Everyone is trying to squeeze more and more out of their hard-earned dollars. Do you end the month wondering where all your money went? If you are feeling the pinch, it could be time to rein in your spending. The good news is that it’s not as hard to cut back as you may think. Here are some easy, painless ways you can start saving today.
Tips to Cutting Monthly Costs
For people whose answer to “what’s for dinner?” is “reservations,” this suggestion might not actually seem painless but it really is a good way to spend less. If you eat out several times during the week cutting back just a little can make a real difference in your bottom line.
Eating at home can also be healthier. A recent U.S. News & World Report article cites a study conducted by the University of Washington’s Center for Public Health Nutrition that showed that people who ate more at home not only spent less on food, but their diets also scored higher on the U.S. Healthy Eating Index which measures diet quality.
Think of all the money you spend each week on food – a coffee and muffin on the way to work, takeout at lunchtime, a date night dinner, concession stand snacks at the movies, and so on. All those expenses add up. Prepare more meals at home and you could save a pretty penny that could be used to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, or buy something really special.
Avoid out-of-network ATMs
The surcharges imposed when you use “out of network” ATM machines can add up to a lot. Between the convenience fee you pay for the ATM and the fee you get charged by your bank, you could be paying $6, $8 or even more each time you exercise the “privilege” of accessing your own money.
Avoid getting socked with these extra fees by only using ATMs that are in your bank’s network. If your bank’s ATMs are not convenient to you, consider making just one or two trips a month to your bank or bank-affiliated ATM to make a withdrawal. Plan ahead and decide how much cash you might need for the month and take out that amount.
Pay with cash
Debit and credit cards make it all too easy to overspend. When possible, put away the plastic and pay with cash. People tend to spend less when using cash. Why? Because when you’re holding the dollars in your hand, you can see that it’s actual, real money, and it’s harder to let it go. It’s a connection you don’t have when you use credit or debit cards. Use debit cards cautiously and save your credit cards for emergencies only.
Bankrate reports that “When it comes to ditching debt, cash is king.” Read this article to learn more about the benefits of paying with cash.
Examine your car insurance
Car insurance premiums can be a significant chunk of your monthly budget. Some of the factors that influence the rate you pay are your gender, age, and marital status, with single males under age 25 paying the most. While some things are beyond your control, there may be other ways you can lower your car insurance rates. Completing a defensive driver course, installing car security features, and setting a higher deductible are just a few of the things you can do that may be able to reduce your premium. If you are unsure of what discounts you may be eligible for – including possible military discounts – call your insurance company and ask. And don’t be afraid to compare rates with other insurance carriers. There may be another company out there that is less expensive.
Buy generic for certain items
Everyone is brand loyal to a certain extent. We all love a particular brand of paper towels, tomato sauce, laundry detergent, etc. But brand names typically cost more than generic items. In fact, quite a bit more. In this Bankrate article, Teri Gault, author of “Shop Smart, Save More” said, “Generally, store brands are about 40 percent less than their name-brand counterparts.” She said they are also as good as them.
Since you really can save so much by shopping generic, it can be worth making the switch to store brand for certain items. Buy a few generic products and see if you like them. If you don’t, next time purchase your regular brands and buy other store-name products.
That being said, there are some things the experts say, you shouldn’t buy generic. Read this CBS Moneywatch article for advice on what you may want to stay away from.
Can’t break yourself away from your favorite brands? Don’t forget about using coupons! They are an easy and excellent way to save. Read these Omni articles for tips on where to find coupons and how to make the most of them.