One of the things people often do not appreciate about saving is how fast the savings grow when you save small amount for a long time on a regular basis. Don’t wait till some arbitrary time in the future when you feel like you have enough money to save. It’s important to start now, even if it’s just a small amount, because small regular amounts really add up.
If you want to save $1,000 this year, you need to save $2.74 each day. In 40 years, at 10% interest, you’ll have over $486,000. If you delay saving $2.74 a day for just one year, you’ll have $45,000 less in 40 years.
Groceries may be one of the areas most ripe for savings. Wandering around a grocery store (especially if you are hungry) often leads to overspending. Plan your meal(s) before you shop and stick with your list. That should mean you won’t have to run back to the grocery store multiple times during the week.
Watch for Bogos and plan your menus around what is least expensive that week. Most grocery stores run specials on a regular rotation. If you know when chicken or pork is on sale, you can plan your meals around those sales.
Unless you know there is an issue with your local water supply, drink tap water, and don’t buy bottled water. You’ll save money and help the environment. If you look closely at the bottled water label, you’ll find that most of it comes from a public supply, so in reality, you are simply buying tap water from a different location.
Analyze your transportation options to save some cash. If your destination is nearby, walk or jump on your bike to get there instead of wasting expensive gas. Or consider carpooling or taking public transportation.
Google “Comparison shop” and there are lots of websites which you can use to compare prices from different sources on the same product. When you type in what you’re looking for, you’ll get a list of prices and stores that carry your item so you can easily find the best deal. You have to be careful and be familiar with the product to compare size and packaging because it can be confusing!
Put aside all the items you don’t use and give them to charity. Make sure to document everything you gave away and always get a receipt form the charity to attach to your donation list. Google “How much is my stuff worth” and determine the value of the items you gave away for a deduction on your tax return next year.
Analyze the benefits of refinancing your home loan. You may be shelling out extra dollars for your monthly home loan payment. Call your trusted mortgage broker to find out if you can reduce your mortgage rate and payment by refinancing. Be careful that the cost of refinancing doesn’t eat up any potential savings.
Another way to save on your housing costs is to keep track of how much equity you have. When you reach 20% equity you may be able to discontinue the PMI (private mortgage insurance).
When you use a credit card, be sure the money is in your budget for the item you purchased. Then pay the bill in full at the end of each billing cycle. Do some research and find out if you can earn points with your credit card. Then, use those points to buy things you’d have to buy anyway, like gifts for teachers, new electronics or school shopping.
Do it yourself is always a good way to save. Homemade gifts are the most thoughtful gifts you can give. Use sentimental items like pictures and souvenirs to put together a memorable present for a friend or family member.
With all the home improvement shows out there, the “I don’t know how” excuse no longer works. Google it, look it up on DIY or HGTV, or ask the folks at the hardware or home improvement store, and get to work. Tackle ONLY the jobs you know you can handle. Otherwise, you may increase your costs if you botch it up and have to hire a professional to fix your mistakes
Change your buying habits to buy out of season. Buy Christmas decorations and cards in January. Buy air conditioners in December. Buy winter clothes in January. August is the best time to buy beachwear. Off season buys save money.
You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Take advantage of gently used items. Get a bunch of friends together, have everyone bring clothes, toys or household goods that they’re not interested in, and go to town! Whether it’s clothing, books or electronics, buying used and refurbished items can save you a pretty penny off the sticker price. Used items are especially good for children who grow so fast they often can’t make it through a whole season wearing the same size. At the same time, you may be able to earn some money by selling your gently used items to a consignment store.
Stay home with friends and family. Going out to eat and for entertainment with friends almost always costs more than staying in. Resist the urge to splurge and instead, invite friends over for a potluck, board games or a movie.
Another takeoff on sharing is vacations. If you have family or friends in an area where you want to vacation, you may be able to stay with them for a few nights—as long as you don’t wear out your welcome. Or share a vacation rental. If your extended family likes to take a week’s vacation at the beach each year, think about splitting the cost of a home large enough for everyone.
Even going to the least expensive fast food restaurant means spending $5 for lunch every day. You could easily spend $1,300 a year just on lunches, so pack your lunch instead. You’ll save money, the food will likely be more nutritious and you’ll put your leftovers to good use.
A great way to involve kids in the saving process is to pick a fun family item that you all want—maybe a new TV, an Xbox or a trip to the amusement park—and have the family work together to save what’s needed to make it happen. Create one of those thermometers to track the total amount saved each week against your goal and have it be a family affair. You can save spare change. Or have the kids contribute a percentage of what they earn. Have the kids cut coupons for your weekly shopping trip, and add the money saved to the family fun fund. It’s a good lesson in saving for what you want and working together as a team.
If you are careful with your spending, and creative in your ideas and prayerful with your intentions to manage your money wisely. You can grow your savings, get out of debt and prepare for the future.
No matter how much you have saved, keep in mind the following verse from 1 Timothy 6:17: “Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.”