The concept is easy—spend less than you earn. But in the real world, emergencies and the unexpected seem to sabotage your efforts.
To save money, a good first step is to create a budget to track what comes in and what goes out. Once you know where your money goes, you can begin to decide what is a need and what is a want.
If you’re dreaming of a relaxing retirement—or simply want to live without financial stress—you might want to try some of these money-saving tips.
How to Cut the Cost on Bills
Lowering your recurring bills can be one of the most effective ways to free up room in your budget. Your budget will help you keep tabs recurring bills, but you’ll need to use your discretion to decide which ones may not be cost-effective.
For some without ties to an area (work from home, no family in town, etc) may consider looking at a city where the cost of living is lower. Perhaps selling your car and giving up its big monthly payment for a less expensive car you can pay cash for. Have you considered giving up your vehicle? It’s possible depending on where you live. Take a trial run on the local bus or subway. Even a scooter may be an option. Its a big life change, but it has big financial savings to go along with it. Remember the costs of insurance, gas, and upkeep will be of great savings to you.
Seems everything is negotiable these days. Here are a few ideas:
- Negotiate your telecom bills: Internet, TV, and cellphone plans are monthly expenses you have some control over. Look into what exactly you’re paying for and see if you can cut out features or channels you don’t need. Consider Cutting the Cord and dropping cable altogether. Check your data usage, you may be able to lower your cell phone bill but getting a smaller data plan. The internet is a bit tricky but if your willing to put the time in, there are usually deals for the first year or two. Change to another internet provider to get the next promotion.
- Shop around for insurance: Maybe you got a great deal on auto, home or renters insurance when you first bought your policy, but it never hurts to shop around. You might find something that costs less and offers the same (or better) coverage. Be sure to use the same company for all your policies. Most give hefty discounts when you have multi policies with one company.
- Cut your energy usage: Small lifestyle changes such as turning off lights, installing LED bulbs and using smart plugs, can lead to lower utility bills throughout the year. You’ll be saving money and lowering your carbon footprint, a win-win. Also, remember electric companies have time to use discounts. Off-peak usage hours are a fraction of on peak. Call your local company and sign up.
If you’re a homeowner, consider home improvements that decrease your energy usage and make your home more comfortable. Installing insulation and replacing windows could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Some households can qualify for government assistance with weatherization.
How to Save Money on Groceries
Food often takes up a large portion of a family’s monthly expenses. Fortunately, there are a few tricks to help with the food budget.
- Invest in an air fryer or pressure cooker. Cooking at home rather than eating out is often cheaper and healthier and these appliances dinner is ready in 20 minutes.
- Make a menu at the beginning of the week can keep you from eating out when you’re overwhelmed or tired after a long day. Keep ingredients in stock at home for a few easy-to-make favorites as a backup option.
- Make a grocery list based on your week’s menu before you go to the store. Stick to the list once you’re there to save time and money. There are tons of digital coupons and grocery ads. If you take the time you can save 25 percent of your food bill. Better yet, base your menu on what is on sale.
- Be realistic about eating out occasionally and budget for the expense ahead of time. Look at Happy Hours
You can also look for ways to earn cashback or save money while shopping for groceries. Many supermarkets like Fry’s have apps you can use to find discounts. There are also third-party apps that offer rewards or cashback on qualifying purchases.
How to Save Money on Entertainment
- Game nights or potlucks with friends
- Volunteer opportunities in your community
- Free concerts or events, especially during the summer
Try putting a predetermined amount of money, say $100 every paycheck in a jar. That’s your entertainment budget. Go out once a month and spend it all, or stretch it and do free events and grab a happy hour bite and drink on the way. You will find what works for you.