You have a budget, and you stick to it. You don’t have a lot of “extra” expenses, and you barely remember the last thing you bought anything that was just for you. You feel like you’re doing everything just right, and yet somehow, you’re still just scraping by, constantly asking yourself, “How I can save more money?” You’re doing great–but there are a few things you might not have thought of.
Conserve gas by making one big trip instead of multiple small ones. The gas is already in your car, so you may not think about budgeting it until the time comes to get more. Luckily, gas prices are pretty low across the country right now–but it’s still an expense that you can cut down on by making fewer trips out of the house. Instead of “running out real quick” to pick up a gallon of milk, try stopping to pick it up on your way home from work. Bundle small errands–the bank, post office, and library, for example–into one bigger trip to save on gas.
Only grocery shop every two weeks (or every month). You’re more likely to “cheat” the same amount on your grocery budget each time that you go, picking up splurge items each time you walk through the doors–and for a lot of people, grocery items don’t count as “cheating.” You have to eat, right? Sure…but you don’t have to eat candy bars, or chips, or ice cream. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have those treats; it just means that you shouldn’t make extra trips for them, and when they’re gone, they’re gone until the next grocery run.
Don’t make small runs to pick up things that you’ve run out of unless it’s a vital ingredient for a dish you have to have; and when you do go, pick up exactly what you need and walk out again. This will help prevent impulse purchases. Also, take a bottle of water with you, and don’t shop hungry.
Drink water. Tea, soda, juice…they all add up, especially if you’re sharing with your kids. Try drinking water instead. It’s healthier–even juice in too high quantities isn’t good for your kids–and it will save you a lot of money each week. Learn to take a bottle with you when you leave the house–not a cheap plastic bottle, but a reusable one that you fill up whenever you’re headed out the door. This will keep you from purchasing soda or tea on impulse just because you’re thirsty.
Develop patience. See something you just “have” to have? Unless it’s already on your list of things you’re picking up that day, put it down and come back in a week. If you still want it, see if it fits into your budget. If not, it probably wasn’t something you really wanted in the first place–just an impulse buy that you likely would have forgotten about in a couple of days even if you’d bought it.
Developing patience applies to other things, too. Learn to wait to see movies when they come out on DVD instead of the moment they hit the theaters. Check out books that you won’t read again and again from the library instead of buying them–or wait for them to come out in paperback instead of buying them in hardback. It will take a little bit longer for you to get the reward you’re waiting for, but the financial payoff will be well worth it.
Contact your service providers. That means your cable provider, your internet provider, even your phone company (cell phone and land line). See if they have current promotions that you’re eligible for. Ask if there’s any way you can lower your bill. You should check with your cell phone provider, in particular, at least once every six months–you may be eligible for their current promotions, which will help you save money on your cell phone bill. Check in with other providers at least once a year. You never know when a few minutes on the phone will save you money.
Allot yourself spending money out of each paycheck. When that money is gone, it’s gone until the next check–and that means that you don’t spend money on anything but necessary bills. It’s a hard habit to get used to, but it’s well worth it when you start to see the savings add up.
Don’t spend change. If you’re keeping track of your purchases from a debit card, that means that you round up to the next dollar amount. If you’re using cash, you don’t spend change no matter how much there is of it–you just drop it straight into a jar when you get home. The trick to this is always rounding up to the next dollar, even when it’s less than ten cents). You’ll never notice the difference when you’re doing it, but the savings will add up over the course of the month.