The new year is right around the corner and it’s a good time to look into practicing a few money saving tips. If you have some time off around the holidays, you may look into making a few simple changes around the house. There are a number of things that you can do to cut down on your expenses and save some extra money in the upcoming year.
Here are 10 money saving tips that have helped me cut down on my average expenses:
Go Energy Saving
It’s easy to forget how much electricity costs. If you are not running energy saving lightbulbs, you might want to look into changing out your bulbs. Your mileage will vary depending on how many lights you have around the house. For me, I changed out all the bulbs in my recessed flood lights. It made a huge difference in my monthly electricity bill dropping my payments by around 20%. It’s a quick and easy way to save money. You won’t even notice the difference in the lighting after the change.
Put More Money into Your Retirement Accounts
If your company offers tax deferred retirement accounts, it’s always a good idea to put some of your money away in the tax deferred account. First off, the money gets invested pre tax. This way, you don’t notice the deduction as much. The other benefit if you are close to the lower end of your tax bracket is that you can actually push yourself into a lower bracket by putting the extra money into your retirement account. Since you are in a lower tax bracket, your salary gets a lower tax hit, the end result might possibly be that your take home ends up close to the same or in some cases even a bit more. I was able to do this a few years back with the effect being that I was able to put more money into my retirement while also having a higher take home pay.
Cut the Cord
I think this year is one of the best years to cut the cord on TV. That’s right! Cancel your Satellite and Cable. I cancelled my TV last year and saved myself around $40 a month. I thought Satellite was ridiculous as my payments had already been reduced to the basics. They wanted to charge extra for every room and even the local channels. Finally, I decided it wasn’t worth it and cancelled the service. Since then, I’ve been perfectly fine getting my TV over the internet. My only monthly cost is the streaming service from Netflix, which is only $7.99 a month. There are a number of devices that you can attach to your TV to get your high definition streaming to your TV. I have a roku player myself, but you can also look into getting an Apple TV, Boxee box, or even a google TV. I personally like the roku, since it has a lot of channels besides netflix for streaming. I can get live can, NBC news, crackle movies, crunchy roll, and even access my stored movies on my computer. They’re fairly inexpensive if you actually cut the cord, it will pay for itself in about 2 months. Definitely worth it!
Go with VOIP
Traditional telephone services are expensive! When I first moved into my house, I got a regular phone line. The basic service was $24 a month at that time, but it came with no extra features. No call waiting, no caller id, no long distance. Each of those I had to pay a little bit extra. By the time I was done, the monthly bill was $49 a month. That was absurd! I investigated a number of different telephone options. Vonage is a good service that’s been around for a while. Their monthly service can come in at under $20 a month, which includes all the extra features.
Finally, I stumbled on a company called Ooma. They were selling their device at my local costco (warehouse store). Their business model was to charge for the device, but then the service was free. So, I researched the company and eventually bought the device. It was $180 at costco. They also had the Ooma device available on Amazon, but I didn’t want to wait. I was able to port my home phone number over to the new service with no hassle. I’m currently paying nothing for the service. The phone works great, they include all the features such as caller id, voicemail, call waiting, free long distance, etc… as part of their service.
Since I was able to cut out my phone bill, I made back the money I spent on the device after 4 months and have been saving ever since! I’ve told my family about the device and everyone in my family’s switched over. I can say that everyone’s a happy customer with them. Whatever service you choose, I would say there’s no reason these days to go with the phone company. They’re just to costly. If you have internet access, go with VOIP to save the most money.
Credit Cards are one of the biggest dangers to your pocketbook. I find that it’s way to easy to overspend when I am buying things with a credit card. So, I started giving myself a monthly allowance. I would withdraw a certain amount of cash at the beginning of the month and that was my spending money. I would work extra hard to make that money last the entire month and only used my credit cards for emergencies.
This strategy has probably saved me hundreds some months. It’s just too easy to buy that newfangled gadget or go out a little too often when you just charge everything. Carry cash has solved that problem for me. You can’t spend what you don’t have!
Eating out is one of the biggest money leaks in my household. It’s easy to get lazy about cooking and the solution is just to eat out. Then if I’m not packing lunch, some days I’m also eating out at lunch time as well as dinner. This problem is easily solved by staying in just a little more.
I wouldn’t go to the extreme of never going out, but if you can limit yourself to once or twice a week, you can save a lot over money over the long run. I try and make a game out of staying in and cooking. I might try and look up a new recipe online and make something different. It breaks the monotony and makes cooking fun.
Grind your own coffee
One thing I’ve done is I’ve replaced my starbucks habit. Instead of getting my coffee out at Starbucks, I’ve just bought higher quality espresso beans and make the coffee at home. It’s awesome!
Now my great joy in the morning is sitting down with my freshly ground cup of coffee in the morning and reading the news, or even working on a blog post. It makes my day and it saves money from the latte effect!
There are a lot of things that you get that don’t have to be new. These days, there are tons of resources online to find great deals on used items. Go to a site like craigslist or ebay and see if you can find your product there.
I’ve found awesome deals on iPods, iPhone cases, even suits on ebay for great deals. I just recently found that ebay is an awesome place to buy suits if you know your measurements. I wear a lot of suits for my regular job. And I wear them out quickly, so that can get costly. I found out that I can get a good hugo boss suit on ebay for around $100 if I shop carefully. Lost of name brand suits can also be found in that range or less. If you ever need a good suite, I’d recommend searching ebay for one.
Pick up a New Hobby
One way to save is to switch over to hobbies that don’t cost money. Of in some cases, you can find a hobby that generates and income (such as blogging). I’ve gone through a number of hobbies in my time. Some of them can be really expensive. Though, you shouldn’t cut out all your fun, perhaps you can look into some new hobbies that are less expensive. That way, you can also spread out your time a bit amongst your different hobbies and spend less on your expensive hobby.
In my case, I picked up a money making hobby, learning about blogging and other online ways of saving and investing money. It’s a subject that keeps me interested, and pays for itself.
Try Repairing Things
Things break. That’s just the facts of life. I’ve had a number of things break around the house. Instead of throwing them out, I often try my hand at repairing the item. This can really save money if you are able to fix something instead of having to replace it.
I’ve been able to fix a few things around the house and get a few more years of use of out several items. If I had to replace those items it would have costed me several hundred dollars. Instead, I’ve been able to get more use out of the old item with just a couple dollars worth of fixes. Plus, I find it fund to tinker and learn something new. Learning how to repair things can be a good use of time overall.
There are a lot of ways that you can save money. In most cases, you don’t even have to be extreme, just efficient. Making some small changes can add up to some huge savings!