Saving money is a good thing, but it’s especially important in today’s economy. If you’re struggling to get by, or simply would like to hold on to a bit more of your hard-earned cash, here are some easy ways that can cut down on your expenses.
Think Twice Before Eating Out
When life gets busy, the convenience of heading to a restaurant and having someone else cook for you is undeniably tempting. Though it might save you time, eating out may drain your wallet. Make a conscientious effort to go to the grocery store regularly, and carve out cooking time in your schedule just as you would with any other activity (exercise, dropping the kids off at school, etc.). Added bonus: cooking your own meals is generally healthier than restaurant eating.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Deals
This applies to anything you purchase. Plan your meals around what’s on sale at the grocery store that week, and check out multiple grocery stores for the lowest prices. Clothing stores often offer great deals when they’re trying to get rid of the previous season’s styles, so try looking for winter apparel when spring comes around. The price of electronics is highest when the products are first released, then goes down as new and better technology comes along, so if you have your eye on a new camera or TV, wait a few months or even a year and the price will drop dramatically.
Gasoline, the Money Waster
You can save hundreds of dollars every year by seeking out the least expensive gasoline in your area. Websites like gasbuddy.com can help you find the lowest prices. You can improve mileage by making sure your tires are inflated and getting your car serviced regularly. When you’re shopping for a new car, take its miles-per-gallon rating into serious consideration, and carpool when possible to cut down on gas costs.
Slash Utility Bills
Utility bills are an inescapable part of modern existence, but you can definitely minimize the damage. Keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower in the winter, and try to avoid blasting the air conditioning in summer. Take shorter showers, and turn the faucet off when brushing your teeth. When buying new appliances, look into high-efficiency options. You can also get an energy audit through your power company, during which they’ll help you identify ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Credit Card Fees = Wasted Money
Credit card companies are always looking for a way to get extra money from you, but you can prevent this by staying on top of your payments. Give yourself buffer time when paying your bills to ensure there’s no way they can claim a late payment and charge you fees or raise your interest rate. Thoroughly research credit card offers before committing; often, those that offer rewards or cash back tend to have higher rates and fees.
Keep track of your expenses and look for other areas you can reduce spending. Consider taking online accounting courses, which can help you find ways to cut costs and make your budget more efficient.
Madeline Marshall is a thrifty writer living in Santa Cruz, CA.