We all have fixed expenses - mortgage / rent, insurance, taxes, utilities, - expenses that rarely change and are hard to miss because we write large monthly or quarterly checks. But, what about your other expenses? All your little trips to the store can sneak up on you, causing you to spend more than you planned. Variable expenses can take a surprisingly large chunk of your budget. Take a closer look at your spending habits. You'd be surprised how making even a few small changes will leave more in your pocket! Some of these tips are common sense; some might seem to be a bit "frugal". Just remember, if you're working toward a goal, you've got nothing to lose by trying something new, frugal as it may be! Sometimes "baby steps" are the best way to start on the path to bigger and better ways to manage your expenses.
1. When you have multiple errands to run, do you have a game plan for accomplishing them efficiently? Take a few moments to check your driving route and plan the stops along the way. Save time and gas by not running all the errands separately. 2.
What kind of grocery shopper are you? Whether you shop at discount stores, or by sales flier, remember to buy only what you need. Compare advertised sales prices with other brands (including generic). Remember to check sales sizes as well.
What's being offered on sale might be a smaller size than what you usually buy. Be informed and take a few seconds to consider your purchases - it will save you money in the long run. 3. Do you look at the directions for laundry and dishwashing detergent, or do you automatically fill the scoop and throw it in a load? Make sure to follow manufacturers' recommendation for the correct load size usage.
If you use too much per load, you can use up the product twice as fast. 4. How much does convenience cost you? Here's a great example: a friend of mine buys pre-bagged salads.
Not only is it more expensive than buying a head of lettuce, but she'll admit that they hardly ever finish it off. Cutting a head of lettuce is an amazingly simple and quick task. When buying for convenience, ask yourself if the actual cost is really worth the time you think you save. 5. How many cleaning products do you have right now? When purchasing a power washer, I was told I should buy three bottles of cleaners - one for decks / fences, one for driveways and the other for home exteriors. Each bottle was $6.
00 (a total of $18) vs. the generic bleach I purchased at the grocery store on sale for about $1 (savings of $17). Using bleach full strength or diluted does the trick for a variety of surfaces.
Makes you think about how many different types of cleaners you really need to have. 6. Can you stretch an item? For example, will half of a dryer sheet do the same job as a full sheet? I've tried it and it works for me. This also works for scrub pads - cutting a regular size pad in half gives you at least several uses. You won't have to throw away a half used pad because it's rusty or gunky, and it's cheaper than buying those "junior size" pads. There must be many more ways to stretch everyday items - what else can you think of? 7.
How about reusing or recycling items vs. buying something new? A great example is sharing a magazine subscription with a friend - one issue you both read (works for books, too!). Or clean your used jelly jars and use them for leftovers instead of disposable baggies.
Glass jars last, and if you take the lid off, they're microwaveable. If doing either of these would make you feel unthinkably cheap, think about how much worse it is to be in debt or to not have savings. 8. Can you buy an item used at a fraction of the cost? Our patio furniture - table for six, chaise lounge, two chairs and coffee table - was purchased through the classified ads for $100. Purchased new, the same set would have cost at least 10 times as much. Check classified frequently, and if you're internet-savvy, online auction sites such as eBay have a treasure trove of bargains both used and new.
9. What about buying off-season merchandise? Now is the perfect time to buy winter items. When the other seasons role around, wait a few months in before buying those "must haves". This is not only a great way to stock up for next year, but for your vacation, decorating, and gift-giving needs as well.
10. Can you do it yourself? In the town where I live, the trash pickup is handled by private companies. When the bill hit almost $100 a month, we decided to handle it ourselves.
My husband takes the trash to the dump (it's on his way to work) about once a week. What things are you willing to do to save you some money? The list could go on and on. It's a matter of rethinking your priorities and taking a new view of your spending routine. Start small today, and you could really see a difference in your savings over the course of a year.
Jill Russo Foster provides practical tips for personal money management. Learn more about protecting your credit and living within your means with Jill's popular free report, bi-monthly ezine, and credit report reminder program, available here ==> http://www.themortgagearrangers.com/resources.asp