Ever notice that the most broke people at work are also the ones who eat out at lunch? That they are always munching at the vending machine? That they are impulse buyers? Well, that’s why they are broke.
They don’t incorporate several simple applications of prudency that, over the long run, will save them thousands of dollars every year. Here are 10 ways to save you and your family lots of money, one step at a time:
1. Cook at home often: If both the husband and wife work, this is likely to be very difficult. Start out with the habit of cooking at home once a week and slowly increase the frequency until you find a balance between saving money and getting stressed out.
2. Brown-bag lunch at least a few days a week: Lunch times are great opportunities to network and make connections that could improve your career growth. So, unless there is a common eating area for brown-baggers, you may choose to limit brown-bagging lunch to three days each week. Find a balance between saving some money and making important contacts. In my case, I take my lunch with me two to three times a week and eat out the rest of the time.
3. Make a list before going shopping: They call it “impulse” buying for a reason. Humans simply have a very tough time resisting the temptation to purchase extras while shopping. Without a list, you will buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when you forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place. If you plan on cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping. Getting all that you need in one trip can help avoid another unnecessary trip and temptation.
4. Buy in bulk whenever possible: When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find something on sale. The items I usually stock up on are cereals, canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, soda, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper, etc. For such items, shopping at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can save you quite a bit of money, provided you stick strictly to your shopping list.
5. Buy generic products whenever possible: Does it really matter whether your cereal is made by Kellogg’s or is the store brand? Does it matter if your milk is Oak Farms or the store brand? For a few things, such as soda in particular, I prefer brand name products. For others, I do not mind generic store brands if they can save me money. Find what works for you and switch to generic brands for at least a part of your grocery list.
6. Consolidate and pay off debt as soon as possible: If you carry any debt, focus on consolidating it to a lower interest and paying it off as soon as possible. Money paid in interest is money thrown away! Why spend your hard-earned cash to make the financial institutions rich?
7. Do regular scheduled maintenance on your vehicles: Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes and maintenance. Remember to check the air in your tires often. And use the grade of fuel that the owner’s manual recommends. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use.
8. If you like watching movies at the theater, go before 6 p.m.: This is one of our soft spots when it comes to spending. We really like watching movies in the theater with the big screen and the great sound effects. But instead of paying $10 or more a pop for the ticket, we usually go before 6 p.m. when the tickets are a little less expensive. Also, for movies that we don’t absolutely want to watch right away, we just wait until it screens at the discount theater where the tickets are $2 a pop. We avoid the temptation to buy snacks by usually going to the theater soon after lunch or, sometimes, by sneaking in our own snacks in the purse.
9. Avoid ATM fees: Be aware of the ATM withdrawal fees charged by your bank. While some banks waive fees for all ATM transactions on any ATM machine, most don’t. So, be sure to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees or withdraw directly at your own bank.
10. Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees: Get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate the payments. Most utilities and other recurring bills can be set to be charged to a credit card or deducted from a checking account these days. Also, many banks offer free bill-pay programs. So, there really is no excuse for forgetting to pay a bill on time and forking out the late fees. Say, by chance, you do forget a bill. If you are a first-time offender, call the company and politely request to waive the late fees, and, more likely than not, they will oblige.