Everyone wants to save money, but they want to do it in a way that does not compromise their lifestyle too much. Here are some tips and tricks on how to cut costs and save money.
- Have a visible list of financial goals: Taking the time to write down your short- and long-term financial goals make them more real. Even better, put them in an accessible place so you can refer to them before making any major purchases. Learn how to use the SMART acronym to make your financial goals.
- Record your expenses: Have you ever used a diet app? One of the first things they advise you to do is record every bite you eat. Yes, every bite! It’s time-consuming, but it works. Most people lose track of the calories they eat during the day. The same thing happens with money. A coffee here, lunch at a restaurant there, and before you know it, you have spent your monthly discretionary income, and it is only the 10th of the month.
- Make a budget: Use the 50/30/20 plan to determine how much you need to pay your bills, how much discretionary income you have and how much you can put into savings. Once you know your discretionary income, make a budget.
- Review your subscriptions: Consider your entertainment, magazines, newspapers, cellphone, and memberships. After making a list, record the last time you used the subscription, how often it renews, whether or not the renewal is automatic, whether there are any late fees, etc. Most people have subscriptions they do not use and perhaps have forgotten they have. Reviewing your subscriptions is especially important for those who work from home now. Your priorities may have changed, which may affect your subscription choices.
- Check for discounts: Discounts are available for groups such as seniors. Sometimes these discounts are only available on certain days of the week or after getting a membership card. Discounts can save up to 20 percent on groceries and even at some fast-food restaurants.
- Evaluate your supermarket bills: With all the options we have for food shopping, including delivery, online, pick up at the store, and in the store, your priorities may have changed. You may have used the local supermarket by your house because it was on your way home from work, even if it is a bit pricy. Another store that delivers and is less expensive may be a better option once you compare prices. It may even save you time.
- Consider generics: Speaking of the supermarket, have you considered generic brands of food and drinks? Generic brands can include store brands and private labels. The cost of store-brand foods and beverages is at least 20 to 25 percent less than name-brand products. Staples such as dairy, grains, spices, and condiments can be a lot cheaper. Next time you are in the store, compare the cost per ounce. Sometimes the generic is not cheaper, but often it is.
- Use digital coupons: Most stores accept both paper and digital coupons. Joining a loyalty program can save you even more. Watch for days when your favorite stores offer double or even triple coupon values.
- Track prices: You can add apps to your browser to track prices for you when shopping online, or you can keep track yourself. Prices fluctuate depending on the day of the week, whether you recently put an item in a cart online or even based on what browser you are using to shop.
- Avoid impulse buying: Try to make a list before shopping and stick to it. Your grocery store may even have an online app you can use to locate your groceries so you can make one trip through the store. If you are easily tempted to impulse buying, store pickup or delivery may save you money.
- Check your credit cards: See what benefits your credit cards offer you. Are they the best choice for you? Some cards offer cashback, and others offer reward points that can be used to purchase items or for gift cards, and some offer nothing! Compare the cashback percentages on your credit cards and the interest rate if you do not pay off your bill each month to determine your best choice.
- Eat at home: Eating out is expensive. If possible, make meals in advance for the week so that you can get a nutritious meal at a low cost when you are tired and hungry.
- Do an annual insurance audit: Check your homeowners, auto, and health insurance. If necessary, make an appointment with your agent to go over them with you. Are there good driver or low mileage discounts you may be missing out on? Can you bundle your insurance to save money? Did you buy a hybrid vehicle? If so, you may be able to save on insurance? Is it time to drop collision insurance on an older car?
- Switch to LED bulbs: LED bulbs have dropped in price, last longer, and save energy.
- Consider buying second-hand: Estate sales, garage sales, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and Goodwill stores can all be sources of used but still usable items at a fraction of the cost.
After implementing some of these steps, you may be ready to take larger measures such as financial planning for your debt and making investment decisions. We can help.