Trying to save? Start with these 10 simple lifestyle changes—small changes and big ones—and be on your way to a significant difference in your financial freedom.
1. Ditch your home phone – A land line can cost anywhere from $20-$85 dollars per month. If you live in an area with good coverage, consider cutting your land line and use your cell phone instead.
2. Save on furniture – Stores spend a fortune outfitting model homes and apartments for advertising. Often times, they can’t sell the merchandise in their stores due to tiny scratches or dents and will be happy to sell it to you at a discount. Find out where that furniture goes or make on offer on it at the model home. Be sure and leave a card where they can reach you at the end of the home show.
3. Keep track of your bills and your bank account – Late fees or overdraft fees are like financial leaches. Anywhere from $15-$45 per fee, they can suck your savings account dry faster than you can say: oops! Set up your digital banking to automatically transfer money from savings or send alerts to your cell phone when you’re about to go over on your checking. Signing up for automatic bill pay through your financial institution can save you hundreds a year in late fees.
4. Quit that addiction – Whether it’s lattes or cigarettes, candy bars or diet soda a five-dollar-a-day habit adds up. Besides the reduction in health care costs, you can save upwards of $1,300 per year simply by skipping that fix.
5. Pay off your credit card – Take a look at that monthly statement – really read through. How much are you paying a month in interest? On how many cards? Pay off or pay down your balance to quickly free up extra cash.
6. Stock up and save at the grocery store – There are certain items you know you will use. Shampoo, dish soap, toothpaste and other necessities go on sale about every three months. Watch the store circulars for deals on products you normally buy, then pick up two or three instead of just one. It’s a small savings that pays off over time.
7. Patience is a virtue – We’ve all been there, we finally find the perfect something online and rush for the credit card. In our haste to actually hold the object of our desire, we click on overnight shipping not caring that it’s an extra $14.99 or worse. Instead, print out a picture to tape to the fridge and accept the longer shipping. Your anticipation will grow and so will your bank account.
8. B.Y.O.L. (Bring your own lunch) – When you eat out during the day, you aren’t just paying for food, your paying the server to bring it to your table, your paying for the lights and your paying the dishwasher to clean your silver wear when all you really need is something healthy to get you through the rest of your day. Pack your mini cooler and head for a sunny spot where you can rest and regroup.
9. Learn to use a cheese grater – Shredded cheese can cost as much as twice the price of block cheese. But it’s not just our cheese we like ready-to-use. We want our fruits and veggies washed, peeled and chopped, please; not to mention our meat cooked, our cookies baked, our frosting whipped and our bread sliced. By using a little extra muscle you can save big on your monthly food costs.
10. Barter your skills and make new ones – Trading your neighbor yard work for babysitting can save you both. Check online for services that coordinate exchanges like dog walking or house sitting. Don’t have any skills? Take a class on tile setting, sewing/mending or tree pruning. Not only does it keep life interesting, the more self reliant you are, the less money you’ll shell out for services you could be doing yourself.