With times being tough and all, saving money wherever possible (whether its a few cents or $100) is worth it. Here are my top 10 suggestions for saving money. These are probably things you all have heard of before and may or may not already do, but think about trying just one or two more of them and watch the savings start to add up.
1. Cut the Starbucks Addiction - I too was once a Starbucks junkie, and while those lattes are oh so tasty and comforting, they are also oh-so-expensive! It was hard to cut it out but when I realized how much we were actually saving each week by not going it was astonishing! I am not asking you to quit drinking coffee all together, you can make your own coffee at home for a fraction of the cost. We buy flavored coffee creamer to add to our home brewed coffee and I have actually come to prefer this over Starbucks in the mornings.
It really does add up: 1 grande Starbucks mocha = $4.16 with tax. Multiply that x 5 (mon-fri) = $20.80/week. Multiply that x 4 (weeks per month) - $83.22. Multiply that x 12 (months per year) = $998.40! Ok now, if you and your spouse have the same addiction (just like we did) multiply that x 2 = $1996.80/year just on 32 oz of milk, coffee and flavoring 5 times a week! YIKES!! Plus we usually went on the weekends too! We do still go out for coffee every now and then but it isn't every day anymore and we have seen a huge savings from this.
2. Drink Water & Bottle Your Own - Here in Washington we are lucky enough to have some of the cleanest tap water in the nation. Cut out buying bottles of water and just fill a re-usable one every day. Not only is this environmentally sound, it's wallet-friendly too.
Also, try and drink water instead of juice or soda. Juice is loaded with sugar and even diet soda is loaded with salt, so your health will likely benefit as well.
3. Go to the Library - Instead of rushing out to the bookstore to buy that newly released book for $25, rush to your local library instead. The library probably got a couple of copies too and you can borrow theirs for free. You can also borrow DVD's from the library for free and you get to keep them for a week, so you can stop heading to the video rental store too!
4. Rent Videos Online or from Redbox - If you are a family that likes to watch movies a lot, like us, it isn't very practical to spend $3/night for one movie at Blockbuster. You can head to any Redbox location and rent movies for $1/night. Netflix is a great option as well. It has a monthly fee but if you watch enough movies it is totally worth it and they have a lot of movies you can watch online as well.
5. Invest in an Entertainment Book - These books are worth the investment if you live in a city or suburb. The cost totally pays for itself over and over with the coupons inside. Our family eats out a lot and this was a way for us to eat out at 1/2 the cost plus try out new restaurants we wouldn't have normally tried before. There are also great coupons for discount movie tickets, retail stores and grocery store coupons! I bought my 2009 book pretty late in the spring so it was 1/2 off the normal cost + free shipping. With all the coupons we have used we have saved well over $100!!
I also trade coupons with other book holders via craigslist. There are several coupons in the book for places we probably would not go to so I put up an ad on craigslist to trade coupons for ones we would use!
6. Get Rid of the Land Line - Do you use your cell phone more than you use your land line? Ditch the land-line and use your cell as your primary phone line. This can save you quite a bit of money per month. Or if you can't do that, call your cable provider and ask what kind of packages they can offer that bundle your cable, internet and phone for one bill per month. Our provider actually gives us the land-line for free as part of our package. Since this is only on a special for 1 year we will call them and cancel the line as soon as the special ends so we don't have to pay the monthly fee.
Another option is to cut the cable all together and watch your favorite shows online. Most networks have their primetime shows loaded onto their websites and you can watch them for free. This is not something we will do in our household unless times were to get really tough, but it is always an option.
7. Brown Bag Your Lunches - Eating lunch out costs anywhere from $5-$10 each day. If you bring a sandwich or dinner leftovers from home for lunch just 2-3 days per week you will see a substantial amount of savings over the course of a year.
8. Walk instead of Drive - With gas prices skyrocketing it will save you money to walk or take the bus whenever possible. I am fortunate enough to live pretty close to the grocery store so when I don't have a lot to buy I will pack my daughter into the stroller and walk there. I can load the groceries into the stroller and then walk home loaded to the brim! There is a very large hill on the way home but I just see it as a way to get in a good workout. This way I don't need to pay for a gym membership either, which also saves over $30/month.
9. Dye Your Thumb Green! - Having a small garden is an excellent way to cut money on produce year round. You can grow your own fruits and vegetables and freeze what you can't use for the winter months. Don't have room for a garden? I would love to have a larger area in my yard for a garden, but alas, I don't, so I have a couple of planters on our patio where I grow tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, basil and garlic. It isn't much, but remember, every little bit helps! Buying a tomato start at the home store for $1.99 is better than spending $2.99/lb at the grocery store.
10. Price Check and Avoid Impulse Buying - When you have a large purchase to make, do some online research before running to your nearest department store to buy it. Find out where you can buy the same product for the cheapest price. A lot of the time you can find online coupon codes and sales that make big purchases cheaper to buy online, even with shipping costs. One of my favorite websites is http://www.pricegrabber.com/ it searches the internet for you and tells you where you can find the best price online. Also, have you considered possibly buying the item used? My husband and I are big fans of craigslist. I think the best purchase we have made from there is our couch. We found this couch at Costco and loved it but didn't know if we could afford it. We happened to check craigslist and got really lucky. A guy had bought the same couch at Costco, brought it home but it didn't fit in his living room. I am not sure why he didn't just take the couch back to Costco but we bought it from him for $60 cheaper and didn't have to pay sales tax either.
Alternatively, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" or "I need this, but do I really need it today?" Maybe you can hold off on buying it for one week or one month, or maybe even one year. With all the money you are saving, you probably will be able to afford it in a few months or you may decide after living without it that it actually isn't something you really do need.
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