Those two words cause our hearts to beat faster with excitement. Our eyes are glued to the magazine, screen, or person who is informing us on the how-tos. Our hands frantically try to implement those what we sometimes think are “life-saving and life-altering” ideas, only to find out we fall right back into our routine of life and…
Saving money is no longer.
We often think and think “how else can I save money?” When we seem to be at our wits end, there are always some simple and practical ways. We just forget about them.
We are to be the best stewards with what God has blessed us with. Does that mean saving every single penny? I believe that is not what we are supposed to do. So what does it mean to save money? I think it means being a good steward in all areas of life, not taking in too much, but not being so frugal that in the end, we become selfish, hoarding our own money.
So what are some practical ways we can save money? These are in no particular order, but are some tangible and PRACTICAL ways in which we can watch where our money is spent.
1. Get healthy! I know, I had to throw that one out there right away. Being healthy though, effects how much we spend on health care, how much we spend on life insurance, how much we spend on medications, and how much we spend on food. Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? If we all chose a healthy lifestyle, those items listed above, often become much cheaper. Being healthy effects more than what we may think!
2. Buy a used car. The American dream screams at us to buy new. We often think that buying a new car will free us of all car troubles. Though I have not experienced this myself because we have only ever bought used, but new cars have issues too. Cars with just a few miles, can break down. Driving a brand new car off the lot, you lose thousands. Ouch. I think I am going to stick with used.
3. Buy generic. Though this is not always the case, but often times, generic products are much cheaper. Test them. See if they work or taste just as good. I can think of very few things that I buy name-brand because it is usually quite a bit more expensive.
4. Shop around. What? You mean I am giving your permission to SHOP? You bet! That is…to shop around to compare prices. It is easy to walk into a store and buy everything at first sight. The internet has done WONDERS when it comes to finding the best deal. Certain items in a chain store, can often be found much cheaper online (even from the same store!). Yes, you may have to pay for shipping, so factor in all the costs. Some things I try to buy locally to support independently owned stores. They too, may offer price matches. It does pay to shop around!
5. Cook at home. Think of how much you spend going out to eat. The gas to get there, the drink you ordered. It adds up fairly quickly and before you know it, you spent a weeks worth of grocery money in one meal at a restaurant. Another ouch, right? I am not advocating to never go out to eat – we do. But it is special when we do because it is rare. Cooking at home is much healthier, cheaper, and often time-saving too. We think eating out will save time, but with the drive, the wait, and eating the meal, we often waste even more time and not to mention again, MONEY.
6. Pay bills on time. No brainer, right? Well, have you ever looked at the statistics at how many are in credit card debt? I am not downplaying the fact that financially difficult times may be happening for some. I am hitting on the thought that “oh, I’ll just pay it later.” When you spend $30.00 on a shirt, it then becomes a $39.00 shirt because of interest (for example). Paying bills on time and keeping up on them, prevents us from hashing out “going-nowhere” money.
7. If you feel the need to have cable, a home phone, and internet, look into getting a bundle deal. This is where shopping around is recommended as well. We have had it where one company was offering a better deal for our phone and internet (we don’t have cable), but we knew our current company would probably match the price to prevent us from switching. My husband made the phone call and it was MUCH easier than what we thought. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to ask what deals are going on!
8. Keep tabs on your car insurance. Often if you raise your deductible, your insurance premiums will be lower. How well do you trust your driving? That is the question! Or, is your car so old that you really don’t need collision on it? Call your insurance agency and see if you have the best coverage for YOU.
9. Cell phones. Hot topic, right? Think about your personal use of a cell phone. Now think about your plan. Make sure you aren’t paying for what you AREN’T USING! Maybe consider getting a prepaid phone. No contract, no extra fees, and YOU are in control. If you need more minutes? Buy more! You are not dictated by a contract.
10. Watch your friends. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Really though, think about the lifestyle they live. Are you trying to live up to their lifestyle? Are you trying to be like them, changing who you are? Are you changing your values, by basing your new values on them? Friends can influence us more than we think – be careful to not fall into the trap of trying to keep up with the Joneses.
11. Meal plan. Not only plan your meals for the week, but try using the ingredients you HAVE already!
12. Program your thermometer if you have one. If you are constantly heating or cooling your house when you are not home, think about how much money you are spending on USE-less heat or air!? If you do not have a programmable thermometer, put on a few more clothes until your house heats up after you come home from work.
13. Turn off the lights. How often do we leave A light on? Maybe it’s even 2? Again, why give the house light during the daytime, when no one is home?
14. Don’t spend money on your desires. I know this sounds harsh, but how often do we spend money on OUR desires? What if we detoured that money and give it to someone in NEED?
15. Cut down on your hobby spending. Hobbies, though wonderful and therapeutic at times, can be really expensive. We spend so much time funding and establishing our hobbies, that we spend more time spending, than doing. Use up what you have! This has done WONDERS for me when it comes to scrapbooking! I haven’t bought supplies in a LONG time and I still have an abundance! Set limits for yourself.
