Everyone is always agonizing over the state of the economy now-a-days. The costs of everything is rising, and everyone’s favorite pastimes (such as Wii’s Ipods, fancy cars, etc.) are getting more and more expensive as the years go by. “I wish I had a hundred dollars.” Is heard quite often these days, but what most people don’t realize is that it’s pretty easy to come up with that extra $100 or more per year. Here’s a few tricks of the trade, but before you dig into them, let me suggest that you get a container that you can’t see through, and take the amount that you would have spent out of your wallet. Pay the amount you pay, and put the extra in the jar. When you are very tempted to dig in the jar for an “emergency”, just remember that you are ruining the end-of-the-year surprise, and you won’t have as much as you would have originally.
DON’T go out to eat once per week. I know it’s easy to slip in the restaurant instead of heading home and finding something there, but it IS do-a-ble. Think of the place you would like to go, figure out how much it would cost you, and when you get home and pull out stuff for a salad or a sandwich, pull the money you would have spent out of your pocket (minus a couple dollars to “pay for” your supper), and stick it in your money jar.
Go to a thrift store FIRST when you need to go clothes shopping, and try to buy at least seven articles of clothing there. I have found that many times there are things with the tags still on them at the thrift stores, and I’ve never had to pay more than $10 for it. Even if the tags aren’t on them, you can find plenty of things that have hardly been worn. Again, figure how much you would have spent, pay what you have to, and put the rest in the jar, DO NOT think that since you have extra, you can buy more stuff. Stick to your list of things you need.
Pack at LEAST two lunches for your kids at school, and/or for yourself at work. Average cost of a school lunch is $1.90 to $3.00 depending on where you live. Average cost of a self-packed school lunch can be as little as a dollar. That’s including a sandwich, some fruit, some chips, and a small dessert. (note: buy the big bag of chips and fill little sandwich bags, buy a pack of cookies or box of Little Debbies, and send a small dessert. Individually packed things to put in your lunch box cost three to four times as much as the same thing in bigger packages.) If you pack two lunches per week, you would save $45 to $104 per child per year. If you pack all five, that’s $162 to $360 per child per year. Imagine that with four kids, you’d be saving at least $180, and up to$1440!!! Don’t forget to put that extra money in the jar! My, wouldn’t that be a fun one to open. (o: )
Cut back on your Cokes, Diet DrPeppers, etc, by four cans per week, more if you can. Not only will it help your health, it will also help your wallet. Keep track of how often you used to have to buy your six-packs or twelve-packs, and then how often you have to now. Say you bought four twelve-packs a month, now you’re only buying three, so when you buy your last box for the month, put what you would have spent on that extra pack in the jar.
Cut back on the cigarettes by at least three per day (or if you quit altogether, you’d be saving a LOT more, and helping your body besides!). Prices on cigarettes vary widely, but say you smoke twelve in a day, and the ones you buy are $25 per carton, a carton would last you about sixteen days. Smoking three less per day would make a carton last you twenty-two days. You would go from spending $550 per year to about $410 per year. That’s saving at least $140. Don’t forget to put that money in the jar. (And think, if you quit smoking altogether, that would be at least $550 dollars extra you’d have at the end of the year!)
Make a movie night at home for all your friends at least twice per year instead of hitting the theater. I think it would be a lot more fun to set up the living room with your chairs and sofas, stuff them full of pillows and fluffy blankets rather than wait in line for tickets, and then sit for a couple hours in a seat that’s threatening to close up on you. Just think with me a moment. To see a good movie you’d spend anywhere from $10 to $45 for a ticket, and then an additional $12 or more for coke, candy, and popcorn. Rent a movie that no one’s seen yet, pop your own popcorn, and go ahead and splurge on the coke and candy, you can get more than enough for everyone plus the movie for less than $25, and if you would have taken four friends to the party, you’d be saving almost ninety dollars. Now, you can either have your friends chip in a couple dollars for the refreshments, or you can pretend you treated at least one of them to the theater, and put that extra money in the jar.
Replace at least five things you buy name-brand with store brands. For example, Blue Plate mayo can be about $3 per jar, and store brand about $1. That nice T-shirt at L.L. Bean is $45, but there’s one at Wal-mart that’s $7. Just for a year, replace a few things that you get the “real thing” of with cheaper varieties. (note: I do not advise you to buy cheap shoes, tires, or mattresses. These are things that you get what you pay for, so don’t skimp there.) Again, put the extra money in a jar.
Doing any one of these tips can save you $100 or more, but just think, if you did two of them, maybe three, or possibly four, how much money would you save then? All this goes to show that a little carful planning and thinking can go a long way in the financial world. Have fun saving!