Featured Image: Song of Style
Article By: Judy Allen
Saving money on everyday items means everyday savings. Small adjustments, made over time, will add up in the long run and help us to kick some bad habits at the same time. Choose a few of these money-saving changes then bolster your determination. As you lessen your expenses, you can learn to increase your savings. It’s a win-win for you and your wallet.
We all love a great wedding but when the average cost to tie the knot in the US is $26,000, something’s amiss before we hit the altar. Who wants to pay interest on twenty dozen, dead roses and sixteen, non-eaten plates of filet mignon? Or wake up the next day with a negative balance at the bank? Why not hire an amateur wedding planner, with great reviews, and include your closest family and friends in building your dream wedding – on a smaller, more intimate note? Being surrounded by your inner circle, as you pledge into the future, is a good omen and better for your pocket-book.
We all hate funerals. We gather with people we love, hate, and don’t remember at a time no one is in the mood for mixing. Add in the $10,000 for the traditional American method of departure and chances are we’ll end up hating our families even more. This is when pre-need, funeral planning can free you up to grieve the loss of your loved one; without the added stress of emotional spending. If pre-planning was impossible, call upon your most level-headed friend or family member to make tasteful, yet budget-friendly decisions
3. Baby Gear
How could such a tiny, innocent newborn need so much stuff? Are they really safer in the high-dollar infant seat and need the baby swing that plays over one-hundred different tunes you upload from your favorite playlist? Here’s a wholesome idea: call in grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and moms and dads with more than two kids. Print a “must have” list off the internet then poll your people. Consider their wisdom and watch your mega-list shrink to something that not only prevents clutter in the living room, and gives your little one the best of care, but leaves some cash for those much needed date nights; up ahead.
4. Eating Out
Perhaps it’s been a hectic day, there’s a celebration calling for wine and candlelight or we’re just plain craving our favorite seafood platter. There’s nothing wrong with these occasions out but when they happen three times a week, and we forget about the at least 30% mark up on every dish, we can be mixing a recipe for disaster. We should always have something quick in the freezer, left-overs in the frog, and some bucks tucked away for special occasions. Cooking when you feel like it, then freezing your creations, can arm you with something to pull out later, and meal-planning co-ops are happy to partner with you to pack the freezer full. Invite friends, giving each of them an assigned ingredient or dish, and share the cost, while still enjoying the company – at home.
5. Brand New Car
Drive one of these babies off the lot and it’s already depreciated by 20%. Before you know it, your shiny piece of steel, plastic and fiberglass is worth the same as a good used one; except you’re paying a much higher, monthly payment. Leasing is a more economical choice and if you choose to buy, land a good deal on a previously leased vehicle. It’s more likely to have been well-maintained and its service records more readily available. The best option is buying a good used car; for cash. Many times, this takes months, or even years of advanced planning, but it’s well worth the effort.
Let’s face it, most leave college with more debt than they can cover in the next ten years. And, landing a job that utilizes your degree can take time. Do some homework before filling out that college application to make sure you’re on the right track. Take several personality, aptitude and career exploration tests. Talk to friends and family that have known you for years. What gifts and skills do they readily connect with your personality? Search for scholarships and apply for grants. You’ll be working hard when you get in, work harder before you start.
We loved the wedding; now comes the sad truth that close to 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce. It’s ironic how two people who once swore their love turn into bitter enemies when their relationship ends. In many cases, lawyers heat up the fight by planting ideas in the heads of their clients and the resentment grows even deeper – into your savings account. Unless there are dire circumstances, the use of a mediator, or even online divorce, is a healthier option for your heart, mind and bank account. When negotiating terms, be fair. Live and let live.
8. Sports Gear
Are you using that “must have” hockey stick that fell behind your workbench? How many deflated soccer balls do you own? When’s the last time you lifted those weights or sat on that balance ball? If you haven’t used your gear for two seasons or for more than six months, consider selling the good stuff and pitching the bad. Whenever you decide to try something new, be gut honest with yourself. Did you try it before and walk away? Rent or borrow equipment before investing in it. Then buy it second-hand to make doubly sure it’s a good fit. If you’re convinced your new interest in “the one”,save up for its purchase. If you end up using your stash on other things, maybe the gear wasn’t so necessary or affordable after all.
It’s been said that a women will spend her last dime on beauty products. If that’s true, it also means she has nothing left for shoes. The answer is simple. Buy quality products and use them sparingly. Give your face a break from all cosmetics, whenever you can, and take advantage of online coupons, sales promotions at the mall and holidays gift offers. Drug stores can yield an amazing line of quality lipsticks and nail polish and outlet malls are stepping in to offer top-dollar lines for less. You’re creative about your beauty; be creative about your spending.
10. Cleaning Products
It’s time for another investigation. Browse through your cabinets and utility closets. How many types of glass cleaner do you have? And is there a huge difference between those six kinds of toilet bowl cleaner? Buying in duplicate, whether the same product or similar ones that do the same job, is wasteful and expensive. Check out the concoctions your grandmother may have used. Apple cider vinegar, baking soda, even peroxide have their place as handy, household helpers. Make a list of the products you use, then research ways to create your own. Shopping at a dollar store helps too. Same stuff for less.
