Top tips for getting the most bang for your buck each month
Have you ever looked at your bank account after a few days and wondered, “Where did it all go?!” When you spend a dollar here and a dollar there — from groceries to gas — it doesn’t seem like a hefty amount, but these costs do add up, whether or not you realize it.
But if prices are adding up, don’t stress. The good news is that there’s always ways to save. “No matter how much money you think you don’t have, you still have a lot of choices,” says O’Connor, a personal finance columnist at the Detroit News and author of The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese.
To rein in on your budget each month, a few simple cost-cutting tips can make all the difference. Take these easy ways to save into account this month:
Jot it down.
Writing down all of your expenses helps you see and put into perspective just where your money is going, and helps you see where to cut costs later on. But it’s not necessary to go overboard, O’Connor explains.
“Don’t sit down and create a beautiful, color-coded Excel spreadsheet and spend a month digging out every bill and receipt from the last year to create a perfect budget,” he says. “Just start cutting your spending and freeing up cash for whatever your goal is right then.”
Brown bag it to work.
Sure, it takes a little prep time at night or early in the morning, but the benefit is worth it. Simply by taking your lunch to work instead of ordering in each day can save you big bucks come the end of the month. Bonus: It’s usually healthier this way, too!
Indulge in home cooked meals.
Similar to taking lunch to work, cooking at home instead of eating out will cut costs indefinitely. The cost of meats, vegetables and other dinner ingredients are much less at a supermarket than if you were to order them at a restaurant. Limit your restaurant trips and take-out meals to a minimum, say once or twice a month. In the long run, you’ll see a substantial amount of savings.
Get on the cheaper gas line.
At the time, it may seem like a few cents a gallon won’t save you very much. But in the long run, going to the cheaper gas station — even if it’s just two or three cents cheaper per gallon — will ensure you have extra cash in your pocket later on.
Re-evaluate your bills.
For example, can you cancel your gym membership and use weights at home or jog or bike around the block? Can you start going to thrift stores to buy clothes instead of the mall, where you’ll likely spend more? How about your cable, Internet, cellphone bills — those kinds of companies are always offering new plans and deals, and chances are, if you haven’t called to reprise those services in a couple of years, you may be overspending.
Cut your grocery bill.
If it’s food shopping that’s really blowing a hole in your budget, there are lots of ways to save at the supermarket. First, limit your food shopping to once a week, and take a set list of items you need with you. When you make several trips a week, you tend to buy more items on impulse. Also, if you’re buying produce, get what’s ripe. Fruits and veggies that are out of season costs 20 to 50 percent more than it does when it’s in season. Also, don’t be fooled by attractive branding; the store’s brand is going to taste nearly identical — and it’ll save you bucks!
Bargain. On everything.
“There are no set prices on anything anymore,” says Fred Brock, author of Live Well on Less Than You Think. “Everything’s up for grabs.” So whether it’s medical expenses or simply an online purchase, negotiating prices can help you cover the cost of your expenditures.
Ditch pricy drinks.
The average American worker spends more than $20 a week on coffee, according to an Accounting Principals’ Workonomix survey. That averages $1,092 a year! For the java junkies, it’s wise to brew your cup of morning Joe at home, instead of trekking to overpriced coffee houses. And same goes for alcohol, for those who like to indulge in the occasional booze night out. Try a happy hour, where drinks are cheaper, or swap your pricey martini for a beer or other drink that’s lower in price.
There are always interesting techniques and ways to save money. Stop by and speak with a representative today.
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