Monday, October 23, 2017

Twelve Easy Ways to Save Money That Won't Make You Feel Frustrated!

Bills. Groceries. Debt. The struggle is real.

If you're anything like us, you need to save money to put more money toward your financial goals.

Getting out of debt. Building an emergency fund. Saving for retirement. Saving for college.

Here are some ways we save money that have helped in our journey to financial independence:

Twelve Easy Ways to Save Money

1. Buy a cheaper car than you can afford.

If you have to buy a vehicle, don't buy the most expensive car you can afford. Settle on a vehicle that meets your needs but allows you to save money toward other financial goals.  This advice applies to home purchases as well.

2. Resist the urge to get a new car.

On the other hand, if your car still works, consider delaying your purchase for awhile to build up your savings. Your car may not have all the latest updates, but a car's primary purpose is transportation.  Also, if you live in an area with reliable and safe public transportation, you might be able to avoid buying a car altogether. Remember, cars depreciate in value over time so money you allocate to assets that decrease in value is money you can't allocate to assets that increase in value over time.

3. Buy from different stores.

Sometimes you can save money just by shopping at a different store.  The store might not be as convenient or where you're used to shopping, but saving money is saving money.

4. Don't pay retail - buy second-hand.

If you must buy name-brand items, you can save considerably by purchasing them at thrift stores and consignment stores. Goodwill Stores carry casual and dress clothes for considerable savings. Just look for items that are high quality and gently used.

5. Ask yourself if you really need it.

If we're really honest with ourselves, many of the things we buy are wants and not actual needs. This question is especially important when you find something in a store that catches your eye.

6. Stop paying for cable.

Just hear me out. You can live without cable. Is your life consumed by TV. Get outside. Start a hobby. Actually pay attention to the people in your home. If you have a digital antenna, you can get local channels for free. If you have Internet and a Netflix or Hulu subscription, you can watch most of the shows you like for less than $15 a month.  If you have unlimited Internet through AT&T, you can get DIRECTV Now for $10 a month (as of the publication date of this post). This subscription includes most popular channels and many shows you can watch on demand. Compare that to cable or satellite subscriptions that can cost $50 to $100 a month. If you keep your traditional subscription, consider reducing the number of locations in the home where you can watch it so you can save money and watch TV as a family.

7. Pay with a card to earn reward points you can use later.

If you have a card that accumulates cash back, points, or miles, use that card instead of paying cash. This won't work for those of you who are cash-only, but using cash when you have a card that offers rewards, you are essentially leaving money on the table by not using it.

8. Use reward points instead of cash.

If you've accumulated reward points, miles, or cash back, use the reward to reduce your expenses and add to your savings.

9. Compare prices.

Say you want to book a plane ticket and you usually fly on a specific carrier.  Taking time to compare fares from different carriers can sometimes save you a great deal of money.

10. Travel during off-peak times of the week or year.

When we were faculty members, we were on nine-month contracts and we had summers off.  While this was fun, that meant we were traveling at the most expensive time of the year. Now that we work twelve months a year, we can take vacation during off-peak times, allowing us to save money. Also, if you watch prices over the course of a week, you may find the cheapest day to book your tickets.

11. Use coupons.

Even if you don't like cutting coupons, they can save you money. You can buy Sunday papers with coupons at the Dollar Tree for a dollar.  You can also use digital coupons and apps if you don't want to cut and keep track of paper coupons.

12. Only buy items when they are on sale.

Rather than buy every item on your list every week, try to only buy the items that are on sale and stock up. This strategy takes some planning, but can save money in the long run.

What's your favorite way to save money? Let us know in the comments!

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