I tend to be a pretty all-or-nothing type of guy in many areas of my life. If I am going to do something, I like to do it well and all out. Saving money is no exception. Because of our heavy debt load at the beginning of our marriage, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. To add to that we were vigorously trying to get out of debt. Needless to say, I looked for just about every way I could to save money. Like most people we started with the easiest ways and moved on to the more difficult and painful money-saving methods.
We greatly reduced our standard of living (previously we both had enjoyed spending much more than we earned), cut our expenses like crazy, and attacked our debts.
So the following 10 ways to save are things that some people might overlook as being insignificant, but if you are serious about saving money, I say try them all! And don’t just “kind of” try them, give it everything you got – that’s when you will see the real results.
These suggestions are geared towards average Americans – you may already be doing some, if so great, you have a head start!
1. Buy all your food from the grocery store
A very wealthy person I interviewed said that most people unknowingly throw their retirement savings away on new cars and going out to eat. We really enjoy going out to eat, but if you really want to save money, this is a great place to start. This was a tough habit for me to break, but once you break it you will find that you have hundreds and even thousands of extra dollars as a result.
A meal purchased from the grocery store is better for you and will is a fraction of the cost at a restaurant. Learn to love brown-bagging it. Deciding to start bringing my lunch everyday rather than going out was one of the best things I ever did for my finances. While you are at it, if you are a Starbucks addict, buy yourself a coffee or espresso maker. My wife just recently purchases an espresso machine for $30 that easily paid for itself in a month or two.
2. Eat everything you buy, or don’t buy it!
Once I began buying a lot more of my food from the grocery store, I began to realize that I was throwing some of it away due to spoilage. We now work very hard to make sure that all of the food we buy gets eaten – which easily saves us $100 a month. You would probably be surprises how much money is being wasted on un-eaten food if you have never calculated it.
3. Start using coupons
I have never been much of a couponer because of the types of food that we buy, but there is a lot of money to be saved by using coupons. Many dedicated couponers save hundreds each month. To learn more about how to cut coupons like the pros read this article: How to save money with coupons.
4. Lower your car insurance premiums
This one blew my mind. I was convinced that I had the best rate. I knew what friends were paying and was sure that I couldn’t get a better deal. How wrong I was. After shopping around, I saved over $500 to have the same coverage.
5. Give your hobby a break – or get a new one!
I used to be a regular golfer, until I realized that all of my money was being spent on greens fees, balls, driving ranges, etc. I still enjoy playing once in a while, but when you are trying to pay off debts and save for a house, having an expensive hobby doesn’t exactly help you reach the goal. I have since taken up tennis and hiking – which are both fun and FREE!. Examine your hobbies and think about what hobby could go on a cash-diet for a little while.
6. Simplify your phone situation.
Look at how much you spend on your land line, cell phones, cable, internet, etc. Could you do away with the land line and get something like Magicjack instead? Could you save money buying you cell phone online or lower your monthly cell phone plan? Could you combine your cable, internet, and phone bills? Do some quick analysis – there is likely some money to be saved here.
7. Ask for lower bills
I only have experience reducing my credit card interest rates by negotiating with the CC companies, but who is to say that you can’t get other bills lowered as well? Apparently there are some strategies for lowering your monthly payments just by asking.
8. Use Ebates and other methods to save when shopping
If you are not using Ebates or Bing Cashback when making purchases online, then you are passing up free money. They don’t cost a cent to join, take less than a minute to sign up, and allow you to get cashback for just about any online purchase.
So, ideally you would try to minimize unnecessary spending, but when it is warranted, you might as well get some cash back for buying it.
9. Limit peer pressure influences
For some reason I always thought that peer-pressure was something that ended after junior-high. It turns out that it really never ends if you are hanging out with the wrong people. It takes on different forms – but still exists. The whole Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses addiction that many Americans have is evidence of it.
If you have friends in your life who cause you to feel obligated to make purchases (vacations, entertainment, clothes, etc.) – you should probably limit the amount of time you spend together. Just because they want to live way beyond their means, doesn’t mean that you need to be dragged down that path as well.
10. Start a side business to start making some extra cash
Now that we are in the internet age, there are so many ways to start a business with cash or just make a little extra money each month. While this isn’t technically “saving” money, it will help you reach your goals quicker!