Most Americans spend more money than is necessary to live well. Even those who live in families below the national median income fall victim to aggressive marketing or lack of information. The key to more cash is comparing wants versus needs.
Energy Savings with the Home and Car
Start changing lighting to CFL – compact fluorescent – lights. As the budgets allows purchase CFLs at a rate of perhaps monthly. These use about 25% the electrical power compared to incandescent bulbs and last up to eight years. Start by replacing bulbs that are used the most.
- Let bright sunlight in during the winter by opening shades. The solar heat can give a surprising amount of free warmth and reduce heating costs. Likewise, keep the sun out during the summer to reduce the cost of air conditioning.
- Keep the hot water heater turned down to 120 degrees. Not only will it save money, it can reduce the chances of a child or elderly person being badly scalded.
- Use weather-stripping and caulk to seal air leaks around windows and doors.
- Wear more clothes indoors during the winter and turn the thermostat down to 68 degrees or less. Warming up winter air dries it out and makes people more likely to catch colds leading to additional expense.
- Use regular gas unless a car specifically calls for a higher octane.
- Anticipate stops. Every time the brake is applied, additional energy is required to regain speed. Accelerate slowly and decelerate slowly if practical.
- Keep tires inflated to manufacturers’ recommendations.
- Don’t use oil or gasoline additives to boost performance. Perform recommended maintenance on the car.
- Try to use the car air conditioning less on cloudy or cooler summer days.
Save Money by Thinking Cheap
- Learn how to give male members of the family a haircut. Two haircuts pay for the equipment. Little boys’ hair is usually easy. Men may be pickier, but a lot can be saved on boys alone.
- Register at favorite restaurant websites. They often send coupons.
- Don’t use coupons for purchasing a product unless it saves money compared to the usually purchased product.
- When they are on sale, don’t just buy an item or two, stock up and multiply savings if it something used frequently like paper towels.
- Bundle cable, Internet, and telephone for lower rates.
- Consider using a cell phone as the only phone. Negotiate for a cheaper cell phone rate.
- Buy used cars in good condition from individuals.
- Avoid convenience foods unless the convenience is worth the money. Calculate how much the convenience is costing in a year.
- Compare food items by using unit buying. Unit prices are generally posted on the shelve price tag and allow customers to compare prices by the unit – ounce, pound, etc.
- Buy generic brands. They are often just as good better than brand names, but can be sold cheaper because they don’t have huge marketing costs.
- Join a shopper’s club especially for things normally purchased in bulk.
- Give used clothes, toys, and other items to charity and take a tax deduction.
- Use Internet shopping sites that allow you to compare prices at different places.
Save Money on Credit, Loans, and Finances
- Save a part of every pay check.
- Save change and put it in the bank savings account on a regular basis. Roll change or ask a bank to do it. Change machines in grocery stores take 6 or 7 percent of the total to handle the money.
- Pay cash for all purchases of food, clothes, and ordinary regular purchases. Credit cards purchases can double the costs of items if not paid off quickly. Try to pay off credit cards every month.
- Use credit cards that offer rewards for purchases.
- Use an amortization table to see how much can be saved by making small additional payments on the mortgage and reduce the total payoff.
- Consider a debt consolidation loan to lower monthly credit payback costs. If a loan is needed, shop around for the best terms.
- Don’t buy extended warranties on appliances. Over time the consumer loses money on service contracts.
- Establish a 401K or similar account for retirement. It will reduce taxable income.
- Negotiate for cheaper car insurance and homeowners insurance. If rates increase, it’s time to go shopping again. Raise the deductable to what the budget can bear in case of an accident.
There are many ways to save money if one is serious. Americans typically waste money on energy, life style, and financial matters. The suggestions above are offered as practical ways to save money. The most essential factor in saving is having the right attitude – one that promotes the necessary adjustments. Look for savings, be aware of where money goes, and save. Always consider needs versus wants.