Little things add up quickly, and over time, amount to huge savings in your life. A lot of things you think you "need" to have, are really quite optional!
A few years ago, a reader sent me a list of their money-saving tips. Their list is great. Here are some more. This posting is somewhat dated, but still relevant. Some may seem kind of harsh, but they pay dividends far beyond just the cost savings:
1. GET RID OF CABLE TV: Save $50 to over $100 a month, plus get your life back. The average American watches 4.5 hours a day (ouch!). Spend that time cooking meals (instead of eating out), doing inexpensive home improvement projects, balancing your budget (do you have a budget?) etc. TIME IS MONEY as they say, and 4.5 hours a day works out to a lot of money.
2. VISIT YOUR LIBRARY: Need a TV fix? They loan out videos for free. New releases to old-time "classics" not to mention documentaries and instructional videos. Great way to spend time with the kids and learn - and its all free!
3. VISIT YOUR LIBRARY: While you are there, check out some BOOKS as well. The new "bestsellers" are $25 apiece at Borders. They are FREE at the library. Also there are a lot of good educational non-fiction books to help you expand you mind and skills. Good for the kids too. Taking your kids to the library regularly is better than a college education. If they value learning, they will learn, even if you can't pay for college.
4. SHOP IN YOUR ATTIC: You may find a lot of "bargains" up there - things you can use right now, instead of buying more stuff. Got stuff you can't use or think of using in the next 6 months? Have a garage sale. Getting rid of junk is cleansing!
5. FUND YOUR 401(k): If you are not fully funding your 401(k) or other retirement plan, you are throwing money away. For every dollar you put in, it can save you 38 cents on your taxes - or more. This is free money from Uncle Sam. You are right - paying extra on your mortgage might not be a good idea, particularly if you are not fully funding your 401(k). Stocks are taking a beating now, which means its time to BUY THEM.
6. TRIM YOUR OWN HAIR: A friend of mine in nearly bald. He goes to the barber and pays $14 for them to run a #2 trimmer over his scalp. Buzz, Buzz, Done! He bought a trimmer for $14, and it has paid for itself. If you have this kind of "baldy" haircut, you do not need a barber. This has saved us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the years.
7. VISIT YOUR LIBRARY: The reader mentioned that they cut back magazine subscriptions. These same magazines are available at your library. Magazines are pretty cheap, but if you are still paying money to be sold things on TV (paying for cable) you are missing the big item and trimming the small ones.
8. SHOP YOUR CAR INSURANCE: I found out I was paying a lot extra for things I didn't really need, like "medical coverage" ($200 a year for $10,000 in coverage? No thanks!) or "uninsured motorists" (I cut this back to $25,000 minimums - in what scenario would this pay out that my other coverage would not?) I raised my deductible to $1000 on some cars, eliminated collision and comp on others (they only pay book value, so a $3000 car gets $3000 coverage, no matter what it is worth to you). Finally, I spend "15 minutes and saved 15% on my car insurance" They were cheaper and very friendly.
9. WAL-MART GROCERY: The selection is better than you might think, and many "upscale" food items can found there for cheaper than Harris Teeter or those other "upscale" stores. Ours even has good bread, which you can't get even at the Teeter. Be careful, though, as not everything is a bargain. It helps to keep track of prices before you buy.
That's just a few I am using. The list is by no means exhaustive. Your mileage may vary.