11. Pre-sliced or Prepared Foods
True, you’re busy. From sun up to sun down you’re on the go. And our local grocers provide a quick grab and go for almost anything; including pre-sliced onions and pre-formed burger beef. But you’re paying for it – about one and a half times. Call all hands to the kitchen and make a prep-line or take a few minutes to cut, slice and dice the night before; when the kids are all tucked in. If your significant other gets in before you do, ask him or her to play prep-chef that evening. You can pre-form your own burgers and put together most salads about three days ahead of time. Seasoning your chicken breast is quick and easy – not to mention fresher.
12. Energy Drinks and Coffee
Some of us don’t drink water. We need something with kick or comforting cream. It’s time to be brave. Add up the cost of one week’s worth of energy drinks and coffee bought on your way to work. You may swallow hard, when you realize it’s costing you $25-35, or more, each week. Buy yourself a fancy, travel mug or two then purchase your favorite coffee and add-ins. It will take just ten minutes, tops, to brew up and go. It will not only cost you less, it will save you time in the drive-through. If you’re a fiend for energy drinks, replace them with lower-cost, protein drinks you mix in your kitchen. You’ll save big bucks and be healthier.
13. High-Cost Dates
You may be out to impress him or her, but you won’t be so dashing when you run out of funds, and your exotic dates come to an end, or your electricity gets disconnected. Better to make a habit you can keep. Put some thought and planning into it. It’s certainly impressive to choose a date based on research and reviews. It’s also interesting, table talk when you explain the chosen venue according to its location, history, menu or service. And time spent walking and talking – perhaps on some well-researched hiking trail – can heighten the chance for more meaningful conversation. It’s not how much you spend; it’s who you spend the time with.
14. Bottled Water
Studies show that many high-end, water-bottling companies are packaging the same stuff that flows from your kitchen faucet. And since you’re paying for it to come to your house, why pay double to buy it in a bottle? Same as with the coffee; buy yourself a couple of awesome water bottles, that reflect your personality. Tote your jug to work and around town. It shows your intelligence commitment to better health practices and attention to environmental issues. If you’re convinced that the stuff coming out of your faucet is not so great; invest in a filtration system or use a filtered pitcher in the refrigerator. But first, ask for a water-quality-report from your city hall or buy a water-testing kit at your local, building supply store, follow the directions, and see for yourself.
15. Utility Bills
Most of us have heard the call to, “turn out the light when you leave the room.” But there’s much more to lessen our energy consumption. Do you have drafts around windows or doors? Is your 25-year-old furnace keeping up, and do you change the filters on your new one? Do you ever turn off the TV, ceiling fans, and white sound machines? Lower your thermostat setting when leaving the house in the winter and bump it up on the AC when gone in the summer. Have your home inspected for proper insulation and upgrade your windows to insulated or glazed. Lower utility bills are definitely within our control. We use, we pay. We use less; we pay less.
16. Designer Paper Towel, Plates, Napkins and Food Storage Containers
As much as we may love the little bells, bows, and pumpkins on our paper goods and storage containers, they’re a quick, money drain that goes straight into the garbage can. Sure, they add a festive touch, but we can be creative with their use. Buy one roll of a holiday, paper towels and put it on display when company comes. But when they leave, switch it back to your plain, white brand. Or leave it out to adorn your holiday kitchen, but use the white, roll under the sink most often. Use printed, paper plates and napkins for parties only, and stamped storage containers only when giving a home-baked gift. If you can skip paper plates and napkins altogether it is even better to use the real thing!
17. Kid Birthday Parties
What fun! We want our little ones to remember each birthday party and enjoy it to the fullest. However, how many memories are rolled up and tossed with the fancy, paper, tablecloths and how many parties favors end up thrown into the basement or are given away in duplicate to those who don’t want them? Don’t buy party favors until the RSVP date passes and prepare fewer extras. And keep your guest list smaller. Who do you want around? Bake your cake, or cupcakes, and let the kids decorate them. When it comes to gifts, buy your child things that last; the other stuff will come from the guests. And when it comes to food, remember it’s all about your youngster, not their parents.
18. Buying Brand Names
When buying a store brand, or unknown, is as good as the big-ticket, brand name, consider the lesser. True, some off-brands are of less quality, like cans of carrots and green beans, but when the quality is the same, we may be spending for other reasons. You can buy an “off brand” pair of gym shoes for ruining in the garden and keep your high-end sneakers in the closet; to wear when leaving the house. You can remove the tag from your blouse if it seems too low-brow, and doctor up your no-name soup by putting in into a fancy container before taking it to the office. Few will take note of your “brand” unless it’s distasteful and offensive.
How many pairs of shoes are in your closet? Do you buy a new outfit or extra accessories each time you attend an event? A little organization may help stop unnecessary spending. Group clothing together that can be mixed and matched. Hang a coordinating sweater over a favorite blouse and wrap a fashion scarf around the neck of the hanger. Next, to that, hang the skirt or pair of slacks you intend to wear with it. Try grouping your clothing by colors or by season and look through your wardrobe often. The more you remind yourself of what’s there, the less you may spend on new stuff. Try shopping online thrift stores and if you still have that gorgeous dress or suit you wore to your cousin’s wedding, chances are, you still look great in it! Try it on and remind yourself.
20. Auto Insurance
Still have the same insurance policy you did five years ago? Have your agent do some checking. You may be missing more affordable coverage. Are all drivers, at your address, on the same policy? Do you bundle insurance? The more the merrier when it comes to insurance – unless you’re surrounded by those with reckless, driving habits. And getting your homeowners, renters or even life insurance through the agent that provides your auto coverage, can yield greater savings.
Are you guilty of any of these? Comment Below