So, without further ado, here is how you can start saving money this year.
- Set Your Budget
If you do not have one, you need to create a budget. You need to know where every dollar is going so that you can prioritize your spending. Take a look at the last few months and write down where all of your money went. Organize this information into your budget.
Once you see where your money is going, you can make appropriate cuts and set limits for yourself. A budget is an essential tool that organizes your expenses. You can use it to make sure that your money is going to the right places.
- Start Brown Bagging It
Taking your lunch to work can save you big. If you are going out to eat every day for lunch you will spend about $10 on fast food and up to $20 at a casual sit down restaurant.
If you brown bag it just one day a week, you would save $40 to $80 a month or $480 to $960 a year. That is with sacrificing just one day a week. Isn’t saving $500 in cash worth skipping just one meal out a week?
- Audit Your Car Insurance
Companies thrive on consumer complacency. Every year, you should review your auto insurance and see if there is a place you can save. Fill out some online quote forms and makes some calls looking for a better rate.
Sticking with the same company, consider a higher deductible to save some money. Moving from a $250 to a $500 deductible can make a noticeable difference in your premium. Does your insurance company offer you a discount if you prepay the year? Call them and ask.
- Tune Your Car Up
A properly taken care of car will yield better fuel economy and will last much longer.
Make sure that your tires are filled properly and check them periodically. A tire pressure gauge costs about a dollar and is well worth the investment. Properly inflated tires will improve your fuel economy and make the tires wear evenly, so they last longer.
Change the oil or have it changed and switch to synthetics. Synthetic oil is better for your engine and you can go longer between changes, actually saving you money.
- Stop Using iTunes
Instead of buying tracks from iTunes, use a free streaming service like Spotify or Pandora. You can play it on your radio via bluetooth and save a fortune.
If you find the free version of these services limiting, look into Spotify Premium. It is currently just $9.99 and $4.99 for students. This also includes access to Hulu. Pretty good deal and even at that rate, you can easily save $20 a month with what you used to spend at iTunes.
- Cut The Cord
Speaking of Hulu, why not take the opportunity to cut the cord and rid yourself of that cable or satellite bill. With the average bill being around $100 it is a huge burden on the budget.
Can’t live without your favorite cable channels or sports? Sling TV can be had for a fraction of the cost of satellite and comes with most of the popular channels and even local sports.
- Get A New Rewards Card
If your credit is good, sign up for a new rewards card. Credit card companies give their best rewards to new card members in an effort to attract new business.
Be sure to be disciplined though. Get the card, use it to pay your monthly bills and then pay it off before it collects any interest. Get your reward money and avoid the interest.
- Adjust Your Thermostat
Turn your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter. According to the Department of Energy, your heating and cooling system uses 48% of your home’s energy. That makes it the first place to look when looking for energy savings.
In addition to adjusting your thermostat, make sure you keep the air filter changed and if has been awhile, get a professional tuneup.
- Unplug Your Appliances
There are other ways to save on energy besides your HVAC. DId you know that most appliances and electronics consume electricity even when they are not being used. Unplugging them can save you energy when you do not need them.
Unplugging every appliance is not practical but if you hook several up to a single surge strip, you could simply hit one button to save. In addition, you will protect your appliances or electronics from costly electrical surges.
- Implement The 30 Day Rule
Before you buy any luxury item over $100, wait 30 days. If you still want it after that time and can afford it, buy it. Chances are though that the desire to purchase the item will have faded. Being loyal to the 30 day rule will shield you from impulse buys.
- Make A Shopping List
Before you go shopping, write a shopping list and stick to it. If you go to the grocery store, for example, without a list you are far more likely to overspend. A list is a great way to save on groceries. Also, be sure to look up and down. Grocers place the most expensive items at eye level. Look up and down for savings.
- Have A Yard Sale
A yard or garage sale can help you declutter and make a couple hundred dollars at the same time. Everything from old clothing to children’s toys to useless furniture can be sold for profit.
Saturday and Sunday mornings will be the best time for a sale with most of your traffic being gone by noon. No need to have an all day sale.
- Switch To Water
Water, even when purchased in bottles, is much cheaper and healthier than soda. A twelve pack of soda can cost $5 while a 24 pack of water can be had for about $4. That is less than half the price. If you want to save even more, buy a home water purifier and a travel water bottle.
- Quit Smoking
Smoking costs a small fortune these days and is extremely unhealthy. As an ex smoker, I know how hard it can be to quit though. Cold turkey works for very few people so look into the patch or start weening yourself off of cigarettes with an e-cig.
- Make All Your Meals Once A Week
Take a few hours on Sunday and make all of your meals for the week and freeze them. You can then thaw them and cook them in minutes when needed. Having quick and easy meals will help prevent you from picking up some fast food or ordering a fast pizza.
- Buy Quality Products
You might think that buying the cheapest is best but cheap does not always last. Appliances that cost a bit more might last years longer. A set of tires that cost an extra $100 might give you an extra 20,000 miles in wear. A more expensive pair of jeans might have thicker denim that holds up more. Before making major purchases, do your research and find out which ones are made the best.
- Pay Off High Interest Debt
If you are carrying a lot of high interest debt, start paying down those balances. Use the snowball technique where you pay off the lowest balance account first. Starting small and working up gives you encouragement when you start seeing accounts paid off quicker.
- Switch To Store Brands
When grocery shopping, switch to the store brands. They don’t have the flashy packaging but most of them are made by the major brands. You can save an easy 30% on groceries just switching to generic products.
- Buy A Used Car
If a new car is in your future, let somebody else take the first year depreciation. Buy a low mileage one year old car and save big. You can still get a practically new car and it should still be under factory warranty.
Speaking of warranties, never buy one immediately if you are financing. If you still have years of factory warranty, why pay interest on that extended warranty for the life of the loan. Buy it before the factory warranty expires.
- Join A Parents Group
If you are a mom or dad, join a parents group. Not only will you enjoy social events and free advice, but you might also get free stuff. Other parents will give each other clothes and toys as their kids outgrow them. Enjoy the free stuff and pay it forward to other parents.
- Get A Freezer
A deep freezer can be had for about a hundred dollars, even less on Craigslist. Use it to buy food in bulk. Vegetables are cheaper in bulk and you can buy meat in large quantities when it goes on sale.
- Shop The Loss Leaders
Speaking of meat going on sale, take advantage of grocery store loss leaders. These are products that they put on sale, often under cost, to get you in the store. Stock up on these items and avoid the other pricer stuff.
- Take Advantage Of Free Entertainment
Check out the events going on in your town. Look at the city website and see what is on the calendar. You will probably find some free concerts, movies in the park, etc. Take advantage of these events for cheap night out. Be sure to check all your neighboring towns as well.
- Consolidate Your Student Loans
If you are paying multiple lenders, now might be the time to consolidate your loans. Make it easier to pay your loans, reduce your monthly payment and maybe even get them paid off faster.
- Slow Down
Speeding is costly in several ways. Of course, a ticket can easily cost you up to $300 but there are other ways it hurts. After you get that ticket, your auto insurance rates will increase. In addition, the faster you drive, the more fuel you will use. Slow down and get better mileage.