 61 cents and adding an additional 400 calories, you can see that it may not cost much to become overweight but at a possible $2 per 100 calories your larger lunch may actually be costing you much more.
- The cost of credit
Buying on credit can be very appealing.With a limit of $2,000 and a percentage rate of %18 many people can manage the minimum monthly payment of $40.What you may not realize is that of that $40, $30 goes straight to the payment of interest.In fact, if you just paid the minimum balance on a $2,000 loan not only would it take you 30 years to pay off the balance, but you would have paid $5,000 in interest.The cost of credit through payday loan services is even worse.The average quick-loan business will usually charge a minimum of 99.7% but usually that interest rate is variable and has the ability to climb to 400% or more over time.Credit and debt management can be difficult lessons to learn.Perhaps this is why about 43% of American families spend more than they earn each year and the average households carry some $8000 in credit card debt.
- Procrastination pays with travel
Are you one of those people who always waits to the last minute to make plans?Although normally procrastination is looked down on, if you apply your procrastinating tendencies to the travel industry you can really use your weakness to your advantage.Airlines and hotels can give you big discounts on their services the longer you wait to book your vacation plans.The reason why is that airlines and hotels would rather have your business at a discounted rate than not at all.This is especially true with airlines.A single flight has a fixed cost to the airline no matter how many people are on board the plane with the exception of the standard distribution of a bag of peanuts and a soft drink.The airline always has the cost of fuel, labor and other materials.They make their money when they have ticket sales that exceed their fixed costs.As long as you pay for a ticket, even if it is at a discount, you add to the bottom line.As the time gets closer to the departure date, airlines that have flights with too many opened seats will be motivated to sell those seats at a more appealing rate.
- Get the whole package
The face of vacationing has changed a great deal in just the last few years.In 2004 airlines were desperate to sell tickets and gasoline was $1.98 a gallon.Now, as we all know, things have changed.Gas prices are at record highs are so are the percentages of people who opt out of taking a vacation at all.Don't loose hope.There is a way to have a vacation at a price you can live with.Buying your flight, accommodations, a rental car and event tickets in a package can save you hundreds of dollars versus buying everything separately.Vacation websites and travel agents can get you the deals on the vacation packages that resorts and airlines are anxious to sell, even if it means giving a discount.The service provider is happy to have another room and plane seat filled and you will be happy to have a little extra money in your pocket.
- >Use a budget
One of the first things that we are advised to do when it come to saving and spending our money wisely is to use a budget.The use of a budget is easier for some than it is for others.Some simply cannot accurately predict their expenses and frequently go over their budget with mandatory payments not necessarily frivolous pending.A good place to start making your budget if this is a difficult task for you it to list all of the expenses that you had last week and make a budget for the following week.Do not worry about monthly payments at first, just focus on controlling the odds and ends of your spending.Gradually work your way up to incorporating a two week and then a monthly budget that you feel you can handle.In time you should be able to create a yearly budget and savings plan.If you still feel like this task is too difficult, consider employing the services of a financial planner.A small amount of money to get your spending under control is well worth the investment.
- Turn down the heat
Utility bills can really force us to pinch our pennies, especially when it comes to heating our homes during the winter months. Fortunately there are small things that you can do to gradually reduce your heating bill.Start by reducing the thermostat heat just one degree at a time.Try this for a week until you feel like you are at a temperature that you can live with.Another suggestion is to turn down the thermostat if you plan on being out for the evening. If you'll be away for a weekend or more, lower the thermostats to 55 degrees. 55 degrees is usually low enough to save on heating without freezing your water pipes.Turn the thermostats down if you plan on having company over.A human body emits an amount of warmth that is the equivalent of a 175-watt heater.Keep in mind that a thermostat set to a few degrees lower can equal about 5-10% savings on your next heating bill.
- It pays to pay on time
Bank of America, a nation wide banking and lending company, estimated that the average monthly credit card late fees were $39.A minimum monthly payment on a $2000 loan (the average loan balance amount for borrowers in America) at 18% is $40.In this case, not making your payments on time nearly doubles your minimum monthly payment.Over time, having to pay a monthly fee can add as much as twice the amount it would normally take to pay off the loan as well as tens of thousands of dollars in interest alone.Having a habit of making late payments also reflects poorly on your credit score.Having a poor credit score will make it difficult to get a competitive interest rate and you end up digging a deeper and deeper financial hole for yourself.It is time to learn self discipline and to take control of your credit use before it controls what you can and cannot do with your life.
- Pay off highest interest loans first
As you work to save money and improve your financial situation you will need to work on paying off the debts that you owe.It is much easier to save money if you only have to pay a small amount of interest on what you owe.By paying off high interest loans first, you can use the interest that you save to your own benefit and not to the benefit of the bank.Some financial planners call paying of highest interest loans first and then rolling that payment down to the next highest interest rate loan the Rollover method.Using the rollover method, you can take control of your finances aggressively while still working on your own personal savings account.Debt is a necessary expense for most of us.However, with a plan of repayment we can make the most of the interest that we will be required to pay.
- Needs versus wants. Do you want to need it?
Saving money is really a matter of self discipline and good judgment.Americans have a tendency to live beyond their means.In fact, it is estimated that more than 50% of Americans are spending more money than they make.That means that we turn to credit to make up for the money that we do not have.In fact, our consumer debt topped $2 trillion in 2006.Americans are "deeply addicted to spending" as a Washington Post journalist put it.Trying times and economics have a small role to play in the diminishing financial health of some.But for many of us, we simply cannot distinguish the difference between what we need to survive and what we want.When it comes to saving money, there is almost always a way to cut back somewhere.The reality of the situation is that many of us are not willing to sacrifice our compulsive buying habits in order to reap the benefits of long term savings down the road.