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You may feel like you need to start saving hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to see a difference in your life. However, that mindset is what prevents you from saving any money at all. When you set a goal and can’t meet it, you get discouraged and give up on saving any amount of money. You know what though? Saving any amount of money, no matter how small, is better than saving nothing at all. You have to get started somehow and why not start small and go from there? So, don’t wait another day. Here are things you can do today to start saving money.
1. Track Your Spending
The first thing you need to do when trying to save money is to keep track of your spending. This is especially important if you tend to spend cash. That way, you can see where your money is going and where you can make cuts to save money. Most of us carry smartphones these days. You can use the notepad feature or one of your favorite note-taking apps to keep track of your spending on your phone. If you’re old school like me, you can use a notebook to track expenses.
2. Stay Organized
- Organized Fridge and Pantry. Going along with tracking your spending, staying organized can help you save money. Having an organized fridge and pantry helps me save money because I don’t waste food and I avoid buying duplicates from the store.
- Organized Closet. Similarly, an organized closet helps make sure that I don’t keep buying the same style or same colored piece of clothing repeatedly. I like to group my clothes by color and type. For example, the pants, skirts, dresses, and tops each have their own area in the closet and within that grouping, they’re separated by color. Not only am I able to get dressed super quickly in the mornings, I can easily see what I have.
- Organized Finances. If you get paper copies of bills, designate a spot for them so you don’t miss any due dates and incur penalties. Keep receipts in a spot where they can be found easily if you need to make returns.
3. Cancel Unused Subscriptions
- Gym Membership. Do you belong to a gym? When was the last time you set foot in one? If your gym membership is gathering dust, it’s time to suck it up and cancel it. Suppose it costs $15 a month for your gym, you can save $180 a year by canceling an unused gym membership.
- Magazines. It’s so tempting to subscribe to magazines. They’re so fun to read and you get glossy magazines delivered to your door for only $12 a year! That sounds like a deal but if you’re not reading them, you’re wasting money. Also, so many magazines offer the content online for free. That’s right, FREE! Go cancel those magazine subscriptions and save yourself from clutter.
- Subscription Service. Subscription services are all the craze these days. I can see why. It’s so fun to have a box delivered to you every month not quite knowing what’s inside. Who doesn’t love a little surprise? Be honest with yourself though. How often do you really use up all the products that come in the box? If your subscription box isn’t improving your life or otherwise helpful, cancel it and save your money.
4. Compare Home and Auto Insurance Rates
We recently switched our auto insurance from AAA to GEICO and went from an $1800 annual premium for 2 cars down to $1100. How the heck did we save $700? We didn’t have to beg or write nasty letters. All we did was hopping on the Internet and compared quotes. That’s correct, we didn’t even have to talk to a live person! By being proactive and comparing quotes, we saved $700! That’s close to 40% off of what we were paying before!!!
If you have any type of loan, whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, or student loans, it’s worth your time to inquire into refinancing the loan. Interest rates are at historic lows and refinancing lets you take advantage of the low rates. Refinancing doesn’t get rid of the loan. What you are doing is financing a new loan at a different (hopefully lower) interest rate. If you refinance a 30-year mortgage from 4% to 3.75%, it can amount to savings of tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
6. Cancel or Reduce Cable Package
If you have cable, your bill is likely over $100 a month. Over the course of a year, you’re paying $1,200 for the privilege of watching TV. We love watching TV but we love saving money more so we said goodbye to cable 3 years ago. We’ve substituted cable with Netflix. There are so many movies and TV shows available on Netflix that we never run out of things to watch. To get local and network channels, we use an antenna like this one. This isn’t the rabbit ears your grandparents used. It’s a flat panel that can be easily hidden and covered up if you don’t like the look of it.
7. Use Low-Cost Phone Carrier
Hubby and I used to pay close to $150 a month for a cell phone plans with the big name carriers. We switched to Cricket Wireless a couple of years ago and could not be happier. We now pay $70 for the 2 of us. We each get unlimited talk and text and 4GB of data. We’ve never come close to exceeding the data limit and even if we do, Cricket will lower the Internet speed instead of making you pay for the extra usage. Awesome!
Did you know that you can negotiate your bill from the doctor’s office? This is true especially if you’re a self-pay patient. Healthcare costs are incredibly high, especially for those without health insurance. You can call your doctor’s billing office and ask them to give you a discount in exchange for you paying the bill off in a certain period of time. You can also negotiate your mechanic’s bill or lawncare services. Additionally, you can negotiate when shopping for a house, car, furniture, etc. Negotiating is not about being rude or forcing the other party to give you a discount. It’s a give or take. You have to give the other party an incentive to see your side. Maybe you can pay your bill early. Perhaps you have a large network and can make referrals. You can even promise to become a repeat customer.
Instead of paying for a good or service, can you barter for it instead? Granted, this won’t work for big box stores but it doesn’t hurt to carry it out in other areas of your life.
- Services. See if you can exchange baby sitting services with a friend. Perhaps you and a neighbor can set up an arrangement to switch off mowing each other’s lawns. This way, your tasks will still be completed but you don’t have out-of-pocket expenses.
- Goods. Do you shop at a farmer’s market? Ask and see if you can exchange veggies you grow or homemade baked goods in exchange for the goods on sale. You never know, someone else can very well covet the goods you make yourself.
10. Use a Cashback Site When Shopping
- Ebates. If you’re going to be spending money anyway, what not get some of it back? Ebates is a cashback website that acts as a shopping portal. Anytime you shop online, go to Ebates and see if the vendor is available. If so, and you make a purchase with them through Ebates, you’ll get cash back! How easy is that!
- Ibotta. What if you don’t shop online and prefer to shop in person, is there still a way to earn cash back? Enter Ibotta. It’s a mobile app that lets users earn cash back on in-store purchases through scanning receipts or completing easy tasks like taking pictures of specified products. Super easy.
11. Buy Used
I’m a big believer in buying used whenever possible. Why pay the extra cost of having something new when a used item works just as well and costs way less. A car is an obvious example. You can buy a brand new sedan for $22,000 or buy a used version that’s a couple years old for $15,000. Is the new car smell really worth the extra $7,000? Other things you can buy used and save money include furniture, clothes, books, home decor and even gift cards.
12. Find Free or Low-Cost Entertainment
Being bored sucks but it doesn’t mean you have to spend big money to beat boredom. If you want to start saving money, you have get away from thinking that you need to spend money in order to have fun. You can read books, watch a documentary, or learn a new skill. If you do a little digging, you may be suprised to see how many low-cost entertainment options there are. Additionally, you can partake in free activities like going to the park, hiking, and hanging out with friends.
13. Avoid Lifestyle Inflation
As you make more money with each promotion and career change, it’s important that you actually save some of that money. How do you do that? You need to avoid lifestyle inflation. Resist the urge to trade in your old car for the newest model. Don’t be tempted to get a bigger house even though there’s no need. It’s okay to treat yourself a little but only do it after you’ve saved some of your money. With each increase in income, try to save at least half of that. This is an easy way to increase your saving rate year to year.
14. Cook and Eat at Home
One of the biggest expenses facing most households is food. We all have to eat, right? With planning and foresight, you can easily save money by cooking and eating at home. A restaurant meal for a family of 4 can easily cost upwards of $50. When you cook at home, you can bring the costs down to as low as $2-3 per person per meal. The money you don’t spend on restaurant meals can be banked and put towards your savings. That’s easily hundreds of dollars a month you can save.
What are some of your best tips for saving money?