Here are some of my easy tips for reducing spending. I don’t go in to as many items as Kim (from the Friday Question) does but these can add up quick so I’ll share a few of my easiest ones. Actually I think most of these add up faster than shopping around for gas prices (even if you drive a big vehicle).
1) Pay your bills automatically (and on time)! I don’t mean electronically (this is work), I mean automatically so they just deduct your account. Set up auto-bill payments just one time so bills comes out the of the bank (generally on the day due, you can’t pay it any closer that that) any you don’t have to write checks, buy stamps or take the time to do it. If it’s a regular payment (same amount every month) that can’t do direct withdrawal see if your bank can send a check for you, my bank does it for a quarter (less than a stamp) and I never have to think about it. If you do this you’ll avoid any fees or fines for tardy bills. I’m assuming you already do direct deposit for your checks, don’t you?
2) Keep what you drink around you. If you’re always drinking water keep a few in the trunk. Or grab a cold soda on the way out of the house. I keep a case of water bottles* in the garage, if I take an empty out of the car, I put in a full one. If you’re heading out to a picnic bring the sodas with you. If you’ve got a fridge at work, keep sodas/water/etc. there. If this stops you from buying one drink a day ($1.00-$1.75) and you purchased your drinks on sale (stock up dummy!) you could easily save $365 a year, if this stops you from buying two drinks a day you could double that. Even just twice a week could pocket you a $100 at the end of the year. I’m not suggesting that you take your drink into a restaurant or movie theatre just if you’e going to get one anyways.
3) Pay a little attention to grocery sales. I shop for groceries for myself and traditionally when trying coupon cutting I waste more time cutting and looking at the store for the coupons then I save. But look for the obvious: If Orange Juice is on sale for $2 a gallon (down from $4) and you drink a gallon a week, stock up, pay attention to the dates though. If the cereal you like is on sale, stock up! And if you soda pop you drink is on sale, buy lots, it keeps for a while. Besides you want to keep some at your desk at work.
4) If you ever eat out, buy an Entertainment book. It’s not just food, most food coupons are B!G!, but could save the price of a book just with the Radio Shack, Target and Border’s book coupons. I’m not saying go to restaurants that you don’t normally go to, I’m saying just look at the book and go to the same places you already go! After the first year, you’ll buy one for both of your cars (if your family has two). Better yet, buy one before the family goes on vacation and use it there, because if you’re going to eat at unfamiliar restaurants, you might as well as use one you’ve got coupons for!
5) Don’t pay too much for gasoline. Speaking of saving money when shopping for gas, you can pay more than the cheapest place, just not too much. Some people drive across town for 5 cents a gallon, but not out of the way may save them 3 cents. Take two seconds to check prices at GasBuddy.com and see what’s average and if prices are going up or down (once you select your cities you can bookmark it). For example, there’s a few places at $2.59 but that’s across town but there is a bunch around $2.63 on the way to where I’m going but now I know to ignore the $2.77+ stations, which is what it was a few days ago. BTW, there’s an iPhone app for that.
6) Use the library for books, audiobooks or DVDs. Figure out how to reserve items on-line and they’ll contact you when it’s sitting at the counter. My library seems to put books in the electronic catalog when they order, so I can reserve best-sellers months before they come out; they’ll even ship them between branches for me. Just return them on time so you don’t pay fines.
7) Don’t buy lottery tickets! But then again if you don’t play you can’t win. That reminds me, I need to check my ticket numbers. I’ll admit, I do buy tickets, but $3 would be a busy week for me. But someone has to win, don’t they?
Most of these, especially the first five, are easy to do and don’t require much change in your life. If anything the first one will save you time and money.