How to Save Money Every Month
While waiting for the stock market to come back, the quickest way to accumulate money is to learn how to save more of the money you make. Some tips:
1) At the start of every month make a list of your income and expenses. Balance everything on paper and set aside a reasonable amount of money for savings. Do this before spending a penny. Remember to include as many items as possible in your list. Now, stick to this thoughtful plan. If you don’t, you’ll feel guilty. Guilt is good when it comes to saving money.
2) Tear up your credit cards. Use your ATM (debit card) instead — for emergencies.
3) When you shop, always use cash. Go to your bank (not an ATM) and take out just enough money for one week’s expenses. While waiting in line for the cash, repeat to yourself, “Hard to make money, easy to spend money.”
4) Precious funds are often frittered away on little things you don’t really need. Only shell out cash on necessities (food, shelter, clothing, transportation) and items that enhance your work or ensure your income.
5) Cook and eat at home more often. It’s healthier and cheaper. When you get the urge to go to the supermarket, look in the cupboard and freezer first. Use up the food you have in stock before you buy more.
6) Plan meals for the week. Make a shopping list and use coupon or buy items when they are on sale. Take a basket, not a cart. Buy just what you need, not more.
7) Avoid fast-food establishments. Always keep “car food,” purchased at a supermarket, in the trunk. Bottled water, raisins, carrots and energy bars substitute nicely for greasy, processed on-the-go meals.
8) Shopping at discount stores can save money. But be careful. Don’t buy large amounts of items you won’t ever use up. Stick with basics such as toilet paper and laundry detergent. Avoid impulse buys. Too easily a discount club will turn into a $500 club.
9) Always look for quality at the best price. Pay attention to seasonal bargains and make a game out of paying less. There’s great satisfaction in knowing you got the best deal, whether you’re buying a sports car, DVD player or watermelon.
10) The Internet is a great tool. Before you buy anything — plane ticket, automobile, prefab house or diet pills — go online and research the item(s) first. It may take a few minutes, but it’s worth the hassle.
11) Get in the habit of buying used items. We buy pre-existing houses and vintage wines, why not furniture, tools, computers and dishes? These items can be as good as new, even better — at a quarter of the price.
12) Buy one set of clothes for each season. Pride yourself on getting full value out of sweats, running shoes, socks, shorts, pajamas, jackets and coats. If an item works, buy another like it. Don’t veer into fad items. You’ll end up with a closet full of clothes you can’t wear.
13) Look for daily “drains” on your finances. If you must stop for coffee every morning, switch from cappuccino to regular coffee or tea.
14) Before you go to a bookstore, go to the public library and take advantage of the free services. Read newspapers, magazines and new fiction. If you are an investor, check your stocks in Value Line.
15) Choose home videos over first-run movies. Invite friends over for company. Make popcorn and serve it with homemade iced tea. There’s no need to overfeed your guests. They come to see you and the movie, not the food.
16) Learn to socialize with friends at relatively inexpensive places such as coffeehouses, malls, ballparks, schools and gyms. Expensive meals should be reserved for special occasions.
17) Thank friends when they tell you about bargains. Ask, ask, ask and you’ll hear better and cheaper ways to enjoy life.
18) Replace thinking that “life is short” with the reality that “life is probably long” for most of us. Except that you will live to be 90, and that you will need extra money to maintain a decent lifestyle in old age.