TO DAY LIVING
BASIC HINTS TO SAVE MONEY
(The information in this article and associated information is presented in good faith to assist you in saving money. However LifeSkills International has no control over conditions surrounding the application of this information. Betty Eddy, Echod Enterprise and LifeSkills International do not recommend any links, are not responsible for results nor can they guarantee the results and disclaim any liability associated with this information.) If you have any suggestions you would like to add to this information, email me
TO DAY LIVING
When buying food items in potentially reusable containers, consider what size containers you could reuse. A smaller size may be slightly more expensive, but if you could use that container over and over again, it is worth it.
Buy reusable glass and plastic containers. The firmer plastics don't leach chemicals as readily as softer plastic.
Use oven and appliances that heat a room in the evening when temperatures are lowest.
Cook large quantities at a time.
Do not use your oven to heat rooms.
Wash full dishwasher loads only. Air dry if you don't need to sanitize.
Use licorice to save money on straws by biting off the ends.
Wash and dry full loads of laundry. Wash in cold water unless you need to sanitize.
Hang clothes on a clothesline
Buy separates that coordinate.
Buy quality. It will last longer. When buying shoes, be certain they are comfortable before you walk out the door. A nice pair of shoes that hurt your feet are a needless waste of money.
Stick with basics that don't change from year to year.
Keep a slow cooker or crockpot filled with water in the winter to keep
moisture in the air and make the room feel warmer.
Overhead fans help you feel cooler, but don't actually cool a room. Turn fans off when no one is in the room.
Turn lights out when leaving a room
Schedule your highest usage during non-peak hours and during the coolest time of day.
Do not leave your laptop or computer in sleep mode. Turn it off instead.
Consult Consumer Reports, available in most public libraries, for information about specific appliance brands and models and how to evaluate them, including energy use. There are often great price and quality differences. Look for the yellow Energy Guide label on products, and especially for products that have earned the government's ENERGY STAR, which can save up to 50% in energy use.
Once you've selected a specific brand and model, check the Internet or yellow pages to learn what stores carry the brand. Call at least four of these stores to compare prices and ask if that's the lowest price they can offer you. This comparison shopping can save you as much as $100 or more. This applies to small appliances as well as large.
Enrolling in load management programs and off-hour rate programs offered by your electric utility may save you up to $100 a year in electricity costs. Call your electric utility for information about these cost-saving programs.
The difference in long-distance costs varies. Shop around. MagicJack charges $20 for the USB connection and $20 a year for service and long distance is free in the USA. It also works well as a backup for a cell phone.
Check your phone bill to see if you have optional calling features or additional services, such as inside wire maintenance, that you don't need. Each option you drop could save you $40 or more each year.
If you make very few toll or long distance calls, avoid calling plans with monthly fees or minimums. Or consider disconnecting the service altogether and use dial around services such as 10-10 numbers or prepaid phone cards for your calls. When shopping for dial around service, look for fees, call minimum, and per minute rates. Treat prepaid cards as cash and find out if there is an expiration date.
If you use a cell phone, make sure your calling plan matches the pattern of calls you typically make. Understand peak calling periods, area coverage, roaming, and termination charges. Contracts offered by most carriers will provide you with a trial period of 14 days or more. Use that time to make sure the service provides coverage in all the places you will be using the phone (home, work etc.). Prepaid wireless plans tend to have higher per minute rates and fees but may be a better option if you use the phone only occasionally.
Before making calls when away from home, compare per minute rates and surcharges for cell phones, prepaid phone cards, and calling card plans to find how to save the most money.
Dial your long distance calls directly. Using an operator to place the call can cost you up to $10 extra. To save money on information calls, look the number up on the Internet, or in the directory.
For free calls to information call 1-800-373-3411. You may have to listen to an ad, but the call is free.
Substitute Turkey for chicken. It's even healthier.
If you must have beef, consider the cheaper braising steak. Also try and buy from your local butcher. They have prime cuts at good prices AND will pack and prepare your meat in the right sizes for you and your family.
Many stores reduce prices late at night. Look for meat that is ready to expire and is now marked down. It can last up to 6 months in your freezer.
Avoid take outs. It is cheaper to buy and cook the meal yourself.
Don't buy something you won't use just because it's on sale. Three of something not needed is a waste of money if you only need one and cannot store the other 2.
Saving $20 a week on your grocery bill saves over $1000 a year.
Make a list and follow it. Eat before you go grocery shopping and promise yourself you will not impulse buy.
Make your weekly menu based on sales for that week.
