20 Ways To Save Money
1. Find you location on your financial road map Spend the money for a financial adviser who can help you navigate your way back into financial security. I go with Ameriprise and their financial advisers start at $50 per month for those with basic financial portfolios. They will come to you, help you organize all of your financial docs, create a tax, retirement, emergency, and monthly plan that is right for you. When you are responsible for your own finances and retirement, having a financial adviser can make the difference between making ends meet and making dreams come true.
2. Stay at home: For those social butterflies, staying at home can be maddening. Host pot-luck dinners, game nights (without the gambling), movie nights, and get creative. Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Imagine how much money you can save by taking your social life to your castle.
3. Apply for unemployment benefits: If you’ve been paying into your unemployment fund, you can thank your lucky stars. Unemployment benefits, however small they may be, can help you pay a few utility or grocery bills. Be sure to apply early and meet all of the requirements as funds may take time to see your bank account.
4. Do not cash our your retirement funds: I met a women who cashed out her retirement to buy a car. She paid more in taxes, penalties, and fees than she paid for the actual car. The financial penalties outweigh the benefits from taking from your future security.
5. Emergency fund time: Remember that money you’ve been saving for a rainy day? Well, it’s pouring and you’re going to need your rain boots and umbrella if you plan on walking in the rain. This is now the time to use your emergency reserves, which should last you from three to six month, sometimes up to a year. If you not have an emergency fund, start putting away at the very least ten percent of your income, my husband and I put away thirty percent. You can expect to face one financial crisis in your life, so be sure you have the reserves to get you through it.
6. Cut off temptation: Immediately recycle advertisements, stop buying materialistic magazines that encourage you to buy, unsubscribe from e-mail marketing, do everything you can to eliminate unnecessary spending.
7. Trim the fat: Sit down and look at your budget and review all of your receipts for the past quarter. Tabulate what you spend your money on and cut out the things that are non-essential for living. You’ll be amazed by how much you spend on frivolities. Not to mention, reviewing every single purchase and having to justify them to yourself, your spouse/partner, your family, and your financial adviser makes you get honest about your spending habits fast.
8. Reduce energy consumption: Carpool, reduce driving trips, walk to get groceries, turn off unnecessary lighting, adjust your air conditioning unit by just a few degrees, mind your water consumption. You don’t have to reduce your showering to once a week, but even reducing energy consumption can shave at least a few dollars off the utility bills.
9. Create budgetary limitations: Give yourself a limit on what you will spend each week. Stick to it.
10. Waste not: Use all of what you have until it’s gone. You have more than you think you do lying around the house. You do not have to buy a new *whatever* because you think you don’t have it. Take an inventory of the things you have around the house and know what you do and do not have. When needs arise, figure out what you already have to use before rushing out to buy something. This includes beauty products, food, clothing, craft materials, home supplies, etc.
11. Keep your receipts: Hold onto your receipts until you can record them. In our home, we hold onto our receipts, enter them almost daily into an excel sheet with categories (dining out, groceries, misc, health, etc) that way we always know how much we spend and on what. As I’ve mentioned before, family spending is out in the open leaving no room for indiscretion and over spending.
12. Imagine you’re in survival mode: If you’re not already living paycheck to paycheck (or burning through your savings) act as if you’re in survival mode and focusing only on meeting your most basic needs: food, shelter, health, and security. Everything else most likely can wait.
13. Research before buying: At our home, if an item costs more than $50 or is intended for long term use, we research different prices, features, pros and cons of ownership, and long term maintenance before taking a financial dive for at least one week, sometimes months. Thinking about what we’re buying, why, and what level of commitment is involved in ownership makes us think twice about spending the cash. Mindlessly spending gets us caught up in a vicious cycle of consumption and attachment to things that might eventually own us.
14. Curb your impulses: If you’re heading to a store to pick up something, take the exact cash you need to buy it and leave the credit/debit cards at home. Having no wiggle room to spend creates absolute discipline. (I do this all of the time) If there is something you’d like to buy, talk to your spouse about it, do some research, and see if having it is worth the trouble.
15. Use cold hard cash I’m more likely to not spend if I have limited amount of cash in my pocket than if I have my debit card that has hundreds, if not thousands in the bank account. The tempation simply isn’t there and seeing cash actually leave my hands is more difficult than swiping a card. Leave the cards at home, seriously.
16. Go fresh and cook at home Use fresh ingredients for cooking. The cool thing about buying cheap vegetables and fruits is that I’m encouraged to get creative. When on a budget, I’m more likely to use my cook books, research recipes online, and try out new foods. Being on a budget doesn’t have to be boring, especially for the epicurean at heart.
17. Write down that grocery list: Stick to the list and only what’s on the list. You won’t forget anything, either.
18. Lend and borrow: Share what you have with those in your community, family, and social circles. Odds are, someone in your network has what you need and are up for letting you borrow. Imagine how much stuff you’ve bought and only used once or twice and now just takes space in your garage or closet. Create an list of lend-able things. Ask others to borrow and return them in better, if not the same condition.
19. Improve your negotiating skills: “Never pay retail” If an item is not on sale, be bold and ask for a discount. The worst anybody can ever say is no, so learn how to negotiate a fair price for you and the seller.
20. Play devil’s advocate Tell yourself the reasons why you don’t need to buy something. Sometimes, you must convince yourself NOT to buy. Most of the time, you really don’t need what you’re talking yourself out of in the first place. Or, if you’re married, imagine what your spouse will say if you come home with a random purchase. That usually stops me!
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