If one of your 2015 goals is to spend less and save more money, we’ve listed 10 easy-ish ways to save. You’ll have to commit to taking the time necessary to plan and prepare on a few but think of it as being paid to plan. Once you see the savings add up, you’ll realize the hour or two you spent “planning” each week, earned you hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars by the end of the year.
1. Pay an extra $20 on your mortgage each month.
When you pay more towards your principle each month, you reduce the amount of interest charged each month. Interest accrues on the principle balance so every little bit you put toward your principle will reduce the total amount of interest you pay over time as well as reduce your mortgage term.
2. Turn your thermostat down 1 degree in the winter and up 1 degree in the summer.
We’ve heard this before, but it works. You’ll save around $100 a year doing this – maybe more.
3. Open another savings account
Set up a separate saving account and automatically deposit a set amount each week/month – and don’t touch it. If you get a pay raise, increase the amount you put into it and continue to budget and live off the smaller amount.
4. Try paying for items in cash.
Yes, this is hard to do. It’s so easy to use a credit card. But, using plastic doesn’t feel real and you’re most likely to overspend. Don’t let the “Cash back” and points offers fool you into thinking you’re being rewarded. You have to spend $12,000 to accumulate enough points to redeem a $100 gas card with many credit card companies. If you aren’t paying off your credit cards every month, you’ll end up paying more than $100 in interest each year. It’s best to use cash and pay for gas as you need it.
5. Drive smart
Keep your tires pumped up, clear out the “extra” in the trunk, and remove roof racks and other items from your vehicle. Low tire pressure and extra weight increases fuel consumption by up to 3 percent.
6. Take a hard look at your “automatic deductions”.
Gym memberships, spa memberships, movie memberships, cable, magazines, etc. All of these items that automatically debit and renew are adding up and wasting money if you aren’t making the most use out of them. Cancel the ones you don’t use/need.
7. Buy presents in advance.
Stock up on bargain toys on sale for future kids birthday parties. For adult gifts like house warming and hostess gifts, birthdays & anniversaries, do the same. When you see Notebooks, jewelry, candles, lotions, wine, etc. on sale – grab them.
8. Make a food menu for the week
Hunker down once a week and plan your meals. Take inventory of spices and condiments you have on hand, and make a list of what to buy, and stick to it. The average American Family throws away more than $300 worth of food a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture so be smart about the amount of perishables you purchase. If you buy in bulk but can’t eat all before expiration, seal and/or freeze items. Once sealed, many foods can last weeks, sometimes months, in the fridge or freezer.
9. Clip coupons
Coupons are free money. Subscribe to just the Sunday paper or purchase the paper less expensively at the gas station, a big box store, even the dollar store (where a $2.00 paper may sell for only $1). If you can coordinate when the item is on sale with your coupon, you’ll save even more. Scan your grocery store member card every time you shop to receive coupons for specific items you buy regularly. If you don’t like keeping track of paper coupons, many grocery stores provide digital coupons you upload to your member card once you’ve downloaded their app to your smart phone.
10. Cut out 10%
Go through your expenses line-by-line and see what you can cancel or reduce. Even the most frugal people can find 10% of their expenses to cut. ie: Fountain drinks or coffee at the gas station; Eating meals out; Buying items “on sale” that aren’t needed and don’t fit into #7.
What are some other ways to save money for 2015? Have you put a plan in place? We’d love to hear your ideas.