The thought of actually saving money might seem overwhelming, whether it’s because the steps seem too complicated, or because you think you don’t bring in enough money to save in the first place.
Here are five tips on how to save money — all of which involve asking yourself some questions about your current spending habits.
Just remember when looking through these tips: The best way to save money is to find the method that is easiest and most adaptable for you. Maybe you are a whiz at grocery shopping and making meals — if so, it’ll be a lot easier to figure out how to save at the store. Maybe you are handy with tools and taking care of your own maintenance — if that’s the case, work toward keeping up what you own so you can put off bigger-ticker purchases.
That said, here are some smart tips on how to save money in several areas.
How to Save Money on Your Current Accounts
Do you have the lowest possible interest rate on your credit cards? If not, call your credit card company and ask for a lower rate. If so, great, but if not, consider shopping around to see if you can get a better rate elsewhere. In the meantime, it helps your chances (and gets you out of debt quicker) to always pay your account on time and try to pay more than the minimum payment, even if it means just rounding up the dollar amount.
And when it comes to your checking account, make sure you’re getting the most benefits possible. Look around for banks that offer benefits such as free checking or reimbursed ATM fees.
How to Save Money on Your Current Expenses
When considering how to save money, think about what you need versus what you want. For instance, ask yourself if you really need all those channels through your cable or satellite TV package. Streaming video offerings like Netflix and Hulu allow people to watch many of their favorite shows with a much lower price tag. And a lot of broadcast programming is available online for free.
Another way to save is reviewing your cell phone plan. See if there are more cost-effective plans based on how much you actually talk on the phone per month, how much texting you do and how much data you use. Even if you can’t cut out anything completely, you can roll back your program or switch providers.
How to Save Money on Future Purchases
When it comes time to spend money on future purchases large or small, research, research, research. The Internet provides numerous shopping tools for price comparisons and reviews, so you can look for not just the lowest price, but the best value. Otherwise, keep your eyes open for coupons and rebates, and actually use them when it comes time to buy.
And regardless of what you decide to buy, take care of what you have — perhaps the best way to save money is to not have to spend money on something new again!
How to Save Money on Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is a necessity that can eat up a lot of your money. To save money, be observant. For one, look at store flyers to see what is on sale for the week, and if you can, match your meal plan, shopping list, coupons and rebates with these sale items. Most grocery stores have loyalty cards, so make sure to use those — otherwise, you’ll be paying higher prices on a lot of your food.
Also, pay attention to what you’re not eating. Buying in bulk typically is cheaper, sure, but if you notice you end up throwing away a lot of something, you’re still wasting money. Consider buying smaller amounts, or just foregoing that product altogether.
How to Save Money on Entertainment and Fun
Spending time as a couple or a family doesn’t have to be expensive. Thanks to online searches, social media, newspapers and flyers, it’s easy to find free or low-cost community activities.
If one of these activities doesn’t interest you, check your local library for movies, books or games to borrow. Most public parks and beaches are free to visit, as well.
And if you feel like you still have to eat out a little, look to happy hours and daily specials. Things like half-priced wine nights or themed food nights are a great way to dine and drink without taxing your wallet.