Maximize yard sales.
Yard sales are a great place to score awesome deals on items you need anyway – think housewares, shoes, clothing, or even sports equipment. The key is, you have to be careful not to use the low prices found at sales as an excuse to buy things you don’t need. At your next garage sale, limit yourself to items that were already on your list of things to buy.
Install CFLs or LEDs wherever it makes sense.
Energy-efficient light bulbs might cost a bit more initially, but they have a much longer life than normal incandescent bulbs and use far less electricity. It might be hard to decide which type to use, but either type of bulb will probably be an upgrade from whatever you’re using now.
CFLs, which use a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs and last for years, are the next cheapest option after traditional bulbs. But they also have some drawbacks: They take a while to warm up to full brightness, and they also contain a small amount of mercury.
Meanwhile, LEDs are more expensive. However, they’re getting cheaper all the time, and they are easily the best lighting option available: They light up instantly, are efficient as CFLs, produce a warm glow without getting hot to the touch, and can last for decades.
You don’t even need to replace every bulb in the house at once. Even swapping just your four or five most-used light bulbs can save you $45 or more a year.
Install a programmable thermostat.
Installing a programmable thermostat is a no-brainer if you want to cut down on energy usage while you’re not at home, or simply regulate the temperature in your home. By setting it to heat or cool your home at certain times, you can ensure that your utilities aren’t being wasted while you’re at work or asleep – and save money in the process.
Buy quality appliances that will last.
It’s worth the time to do a bit of research when you buy a new appliance. A reliable, energy-efficient washer and dryer might cost you quite a bit now, but if it continually saves you energy and lasts for 15 years instead of five, you’ll save significant money in the long run.
When you need to buy an appliance, do research: Start with back issues of Consumer Reports at the library. An hour’s worth of research can easily save you hundreds of dollars. Additionally, consider utilizing a professional to install appliances to ensure they are installed properly and will last in the long-run.
If you know you’re going to spend a significant amount and you already have the cash on hand, you might want to consider applying for a credit card with a generous signup bonus. Buying a $2,000+ refrigerator can help hit that spending minimum quickly. It’s a simple way to earn some money on a purchase you were going to make anyway.
Clean or change out your car’s air filter.
A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%, saving you more than $100 for every 10,000 miles driven in an average vehicle. Cleaning your air filter is easy to do in just a few minutes – just follow the instructions in your vehicle’s manual and you’re good to go.
If yours is beyond help, also consider changing it out for a new one. At most stores, a new air filter goes for less than $10.
Quit using credit cards.
If you have a habit of getting into trouble with credit cards, hide your credit cards and keep them in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet. If you need to keep a card for emergencies, that’s okay. Just don’t carry it around with you. If you’re often tempted to use it, keeping your card “out of sight and out of mind” might help.
Plan your meals around your grocery store’s flyer.
Instead of creating your meal plan out of thin air, plan all your meals around what’s on sale in your grocery store’s flyer. Look at the biggest sales, then plan recipes based on those ingredients and what you have on hand. Do that for a few months and you’ll find yourself with a much smaller food bill than you’re used to.
Do a price comparison – and find a cheaper grocery store.
Most of us get in a routine of shopping at the same grocery store, and we may not even realize that we’re not getting the best deal. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to find the cheapest store around. Just keep track of the 20 or so things you buy most often, then shop for these items at a variety of stores. Eventually, one store will come out on top for your purchases – just make that one your regular shopping destination and you’ll automatically save money.
Make your own when you can.
Before I tried it myself, I thought making homemade bread would just be a complicated waste of time. But after I tried it, I found that it was pretty easy and it was actually much cheaper, healthier, and tastier than buying a loaf from the store.
We rarely ever buy bread at the store these days, mainly because the bread I make is not only cheaper, but much better too. Figuring out what you can make it home is a great way to save some money – and learn new skills along the way.
It’s easy to justify spending money just to wind down from a stressful day at work. However, it’s rarely a good idea. Instead of buying things you don’t need to make yourself feel better, it might be wise to find other ways to de-stress instead.
Exercise is always a good option, as is meditation and even a good old-fashioned nap. Read, watch movies, or work in your yard if you’re stressed out. Spending money won’t reduce your stress in the long run.
Share your dreams with people you love.
This seems like an odd way to save money, but think about it. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to plan for it. Set a big, audacious goal together and encourage each other to be financially fit – soon, you’ll find you’re doing it naturally and your dreams are coming closer than ever.