Is your budget out of control? Is your bank account bleeding red every month?
Do you sometimes feel like a money launderer—your paycheck just passes through on its way to somewhere else?
Would you like to keep more of what you make?
Here are 20 simple ways to slash your spending and get your finances back under control.
It may take some self-discipline and a little work to make these into new habits, but if you do it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of cash you can keep.
1. Consolidate bank accounts. Having all your financial accounts in one place, wherever possible, makes it easier to track your finances.
2. Speaking of tracking your finances, use a financial program like Quicken to keep track of your financial accounts and spending. Being able to see and categorize your income and spending will help you to have a clearer picture of your financial status.
3. Pay cash. It’s always cheaper than buying on credit. Don’t fall for the “90 days, same as cash” deals. Unless you’re exceptionally disciplined, the fine print—and its accompanying interest—will bite you in the financial backside.
4. Pay bills online but don’t use auto-pay. Schedule the payments yourself so you know when and where your money is going.
5. Review your bills on a regular basis to make sure you’re only paying for services you actually need.
6. Bundle services when possible. Purchasing car, home and other insurances from the same broker or insurance company can often yield a hefty discount over buying each from a different company.
7. Cancel unused memberships and subscriptions
8. Ditch the take-out. Learn to cook your own meals at home from real ingredients. You’ll save money both on meals—and on medical, because you’re eating healthier.
9. Cook in bulk. Not only can it save you money, but knowing you have a couple extra meals in the freezer will keep you from resorting to drive-thru and take-out meals on busy nights.
10. Make a menu and grocery shop with a list.
11. Stop buying bottled water. Don’t like what comes out of the tap? Use a faucet filter or a filtering pitcher. They are far less expensive than the least expensive bottled water (which is usually filtered tap water).
12. Make your own cleaning supplies.
13. Encourage your children to carpool, ride bikes—or if they are old enough, use public transit. You’ll save gas and time, and your children will learn how to be independent and responsible for themselves.
14. Don’t shop as a hobby and always give yourself a waiting period before making non-essential purchases. Never buy non-essentials on impulse. Buy in haste, regret at leisure.
15. When buying clothes and accessories, check the local thrift or consignment store first. In addition to often having end-of-season clothes from local department stores, many secondhand stores have a full range of still stylish clothes and extras–from designer to discount brands—for pennies on the dollar.
16. Consider used over new whenever possible. From major appliances to furniture to home decor, bargains abound on still serviceable goods and appliances that the original purchasers have tired of.
17. Keep your car maintained. Regular maintenance will extend its life and give you more value for your money.
18. Use what you have until its worn out. Drive that car until the wheels fall off. The same advice holds for appliances, clothes and all sorts of items. Stop throwing out or replacing perfectly good things that still work. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
19. Visit the library before the bookstore. Not only can you check out books, but many libraries offer movies, music, audio books and video games.
20. Find a purchase partner before making large recreational purchases. If you’re thinking about ATV’s, jet skis, snowmobiles, a boat, trailer, or even large camping tent, consider how often you’ll use it—and is there someone you could invest with. This cuts the cost of purchase and ownership in half—and most people don’t use these items so much that they couldn’t be shared.
What would you add to this list? Share your best money-saving tips in the comment section below.