I’ve written often enough about saving money. There are some standard tips just about anyone will give you – cut the cable bill, drop to either just land line or cell phone, spend less at the grocery store. And of course, quit buying coffee at the coffee shop.
Each of the above can seem like such a small thing, especially if you spread the cost out over the month. But when you put them together for the month, you may find they’re a lot of money. That’s why they are so often recommended for the chopping block.
If that’s not enough, now what?
The tighter your budget gets, the more creative you need to be about saving money. You need to look at some of the less obvious little things that also can add up.
1. Cut down on your energy use.
Turn off those excess lights! Put up a clothesline if you can, and dry clothes outside in warm weather. Find ways to block more heat from coming in during the summer, and take advantage of any sunlight during winter.
You can also unplug electronics that aren’t in use. Many electronics continue to draw just a little power even when you turn them off.
2. Get on Freecycle.
Thrift stores are great for saving money, but free (aside from the gas to go get it) is even better. You might be amazed what people will give away. You can reciprocate when you have something to get rid of that someone else might like.
You can also sell the things you don’t need anymore, whether through eBay or a garage sale, but offering things for free when you’re getting other things for free is strongly encouraged.
3. Share resources with friends and neighbors.
You may know several people in financial situations similar to your own. If you can borrow things that aren’t needed daily you may be able to save the expense of buying them.
This obviously takes a lot of trust and/or tracking. You can’t have one person borrowing things and never returning them or reciprocating, not to mention the potential for damage. But if you can avoid buying garden tools if you decide to start a garden, for example, you can cut your costs down nicely.
4. Ask for a credit card rate reduction.
Often enough it works, and it only takes a few minutes. Talk to a supervisor if you need to.
5. Drink more tap water.
It’s the cheapest drink in the house! It’s even cheap if you count buying filters if you don’t like the way your tap water tastes.
I like to keep a bottle of tap water in the fridge so that it’s already cold. Works wonders for the taste, and if it’s a really hot day ice cubes can help to keep it cold.
6. Get books and movies from the library.
Your local library is probably a resource you are making too little use of. While it may not have every book or movie you want to enjoy, they still generally have a number, and may be able to order titles from other branches.
This is especially useful if you have children who love to read. As they grow their tastes are likely to go through rapid changes, so only a library can allow you to keep up without breaking your budget completely.
7. Use your car more efficiently.
There are so many ways you can save on the costs of driving. It’s quite true that proper tire inflation will improve your gas mileage and save you money. But do consider some of the other steps.
Carpooling can be a great choice. My sister does this with two other people in her office, so her commute costs are about 1/3 what they were before. It’s a nice deal for a fairly small (in her case) inconvenience.
You should also be combining your errands. Try to keep your grocery shopping down to once a week or less. The less you shop the fewer chances you have for impulse purchases as well, another savings.
Also think about how much running around after deals is really worthwhile. If you aren’t covering your gas costs, forget it.
So many things can really eat into a budget without being noticed. What habits do you find really help you to control the little expenses?