It does not matter who you are, where you live, or what you do. The bottom line is that we can all stand to save money. In our hectic lives, sometimes we forget how easy it is to save. Here are five easy ways to decrease your daily expenditures, and keep your own money in your own pocket.
Skip the coffee, or brew at home
There are 100 million daily coffee drinkers in the United States alone, according to Static Brain. Most coffee fanatics prefer a cup in the morning, which can often mean stopping on the way to work or school to get their fix. But coffee on the road comes at a cost. It is easy to rationalize this expense too, because it is seen as a necessity for your day, but planning ahead to brew your beans at home can save a lot of dough.
Wake yourself up early enough to prepare your coffee and let it brew while you finish getting ready. Some coffee pots also come with a timer, so you can prepare your coffee the night before. If you invest in an instant coffee maker that brews by the cup, it can be a little pricier, but might suit your on-the-go lifestyle better. I would suggest investing in a refillable filter attachment for the days when you aren’t in a rush, because it is cheaper per cup.
Skip the convenience store
Convince stores are named for a very specific reason. To most people, they are the solution for a quick errand or a saving grace after normal store hours, but there is a price for such convenience. Most gas stations make the bulk of their money on store item markups. Simple things like milk, beer or even candy are way more expensive than the grocery store. Finance claims grocery stores can have a markup of 75 percent, but that number is often lower than gas stations, and even pharmaceutical chains. For instance, bottled water can have a 4,000 percent markup. Most bottled water is just filtered tap, something you can do at home with a water filter; and for the price of a bottle of water, you could get thousands of bottles’ worth of home-filtered tap. What’s more convenient than that?
Cutting coupons has been all the rage lately. Recent television shows spotlight the “extreme couponers” who save upwards of 90 percent on their grocery bills and have stockpiles of groceries in basements, garages, even living rooms, worth thousands of dollars. It’s safe to say they’ve spent a lot of time mastering the art of couponing, time that most people simply don’t have. There is, however, some insight into the madness.
Coupons are extremely valuable when they are used effectively, and, best of all, they are free. The best way for the average person to use coupons is to be smart about it. Just because it’s a good deal does not mean you have to get it. Don’t get suckered into spending money on something you wouldn’t normally buy because the markdown looks good; clip only coupons for items you buy regularly. If you get a Sunday paper anyway, they usually have 2-3 inserts of manufacturer coupons, and most grocery stores have store coupons. Cut coupons for the items you need and keep them in one place, taking note of the expiration date. If you see it on sale and add a manufacturer coupon, store coupon or both, you can maximize the savings.
Happy hour deals
There are a lot of us who like to unwind at the end of a hectic day with a drink at the bar with some friends. Sometimes you’ve even gone out and unintentionally stumbled upon a happy hour special. Drink specials are a great way to save money on the booze millions of Americans consume.
Rather than occasionally hitting a happy hour, make it a plan. Look up deals at local bars and restaurants beforehand, and schedule your night around them. Rather than retreat to the same old bar, you can venture out into places you’ve never been to, but have heard about or even seen on review sites such as Yelp. Bars can have around a 300 percent markup, which means they pay $2 for a beer and you pay $6, so don’t feel bad about taking advantage of their deals. They are designed to bring you, the new patron, through their doors. As an alternative, you can also plan a get-together at home and rotate between friends (so you’re not always footing the bill). This can be fun and fit your preferences much better than a single bar.
This seems obvious: if you don’t have to drive somewhere, don’t. If you live close to the grocery store, try to avoid reasons to drive, such as “It’s looking like rain” and “It’s too hot and sunny.” There is always a reason, but more often than not, it’s never really a good reason. Develop a habit of walking to the store and any place else, as well as using a bicycle that might otherwise be accumulating dust in your garage. If you choose to walk, you will probably find that it is not only more enjoyable, but saves money too. Even driving around the parking lot for five minutes to find the perfect space wastes money. This simple habit can improve not only your daily savings, but your quality of life as well.