A list of a hundred money saving ideas would not be hard to compile. There are certainly ways to save money on everything from peanut butter to car repairs. But there are also a few more universal ideas that are most important if you want to habitually save on the things you buy. Here are six of them.
1. Start Big
There is a time and place to start looking for ways to buy a cheaper pair of socks or a less expensive manicure. But if you have any large expenditures coming up, start by looking for ways to save money on those. An extra hour finding a great car for $2,000 less saves more than many years of coupon clipping can. Big expenses that are regular are even more important, which leads us to our next idea:
2. Look At Regular Expenditures
The more regular an expenditure is, the more potential there is for savings. Start big here too, looking at your utility bills, driving expenses and perhaps even the rent or mortgage payment. There may be ways to save on all of them. But don’t forget the small stuff if it is regular enough. An every-day three-dollar cup of coffee replaced with a one-dollar one saves you over $500 each year.
3. Look To Eliminate
Do you have things that you really don’t need or use? If they require any ongoing costs, it is probably time to get rid of them. You may not owe anything on an unused motorcycle or snowmobile, but you still have to license them each year and pay insurance. Do you read the magazines you have subscriptions to? If not, cancel them. The great thing about eliminating these kinds of expenses is that nothing is lost, and you have more money for the things you really can use.
4. Don’t Add Unnecessary Expenses
It is easy to buy things without considering the future costs they impose on you. Something as simple as buying a fish tank and a few fish can add up to more ongoing costs than you might realize. You will need fish food, cleaning supplies, occasional replacement of parts and more. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get anything that will have costs, but be sure you know what they are and have decided that they are worth it for you.
5. Track Your Expenditures
It’s a relatively simple exercise to write down every dollar and penny you spend each day for a month or two, and it will show you a lot. Many people probably avoid doing this because they are afraid to see the truth in black and white. Do it anyhow, and see how much actually goes to your habits and bills and meals and more. You might discover that what you think you value isn’t reflected in how you spend your money, and so decide to make some money saving changes.
6. Spend Consciously
This last of these money saving ideas may be the most important. It is also easier to do once you have actually tracked your spending for a while. Consciously think about each thing you spend money on for a month or so, until it becomes a habit to ask yourself questions like, “How important is this to me?” and “Is it worth what I will spend on it?” and “What alternatives do I have?”