A Dollar Saved is a Dollar Earned
Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. We juggle our bills based on our next payday. We’d like to save money, but it seems there’s never anything left over to save. There’s only one way to ensure we have the required savings for future needs, and that’s to plan for it. By creating and adhering to a realistic, workable budget, we can designate a steady amount to go to our savings. Little by little, the savings will grow, and we will one day have what we need for our big plan.
So how do we find that money to save? A few changes here and there can add up to substantial savings.
Save on convenience foods. You pay for the convenience of opening a box and throwing dinner into a microwave. With a little planning, you can make those meals yourself. When you prepare a real dinner, make extra and put it in the freezer. When the family wants dinner in a hurry, they can heat up your home-cooked meals; they’ll eat better tasting and healthier food for less money. You’re also paying extra for the individually wrapped, serving size snacks like cookies and chips. Buy the bulk size, and put them into individual packaging yourself. The smaller sized packages will stay fresher longer, so less product will become stale and go to waste.
Save on paper products. Cut down on paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, disposable cups, and tissues. Cloth towels, linen napkins, real dishware, and handkerchiefs are nicer to use and are cheaper to wash than constantly replacing disposables. You’ll save some money and save a tree by switching, and by only using the throw-a-ways when you really need the convenience.
Save on auto fuel. Instead of getting just ten dollars at a time, fill up when gas prices are low. Usually, prices are lower in the beginning of the week and go back up just before the weekend. You’ll stop for fuel less often, saving you time and money. Check your tire pressure every month and get a tune-up when recommended by the automobile manufacturer for maximum fuel efficiency.
Save on auto insurance. Raise your comprehensive and collision insurance deductible, it’ll lower your premium. Take the amount you save on the insurance premium and put it into your savings to cover you in case of an accident. If you’re a good driver, you might not ever have to pull out the savings; your savings can grow and earn interest so one day you can use the money for more important things.
Save on lighting up your home. Switch to lower watt or fluorescent bulbs in your lamps. During the daytime, there’s less need for artificial lighting; open up your blinds and curtains and let the sun shine in! Use solar sensors or motion sensors for outdoor lighting, so the lights are only on when you need them.
Save on heating and cooling. Some people like to feel the Arctic blast when they walk into their home in the summer, and to feel like they’re at home in Jamaica during the winter. Climate-control doesn’t have to be taken literally. Dress a little more for the weather, and adjust your thermostat by a couple of degrees to save energy.
Save on watering your lawn and garden. Water your yard in the early morning, when it’s still cool outside. Less water will be wasted to evaporation and your yard will look better with less sprinkler time. Install soaker hoses or a drip-irrigation system for your garden so that all the water goes straight to the root where it’s needed, instead of evaporating into the air or to watering your pavement.
Save on holiday gift giving. Nothing is on sale just before the holidays, because retailers know we have no choice but to pay full price during that time. Buy items on sale throughout the year, and put them away until it’s time to give. It will save you money, and some of the stress of last minute shopping and crowds.
Save on movies. If you can’t give up the theatre, go to the matinee instead of the evening show. Otherwise, renting a video and making your own snacks will save you big bucks. You also have the convenience of taking restroom breaks whenever you want without missing a scene, and watching the movie over and over again if you like.
Save on medications. Typical over-the-counter medications have a generic counterpart. We all know the household names we’ve grown up with; those items cost more due to advertising. Learn to read and compare medication labels and go with the generic or store brand. You’ll get the same active ingredients in the same dosage for a much lower price.
Save on bill paying. Online banking is a wonderfully convenient way to save time and money. Many financial institutions offer the secure bill-pay service for free, and you won’t have to buy checks or stamps. Just sit at the computer for a few minutes, log in, and a couple of clicks later your bills can be paid, and all your transactions documented for you. What a winner!
Save on interest charges. Pay cash whenever you can. Pay your credit cards and loans down faster, with bigger payments than required by the lender. Make a bigger down payment to get a smaller loan. Keep your credit in good shape to keep your credit rating high, getting you better terms with lenders. Delay gratification until your smart spending habits allow you to save enough to afford it.
Save money you already have. Every payday, deposit an even hundred-dollar amount into your checking account, and the balance into your savings. If your check is for $978.39, put $900 into checking and the rest into savings. If that’s too much to do without, try fifty-dollar increments. The key is to do it routinely with every paycheck, and you’ll quickly see your money grow.
Save your next pay raise. You won’t miss this; you’ve already learned how to live without it. Don’t increase your cost to live when your pay increases. When you get that next raise, figure out how much your income will be increased every month, and put that amount into your savings before you are tempted to spend it.
Save for future needs. When you find that money to save, don’t find a way to spend it. Put that money away where it can grow and earn interest. We are a consumer-driven society; we can always find something to buy if we feel like the money is burning a hole in our pocket. Set up a savings plan; open an account meant specifically for that purpose and leave it there until you’ve reach your financial goal.