The most basic concept of personal finance and economics comes down to one thing: choices. We face choices every time we think about spending, earning, saving, and investing money.
The challenge of finding ways to save money is to find alternatives that cost you less, but still give you the satisfaction you were looking for in the first place. Here are 25 ways to save money by using smart and simple alternatives.
1. Get a new insurance quote.
When was the last time you got a quote for auto, home, or life insurance? You may be paying more than you should be. We ended up saving hundreds of dollars by making a quick call about our auto insurance and ended up with even better coverage than before.
2. Increase your insurance deductibles.
Good, so you’re checking with other insurance providers to find better premiums. Once you’ve found the best rates and coverage, ask about increasing your deductibles to lower your monthly premiums. Sometimes increasing your deductible by $500 can help to make the monthly payments more affordable. Just make sure you have enough in your emergency fund to cover the added deductible if something happens and you need to file a claim.
3. Ditch the land line.
Are you still using a telephone line? A lot of people are stuck with their land lines because it’s tied to their internet package. Do a little research for your area and look for cable or DSL internet providers that allow you to connect to the internet without a phone line. You’ll probably get faster internet and save money in the long run.
4. Use the library.
You’d be surprised what your library has. Before you jump online to buy a book, search your library first. They might have the new book that you want to read. If they don’t, ask if they are planning to get a copy soon and you might be able to reserve it.
5. Buy books online.
It’s fun to go to bookstores, and I’ll even buy a book from a brick and mortar place every now and then. But I always compare it to the price that I can find online. If it’s a dollar or two cheaper online, I’ll buy it at the store if I’m there. But if it’s 50% off, I’ll usually order it online. That way, I can buy another similar book for the same price as buying one in the store.
6. Do a price check before you buy.
With phone apps like Red Laser and Google’s shopping search option, you can find the best deal on the web with a quick search or scan. I’ve used the Red Laser app to find cheaper things on Amazon and had them shipped for free with 2 day shipping because of Amazon Prime. Buying online is a great way to save money.
7. Book your vacation ahead of time.
We usually save hundreds of dollars by planning our vacation ahead of time. Airline tickets and hotel rooms are a lot cheaper when you book far in advance. The downside is that the further out you book, the riskier it can be in terms of things ‘popping up.’ It takes some good planning to book a vacation 9-12 months out, but it can really pay off at the end.
8. Maintain your vehicles.
A lot of costly engine and transmission work can be avoided with basic maintenance. Make sure you’re following the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance, especially oil changes and filter replacement.
9. Avoid buying a new car.
You’ve heard it time after time – let someone else pay full price for a car and buy used to save thousands. We’ve saved thousands of dollars by purchasing used vehicles. You can even buy newer cars that still have a warranty if you do your research.
10. Stop paying for bottled water.
Unless you’re in a foreign country, you should do your best to cut out the bottles of water. Buy a good water bottle and fill it up each day to save money. We’ve purchased a Brita water filter and keep it filled in the fridge so that we have purified water whenever we are thirsty.
11. Automate your savings.
If your paychecks are automatically deposited into your bank each month, you’re half way there. You can automate your savings and investments by using tools like Betterment. With Betterment, automatic deposits can be made on any day of the month that you choose, which means that you can direct money into your investment account automatically.
12. Go to the early movie.You can save 20-30% or more when you go to the matinee showing. If you’re going with a group, you can save enough money to put towards a pizza afterwards. Going to the movie before dinner can help pay for dinner, plus it give you even more to talk about!
13. Have a staycation.
Tired of spending $2,000 or more on a vacation? Try something different and stay home during spring break. You can get more staycation ideas here.
14. Brew your own coffee.
If you’re a fan of starbucks, but want to cut back on the coffee budget, invest in a French press. You can brew your own coffee and save a few dollars each week, which can add up over time. Plus, you can make the coffee to your own liking, so it’s a win-win.
15. Cancel unused subscriptions.
Do you still get magazines or newspapers that seem to get set aside each week? What about the gym membership, or Netflix account that goes unused? Each dollar counts and if you can save a few by canceling these things, why not?
16. Grow your own food and herbs.
You don’t need a lot of space to grow a small garden or a few herbs. You can get started with ‘container gardening’ for a few dollars. Who knows, it might be a hobby that you really enjoy doing.
17. Use coupons the smart way.
We save 50-80% or more on toiletries and many food items by using coupons the smart way. Looking for store sales and stacking both store and manufacture coupons can save you a ton of money.
18. Use cash whenever possible.
When you use cold hard cash, there’s more of a sense of awareness of what you’re actually spending. While some agree with this more than others, most people would have a hard time denying the fact that many stores will give a cash discount. That’s just another reason why using cash is a great way to save money.
19. Plan family meals ahead.
You don’t need to be an extremely organized person to plan meals ahead of time. Here’s a good article that will help you learn how to plan meals.
20. Always use free checking accounts.
If your bank is charging you to access your own money, it’s time to look for new banks. You can read more about Perkstreet and how people can earn $600 a year by using their free checking account.
21. Remember to ask for discounts.
If you’re a student, senior, alumni, teachers, or government worker always be sure to ask about available discounts. Stores like the Limited will give students and teachers 10% off on purchases.
22. Ditch the extended warranty.
Statistically, you’re better off by not purchasing the extended warranty on most items. If you’ve had bad luck with past items breaking, you might want to go with the warranty, but not before you search out cheaper warranty options.
23. Use a rewards credit card.
We get enough credit card points each year to go on a nice vacation. Be smart about your credit cards and use credit card rewards to your advantage.
24. Fill your flexible spending account.
If your employer allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses, make sure you’re taking advantage of that benefit. Look at your medical bills for the previous years and set aside at least that much for the New Year.
25. Look for Energy-Star appliances.
If you’re looking to build a home or need to replace some appliances, consider the savings you’ll get from installing energy star appliances. You can also get tax credits for up to 30% of the cost – see the energy star details here.
What are some ways that you’ve saved money this year?