Saving money can be difficult these days, even for the most money-conscious of us. For the millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, saving a portion back each week can be overwhelming or can mean going without something. Many people who are living on a tight budget assume there just isn’t room to breathe where saving is concerned, which leads to stress when planning for the future. Thinking about the things you’ll leave your family with–insurance, estate planning, and money for higher education, to name a few–can be daunting, and while it’s never easy to create a budget and stick to it, there are ways you can save money that you might not even have thought about.
Start by sitting down and looking at your finances to see where your money goes each week; going month to month can be too big a job and might overwhelm you. After that, create a budget and work with your partner or spouse on sticking to it, and follow these tips to help you along the way.
Become a coupon master
Many people only use coupons when they’re making a particular purchase and can get a significant amount off, but there’s a ton of money to be saved out there if you know where to find it–and actually use it. Many chain grocery stores have rewards programs or offer a coupon card that takes so much off specific items during every trip, and some will keep track of your purchases and reward you with several cents off gas at a participating gas station each month. Some stores will send you coupons simply for signing up to receive their emails. With sites like RetailMeNot and apps that help you find the best daily deal, there’s no reason you should pay full price for anything.
Think outside the box
If you think about it, your car is likely one of your biggest expenses. Between insurance, gas, and maintenance, most vehicles cost their owners thousands of dollars per year. You can cut down on those expenses by doing everything possible on your end to keep it in good shape. This includes getting regular oil changes, of course, but there are small things you should be doing as well. Keeping your tires inflated is imperative, because under-inflation can use up gasoline really quickly. Take your car to the nearest service station and have them check the pressure for you. Many places will do it for free, and it only takes a few minutes.
Skip the overdraft
Most banks offer overdraft protection in case you accidentally spend more than you have in your account. This can be a huge help, but it also means you could get into the habit of spending more than you’re bringing in, and that’s never good. Skip the overdraft protection and find out if your bank offers a mobile app, so you can stay up to date with your expenses and you’ll never be surprised.
Rethink the cable
In this age of technology, many of us need a cable connection for internet services, but if you’re paying for a cable television service, you might want to rethink it. There are tons of options for watching shows and movies now–you can stream them right through your computer or game system–so that may be an expense that you just don’t need.
Keep the change
Using cash is a great way to keep track of your spending during the week, and if you use cash you’re bound to end up with a lot of coins. Keep a piggy bank or dedicated jar for change and let it pile up for a while, then take it to a local CoinStar machine and turn it into cash. You can use it to pay bills or to splurge on something nice for the family, like a trip to the ice cream shop.
About the author: Jackie Waters is a mother of four beautiful and energetic boys and lives with her family on their three acre hobby farm in Oregon. In her spare time, she works on her site http://hyper-tidy.com/.
Photo via Pixabay by jarmoluk