Saving money was not a topic of conversation a decade ago. Sure, the stock market rocked our boat around the turn of the millennia, and 9/11 caused us to rethink a lot of things, but essentially the economic bubble that began to grow in the 1980s continued until the end of 2007, with a hiccough at the end of 2002. Throughout it all, people thought little about changing their saving habits.
Now we are in a worldwide recession that is causing us to make radical adjustments. Some of us have escaped the brunt of the problem, retaining our jobs and battening down the hatches, but others have lost their positions, savings, and homes.
Suddenly, we need to take a hard look at the expense side of the equation. Here is the first part of a list of forty common-sense things you can do to save money. (You will find the second part at Saving money – Forty money-saving tips – Part II.)
1. Monitor Your Thermostat
The notion that the most economical approach for controlling the temperature in your home is to leave your thermostat at a constant level all summer or all winter is nonsense. Constantly monitoring the thermostat saves money, and in addition, using space heaters and fans will reduce your energy bills.
2. Plan Your Errands
As gasoline prices migrate upward, using your car less becomes increasingly important. Plan where you need to go in advance so that you can make several stops on the same trip. Also, carpooling and public transportation can help reduce your dependence on your automobile.
3. Shop At Three Grocery Stores
Getting the best prices requires doing comparative shopping. If you make stopping at three grocery stores part of your normal routine, you’ll be able to pick out the best deals. Also, avoid going grocery shopping when you are hungry.
4. Frequent The Stores That Have Sales
Making the rounds at the stores without buying requires diligence, discipline, and patience. If you frequent the shopping centers, you will know where the deals are and when each shop tends to mark down its items.
5. Cut Your Own Grass
Aside from saving money, cutting your own grass is great physical exercise, unless, of course you use a riding mower. I do it with a push mower in full sunlight in order to get the vitamin-D benefit as well as the exercise.
6. Clean Your Own House
In the U.S., hiring someone to clean the house has long been a luxury, and in these difficult times, it makes sense to do it yourself. Teaching family members to make beds, store clothing in drawers and closets, and carry dishes to the sink will reduce your workload when it’s time to clean.
7. Eat At Home
Eating at restaurants is expensive and not particularly good for your health. If all the adults are employed outside the home, sharing the cooking duties is reasonable. Preparing food in large quantities and freezing portions for use in the future will reduce your work load and save you money.
8. Take Your Lunch To Work
Many working people spend five to ten dollars daily on lunch. If you work 240 days in a year and spend $7.50 a day, you’ve spent $1,800 on lunches. Assuming a homemade lunch costs $2.50, you could save $1,200 a year by taking lunch to work. If you don’t like eating at your workplace, you can drive to a nearby park to partake of your repast.
9. When You Dine Out, Drink Water
Ordering water instead of another drink is a great money-saving device. Drinks are high-markup items, and when you replace them with water, you save money and improve your health.
10. Pay Credit-Card Charges In Full Each Month
Your credit card should be a convenience and not a bank. Using it for long-term credit (more than a month) is a bad financial decision. Routinely paying off every card in full each month allows you to bypass the unreasonably high interest rates that credit-card issuers charge by. Also, avoid signing up for credit cards that charge annual fees.
11. Shop For Banks That Offer Free Checking And Have Low Penalties
If you search, you can find a bank that offers deals on checking accounts. Shop around. It’s your money, and no one will take care of it but you.
12. Purchase A Home
If you’re over thirty years old, renting a house or apartment makes no sense. When you purchase a home, choose one that you can pay for on a single salary. Also, avoid signing up to short-term mortgages. Spread your obligation out over a full thirty years, and retain the option to pay faster in good times or slower if you find yourself in a bind.
13. Make Your Own Coffee
Stopping at the coffee shop on your way to work for your morning caffeine fix is an expensive habit. If you like finer coffee, brew it at home, or just drink the daily grind offered at work for free.
14. Buy In Bulk
Buying in bulk, especially in times of inflation, can save you money. Inflation is low now, but that could change soon, and the bulk-buying habit will pay off in spades.
15. Consolidate Your Debts
It’s better to pay off your debts as fast as possible, but if that’s not feasible, you might want to consolidate your obligations with a single creditor. This move, in itself, probably will not save you money. It will, however, reduce confusion and allow you to cut up some of your credit cards. The important thing is to pay extra principal each month in order to get out from under the thumbs of your creditors.
16. Avoid Using ATM Machines
Use ATM machines only in emergencies. Plan to have enough money at home to cover your normal cash needs, and replenish your stash with withdrawals from the bank when it gets low.
17. Disconnect Your Land-Line Telephone
Duplicate telephone services are a luxury, and unless your Internet connection requires you to maintain a land line, you may be able to get by with only your cellular telephone. If you must retain your land line, arranging for a low-cost cell phone with limited minutes is a viable option.
18. Use The Library
Buying books is expensive, and many of us (mea culpa) buy them without reading them. The library is a great option. It allows you to borrow several books at a time and read only those that interest you.
19. Avoid Convenience Stores And Vending Machines
The markups on items sold through convenience stores and vending machines are high. Serious savers plan ahead and never purchase at these places.
20. Buy Online
Many items are available on the Internet at prices that bricks-and-mortar stores cannot match. Before making any purchases, be sure to check out the site to ensure its trustworthiness. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to save money.