Every year, thousands of people make new year’s resolutions to save money. Whether it’s to pay off debt, go on vacation, or to save for college, everyone’s reason is different. However, there is one thing we all have in common- a dollar saved is one step closer to our goal. To help kick-start your new year’s savings venture, here are seven ways to shave some expenses and put more pennies in the bank.
1. Establish a Budget
Beginning a budget can be time-consuming, but the results are well worth it. According to Dave Ramsey, budgeting author and speaker, “A budget doesn’t limit your freedom, it gives you freedom!”
The best way to go about creating a budget is to look at your expenses and see what you typically spend in a month. Most people have necessary expenses, like a mortgage and utilities, and then they have discretionary spending, like eating out and clothes shopping. Tally up your necessary expenses first, then deduct that amount from your income. The remainder is what you’ll have left to use for discretionary spending and saving. Set limits for your discretionary spending and keep to those limits, and put the rest in savings.
There are multiple tracking apps that help with budgeting and expense tracking. For some, using an envelope budgeting system can prove more successful. Although a bit more time consuming, seeing how much cash is left in each envelope is much more tangible, leaving you less likely to overspend.
2. Eliminate Credit Card Debt
Although charging items to a credit card can seem tempting, in the end you will likely pay much more for the item than the price you charged in the store. Interest fees add up over time, and minimum payments often only pay the interest on the balance owed, leaving you with continual debt.
3. Decrease Food Costs
Sure, we all need to eat. However, planning meals and choosing not to eat out can save a considerable amount of money over the span of a year. Planning meals around grocery store sales is a great way to save a few extra dollars, as well. Don’t forget to take advantage of any digital or paper coupons your store might offer, as well as any price matching they may honor.
4. Reduce Home Energy Use
Many electric or gas companies will offer a free or low-cost home energy audit. The audit may show ways to reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs, which just may be to get a new system. According to Steve Lewis, President and CEO of Ambient Edge, “A properly sized system suited to your home’s unique layout and demand is key. An undersized unit will need additional maintenance as it tries to heat or cool your home, while an oversized unit wastes fuel and energy.” A good rule of thumb is that a payback period of less than 3-5 years will usually save you a lot of money in the future.
5. Shop Around for Auto and Homeowner’s Insurance
Insurance is available from all types of providers, and if it’s been a while since you’ve obtained your policy it might be beneficial to get some quotes and see if you can find something cheaper. With today’s technology it is often as easy as getting online and filling out a form. If you’re not comfortable with that, some insurance agencies will do the shopping for you, and recommend a reliable and affordable insurance carrier that will suit your needs.
6. Take Advantage of Reduced Prices
When saving money, it’s important to check around and see if any places offer reduced prices on certain days of the week or at certain times of day. Opt to see a matinee as opposed to a more expensive evening movie, and eat before you go to avoid spendy concession costs. Many restaurants have days or times when kids eat free with a paying adult. If you’re planning on going to a specific place, check online before you go to see if there are any coupons available. Saving money doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything fun, it just means that you are more purposeful about what you do and when you do it.
7. Reduce Driving Time
Spending less time driving around saves on gas, and you might be surprised how much can be saved. Plan weekly trips to the grocery store and make sure you get everything you need in one trip. Carpool if possible, and take turns with other parents to drive kids to and from events.
Taking care of your vehicle can help save on gas mileage, as well. Properly inflated tires, a clean air filter, and a happy engine all help contribute to a cheaper amount at the gas pump.