Wal-Mart honors sales in other grocery store flyers. If a store is selling their generic brand, you can buy Wal-Mart's generic brand for that price.
Stock up on what you often use when it is on sale. Perishable foods and canned goods should be placed in back and older items used first.
If you use national brands, use coupons. $1.50 invested in the Sunday newspaper could save you $20 or more at the checkout. Be aware of the expiration date. Businesses are using shorter periods when coupons can be used. Organize the coupons by type, so as you develop a shopping list and make a notation if you have a coupon.
Store brands or generics are usually equal to the national brands in quality, and are less expensive.
Shop at the store that is the cheapest overall and plan on going to more than one store. Surveys have shown that there is sometimes as much as 10-15% difference on identical grocery orders at 2 different stores in the same area. This can apply to the same company. If you spend $500 a month on groceries, that can equate to $600 to $900 a year in savings. You may find that driving slightly farther can save you money in the long run. (I bought something at Wal-Mart for $59.95, found it at HEB Grocery for $49.95 and even cheaper at another grocery, Kroger's for $35.95.)
Start a garden. Use seeds that are not hybrids because hybrid foods are sterile. Non-hybrid fruits and vegetable seeds from the vegetable can be replanted and produce a crop again.
If you don't have room for a garden, grow plants in pots. Use hydroponics which is a plant grown in water instead of dirt.
You may be able to go together with other people or rent a plot of land for a garden.
Start a compost pile with coffee grounds, peelings. Look up on the internet on how to have a compost pile.
Buy fruit and nut trees instead of ornamental trees.
Can or dry your food.
Buy large sections of beef grown in your general area. If you cannot freeze it all, can it. If you cannot afford a large section, go in with others and share.
Consider having meat only once or twice a week and filling in with other protein foods such as beans and rice or beans and corn. These are complete proteins and, if you have a problem with gas, the more you eat gassy foods, the more your body acclimates to it and the gas becomes less of a problem.
You can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing price-per-ounce or other unit prices on shelf labels. Stock up on those items with low per-unit costs.
You may save by including a Saturday evening stay-over or by purchasing the ticket at least 14 days in advance. Ask which days of the week and times of the day have the lowest fare.
Even if you are using a travel agent, check airline and Internet travel sites, and look for special deals. If you call, always ask for the lowest fare to your destination.
Rental car companies offer various insurance and waiver options. Check with your automobile insurance agent and credit card company in advance to avoid duplicating any coverage you may already have.
Having selected a model and options you are interested in, you can save hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping. Get price quotes from several dealers (over the phone or Internet) and let each know you are contacting the others.
Remember there is no "cooling off" period on new car sales.
Once you have signed a contract, you are obligated to buy the car.
- Have a mechanic you trust check the car, especially if the car is sold "as is."
Consider purchasing a used car from an individual you know and trust. They are more likely than other sellers to charge a lower price and point out any problems with the car.
Pay cash for any vehicle you buy. Consider maintenance, insurance and
Leasing a car is very complicated. When shopping, consider the price of the car (known as the capitalized cost), your trade-in allowance, any down payment, monthly payments, various fees (excess mileage, excess "wear and tear," end-of-lease), and the cost of buying the car at the end of the lease. A valuable source of information about auto leasing can be found in Keys to Vehicle Leasing: A Consumer Guide, which is published by the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission.
You can save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure.
Cheap gas has no additives and may contain water which can damage your vehicle.
Keep your vehicle maintenance up to avoid major repairs.
Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times.
Avoid using the car air conditioner when it is not really hot. Car air conditioners alone can take up to 20% in gas.
Use your cruise control to save even more gas.
Watch your driving habits. Driving fast and putting your foot on the brakes takes more gas and wears on your brakes.
Consumers lose billions of dollars each year on unneeded or poorly done
car repairs. The most important step that you can take to save money on
these repairs is to find a skilled, honest mechanic. Before you need repairs,
look for a mechanic who:
You can save several hundred dollars a year by purchasing auto insurance
from a licensed, low price insurer. Call your state insurance department
for a publication showing typical prices charged by different companies.
Then call at least four of the lowest-priced, licensed insurers to learn
what they would charge you for the same coverage.
Make certain that your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive fewer than a predetermined number of miles a year.
When you get homeowners, car and life insurance from the same company, you get a break.
For more information go to Saving on Homeowners Insurance.
You can save several hundred dollars a year on homeowner insurance and up to $50 a year on renter insurance by purchasing insurance from a low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different licensed companies.