16. Fix things. We are so quick to buy new, instead of trying to fix something. I understand that in some cases, it IS cheaper to buy new. Although, this isn’t always the case – take the time to watch a youtube video, ask a neighbor or friend, if they know how to fix something. Be okay without the new.
17. Live in a cheaper home. I am sure you have heard of the term “McMansion.” We are constantly trying to “up” the size of our homes. We live in homes that are WAY above our means and WAY more room than what we need. Think about your NEEDS (not your wants). Does your current home satisfy your needs? If you have too much home, consider buying a smaller home! Smaller mortgage, lower bills, and less space to clean, which means more time, AND more family time because you aren’t spread out so thin.
18. Make soup. This sounds odd, but soup is cheap to make. It is a wonderful winter meal and can be made in so many different ways. Do you have tons of leftovers? Like a meat and vegetables? Consider making a soup out of them, using broth, heating it up, and throwing some spices in it!
19. Don’t speed. Common sense, right? Well, tickets are expensive – so is the insurance that goes up. Don’t speed.
20. Make your own gifts. Consider canning your Christmas gifts for teachers. Consider making your own cards. Go online to find oodles and oodles of homemade ideas for homemade gifts!
21. Garden. I know we are little past the season, but it is never too late to think about planting a garden next spring. Seeds are so cheap when you compare it to the produce it produces! Think about how much you spend in the store and even driving to the store. What if you could walk out your back door and pick whatever you needed from your garden, FRESH!
22. Air up your tires. Basically, by keeping your tires on your vehicles inflated you are saving on gas! Good deal, right?
23. Turn off the tv. Watching tv effects us more than we think. When we don’t watch tv, we are not influenced by the advertisements, by what we should and shouldn’t wear or look like. Instead, we have more time to do other things. Not to mention, I know these are pennies, but the electricity used to watch tv too.
24. Don’t spend so much on convenience foods. Fast food restaurants and frozen meals are WAY over priced! Any food that you need to just heat in the microwave, typically costs way more in comparison to if you made it from scratch (plus, making from scratch, you get 5x the food too!).
25. Get a deep freezer. What? Am I telling you to buy something? Maybe. Having more freezer room, allows you to double recipes (to prevent you from going out to eat out of sheer convenience), freeze bulk food, and allows you to stay home to eat.
26. Have a yard sale. We ALL have items we do not need. Does your neighborhood have a garage sale weekend once or twice a year? If so, set up a sale or ask someone if you can add your items to their sale. A little extra money is always a good thing – especially if you are making money on what you don’t need!
27. Plan your meals based on what is on sale at the grocery store. This takes a little extra planning, but if a certain type of meat is on sale, think about making it that week. If you have a favorite meal, instead of making it only when you crave it (and the items aren’t on sale), stock up on them or make it that week when the items are ON sale!
28. Take your credit card information off certain websites if you are tempted to buy items. For example, if you have an e-bay, amazon, or etsy account and you are tempted to always buy, with just a few clicks of a button, take your information out of the “system.” Make it HARD for yourself to buy something!
29. Invite friends over for supper, instead of going out. Simply said, but can be hard to do because it takes some planning. Think about keeping the ingredients for your favorite meal in “stock” at home so that you can make it on the spot when friends do come over.
30. Hunt, fish, u-pick, you name it. Whatever you can get from the “wild,” is typically cheaper than in the store (plus, it tastes so much better)! Get a breath of fresh air and enjoy what God has given us on this earth!
31. Wash your clothes in cold water. Your washer will not take up all the hot water, that used money to heat up, and your clothes will keep their color better too.
32. Wear extra layers. With the winter months just ahead, it is easy to turn up the thermostat, yet still wear what we wore in the summer. If I can walk around your house in shorts and t-shirt in the winter, your house is too warm. Save money by turning down the temperature and wear extra layers. To sleep at night, consider buying a down comforter, flannel sheets, or a heavy bedspread to keep you warm while the house is cool.
33. Double recipes. When you are making a meal, consider making double of it and freezing the other half. This way when you are nagged with the question “what’s for dinner?” you have an answer. By doubling recipes, this will prevent you from jumping in the car and going out to eat because you will already have a meal made – you just need to heat it up!
34. Walk or ride your bike to your destination. For some, this just isn’t “possible” (I put that in quotations because in other countries, vehicles are not an option – walking is). When able, walk or ride your bike to save on fuel! Plus, it is great exercise!
35. Make a list before you go shopping. This can be applied to either grocery shopping or “everything else” shopping. By making a list AND STICKING TO IT, you will prevent the instant gratification syndrome and buying what you do not need. In the end, this too, will save you money.
36. Have an emergency fund. Financial gurus say you should have a fund that can support you for 3-6 months (should a financial tragedy happen). This prevents you from having to take out a loan (for a car if your car were to suddenly die) or for who knows what else. Being prepared SAVES MONEY.
