Save money on gasoline, insurance, entertainment…and life!
We all want to save money, but finding practical ways to do so can be a bit of a challenge. The money we save today can cover tomorrows expenses, perhaps paying for a new car down the road or funding your child’s education. Saving money does not have to be a painful proposition you can employ a multi-prong approach that will not leave you feeling squeezed, but can help you feel at least a little bit richer.
1. Gasoline — You have been fueling your car with premium gasoline for years, but does it really need the higher grade to run efficiently? Chances are it does not. Check your owners manual and find the recommended grade of gasoline for your vehicle. If regular grade is recommended then use that use a higher grade only if such fuel is required.
2. Commuting — Your costs for getting back and forth to work can add up. With gasoline prices flirting with $4 per gallon, alternatives should be employed. Buying a new car will cost you, instead share your commuting costs by carpooling. If carpooling is impractical, ask your boss about telecommuting, even if that is for only one day a week. Some businesses have gotten into the mix by allowing employees to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
3. Credit Cards — If you owe money on your credit cards, your interest rate alone can sink your budget. Before you begin a savings plan, you should tackle your debt, paying it off as soon as possible. Where your savings accounts may yield an interest rate of one or two percent, your credit card can quite easily charge your 12, 15, even 18 percent. Consolidate your credit card bills to a lower interest rate credit card too, if possible. Then pay down your consolidated debt as quickly as possible.
4. Food — How much does your family spend on food each week? Probably a lot more than you think. According to the USDA, a family of four with pre-teen children in the home spend $236.30 per week on average. Thats more than $1,000 per month and over $12,000 per year! Clipping coupons is an obvious place to start, but your choice of grocer can make a big difference too. If you join a warehouse club such as Sam’s, Costco or BJs, you can easily shave off 10 percent to more than 30 percent from your food bill. You can also reduce your costs by avoiding prepared foods and by growing at least some of your fruits and vegetables in your own garden.
5. Entertainment — You do not want to be a killjoy when it comes to entertainment. After all, it is our leisurely pursuits that add value to our lives and can bring us much pleasure. Your entertainment costs can, however, bust any budget. But, savings can be realized in small ways too as well as in large ones. Consider the following options when cutting your entertainment costs 1) Take in a matinee instead of a primetime feature. Better yet, rent your movies instead. 2) Cut your cable costs by opting for a basic plan. Consider switching to a satellite dish if that option comes in cheaper. 3) Check out books from the library instead of buying them. When buying, choose iTunes or eBooks to pay for new releases. 4) Buy season passes if you attend the same venue frequently throughout the year. This would include a zoo, an amusement park or a golf course. 5) Use coupons when eating out and eat out less often. Home cooked meals take longer to prepare, but are better for you.
6. Utilities — You have cable, your phone and Internet connection, but your costs are greatly inflated because you buy each of these services separately. Combine your utility services to one company and save. Better yet, if you do not need a landline, then lose it use your cell phone to connect with people instead. Choose a cell phone plan that is transparent too various add on costs can drive up the cost of your cell phone service too.
7. Insurance — Life insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, auto insurance and homeowners insurance. Chances are you have more than one provider for these and other insurance plans. However, if you were to bundle your plans, then your insurance costs would be reduced by at least 10 percent. Raise your deductibles and drop insurance coverage that you no longer need such as collision coverage on that 15-year-old sedan in your family fleet.
With the money that you save, you can put into place a savings strategy that help you reach your goals. Do this by marking down your short-, mid- and long-range savings goals.
Your short-range goals may include saving enough money to pay cash for a new sweater or a video game. Your mid-range goals could possibly include setting aside money weekly to have enough funds to take a vacation next summer or a cruise the following winter. Your long-range goals might include saving money for retirement, paying for your grandchild’s education or paying cash for a new car.
Once you have set up your goals, begin to fund these accounts with the money that you save elsewhere. Be reasonable with your goals and you will reach them, perhaps attaining significant savings along the way. Adjust your savings plan on an annual basis as you get raises at work or make more money elsewhere.
See Also — Car Insurance Savings for the New Year