Call at least four of the lowest priced insurers to learn what they would charge you. If such a publication is not available, it is even more important to call at least four insurers for price quotes.
Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace the house and its contents. "Replacement" on the house means rebuilding to its current condition.
Make certain your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
If you want to buy a whole life, universal life, or other cash value policy, plan to hold it for at least 15 years. Canceling these policies after only a few years can more than double your life insurance costs.
the National Association of Insurance
Commissioner's website or your local library for information on the
financial soundness of insurance companies.
See if you can get free or lower cost checking through direct deposit or agreeing to ATM only use. Be aware of charges for using an ATM not associated with your financial institution.
To earn the highest return on savings (annual percentage yield) with little or no risk, consider certificates of deposit (CDs) or U.S. Savings Bonds (Series I or EE).
To avoid late payment fees and possible interest rate increases on your credit cards, make sure you send in your payment a week to ten days before the statement due date. Late payments on one card can increase fees and interest rates on other cards.
You can avoid interest charges, which may be considerable, by paying off your entire bill each month. If you are unable to pay off a large balance, pay as much as you can. Try to shift the remaining balance to a credit card with a lower annual percentage rate (APR). You can find listings of credit card plans, rates, and terms on the Internet, in personal finance magazines, and in newspapers.
Be aware that credit cards with rebates, cash back, travel awards, or other perks may carry higher rates or fees.
Make certain to get a rate quote (or pre-approved loan) from your bank or credit union before seeking dealer financing. You can save as much as $1000 in finance charges by shopping for the cheapest loan.
Make certain to consider the dollar difference between low-rate financing and a lower sale price. Remember that getting zero or low-rate financing from a dealer may prevent you from getting the rebate.
You can save thousands of dollars in interest charges by shopping for the lowest-rate mortgage with the fewest points. On a 15-year $100,000 fixed-rate mortgage, just lowering the APR from 7% to 6.5% can save you more than $5,000 in interest charges over the life of the loan, and paying two points instead of three would save you an additional $1,000.
Check the Internet or your local newspaper for mortgage rate surveys, then call several lenders for information about their rates (APRs), points, and fees. If you choose a mortgage broker, make certain to compare their offers with those of direct lenders.
Be aware that the interest rate on most adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) can vary a great deal over the lifetime of the loan. An increase of several percentage points might raise payments by hundreds of dollars a month, so ask the lender what the highest possible monthly payment might be.
Sell any homes that you don't live in before the value goes down.
Compare home equity loans offered by at least four reputable lending institutions. Consider the interest rate on the loan and the annual percentage rate (APR), which includes other costs, such as origination fees, discount points, mortgage insurance, and other fees. Ask if the rate changes, and if so, how it is calculated and how frequently, as this will affect the amount of your monthly payments.
Do not purchase any house until it has been examined by a home inspector that you selected.
Remember that signing a lease probably obligates you to make all monthly payments for the term of the agreement.
Do not sign any contract that requires full payment before satisfactory
completion of the work.
Since pharmacies may charge widely different prices for the same medicine, call several. When taking a drug for a long time, also consider calling mail-order pharmacies, which often charge lower prices.
For information about the least costly options, which may save you several thousand dollars, contact a local Funeral Consumer Alliance or memorial society, which are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under funeral services.
Before selecting a funeral home, call several and ask for prices of specific
goods and services, or visit them to obtain an itemized price list. You
are entitled to this information by law.
Lowermybills.com offers comparisons on a variety of topics from mortgages to photography.
An excellent resource for comparisons is Lending
Tree Mortgage Loans where you can submit a loan request form and within
3 business days get up to 4 offers from competing lending institutions.
If you receive unexpected cash, put all or most of it into your savings,
but continue to set aside your regularly scheduled amount as well.
Do not go out "window shopping" with any money in your pocket. You will only be tempted to spend money you cannot afford to lose. Only shop with a predetermined shopping list.
After a long week of working, you may believe you have the right to indulge in some luxury. Tell yourself, "Of course I deserve this, but can I afford it? If I can't afford it, I'm still a worthy person, and I still deserve to meet my savings goals!"
Unless you're in truly desperate financial straits (like 10 seconds from eviction and your three children are starving) don't try to cut corners connected to health. Basic preventative care for yourself, your family, and your pets might cost you a $60 office visit or a $30 heartworm pill today, but the skipping it will contribute to expensive problems and heartache down the road. http://afewtips.com/articles/home-and-family/tips-for-saving-money has more tips on saving money.
