In these uncertain economic times, we’re all looking to save a little money, especially if we can do it without changing our lifestyle. Here are 10 ways you can do just that. Taken together and applied over even a few months, they could make a noticeable difference to your family’s budget.
1. The “small stuff” pays off.
Pennies and nickels add up. Drinking coffee instead of cappuccino each day saves $40 a month. Reducing soft drink consumption by one litre a week saves $6 a month. Tucking away 50 cents in loose change a day equals $15 a month. Brown-bagging lunch saves $60 a month. That’s over $120 per month or almost $1500 each year back in your wallet.
2. Install a programmable thermostat.
Many models are available for $50 or less. Easily installed, they can cut heating costs by 10 to 20 per cent. Use one to reduce temperatures (and heating costs) in winter, and increase temperatures (and cut air-conditioning costs) in summer during hours when no one is home.
3. Reduce the hot water temperature setting to 50 degrees Celsius.
Electric water heaters are the second biggest energy consumer for most homes; lowering the water temperature lowers your electric costs. Drain five or six litres of water from your heater every three months to remove sediment and improve heat transfer.
4. Review telephone and cable TV bills.
Identify unwanted or unused services and ask the provider to eliminate them. If they don’t, consider changing companies.
5. Change banks to avoid fees.
Some banks charge substantial fees for cheques and other services, while others provide them free without needing to maintain a minimum account balance. Talk to your bank to see if a different account could save you money.
6. Prepare a shopping list and stick to it.
Shopping without a list guarantees you’ll buy things you don’t need. Preparing a list also helps you save by planning meals that will use up the food you already have.
7. Reduce convenience foods.
Frozen dinners and microwaveable foods reduce preparation time but add a substantial cost to your budget. An hour spent on weekends making casseroles, roasting chicken breasts and preparing other meals for the week saves a bundle each month.
8. Master the 10-second rule and the 30-day rule.
Use the 10-second rule to ponder impulse purchases that are not on your shopping list. Ask yourself why you are buying the item and if you really need it. Without a good answer, put it back. Use the 30-day rule when considering major purchases. After 30 days, ask yourself if you really need it.
9. Plan get-togethers at home instead of going out.
Potluck suppers and bridge nights with friends can be as much fun (and far cheaper) than dining out at restaurants.
10. Avoid shopping as a means of relieving stress.
Many people go shopping when faced with stress as a result of work or family strife, but it’s an expensive cure. Try substituting meditation, yoga, or just private quiet time in its place.
These are steps we can all take to get our budgets under control, leaving you more money to reduce debts and save for the future. Contact FaithLife Financial for more information.