When it comes to saving money, many people begin to become overwhelmed just thinking about the cost of everything. How many times have you asked yourself “Where does it all go?” Finding out is easy and essential if you’re ever going to turn things around.
=>Where to Begin
What level of tracking do you do now? Is it just your basic checkbook and bank statement reconciliation or do you have software like Quicken to track your financial status? Whatever tool you have to keep track of your expenses, you do need to use it.
There are two main areas that individuals struggle to understand: credit cards and cash. We write checks out for our credit cards, but we don’t really analyze our buying behavior. How many times have you wondered where your cash went?
Here is a simple exercise that can help you capture your spending behaviors.
**Buy yourself a small notebook and a pen and for the next two weeks write down everything that you spend. It doesn’t matter how insignificant the expense seems, it must be listed.
**Carry this notebook with you at all times. Once the two weeks has ended, take a good look and you will see where all of your money is going. You may be surprised and shocked to see how much actually goes on frivolous and insignificant items. Once you understand where your money is going, that knowledge is what you use to make the necessary changes in your financial situation.
Besides understanding your own buying behavior, there are other ways you can save money. Maybe you are already doing some of them or all of them.
=>Money Saving Tips:
**Look at your 2 week spending list and select 3 items that you can decrease or eliminate right away.
**Bank fees – plenty of banks offer free checking…use them.
**Health Club membership – are you using it? If not, let it go. Walk outside and get your Vitamin D and some fresh air.
**Keep your tires properly inflated…this saves money on gas.
**Before you buy something – if it is small, wait 24 hours before actually buying it. If it is big, wait 30 days before purchasing this item. If you still need or want it, do it. If not, think of what you’ve saved!
**Call your credit card company and ask for a decrease in % on your bill. They want to keep you, so don’t be shy, ask for what you want. More often than not, they will work with you.
**Unplug appliances. Even though you shut them off, they still use a small amount of energy when plugged in.
**Combine cable, internet and phone…you can usually save money, especially on the phone portion.
**Buy generic as most of the time that is cheaper.
**Do your shopping once a week as you are less tempted to buy extra food. Bring your list and coupons with you.
**Check out online food services – they can be cheaper and usually have good fruits and vegetables. You save time and gas to the store.
**Eating Out – how much do you spend? Decrease it by 50% and use that towards outstanding bills or add to your savings.
**Invite friends, potluck style, and have everyone bring a dish. Everyone is in the same situation, trying to decrease expenses and still connecting socially with friends.
**How often do you buy coffee, newspapers, lunch and snacks? Yes, meeting a friend for coffee is definitely an inexpensive outing. Yet bring your own coffee, lunch and snacks to work.
**Movies – go to the Library and check out a movie.It is free usually, unless you are late returning it.
**Go outside – have a picnic, walk in your local park, take pictures and enjoy nature.
**Check out your local community events. Lots of times they are free or the cost is minimal.
**Bring cash and leave the plastic at home. This way you get to see the real costs of what you buy. We are definitely a credit card society, yet it also gets us into trouble financially.
**Clothes: Fashion runs 6 months ahead of schedule, so as soon as summer arrives the stores are clearing out their summer stock to make room for the fall and winter. This is a great time to pick up some great bargains. It isn’t uncommon to see savings of 70-80 percent at an end of season sale. You can get some gorgeous clothing and time to enjoy it.
**Large expenses – Do your homework. Do a price comparison before buying.
**Holiday Time – Put all the adults’ names in a hat, and have each member of the family pick a name and buy just for that person. One nicer gift instead of many small gifts is appreciated by all.
**Make your own gifts – breads, cookies, candles or whatever craft you love to do.
The above is a brief list of money-saving ideas. What about your ideas? What do you do to save money?
Copyright (c) 2009 Pat Brill