When you go online these days, you will get bombarded with ads left and right. Your e-mail notifications will alert you about on-going sales, offers and promotional events. Even the simple act of turning the TV on will expose you to dozens of ads which are strategically crafted to make you want to buy.
This means that the temptation to spend more than what you can actually afford is always there. If you’re the type who is an impulsive buyer, how can you say no to such temptations?
What can you do in order to live below or within your means and actually set aside funds for a savings account? It’s all about self-discipline and putting together as many ways as you can to save money. By learning how to get the best bang for your buck, those little savings will eventually add up to a big amount that will significantly slash off your monthly budget.
Best Ways to Save Money
When looking for ways to save money, there are plenty of little things that you can do which would not compromise your current lifestyle even if you are on a budget. Take a look at a multitude of ways by which you can save money, clear your debts and get the most bang for your hard-earned bucks:
1. Open a virtual piggy bank account
The Bank of America and other financial institutions offer bankers the feature of opening up a virtual piggy bank account. In today’s world where cash is used less and less while credit cards are being relied on a lot more, you can hardly keep loose change and turn it into an actual piggy bank. With a virtual piggy bank, you can turn loose change from your credit card purchases into an actual savings account that you can withdraw money from in the future.
Let’s say that you bought grocery items worth $29.75. The cashier can charge your card $30 and the 25-cent loose change can go towards your virtual piggy bank account. Bank of America even has an offer where they can match your virtual change deposits with a certain amount, with a limit of up to $250 per year.
2. If you have kids who are college-bound, open a Upromise account
Those who are just starting a family may want to consider opening up a Upromise account for their kids. This is a free-membership account which lets you save money for your child’s college education simply by racking up consumer purchases.
Some of the major retailers like Apple, Gap, JC Penney, Office Depot and Barney’s New York are all participating in this program. You will basically receive anywhere from one to 25% of your total purchase amount, and use the funds for your child’s college education. Once all saved up, the funds can be used to save, invest or ay down student loans.
3. Be a wise driver and save money on car maintenance
If you live in a state where it’s more convenient to drive rather than take public transportation, there are many ways for you to be a wise driver. Your driving habits like not using the brake intermittently or constantly speeding will affect the way that your car uses up gas.
When filling up the tank, you can visit sites like GasBuddy.com to determine which gas station offers the lowest prices. If you will fill the tank up, even a few cents of difference in the price would add up to a lot.
Carpooling, scheduling your errands all in one day, regular car tune-ups and planning your route are the other ways for you to save money on car maintenance.
4. Cut back on your electrical and water consumption to save money
Whether you’re living alone or if you have a big household, majority of your monthly budget will go towards utility bills payment. Out of your total electricity bills, almost half goes towards heating and cooling costs. If you have an efficient heating or cooling system, you will save a lot of money in the long run. You can also make all family members aware of what they should do on a daily basis in order to conserve electricity and water.
5. Get tax deductions by donating to charity
When it’s that time of the year to file for your taxes, giving money to charity will qualify you for tax deductions. When you’re spring cleaning, go through your stuff and consider giving away those old but still usable clothes, toys or furniture pieces to a local or church charity, or to the Salvation Army.
6. Diversify your investment portfolio
Whether you’re saving for retirement or for your kid’s college education, diversifying your investment portfolio will give you the best benefits. If you’ll simply let your money sit idly on a savings account which earns less than 1% interest per year, you are not really maximizing the earning potential of your funds. Consult a financial expert on how you can invest your money wisely, and the risks that you will take depends on what your future goals are.
7. Save your loose change
If you are making it a rule to spend only cash so that you can limit your credit card use, do not throw away those loose coins. Use a piggy bank to collect loose change and by the end of the year, you should have accumulated a lot to spend it on something worthwhile, or add the money to your savings account.