YOUR SAVINGS GOAL
Keep a record of your expenses. What you save falls between two activities and their difference - how much you make and how much you spend. Look at sales slips and see what you are spending money on now. Since you have more control over how much you spend, it's wise to take a critical look at your expenses. Write down everything you spend your money on for a couple weeks or a month. Be as detailed as possible, and try not to leave out small purchases. Assign each purchase or expenditure a category such as: Rent, Car insurance, Car payments, Phone Bill, Cable Bill, Utilities, Gas, Food, Entertainment, etc. Keep a small notebook with you at all times. Get in the habit of recording every expense and saving the receipts. Sit down once a week with your small notebook and receipts. Record your expenses in a larger notebook or a spreadsheet program.
Consider how you want things to change. Making a journal of your expenses and your savings helps you look at it and make changes, but also helps you see how far you have come. Set a specific date along with a desired amount that you wish to save.
Take a serious look at your spending records after a month or two have passed. You'll probably be surprised when you look back at your record of expenses: $300 on ice cream, $100 on parking tickets? You'll likely see some obvious cuts you can make. Depending on how much you need to save, however, you may need to make some difficult decisions. Think about your priorities, and make cuts you can live with. Calculate how much those cuts will save you per year, and you'll be much more motivated to pinch pennies.
Subtract your expenses (the ones you can't live without) from your take-home income (i.e. after taxes have been taken out). What is the difference? And does it match up with your savings goals? Let's say you've decided you can definitely get by on $1500 per month, and your paychecks amount to $2300 per month. That leaves you with $800 to save. If there's absolutely no way you can fit all your savings goals into your budget, take a look at what you're saving for and cut the less important things or adjust the timeframe. Maybe you need to put off buying a new car for another year, or maybe you don't really need a big-screen TV that badly.
Once you've managed to balance your earnings with your savings goals and spending, write down a budget so you'll know each month or each paycheck how much you can spend on any given thing or category of things. This is especially important for expenses which tend to fluctuate, or which you know you're going to have a particularly hard time restricting. (E.g. "I will only spend $30 a month on movies/chocolate/coffee/etc.")
Stop using credit cards. Pay for everything with cash. It's easier to
overspend when you're pulling from a bank or credit account because you
don't know exactly how much is in there. If you have cash, you can see
your supply running low. You can even bundle up the predetermined amount
of cash allocated for each expense with a label or keep separate jars
for each expense (e.g. a bundle/jar for coffee, another for gas, another
for miscellaneous). As you pull money from a jar for that particular expense,
you'll see how much remains and you'll also be reminded of your limit.
Consider your upcoming needs, beginning with biggest items first to the smallest items. Those include Shelter, food, clothing, transportation. Just about everything else is not a need. It has become a luxury. You don't need cable. When you are ready to buy something, consider if it is a want or a need. Could you live without it even though you are used to having it? If it means the item or going without food, which takes priority. If you are willing to go without food, take the money you would save, and save it until you can pay cash for your item.
As you are ready to throw something away, look at it and consider if you can possibly use it for storage.
Borrow or rent what you need instead of buying it. That works for anything from a book to a backhoe.
Take care of your debt first. Start by paying off the small debts, paying a little more than needed on each payment, then take the amount you were spending on that debt to pay off the next larger debt and so on until the debt is paid off. You may have to take on another job to bring in more money. When all debt is paid off, start saving your money.
Open a savings account. It's easier to keep track of your savings if you have them separate from your spending money. You can usually get better interest on savings accounts than on checking accounts. Senior citizens can usually get all accounts with no charges. This includes a variety of extras as well.
Be aware of how much you have in the bank before you spend any more. If you accidentally overdraw your bank account, you will incur bank fees and the place you paid with that check may add a bounced check fee as well and send the check in again, resulting in a second overdraft fee from the bank! A few cents missing to cover that check could result in over $100 in fees.
Deposit savings into an account (or your piggybank) as soon as you get paid. Consider depositing 10% of every check in a savings account.
Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account and/or retirement.
Money Savings Ebook "66 Ways to Save Money" is now being
distributed in English and Spanish by CFA and the FCIC. A grant from MoneyManagement
International, a nonprofit community service organization offering free
credit counseling and financial education (visit www.MoneyManagement.org
or call 1-866-490-5362), covers the cost of printing. For an online version
of this brochure, go to www.66ways.org. For information on bulk orders
contact: Save Money, Consumer Federation of America, 1620 Eye Street,
NY, Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20006 or email email@example.com
. The information from this book is found within each category.
- Check out powertosave.com to compare electricity prices. Spring and fall prices are normally lowest.