By staff writer Bobbi Burger Brunoehler.
In my ongoing quest to help my friends save money, here is a list of 20 things that you can do today to save money.
- Stop using plastic and use cash whenever possible. It’s amazing how many items I decide NOT to buy when I go to checkout with cash. When I’m using plastic, I approximate how much I am spending. When I have to hand over hard cold cash it makes me think twice about whether I really need that new bottle of nail polish. Unfortunately, I can’t use cash to buy gasoline since I get almost all my gas from Costco and they don’t take cash at the gas pumps.
- Avoid the mall or retail stores as much as possible. Retailers pay a fortune to marketing companies and retail experts to come up with ways to get you to spend money once you arrive. Just say “no” and don’t go.
- Buy second hand. It doesn’t matter what you are looking for, consider buying it second hand. Even underwear can be purchased at a salvage store (it’s brand new, just sometimes the packaging is messed up.)
- Rent, don’t buy. Is your hubby’s heart set on owning a motorcycle? Rent him one for the weekend or for several weekends. I’ve found that most people who buy motorcycles don’t actually use them enough to warrant the cost, but, they are happy just renting them a few times a year. This goes for RVs, boats, and cabins in the mountain.
- Borrow, don’t rent. If you have been a good neighbor and returned whatever you have borrowed in the past, you might be able to just borrow that power tool that you need for your current project. Some towns even have tool lending libraries and toy lending libraries.
- Do without. We are inundated with marketing that tells us that we “need” the latest and greatest “whatever.” The fact is that we need much less than we think. Our kids are not going to die if they don’t have the newest version of the iphone and we will survive using a hand mixer instead of the latest kitchen gadget.
- Make it yourself. This can include anything from new drapes to kid’s toys to gifts. You can find instructions for almost anything online. I use YouTube and Instructables the most, but an internet search on almost any subject will bring up how-to videos on every subject. Plus you will get the added satisfaction of using something that you made yourself. Competence is a great gift to give yourself and your kids.
- Buy it with friends. Buying in bulk is always cheaper than buying single items. Perhaps you don’t really need 12 bottles of your favorite super greens, but if you go in with a friend and share the buy, you will both save significantly. It takes a bit of coordination on the paying and pickup, so you definitely want to do this with your most responsible friend.
- Join a co-op. If a lot of people (especially people who don’t know each other well) want to get together for bulk buying, then the way to go is to form or join a co-op.
- Turn off your unused electronics. Use this energy savings calculator to see how much your electronics are costing.
- Use window coverings to help control indoor temperature. Open the drapes to let the sunshine heat your home during the winter. Close the drapes when the sun stops shining in. Reverse this during the summer.
- Walk, don’t ride. Great exercise. Walk enough and you can cancel your gym membership.
- Car pool. Get to know your neighbors and co-workers. You might find out that you travel the same route every day. By car pooling you will both save money and make a new friend.
- Plan ahead. The closer it comes to the time that you need something, the more you are going to pay for it. Planning ahead is a great money saver, also known as buy ahead of need.
- Use coupons. Utilize Bargain Babe’s coupon database. There are dozens and dozens of coupons, some to print and others to clip from your Sunday coupon inserts.
- Join frequent buyer clubs and reap the rewards. If you shop at the same place a lot, see if they have a “club.” I get some great coupons from my favorite craft stores that have saved me quite a bit of money. Is a Costco executive membership worth it?
- Use the public library system. My first comment on Bargain Babe was about the fact that I saved over a quarter of a million dollars using the public library system. It’s a great deal. Use it or lose it.
- Cancel your cable TV. There are so many shows available for free online, you can cancel your cable and save a ton of money. Join Netflix for $9 a month, or check out these five movie and TV services that are cheaper than Netflix.
- Refinance your home mortgage. We all know that interest rates are very low right now. Take advantage of this if you can.
- Make a budget and stick to it. The best savings of them all. Know what you can spend. Put it in writing and in practice and learn to say “no.”
What are your favorite money saving tips?
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