8. Follow the 30-day rule before purchasing a luxury or big-ticket item
If you’ve been eyeing that designer dress or plasma TV for a long time now, follow the 30-day rule. When you see an item that you really want to buy, wait for 30 days before actually deciding to buy it. Once you go back, you would usually realize that the money can be spent elsewhere and you might even find out that you don’t really want that item in the first place.
9. Get rid of your debts before saving
If you have both debts and a savings account, don’t you think that the money you are using to pay for the interest rate can be better placed on your savings account instead? If you are paying less than the minimum amount on your credit card, the interest rate will pile up. So any amount that you have on your savings account will simply be counteracted by your debts.
By clearing your debts first, you are eliminating any dollar wastage which is exactly what happens when you let your credit card debts last for a long time.
10. Save money on food
If you have a big family, you can save money on food by subsisting on fresh produce or in-season fruits and veggies. Use coupons and vouchers when buying grocery items. Make a weekly menu so that you can eliminate food wastage and eat healthy at the same time.
11. Save money on prescription and over-the-counter medication
If you need prescription medication, talk to your doctor about generic instead of branded drugs. Generic brands are 80 to 85% cheaper than branded ones, and they work equally well. For over-the-counter medication, choose store brand ones which are about 40% less than the more popular brands. The same thing holds true for body care products, cosmetics and similar items.
12. Save money on overhead costs
For businesses, an overhead cost refers to the monthly payments that they need to make whether the company is profiting or not. In your household, the overhead costs include utility bills, insurance premiums, car maintenance costs, mortgage payments, etc. Some of these are fixed while others vary on a monthly basis. By knowing how to save money on these overhead costs, you can significantly cut back your monthly budget for the household.
13. Save money on your mobile subscription costs
If you’re paying for unlimited mobile data but you already have Internet connection at home and at work, is it really worth it? Review your mobile subscription plan and make sure that you are not overpaying for features based on how you are using mobile browsing, calls and text messages.
14. Stop paying for space that you don’t need
If possible, downsize your home. If you’re at that point in your life when you are considering a move or if you’re an elderly couple whose kids have all moved out, downsizing your home will significantly reduce your expenses.
15. Clean clothes inexpensively
Instead of buying clothes that need pressing or dry cleaning, look for ones with material that do not require ironing or dry cleaning. This will save you a lot of money on dry cleaning bills.
16. De-clutter and sell the stuff you don’t need
Even if it’s not that time of the year yet for spring cleaning, do a total de-cluttering of your home. Sell, donate or throw away that stuff that you don’t need. You won’t believe how hesitant you would be in the future to purchase things that will simply add to the clutter in your home once you’re done with the de-cluttering.
17. Go DIY on everything
Learning basic skills for plumbing or electricity will save you a lot of money on hiring the services of professionals. If you can perform a do-it-yourself solution for a specific task, do so and save a lot of money in the process.
18. Use your talent and time to barter services
Bartering services is something that still exists in the business industry. At home or in the office, you can use your talent and time to barter services instead of paying for them. For instance, if you’re a working mom, you can swap babysitting services with another working mom so you won’t have to pay for a professional babysitter.
19. Review your insurance policies annually
The competition in the insurance industry is quite stiff so you can easily find providers that offer better rates or a more comprehensive package. As such, it does pay to review your insurance policies annually. Don’t hesitate to switch if you are not satisfied with the rates offered by your current provider – there are plenty of others out there.
You can also ask for discounts or get all your insurance plans from one provider so that you can be under a discounted umbrella plan.
20. When travelling, know exactly when to book flights
Travel experts recommend booking flights six to seven weeks in advance, since this is when most airline carriers offer the best rates. When booking accommodations, look for alternatives like hostels, boutique hotels, vacation villas, camping grounds or even couch surfing or home swap arrangements.
These are just a few of the things that you can do in order to save money. There are many, many other techniques out there which you can apply to give you the best bang for your buck, allow you to set aside a decent savings account, and help you live a debt-free life.