37. Go to the movies before 6:00pm. I know this hard for some, but if you are really wanting to see a movie, make a point to see it before 6 because you will save dollars and dollars. If your area has this option, go to the discount theater – you may have to wait a week or two for your favorite movie to arrive there, but tickets can be close to half the price (not to mention the popcorn and pop too!)
38. Air dry your clothes. This may mean hanging them outside on the line or even in your own home. There are many gadgets out there (that are quite crafty) that you can hang your clothes on. The dryer can be one of the biggest energy-sucking appliances we have. Think about alternatives!
39. Avoid having to go to the ATM. You may need money quickly and NOW, but a little preparation can prevent you from having to spend sometimes $2-$3 on ATM fees. Prepare your wallet in advance!
40. Unplug. In this technology driven world, it is easy to leave everything plugged in. It is time for bed, you shut your computer, turn off the tv, but forget to turn off the switch. Are your items on a power strip? Turn off the power strip to prevent useless electricity from running your unused items. We may be talking only cents saved at first, but doing this everyday and doing this often, saves energy and your monthly bill will thank you.
41. Take a sack lunch to work. It sounds so good and easy to just go to the cafeteria, vending machine, or neighboring fast food place, doesn’t it? Though the ease of it may persuade you, think about the money you are spending. Even if you do this 3 times a week, spending 5 dollars each time, that is $15 a week and $60 each month. AND…not to mention, $720 a year! Yikes! You could go on vacation for that amount of money. Consider taking a sack lunch.
42. Unsubscribe from magazines and newspapers. It sounds so “anti-culture”, but it’s not. I am not saying stop reading these, but often you can either get them from the library, view them online for free, or borrow them from someone else. I know subscriptions may not be a budget breaker for you, but it may be worth taking a look at how much you spend each year on subscriptions!
43. Memberships. You may have a membership at a health club. What if you saved the money you spent each month at the health club and bought a machine that you use every time when you go, used? You would probably be surprised at what you can find for cheap when it comes to exercise equipment. Is it worth the membership? That is up to you. I recently found a basic elliptical machine for $50. No I can’t play games while I exercise on it because it is quite basic, but it gets the job done in the cold winters!
44. Don’t frequent the spa as often. Treating yourself may be a must for your sanity. I get that. Are there other options though? What if you did your nails with a friend? What if you went to a college where it costs half the price because the students are in training? (especially for massages). We sure have a lot of luxuries in our culture and it is easy to take advantage of them, yet forget how much they cost.
45. Make your own coffee. Again, sounds boring. There is something our culture enjoys I think, about the thrill of GOING somewhere to get coffee. Does it taste better? I don’t know. The thing is, with many coffee places now, you can buy their coffee at your local grocery store. When you look at the price of a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee bag, your eyes might bug out – but add up what you spend in a given day on coffee or in a week. You are spending more at the coffee shop, than if you bought it from the store and made it yourself. PLUS, you are saving TIME!
46. Take snacks along. Are you going to an event? Do you have a long car ride ahead of you? Instead of stopping for fast food or buying the concession stand food (which is WAY overpriced), take your own food along. It takes 5 minutes of extra prep, but again, it will save you time as well. Plus, you won’t be sitting in the car with a gut ache after indulging in some fast food.
47. Like bottled water? Filter your own. I honestly don’t really understand bottled water. I understand it if you can’t drink the water because it is contaminated. But to buy water, to be honest with you all, is very odd to me. If you love bottled water so much, try filtering your water to make it taste more “bottled.” Buying water, when you already pay for it in your taxes or get billed for it quarterly, seems like a double-up. Try a filter if you have to.
48. Buy energy-rated appliances. They are more expensive and it doesn’t seem like you would be saving money. Well, you would be surprised. We recently had to get a new refrigerator because ours was running constantly. We decided to pay an extra $75.00 and get one that was energy-efficient. The next month, our electrical bill was around $35.00 less. I know that this is an extreme case and this may not happen to everyone, but it will pay itself off in a few months!
49. Spend less than you make. Simple budget idea. Simple concept. Hard to apply. Do you know how much you spend in a month? Do you find yourself wondering at the end of each month “where did it all go?” Budgeting or at least writing down WHERE your money goes, can go a long way. Seeing areas where you may be spending too much, may help you in saving money. Seeing areas where you are doing needless spending, can help you save money too. Consider budgeting or writing down where your money is going.
50. Buy in bulk. It is not always cheaper, but it often is. The biggest thing to do is check the unit price on an item. If the unit price is lower with the bulk item, buy bulk (if you can use it all before it spoils). Buying bulk, though it takes up more space, can save you oodles. Is the item able to be frozen? If so, consider dividing food into more practical containers and taking out as needed. Be careful though – just because it is bigger, doesn’t mean it is better!