It seems that everywhere you look, prices are rising on items you use every single day. Gas prices are remaining high. What you spend on groceries a month is making you seriously consider planting a garden, milking your own cows, and raising your own chickens and pigs. Instead of going out to dinner and a movie, you are considering eating at home while waiting for the DVD to become available at the local movie rental store.
The good news is, you really do not have to sacrifice the things you love and change your lifestyle all that much in order to save up to $500 a month. All you need to do is follow the following 12 easy tips to saving money. You will be surprised how quickly the savings add up!
Let Groceries Not Eat Your Budget Up
This is one area that can eat a large chunk of your monthly budget. But with careful planning and a well executed strategy, you can still eat steak, lobster, and all your favorite foods without having to take out a second mortgage.
01. Plan your meals smartly
Take the time to plan your meals. Ideally you want to plan your meals for an entire month, but you can begin small with a weekly meal plan until you get the hang of it. Take inventory of items you already have and items you will need to purchase. Make a shopping list.
02. Use coupons and sale items efficiently
Once you have a list of items you will need to purchase, cut coupons found in local newspapers and fliers. Look online for coupons. Make note of any items that are on sale. Plan ahead of time what grocery stores you will go to and what items you will purchase at each store.
03. Buy in bulk, whenever possible
Buy in bulk whenever possible. Stock up on food items and non-food items that store easily and will not expire in a week. (Canned goods, baked goods, pasta, laundry detergent, personal hygiene items, …) Buy family packs of meat that can be divided up and frozen. Remember that items such as milk, cheese, and bread can be frozen.
04. Pay in cash like a pro
Do not fall into the habit of paying your grocery bill with a credit card or debit card. It is far too easy to spend more than you budgeted for simply because the cash is not in your hand. With cash in hand, you will only spend that amount and you will put items back on the shelf that are not on your grocery list.
Get Efficient With Transportation
Gas prices are not going to go down any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sell your car for a bicycle or horse and buggy.
05. Bus Pass, Rail Pass, or Carpool
Consider purchasing a monthly pass for the bus or train. Car pooling is a great alternative to public transportation.
06. Work From Home
No. This does not mean that you need to quit your job and operate a business from home. Some employers offer their employees an opportunity to work from home one or more days a week.
07. Get a Fuel Efficient Vehicle
Consider trading in your gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient vehicle. If you aren’t interested in a hybrid, consider purchasing a vehicle that runs on diesel fuel. Diesel fuel costs more, but you will burn far less of it than gas.
Use Credit Cards wisely
Purchasing items on credit can blow a budget real fast and put you on the fast track to sinking into major debt. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever use a credit card. You just need to be smart about how you use one.
08. Pay Credit Card Bills in Full
Pay your credit card bill in full the day it arrives to avoid interest charges and late fees.
09. Use Rewards Cards with Caution
Don’t get into the habit of using multiple rewards cards. Chances are you will never reach the amount needed to cash-in on the rewards offered on multiple cards.
Deal with Entertainment and Miscellaneous Expenses
This is one of the easiest areas to cut costs without having to become a couch potato eating only meals you prepared. You can still look good and enjoy an active social life!
10. More Movies but Less Expense
You do not have to eat at home for every single meal, every day of the week. Just limit the amount of fast food visits, calls to the pizza delivery guy, and dining out to 1-2 times a month. Eat before you go the movie theater. Save the buttered popcorn, soda pop, and candy for movie night at home.
11. Cut it out with Cell Phones, Cable TV, and Internet
Be careful with bundle packages. Some of those deals aren’t as good as they appear to be. Do you really need premium cable TV channels? Do you really need the fastest internet speed available? Do you really need the latest, greatest cell phone with internet access, unlimited text, and an expensive data plan?
12. Draw the line on Miscellaneous Expenses
Are you ever going to actually use your gym membership? Does that $3.00 cup of coffee really taste any better than the $0.25 cup of coffee you can brew at home? Does a sandwich from the vending machine or food from a street vendor really taste that much better than a fresh sandwich from home or leftovers from your delicious dinner you ate the night before?
Sure, it might seem like a hassle to sit down and go through your monthly expenses trying to figure out what you can eliminate and what you can compromise on while still being able to actually enjoy waking up every morning.
But, look at it this way – $500 a month in savings is $6,000 in a year. Now what could you possibly do with that $6,000? Kind of puts trimming your expenses into a whole new perspective now doesn’t it?