Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saving money...without feeling the pinch too much

Gas prices are finally coming down, but the cost of groceries (and almost everything else) is going up. And now the holidays are coming—a time of year when we usually spend even more money.

The good news? Saving money is fun.
No, seriously!

I LOVE saving money. In fact, there’s nothing like that feeling of getting a good deal, or using a valuable coupon or doing something without hiring a professional.

So here are some of my all-time favorite hints for saving money:

1. Money saved is better than money earned. Think about it. When you work extra hours, get a second job, etc., you are taxed on the income. But if you SAVE money—for instance, cut the lawn yourself or paint your own nails—the money you save is not taxed. Free money!
2. Make meals at home as often as possible. It’s hard, but the trick is to plan ahead. Stock up on staples (meat, potatoes, canned/frozen vegetables, etc.) and make meals that fit your family’s taste. My favorite method of making meals is using the crock pot—throw stuff in the pot in the morning, it’s ready by dinner.
3. Use cash. This is hard too. And when credit card companies offer you rebates for using their card, it’s easy to think it’s a bargain to charge items. But it’s also very tempting to overspend and make impulse purchases when there isn’t an immediate subtraction from your wallet.
4. Skip the frilly luxuries, or at least scale down. You can probably be just as happy getting together with friends over a plain old cup of regular coffee with a little milk in it for $1.50 instead of a fancy latte.
5. Drink water. Instead of soda and sports drinks, have water with meals. Even bottled water is less expensive than drinks. But why not fill a pitcher with water and keep it in the fridge? It’ll be cold and it’s free.

The list could go on, but here are some suggestions for books and web sites with more money-saving tips:
‘The Complete Tightwad Gazette’ by Amy Dacyczyn. This is a great book with practical tips and tried-and-true techniques.
http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/01/30-easy-ways-to-save-money-and-no-you.html Sensible ideas!
http://www.doughroller.net/2007/11/06/51-painless-money-saving-tips/ Original and straight-talking suggestions.

Feel free to post a comment and add your favorite way to save money!