When I first came to the U.S., the shopping habits of Americans was a shock to me.
I was amazed by how much money people spend on things they really don’t need or things that they could find cheaper at another store.
You see, from where I come from, going to the mall is not a weekend activity. People only buy new clothes when they really need it (like once a year). For as long as I remember, we always had the same TV.
We never bought a new TV just because there was a new model out. We bought new things when the old one was broken and not working anymore!
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Now, I know things are different here and I am not suggesting you buy 1 television in your life time (although there’s nothing wrong with that!), but there are lots of practical and easy ways to save money. It just takes a little effort and willingness.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
1. Instead of buying gifts, see if you can use what you have at home to make them yourself. Loved ones would appreciate the fact you put time and effort into making them something with your own hands.
2. There is nothing wrong with re-gifting (as long as it’s not the same person who gave you the gift in the first place). Tough economic times call for tough measures.
3. Buy a bag of popcorn kernels for $2.00 and get way more popcorn than the microwave popcorn bags—plus it doesn’t burn when you air-pop it.
4. Give up your coffee shop addiction. Stopping for a latte on the way to work every day really adds up. Brew your own at home and save a ton.
5. Stop going to the grocery store on an empty stomach, or you will spend way more than you intended to.
6. You can save big on food items by purchasing them when they are on sale, buying them in bulk, shopping at discount stores, and buying generic instead of name brands.
7. Don’t just use a coupon because it gets you the product cheaper even if you don’t really need the product.
8. Get more mileage out of your ride with scheduled check-ups and taking care of it in general.
9. Cancel your magazines and newspapers subscriptions. These days you can read almost any news item or story for free online, sometimes on those very magazines and newspaper’s own website.
10. When the weather permits, dry your clothes outside and save on energy bills.
11. Instead of dining out, try take out, or better yet, dine at home!
12. Instead of spending money going to the movies, rent a video.
13. Stop buying books, borrow books from your local library.
14. Bring your lunch to work. If you can’t do it every day, try doing it at least a few times a week.
15. Make sure to check your phone and cable bills. You won’t believe how many people are billed (accidentally or otherwise) for stuff they never subscribed to. Last year, a friend of mine discovered she had paid an extra $560 to her phone company for something she wasn’t even using. Luckily she was able to get credit for it.
16. Always ask your doctor whether a generic brand of the prescription he/she is about to prescribe is available. Generic medicines contain the same ingredients and do the same thing, yet they are much much cheaper than name brands.
17. Exercise at home rather than joining a gym. Save money by canceling your gym subscription.
18. Turn off the lights when you leave the room! Don’t waste electricity that you aren’t using.
19. Track your spending. Knowing where every dollar goes helps you budget better and cut down on unnecessary spending habits.
20. Buy clothes, toys, CDs, furniture etc from thrift shops.
21. You can save thousands by comparing a few things when buying a car. Gasoline, insurance, maintenance, and repair costs are some of those things.
22. A simple way to save on car fuel is to ensure your tires are properly inflated.
23. You will save tons by simply buying next years clothes at the end of current season. Most stores have what they call end-of-season sales.
24. Styling and taking care of your hair can get costly. Pick a simple hair style that won’t break the bank.
25. Entertain your family via free entertainment activities in your community. There are tons of free concerts, parks, museums, exhibits, etc in most local areas, and in all honesty, some of them are more entertaining than paid versions.
26. Start paying for things with cash. Seeing actual cash leaving your hand will help you cut down on unnecessary spending in the long run.
27. Always grocery shop with a list in hand. This will help you only buy things you actually need.
28. Do not buy anything but gas from gas stations. To see what I mean, just for a week, track how much you spend on snacks and other non essential items in a week through convenience stores and you will see how much money you could be saving.
29. Always keep your freezer full. The fuller your freezer is the better and more efficiently it works, saving you money on energy costs. It’s simple, cold items help keep each other cold, which means your freezer doesn’t have to work as hard. Don’t have enough stuff, put an empty cardboard box or a bag of ice to fill the space.
30. Of course, one of the best ways to make it easier to save money is to increase your income. One of the best ways to do that is through the internet.
Use the internet to your advantage. You are paying for the access, you may as well use it to earn some extra money.
There are tons of legit ways to do that, from blogging and taking paid surveys, to selling eBooks, offering gigs on Fiverr and more.
Combine the money saving tips above with a few additional (and however small) income streams, and you can have a much better financial life.