Do you want more money? Of course you do. Almost everyone could use more money. But how do you get it? You can ask for a raise at work, or you can get a second or third job. Or maybe you can go back to school to learn a skill that will make you more marketable. All of these things are will most likely work but they take time. One thing many people overlook in their quest for greater income is working with what they already have.
I know that doesn’t sound like a way to make more money, but the simple fact is that most people are wasteful. They fritter away a lot of the money they make. Have you ever noticed how after a raise at work, you still don’t seem to be doing any better? How could this be? It is because you are spending it.
If you could find away to keep more of the money you already have then you will not only have more money now. But when you do make more money, it will have a much greater impact.
Make a Budget.
Yep I said the B-word. It is surprising to me how many people don’t have a budget. They may say things like, that is not in my budget, but what they really mean is I don’t have enough in the bank for that. I am not going to go into how to make a budget here, but if you don’t know how you can read my article on it.
The reason for making a budget is simple. If you don’t know what you spend your money on, how can you know where you can cut back. Once you have a an accurate accounting of where you are spending your money, you may find that you are spending it on things you don’t really need.
Change your Coffee
A lot of people drink coffee in the morning and throughout the day. And while it doesn’t seem to be a big expenditure at $2.00 a cup it can add up quick. Imagine you drink 2 cups of coffee a day. That amounts to about $20 a week or about $80 per month. If you bought a bag a coffee it should last you about 2 weeks depending on how much you drink. A bag of coffee, depending on you brand will cost you about $8. So that is $16 per month. Let’s say another $8 per month for milk and sugar ( if you like that). If you bring a reusable cup, most places will refill it for $.99 so that is $10 per week or $40 per month.
By drinking you coffee at home in the morning and using the refill option, you would end up spending about $64 a month for your coffee vs $80. $16 a month is not a huge savings But it is equivalent to a reasonably priced meal at restaurant, or about 4-5 gallons of gas for your car. If you usually get lattes or other things that cost more, then your savings will be more.
Pack a partial lunch.
Let’s say you eat lunch out 5 days a week. at about $7.00 a meal, we are talking about $35 dollars a week or $140 per month. If you pack a partial lunch like let’s say a drink, some fruit, and some chips then you could eat out but get away with spending let’s say $3.00 a day. By bringing your own drink and side dish which should only cost you about $15 a week or $60 per month and spending $3 a meal, $9.00 a week, or $36 month you end up spending $96 a month on your lunches vs $140 a month you save $44 a month. Again not enough to quit you job over but it is equal to about 11-13 gallons of gas which equals a full tank for a lot of people.
Switch to Compact Fluorescents
Check the light bulbs around you house. Do you have incandescent or compact fluorescent? Compact fluorescents use only 25% of the energy of an equivalent incandescent. So that means If you have a 75 watt bulb on for 4 hours a day you have paid for 300 watts of energy whereas if you had a compact fluorescent installed you would have only paid for 75 watts of energy. Your potential savings will depend on how much you pay for electricity and how many light you leave on and for how long.
Turn down the water heater.
How often do you use straight hot water for from the tap? If you are like most people, I think you would answer almost never. Maybe in the kitchen when cooking or washing dishes. If you never use the hot water straight from the tap why are you heating it up so high? you can go to your water heater and turn it down to the level that is comfortable for you to use. This way you save money by not heating water up higher than you need and from not having to use extra cold water to get the temp down to something you can use. The key to remember in this area is anywhere you feel heat coming off the pipes, means you are losing energy and money.
Smoking is expensive. One of the quickest ways to save money if you smoke is to quit. If you smoke a half pack a day that is about 3 packs a week or 12 packs a month. At about $5.00 per pack that that is $60 per month in cigarettes. If you quit smoking not only will you save $60 per month, but your health will be better.
If you can’t or don’t want to quit you could consider rolling your own. You can get enough loose tobacco, papers and filters to roll 300-400 cigarettes for about $30. So by just changing the kind of cigarettes you smoke you can save about $30 per month.
Shop the Dollar Store
Another smart way to save money is hit the dollar store. Almost every community has a dollar store near by. The unfortunate thing is many people don’t ever go in them. But just consider. If you can get the same brand of toothpaste for $1.00 that you would normally spend $2.50 for, why are you spending the extra money? I get my disposable razors, Palmolive dish-washing soap, Colgate whitening toothpaste and a variety of other items that I would usually spend $3.00 to $5.00 a piece for.
Watch movies at home
If you can wait a little bit to see the latest movie you can save a lot of money. Most movies cost $8.00 to $9.00 for one adult ticket. For the same price, you can sign up for NetFlix or Blockbuster and watch all the movies you want for $9.00 per month.
Turn off Cable.
With the average cable bill in the $40 range, if you have an internet connected television you can save by signing up for NetFlix and Hulu Plus and get everything you get on cable for about $20 per month. If your bill is higher you save even more.
Keep a Price Book.
Everyone knows someone who just seems to instinctively recognize a good deal. But for most of us it is hard to remember all the different prices at different stores. You can keep a log of prices on items you want at the different stores that way when you see the brand new item on sale for $8.95 at store X you will know whether it is a good deal or not.
Another thing you can do if you have a smartphone is download one of the many shopping apps they have. I uses Shop Savy on my Android Phone. In the store I simply scan the barcode on the product and it checks the web and other nearby stores for the prices. I think the app cost me about $2.00, but using it for one purchase during Christmas enabled me to save $35 on a gift I was going to buy.
Plan your vacations ahead of time.
If you would like to go on vacation summer plan it now. This will enable you to take advantage of early booking discounts and if your vacation time is somewhat flexible, you may be able to save significant money by going during a week that is less expensive.
Shop in a hurry.
First make a list before you shop and then do your shopping when you are pressed for time. If you follow these steps you will find that you end up picking up less impulsive purchases then when you don’t have a list and have lots of time to browse the aisles.
Use Rewards Cards.
It seems that every store has a rewards card now. Some are very good, some not so much. I shop at certain stores based on the rewards I can get. For example. I can save about $.50 if I buy my coffee at Target. But if I pay the extra at my local grocery store. They have a rewards program that gives me money back every quarter. Since I shop there a lot anyways, it makes more sense for me to pay the extra money since I am going to be getting some of it back.
Always be sure to read the terms and conditions. Rite-Aid for example has a pretty good program so I signed up and starting buying things there instead of other places. Only to find out that the points reset to zero at the end of the year. I signed up in November so all the purchases I made don’t count for me now. I could have bought some of those things at the grocery store that would give me money back.