I’ve seen a lot of posts about dealing with the bills, but how about some discussions on how to save money? By cutting costs, we can free up some money to pay off those bills faster.
I think some of if it is just a matter of figuring out where our money is going and realizing just how much we are spending on some unimportant items.
For example, I used to drink a lot of pop. I was buying 3 bottles of pop at work each day. That was 15 bottles a week at $1.08 after tax, working out to $16.20 a week and $842.40 a year. That is outrageous! And that didn’t even include the pop I was drinking at home, another $550-$600 a year. Just think how much better financially I would be if I had been putting that money to bills or just paying with cash years ago, instead of buying pop.
I actually quit drinking the pop to reduce my caffeine, and I do have fewer headaches. But I saved a bunch of money at the same time. I replaced that 3 bottles of pop with one larger bottle of water $1.19. I have tried a couple times to switch to even cheaper water, but I have only found one type of water that I will drink consistently. So, in this case, I saved money and improved my health by making a lifestyle change. It did take a while to actually like the change, but I have grown to like it very much. I drink water at work, and water and milk at home.
There are lots of “vices” that we have, that we spend a little every day, yet we don’t realize how much it is adding up. I never dreamed I was spending over a $1000 a year on carbonated sugar water.
How about coffee (espresso), cigarettes, pop, fast food lunches, etc?
How about keeping a diary and seeing where the money really goes,and then extrapolate to see how much it costs per week, per month, and per year? It may not sound like much per day, but when you think about it in terms of month or year, it takes on a new meaning in terms of our finances.
What other expenses can be cut easily?
Phone, cable, internet, etc. Many of these bills can be combined to one company to save money. Sometimes, we have more than we really need. Check the rates, review what you really need. Is that cell phone really necessary? If so, can you get by with a cheaper service.
Storage facilities? We all need space. I finally opted to get a storage unit since I need space to effectively run my business out of my home. I had put it off because I thought it was very expensive. My sister had a locker that was $75 a month, which seemed absurd to me. I did some checking and found out that I could get a 5′ x 5′ locker for $22.80 a month. Not bad at all, and I was able to free up space and actually have room to work on my business projects and reorganize. But I had to look around to get the best deal. The place I picked is about a mile further away than the place my sister uses. She is paying $75 a month for a 5×10, only twice the space, 3 times the cost, and she has to go up an elevator. Mine is on ground level, just down a short hallway from the door. Also, by choosing automatic payments, I avoid late fees, since the storage places cagre horrible late fees, twice a month. It is really easy to get behind. So, simply by doing a little bit of searching, and checking into options, I was able to find a better rate. The place she was at was going to charge me $10 more per month ($120 more per year), and I would have had to deal with the elevator.
I’m sure there are lots more ideas, and I would love to hear them as I have a lot of room for improvement. This has been a tough year as my paychecks have gotten smaller (lower sunday wage, high health premiums), and my costs have gone up (food prices, gas prices, health costs, etc.). I have manged to make some changes, but I am always open to more.
I have also found it makes a difference where and how you shop for groceries. I work in grocery store, but I often shop at cheaper grocery stores or costco for items I can buy in bulk. Last year, when I believed I might be going on strike, I bought a used freezer for $115, and packed it with food just in case. The strike was averted, but I learned the value of shopping elsewhere. I can buy larger packages of ground beef, chicken breasts, fish, etc; wrap them individually, and freeze them for later use.
I can buy roasts when they go on sale for $1.99 a pound and cook them anytime I want. I bought a bunch of those gladware style containers and freeze meals in them. I have hamburger helper meals, roast, ham, fish, chicken&rice, slpit pea soup, etc – all ready to go. It is so much easier to grab a container out of the freezer, and so much cheaper than buying lunch at work. That freezer paid for itself in less than 2 months, just in the money I saved by taking lunch to work. On days off, I can spend a few hours in the kitchen, making a variety of items to stock up the freezer. I can cook a lasgne in the oven to cut up, cook a roast in the crock pot, and cook something else on the stove top. Not a lot of time invested, yet I have a variety of meals for several weeks. At work, if I don’t finish a meal, I put it the freezer there. On days when I forget to grab a lunch on the way out, I can pull something out of the freezer at work.
I would also recommend the following websites. My parents have been getting the newsletters for years. Many of the tips and calculators are available free, so you don’t have to subscribe unless you want the newsletter.
There are some great tips, and also a nice article on the 3 types of debt – safe dabt (collateral that you can turn over to get out of the debt if you have to), stupid debt (credit cards, stuff you can’t get out of), and survival debt (paying rent or food costs with credit cards).
I look forward to hearing some other tips.