Photo (cc) by daniel.sound
It seems everyone is exploring new and novel ways to save money. But sometimes in our quest for fresh ideas, we forget the basics that served us so well in the past.
When that happens, take a step back and brush up on those neglected, tried-and-true methods.
Here are seven classic money-saving tips worth another look:
1. Buy used
Let someone else take depreciation on the chin. Buying used cars, secondhand appliances in good working order, and gently used clothes and books is one of the best money-saving moves.
Don’t wait until you need an item to buy it; instead plan ahead. Think about what your family will need three months or six months down the road.
Then, look for bargains. During the dog days of summer, scour thrift stores for great winter clothes. In autumn, pick up a used patio set from the classifieds.
2. Lighten up on the utilities
I’m a child of the ’70s and distinctly remember the first energy crisis. It seemed like overnight the country developed an energy conscience and began trying to conserve energy.
I still watch the utilities closely today — turning off lights when I leave a room, using dimmer switches and keeping the thermostat set at reasonable temperatures as the seasons change.
You can do it too. One very simple way to start is to install energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs. Keeping utility costs in check saves money and reduces our carbon footprint at the same time.
3. Skip the treat (sometimes)
Don’t get me wrong: What fun would life be without a little indulgence? But for the frugal-minded, a treat that happens every day is no longer a treat — it’s overhead.
Will that treat be any less delicious if you make it at home and skip the retail markup and long lines? We all have our own “latte factor” in life; remembering to keep our treats in line with our budget is essential when trying to save.
4. Buy in bulk
Rather than focusing on sale prices for individual items, compare prices per ounce or per unit. Often, buying in bulk makes more financial sense. But keep three things in mind when buying in bulk:
- Don’t buy more than you have room to store (or share).
- Buy only those products you actually will use.
- For perishable grocery items, make sure you’re not buying so much that you won’t have time to use them before they go bad.
5. Ride a bike or carpool
You can save a lot of money by commuting to work by bike a few times a week, or using a bike for local errands. Besides avoiding the expenses of fuel, wear and tear on your car and parking, you will get a free cardio workout.
Although carpooling isn’t necessarily heart-healthy, it can be budget-friendly. Explore joining or setting up a carpool program so you can share commuting expenses with co-workers who have similar schedules.
6. Learn a money-saving skill
If you’re focused on frugal living, explore hobbies and activities that are enjoyable and that also help your bottom line.
Learn to plant a vegetable or herb garden, try your hand at basic car and home repair projects, or learn to refinish furniture.
7. Save the raise
If you get a raise but can still make ends meet on your pre-raise salary, consider pocketing the extra cash and putting it toward your retirement savings or other investments. Try the same approach with your tax refund or quarterly bonus.
All these money-saving tips have a theme in common: The details matter.
Small expenditures are easy to overlook as we focus on big expenses like mortgage payments, student loan debt or credit card bills. But every bit of spending — and saving — adds up.
It’s worth remembering: Being vigilant in all areas of our financial lives — from the big stuff to the small stuff — can make a real impact on our bottom lines.
What are some of your favorite easy ways to save that people often overlook? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.