Switch to cloth napkins. I’m not sure why it took a down economy for this one to dawn on me, but cloth napkins are a great alternative to paper napkins, which increase waste and add to our non-food budget.
Diversify your income. Look for ways to increase your income outside of your full time job. Do you have a hobby that you could make a small business? Could you spend some time working online surveys (many of these survey companies are scams, but the one I’ve linked is not. I’ve been aCashCrate member for over a year now)? Could you add some freelance work in the same line of work you do full time?
Shop your car insurance coverage at esurance.com. Take 6 minutes to complete the free quote and shave a significant amount off your car insurance premiums.
Scale back the cable. We’ve been living the last six months with only basic cable, and don’t miss any of the expanded cable channel offerings. Cable bill went down from $40 to $12 with this move alone.
Don’t pay a dime for banking privileges. There are too many free checking options out there to pay one penny in fees for the right to write a check or use a debit card. Many banks and credit unions simply require direct deposit or a minimum number of debit card uses per month to qualify for fee-free accounts. If you can’t find one, try ING Direct.
Look for a value internet package. While I was scaling back on cable service I asked our cable provider for a cheaper rate on internet service. They told me about a little-advertised “value package” which costs half the normal monthly rate for reduced speed. Since I mostly surf the web and check email I barely notice, but I saved about $20 a month on our internet service.
Skip the theater, subscribe to Netflix. Going to the movie theater is a great way to beat the heat, but it’s also expensive. Skip the theater, and sign up for an online DVD rental service. No late fees, and no gas used up traveling back and forth to the rental store.
Transfer existing debt using balance transfer offers. Transfer high-interest debt to a zero (or low) interest card. By reducing your interest rate you will pay less interest to creditors each month, and make more of a dent in outstanding balances as you pay them off.
Hang up the land linetelephone service. If most of your calls are to other cell users in the same network, consider canceling the land line and using a cell phone exclusively.
Have a no-spend weekend. Sometimes it takes a break in the routine to get spending under control. Try to go an entire weekend without eating out, shopping, or ordering something online. It won’t solve all your spending problems, but it’s a start.
Carpool a few times a week. Take turns carpooling with a coworker, especially if they live close to you. Pick them up and take them home this week, and next week allow them to return the favor. You’ll both cut your driving time in half.
Raise insurance deductibles. Assuming you have a proper emergency fund in place, raise deductibles on insurance policies. The difference in a $500 deductible and a $1,000 deductible on your car insurance policy can help reduce your monthly or semi-annual premiums.
Check your vehicle’s tire pressure each time you fill up. Things like under-inflated tires and dirty air filters can reduce your gas mileage. Pick up an inexpensive tire gauge and check the pressure while filling up.
Change your driving habits tosave on gas expenses. Cut out “jackrabbit” starts and heavy braking.
Do not buy new cars – Buy a used car, and drive it until the wheels fall off. My grandfather has driven two vehicles in 34 years! Sam Walton drove a twenty year-old pickup truck right up until the time he died. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Remember, a new car is “used” the minute you drive it off the showroom floor.
Consolidate errands into one trip. If you have to get out try to consolidate all of your errands into one trip away from home, instead of driving back and forth several times from store to home.
Ride a bike for short commutes. I’m fortunate to live about 5 miles from my employer, so I occasionally commute by bike. If you happen to live close to stores, consider riding a bike for small errands. Take along a backpack, or put some panniers on your bike to carry things back home.
Figure outhow to do things on your own, rather than paying an expert. This year I’ve managed to rescue a toy from the bottom of our guest bathroom toilet and unclog and empty an air conditioner drain line. With the help of the internet, or a good “how-to” book such as Save $20k With a Nail, you would be surprised how much you can do on your own and avoid expensive repair charges.
Just say no to social events, or agree to meet after dinner. Peer pressure can wreak havoc on your financial plans. It’s never fun to turn down a chance to go out with friends, but there are ways to say yes without spending a fortune.
Look into 3-month supplies of prescriptions via mail order. Many employers now offer as part of the health insurance plan a 3-month mail order prescription plan. I only have one daily prescription for asthma/allergies, and the cost of a 30-day supply from a local pharmacy is $25. For the same cost, I can get a 90-day supply via mail-order.
Wash your own car. Our town has one of those automated car washes and for $9.00 you can get “the works.” Essentially, it is a wash, wax and application of tire shine. I’m pretty sure I can do it for less. Better yet, employ the kids and let them earn a little extra money this summer.
Bank “found” money in a separate account. With any income above your normal earnings, bank the amount in a separate checking or savings account and use the money to pay down debt, build up savings, or offset increased expenses. Overtime, tax refunds (and stimulus checks), gifts and similar windfalls belong here.
Eat like a kid again. Eat off the same plates your kids eat off, which will force you to eat smaller portions. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.
Drink tap water. I don’t have the inclination to run a cost comparison between an ounce of Coca Cola and an ounce of tap water, but I’m fairly confident tap water is infinitely cheaper.
Eat less meat. I’m about as far from vegetarian as you can get, but I recognize that my carnivorous habits cost me big at the grocery store. We’ve recently started having breakfast for dinner (eggs instead of meat), and substituting things like pinto beans (a great source of non-meat protein) in meals instead of meats.
Look for manager meat specials. When you do buy meat, check the manager’s specials area for meat that is about to pass the “sell by” date. The meat is still perfectly good, but freeze it immediately if you don’t plan on cooking within the next day or two.
Look for a used freezer to stock up on meat specials. Many times people relocating can’t take the extra chest freezer with them and advertise it on Craigslist or the local newspaper. If you can find a good used one stock it full of manager meat specials to reduce your food budget.
Don’t be afraid to buy generic. Forget brand loyalty when trying to figure out how to save money every month on things like groceries. When we buy ketchup, we look for the lowest unit price, regardless of brand. Same with other foods and household supplies. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part generic items are just as good as name brands.
When in the store, look high and low for deals, literally. Marketers know that eye-level is the place most people tend to shop, so they put the items with the highest margins right in front of you. Better deals are usually found on lower shelves.
Cherry-pick coupon deals. Combine coupons with store sales to maximize savings. Our local Kroger store recently had mayonnaise 2/$4. We found a coupon for $0.50/1 that doubled to $1.00, so we picked up a mayo for $1.00. Don’t use a coupon to buy something you don’t need.