Monday, May 17, 2010

Saving Money

Lately, people have been asking me how I save money. So I've compiled a list of ideas and suggestions.

Start using cash only - Start using an envelope or jar system. They are labeled: Food, Gas, Etc, Haircuts, Change, and Leftovers.

Start a change jar - At the end of every day take all the change out of your car, pockets, and bags and put it in this jar. It's surprising how quickly it can add up!

Cut unnecessary monthly bills - Prioritize. Think of the things you are missing out on because you are short on cash. Are they worth having what you have now? Example: Is having to work an extra 4 hours every week worth having Cable and "the works?" Cut out cable, movie channels, subscriptions, extra phone lines, minutes you don't use, etc.

Find your "Money Leaks" - Where are you slowly leaking money? Do you make frequent trips to the convenience store (where most things cost nearly twice as much!) when you run out of things? Are you making unnecessary car trips? Do you buy coffee or fast food? Find out where you might be spending a dollar here and a dollar there and stop it!

Stop throwing away money - Stop buying paper products such as paper towels, napkins, maxi pads, and disposable diapers. Go cloth! You'd be surprised how easy it is and how much you'll save. It really doesn't add that much to your laundry. If you're really daring try "family cloth" aka reusable toilet paper.

Turn it off - Keep your lights off during the day or when you aren't in the room, unplug kitchen appliances and doodads when they aren't in use, plug your video game consoles and television into a power strip and unplug it when they aren't in use, do the same with lamps, and don't keep phone charges plugged in unless you're using them. This should shave quite a bit off of your electric bill.

Hang 'Em - If weather permits, hang your clothes out to dry. After taking them inside, put them in the dryer for a few minutes to shake off pollen and fluff them a bit. Throw some vinegar in the rinse cycle as a fabric softener. If it's rainy or cold, hang them on a covered porch or patio on a drying rack.

Get crafty - Before buying something ask yourself: "Can I make this?" If you can, go for it! At least give it a try. Extra points for making it out of things you already have.
Get thrifty - If you can't make something yourself ask yourself: "Can I buy this used?" Then head to the nearest thrift shop and see if you can find it.

Go au natural: Stop buy commercial cleaners. Use natural ingredients to clean your house. Vinegar and baking soda are pretty cheap and they're great for cleaning many things. Castile soap is inexpensive as well. You can use it to make almost anything from an all purpose cleaner to shampoo! A great book on how to do this is Make Your Place. It's full of recipes and ideas.
Make your own - Make your own laundry detergent. There are a ton of recipes out there. Try a few and see what works best. You can clean your clothes for pennies a load this way and you can even customize the scent with essential oils.

Grow your own - Start a vegetable garden. This can save you tons!

Whole Foods - Stop buying convenience foods. Start cooking from scratch. Bread, pizza dough, condensed soups, mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce, etc. It might take a little extra effort, but not only are you saving a ton of money but you're now completely aware of everything that is in your food. No more hidden additives!

Empty it - Do a complete overhaul of your house, including your garage and basement. Clear out and then sell or give away anything you don't use or need. Be harsh and honest. Try not to hold on to things that you aren't going to display or use. Check out Fly Lady for ideas on how to do this. Having less will allow you to enjoy what you have more which might help squelch any frivolous spending. You might also make a few bucks in the process.

Cars - Can you become a one car family? This might save you a car payment and insurance! Check with your insurance company to find out how much you'll save before you get rid of the car. Some companies give multi-car discounts, so it might hurt you to get rid of it. Also, check to see if raising your deductible can lower your payments.

Check your bills - Are you getting the best deal on car insurance? How about cable (unless you canceled)? Now is a good time to call and see if you can negotiate a better deal or at least make sure that you're getting all the discounts you can. Most companies want to keep their customers and are willing to work with you. Call your creditors and see if you can negotiate a smaller monthly payment if debt is overwhelming you.

Make each trip worth it - Gas is expensive. Try and plan out each outing to maximize your tank.

Do you have any suggestions to add?

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