Success with personal finance always comes down to the same basic formula: spend less than what you earn. People who have money are the ones who save rather than spend it. Those who proudly flaunt possessions are likely the holders of debt rather than hefty bank accounts. In order to count yourself among the financially savvy, look for ways to stifle your excess spending.
1. Save on utilities
Turning down the heat and layering on clothing is a simple way to reduce expenses. The same is true for cutting back on other household energy eaters such as lights that are unnecessarily left on, TVs that are playing while no one watches, coffee that sits baking its way to staleness on an unattended carafe warmer and fully charged laptops that are still plugged in. Pay closer attention to power use around the home and curtail that which is not immediately beneficial.
2. Save on lunches and snacks
Stash food items in your car, backpack, briefcase or purse so that you are never caught hungry and tempted by vending machines or coffee shops. Pack lunches for work or school to avoid pricey cafeteria fare. Invest in a coffee grinder, travel mug and quality coffee beans to brew your own java for the road rather than having the local barista serve you a higher priced cup.
3. Cut back on grocery expense
A shopping list is a valuable grocery budget adherence tool. Make a list and follow it to avoid impulse shopping. Watch for sales and purchase the maximum allowed of non-perishable items. Organize your pantry to be fully aware of food you already have and don’t buy extra that will expire before being used. Store your items properly to prolong shelf life. Avoid single item trips to the high-priced corner store: Ensure that your household needs are sufficiently covered on your pre-planned shopping trips.
4. Be careful with credit cards
Pay off your credit cards in full every month. If you don’t have the cash to do this, apply for a line of credit with a lower interest rate than your cards and use the line of credit to pay off your cards in full. If this is not feasible, negotiate a lower interest rate for your cards. Ideally, credit cards should not be used in the first place, but if you must have one, prioritize reducing the interest expense.
5. Exercise at home
Push ups, planks, jumping jacks and hand weights are just a few of the many fitness activities that don’t require a costly gym membership. Stairs are very effective as a high calorie burn running zone, and a low-cost stationary bike will quickly pay for itself in saved gym membership fees. If you are adverse to purchasing hand weights, try canned goods, filled water bottles or small plastic tubs filled with rocks as a low cost alternative.
6. Buy store brands
If you start reading labels, then you may be pleased to discover that lower priced store brands or generic brands often have the same ingredients as the more costly name brand that you’ve been buying. Take a few minutes to compare while you shop and save as a result.
7. Avoid extended warranties
When an electronic retailer offers an extended warranty during a purchase transaction, think twice before adding it to your bill. The manufacturer’s warranty generally gives adequate first year coverage anyway. Moreover, depending on the item, you will likely never need the extended coverage that you’ve spent your hard earned money buying.
8. Shop at thrift stores
If you are fortunate enough to have a thrift store near your home, then visit it often. If you wait until you need a particular item, then you may not find what you are looking for. However, if you stop in once or twice per month, then you will have more opportunity to take advantage of deals such as high quality used clothing that has been donated. If you have children, then plan for growth spurts by purchasing marked down items in larger sizes as well as the sizes they currently wear.
9. Purchase items after season
This tactic requires organized storage, but if you wait until early January to buy Christmas cards, or late February to buy Valentine’s Day cards, then you can save money. Wait until the departure of Yuletide and the arrival of mark downs to replenish your tree or yard decorations. Use the same strategy when shopping for seasonal clothing items such as bathing suits or ski jackets, but don’t wait too long or the remaining stock will be pulled from the store shelves before you have a chance to make your purchase.
10. Watch less TV
Rather than spending money on electricity to be bombarded by commercials trying to sell higher priced or non-essential items, turn off the television. Cut out high priced cable extras and opt for a basic package instead. Use the time you would have spent watching TV to engage in a more financially productive endeavor such as comparison shopping with grocery fliers, coupon sorting or even starting a business or getting a part time job.