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25 Easy Ways to Save Money

June 5, 2008

With the current financial situation in the US, we’re all looking for ways to save money. Unfortunately, many of the ways offered to us seem too difficult or time-consuming, or even require that we put in money in order to save. You probably won’t insulate your house to save money, nor would you start a home garden. However, you could certainly re-use those annoying plastic grocery bags as trash can liners, and it wouldn’t take too much effort. The following tips are ways to save money that are also relatively quick and easy.

 

1. Keep your engine tuned and your tires at the correct pressure. This saves about $100 (more with today’s prices) in gasoline.

2. Get a preferred customer card, and use it. Usually, the prices you get with your preferred customer card (at Kroger, for example) are about the same as you would get at stores without preferred customer systems. However, when you use the card, you also gain points or other benefits, such as Kroger’s incentive where you get 10 cents off each gallon of gas during one fill-up after spending $100 at their store in a month.

3. Use a bank that has free checking. Also, use ATMs associated with your bank. If you pull out money from an ATM not associated with your bank one a week for a year, and you are charged $2 each time, that’s over $100 wasted in a year. It doesn’t seem like much at the time, but it adds up. Consider all the other fees your bank is charging you, and consider switching.

4. When buying appliances or electronics, research their energy consumption. The best products will have an “Energy Star” rating and might save you as much as 50% in energy costs.

5. On the topic of electronics, unplug anything you’re not using. Things like your tv, DVD player, and microwave are using electricity even when they are off. Unplug them regularly, and your energy costs will go down.

6. If you have a cell phone with a good plan and good service, get rid of your home line, or at least make sure that you’re not carrying long-distance. Try free computer-to-computer calling services such as Skype or Google Talk. Skype also allows you to call computer-to-phone, and you can receive phone-to-computer calls and even voice mails (at a number that they give you) for pennies a minute. In some cases, such as calls inside the US, the costs are as low as fractions of pennies a minute.

7. At grocery stores, look at the price-per-ounce (usually on the price tag that hangs on the shelf) or other price-per-unit costs. If Crackers A cost $5.00, and Crackers B cost $4.00, you would think that Crackers B are the better deal. However, the price-per-ounce might inform you that Crackers A are only 30 cents per ounce, while Crackers B are 50 cents per ounce. In that case, Crackers A are a better buy.

8. When taking prescriptions, check out the generic drug programs at places such as Walmart. There are now literally hundreds of prescription drugs offered in generic forms for only $4 a month.

9. If you buy name-brand groceries, clip (or print online) coupons. The savings can really add up. I personally usually buy store brand food (it tastes the same for just about everything except cereal), so the coupons do me little good, but you can save a fortune on name-brand stuff with coupons.

10. Speaking of which – buy store-brand groceries. They often taste the same or better as name-brand. Also, it isn’t well known, but frequently the store-brand is exactly the same as a name-brand, but has different packaging. The difference in cost is because the store-brand is not advertised, and so you, as the customer, do not have to pay extra to pay for the advertising. In my experience, store-brand cereal is not very good, but pretty much everything else has lived up to my expectations.

11. Buy in bulk. If you’re know you can use all of something before it expires, buy the larger size. The larger size is almost always cheaper (check the price-per-ounce, though).

12. Buy ingredients for groceries, instead of “boxed dinners.” If you buy stir-fry mix, you might spend twice as much as you would buying the ingredients separately and spending a few extra minutes preparing them.

13. Never shop hungry, and always take a list. It’s too easy to wander into a grocery store hungry and without a list and leave with a whole cart full of junk food, and nothing real to eat.

14. When you find an item that you regularly use and it is on sale, buy extra. Non-perishable items can be stored, and perishable items can often be frozen.

15. Replace your light bulbs. The new compact fluorescent bulbs use up to 75% less energy than conventional light bulbs, and they last longer. They are expensive, but buy one or two every month, and your energy costs will soon go down enough to justify the purchase.

16. Turn down the hot-water heater. It’s not often that you use only hot water, and it’s not often that you say to yourself “Man, this near-boiling water just isn’t hot enough.” Most hot-water heaters are set at 140 degrees, try turning yours down to 120. Also, wash clothes on the Cold or Warm settings instead of Hot.

17. Dry your clothes on a line. Clothes dryers can add to your electric bill by  $1 for every hour that they are on. You can hang a line inside or out, and wind is free.

18. Don’t let water run while your brush your teeth, shave, or wash dishes. Turn it off and then back on as you need it. Also, make sure you wash full loads of laundry and dishes, instead of using all that water for three plates and some forks.

19. Slow down when you are driving. Anything over 55mph adds wind resistance and uses more gas. If you have the choice of going 55 or 65, keep in mind that going 65 for an hour will only get you to your destination 10 minutes faster than if you had gone 55 and saved gas.

20. When eating out, use coupons. Often, you can get 2-for-1 deals at your favorite restaurants. Also, go during Happy Hour, and save even more on appetizers and some meals.

21. Try not to drink alcohol at restaurants. It can be much more expensive than drinking at home, and once you start having their delicious cocktails, you’ll end up spending way more than you intended.

22. Shop at Thrift and Surplus stores. Especially if you have kids, this can be a valuable option. The clothing may have stains or tears, so look it over closely, but usually it is just fine, and much cheaper than buying new. For teenagers and college students, the biggest spenders on clothes, consider Plato’s Closet or other stores like it. Plato’s Closet only buys fashionable clothing from name-brand companies, so you or your child are likely to find great deals on the stuff that “everyone is wearing.” Also, they will purchase those gently used “last season” items that are cluttering up closets.

23. Don’t buy dry-clean only clothes. It’s expensive to dry clean, and if you’re anything like me, you will never actually take the clothes to the dry cleaner, and so will end up with a $100 blouse that you wore twice and then spilled soda on that will sit in your closet, dirty, for six years.

24. Use ebay or Craigslist. This enables you to buy those oh-so-necessary “toys” cheaply, and to sell or give away unwanted items of your own. Craigslist has a “Free” section, as well as one for barter, and you never know you’ll find.

25. Use the internet. You can use it to compare prices on items you need to purchase, read books for free, watch movies for free, chat with loved ones on the other side of the country, or any number of other things.  

 

Please add YOUR money-saving tips in the comment box.

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