As the economy worsens, jobs are decreasing, prices are rising, and many of us are finding out about the difficulties in trying to make that dollar stretch. Many people who were accustomed to a comfortable life are now experiencing what it means to “live paycheck to paycheck”. Stress levels are rising, while savings accounts are depleting. This is the most crucial time to learn how to cut costs and save a little bit of money.
Many people’s solutions to saving money, often revolve around making larger purchases. For example, buying newer vehicles such as the famous Smart Car may be beneficial to save on the rising gas costs, but there are simpler and less costly ways to save thousands of dollars a year. Installing new windows in a house to decrease the heating bill is another purchase people often make to cut costs. Although these methods of saving money, eventually, may be considered worthwhile, many of us are trying to find ways to cut costs right away. Many of us are on a tight enough budget, that it would not be in our favor to make a large purchase at this present time. For cheaper and effective ways to cut costs there are many things we can do to save thousands of dollars each year.
Decreasing your electric bill
Something as simple as turning your computers, TV, and lights off when they are not in use can save you a big chunk of cash, monthly and yearly. Many people know that the longer things run in the household, the more expensive the bills will be. It is not rocket science, however, many of us tend to avoid trying to cut down costs on our electric bills. Even for those who cook on an electric stove, simple changes such as cooking on the grill can make a huge impact on your monthly electric bill. From my own personal experimentation, I noticed a thirty dollar decrease on my electric bill. Thirty dollars may not seem like much, but when you factor in how much it can save you yearly, it is around $360.
Menu planning and using coupons
There are two things I must admit. First, I used to be that person who always went to the grocery store without a list. I thought nothing of walking out with a rather large bill that was over $200 for less than a week’s worth of groceries. There were many things in the cart that were not necessary and were just bought on a whim. I am also guilty of being that person in line, hotheaded and cursing at the person in front of me for using a stack of coupons on their shopping order. I must say, that I am now my worst enemy. Using coupons, in bulk, has saved my family over $600 a month. I usually buy extra papers or order coupons from popular bidding sites such as Ebay, that match up with the deals of my local grocery ads. For example, many grocery stores will double coupons. If grocery store “A” is having a sale on Eggo waffles for two dollars a box, and there is a coupon for seventy-five cents off of a box of Eggos, it will double and end up costing fifty cents for a box of waffles. In a case like this, I may order 20 Eggo coupons and stockpile twenty boxes of waffles (total cost $10). Many things, you will find, will be free after coupons, as well. The more you stockpile, the less you have to buy weekly. Making a menu, as well, will help you determine what you need and allow you to cut major costs when followed correctly. My shelves, cupboards, and fridge are full and my bills decreased from $200 a week to under $50 for a family of five. Reducing the cost of our groceries will save us about $6000 a year.
Eating in and skipping or minimizing that family vacation
Many families are accustomed to eating out once or twice a week. Just by cutting out this simple routine, a family can save $200 or more a month, or $2400 or more a year. Also, many people enjoy the great family vacation each year. The only problem is, with a falling economy and rising gas prices, it can be a costly venture. By eliminating or reducing the vacation, it can save you $1000 or more a year depending on the types of vacations your family takes. Skipping out on our annual vacation to sunny Myrtle Beach this year was heartbreaking for the whole family. To replace this year’s vacation, we tried to focus on free or inexpensive ways to take mini vacations. We planned mini camping trips that were basically free, went to different lakes around the area for beach like effects (free), and even set aside a few days to go to local amusement parks. The amusement parks were not free, however, they made the kids smile just as much as Myrtle Beach does and were much less costly. We also are planning a week were we “vacation” at home. Each day we are going to set up a theme (for example, one day is a Mexico theme day). We will start the day off by making Mexican decorations, pinatas, and food, and celebrate throughout the day. This will keep the kids occupied and also allow them to experience a vacation at home.
Changing habits for some huge savings
There are many other ways to save money in this struggling economy which may not pertain to everybody. For example, people who use tobacco can save over $100 or more a month just by quitting. I know, it’s not as easy as it sounds, to give up the habit. If it is something that is too hard to tackle, rolling your own cigarettes can save you over $50 a month.
For those who like to be pampered, such as getting your hair, nails, and eyebrows done, you can save over $100 each month by doing these things from the comfort of your own home.
Lastly, shopping for free or discounted items on places such as Ebay or Craigslist can save you hundreds a month (for those unessary items we still tend to buy). An example may be that little playground toy you really want for your kids (but you really don’t need). It may be $100 at one of the typical big name toy stores, but under $20 on Craigslist. Sure it may have a few scratches, but a new one would have the scratches as well, after the first use.
There have been many tips and suggestions listed on how to save thousands of dollars, yearly. There are plenty of other ways to save as well. By being creative, bugeting, and eliminating unnessarsary costs from our lives, the possibilites of savings are endless.