As the wife and I save up for a possible move and, at the same time, I scrounge for money to start-up a business, we’ve been pinching pennies wherever possible. Unfortunately, because of our living situation, we spend a lot of money on rent and other fixed items (IRAs, cable/Internet bills, insurance, etc.).
But we’ve found that it is possible to easily save a lot of money, even if the margins for saving are low. Here’s 10 ways we immediately started saving money.
- Keep a budget
Because we keep a budget, we became much more conscious of how much we are spending. Having a ceiling on how much you can spend on any particular category makes you aware of your spending habits and keeps you from going beyond that.
- Stop Going Out to Eat
We used to allocate $200/month or so to dining out — around 4 meals for the two of us — and would often spend that, if not more.
Now, at the beginning of the month, we look at the calendar for special occasions — birthdays, holidays, etc. — and pencil in money for meal, and perhaps one more. Eating at home saves a boatload of money.
- Cancel Unecessary Bills
Find your newspaper subscription heading into the recycling bin everyday? Don’t even watch your Netflix movies? Get rid of it, or change your subscription. We were spending $22 a month for Thursday – Friday service; when we went to cancel, we ended up paying $.88 for the Sunday paper, which has …
- Coupons are Your Friend
There’s no reason to be ashamed of using coupons. You spend less money, you save more money.
- Use the Library and Other Things You Pay For
We thought we were saving money by renting movies from the movie store instead of going to the theater. We were, but now we get most of our movies from the library. They’re free, can normally be held for you, and can be kept for longer than most movie store rentals.
Keep in mind that the library is paid for with your tax dollars. Everyone hates paying taxes, but you since you have to, you may as well enjoy what you pay for.
- Cut Out Starbucks, Dunkin’s, etc.
Is Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks a stop on your way to work? Stop going. Make your coffee at home or buy some bagels and keep them in the fridge at work. Assuming you don’t go to Starbucks just to be cool, you won’t miss it — and you’ll cut out one major recurring cost.
- Travel Less
OK, this one does suck a little bit, and sometimes can’t be avoided, but the more you travel, the more you pay in gas. And gas is expensive. But if you’re deciding whether or not to take that daytrip to the outlet malls, well, just think about how far it is and how much sooner you will need to fill up.
- Go Outside and Play a Sport
This is obvious. If your TV and computer are turned off because you’re outside, you’re saving electricity and thus money. Play a sport that only requires a one-time payment for equipment or membership fees.
- Open a High-Yield Online Savings Account
Ever since I opened my ING Direct account, I’ve loved watching the money grow. Even if you only have some money to start it, you’ll want to put more in to make more money. (Shameless plug: If you open an account with this link and $250, you’ll get an additional $25 free, and you’ll make my day.)
- Stop Carrying Cash
I carry no cash in my wallet. Because I use only my debit card, all of my purchases are tracked in my online checking account and I’m much more aware of what I’m spending. I don’t make spur-of-the-moment purchases and I don’t forget to put my spending in my budget.
I hope these work for you as well as they did for me.
Sticking with these ways helped the wife and I save more than $1300 from a bad month to a good month, even when we got stuck with an auto insurance bill and some other must-pays.