Saving money is a daily challenge, whether you have unlimited resources or struggle just to make ends meet. We are constantly inundated with advertisements for the latest tech gadget or beauty product and asked to spend on things we either don’t need, can’t afford, or both. In a world where what you have seems more important than who you are, these temptations can be overwhelming.
If you worry when you find yourself regularly exceeding your monthly budget, reaching too quickly for the credit cards when you run out of cash and unable to save although you know it’s important to have cash put aside for emergencies, then you may be ready for a change. There are many simple ways to cut your personal spending and still have some of the things you want.
Start by looking at exactly how much you have left each month after household expenses, and then decide how much of that you can put into savings each month. Try to make it easy – create an automatic transfer from your checking to savings account, if that’s an option. Look for the highest possible interest rate; ING Direct currently offers more than the other bank savings accounts I’ve looked at. Once you have enough money, buy a CD, which can generate more interest and make it more difficult to dip into savings. Or, learn about stock investing, which can offer even better returns.
Examine your monthly bills and see what you can cut. There may not be much – you do have to have a place to live, a car to drive, electricity, water and food – but many of these expenses can be reduced. There are plenty of sites providing useful tips for reducing electricity and heating bills. Look for better deals on car insurance. If you have to replace your car, look for a good used car with low mileage and a lower payment rather than buying a new car. Clip coupons, buy in bulk and take advantage of grocery store cards that provide extra savings.
Non-essential items are a good place to cut. Many spend hundreds a month on cable or satellite service, but you can subscribe to Netflix or Hulu to watch many TV shows or movies for far less, and the equipment to stream programming through your TV for under $100. Do you have a land line and a cell phone? There’s little need for both these days, but even if you want to keep the land line for emergencies you may be able to cut certain services, like making outgoing calls, to lower your bill.
There are plenty of ways to save without a lot of effort if you stop to consider what you’re spending. Buy winter and summer clothes at the end of each season to take advantage of clearance prices. Shop at “dollar stores” or outlets for non-perishable food items or cleaning products to get the best deals. Start making a list of your purchases and then go back to examine them, and you may find yourself wasting a lot of money that could be saved on things that aren’t going to make you any happier, especially when you’re already worried about not having enough money.