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20 Easy Ways to Save a Little Cash
1. Move bank accounts to take advantage of perks and earn more interest
If you’re paying a monthly fee for your checking or savings account, you would benefit from researching some of newest banking offers out there. Not only do some banks offer sign-up bonuses simply for opening an account and setting up direct deposit, but some offer attractive interest rates to new customers as well.
It’s true that interest rates are not what they once were, but it’s still worth a look. Some of the best free checking accounts and best savings accounts can be found online. Here’s a guide on how to make that switch.
2. Turn off the television.
One big way to save money is to drastically cut down on the amount of television you watch. There are a lot of financial benefits to this: less exposure to spending-inducing ads, a lower electric bill (and perhaps a lower cable bill if you downgrade your subscription), more time to focus on other things in life — such as a side business — and so on.
Want to take things a step further? Consider cutting the cord to cable TV altogether.
3. Stop collecting, and start selling
There was a time when people thought their collections would bring them riches. Beanie Babies were a big fad at one time, as were Longaberger baskets. Now you can find those items on resale sites like Craigslist and at garage sales for a fraction of their initial cost, leaving many people who sunk thousands of dollars into their “investments” wondering what happened.
If you want to avoid that situation, don’t collect items of questionable value. And if you want to recoup some of the money you’ve already spent on collectible items, you can start selling them now and use those funds for any number of worthy financial goals. Read our “Guide to Selling Unwanted Items” for some simple strategies that can help you profit as much as possible.
4. Sign up for every free customer rewards program you can.
No matter where you live, you’ll find plenty of retailers who are willing to reward you for shopping at their store. Here’s the basic game plan for maximizing these programs: create a Gmail or Yahoo address just for these mailings, collect every card you can, and then check that account for extra coupons whenever you’re ready to shop.
You can add to those rewards and discounts by using rewards credit cards to earn points on purchases at a wide range of stores that can be redeemed for cash back or other benefits.
5. Make your own gifts instead of buying stuff from the store.
If you want to save money while also giving generously, creating your own homemade gifts is one way to accomplish both goals. You can make food mixes, candles, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively.
These make spectacular gifts for others because they involve your personal touch — something you can’t buy from a store — and quite often they’re consumable, meaning they don’t wind up filling someone’s closet with junk. Even better – include a personal handwritten note with the gift.
6. Master the 30-day rule.
Avoiding instant gratification is one of the most important rules of personal finance, and waiting 30 days to decide on a purchase is an excellent way to implement that rule.
Quite often, after a month has passed, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed as well, and you’ll have saved yourself some money simply by waiting. If you’re on the fence about a purchase anyway, waiting a while can give you a better perspective on whether it’s truly worth the money.
7. Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to only shop when you have a list. Because when you’re without one, you typically end up making impulse buys and unplanned purchases – all things that cost money.
Creating a list before you go to the grocery store is especially important. Not only can it help you buy items that fit with your meal plan, but it can also help you avoid buying food you might waste. Always create a list and, more importantly, stick to it.
8. Invite friends over instead of going out.
Going out to eat or “out on the town” has a way of completely destroying both your food budget and your entertainment budget in one fell swoop. And no matter what, it is always cheaper to stay in with friends and come up with your own entertainment.
Instead of hitting the town, host a fun pitch-in dinner with your friends. Play cards, sit around a fire pit, or watch movies with your guests. You’ll all save money – and have a blast.
9. Repair clothing instead of tossing it.
Don’t toss out a shirt because of a broken button – sew on a new one with some closely-matched thread. Don’t toss out pants because of a hole in them – put in a patch of some sort and save them for times when you’re working around the house.
Most basic sewing jobs can be completed by anyone, and a little bit of practice goes a long way. Learning basic sewing skills is a great way to save some money – and extend the life of your clothing.
10. Don’t spend big money entertaining your children.
Most children, especially young ones, can be entertained very cheaply. Buy them an end roll of newspaper from your local paper and let their creativity run wild. Play ball in the backyard. Head to the park. Plant a garden. Teach them to ride a bike without training wheels once and for all.
Realize that what your children want most of all is your time, not your stuff, and you’ll find money in your pocket and joy in your heart.
11. Negotiate rates with your credit card company or complete a balance transfer.
If you’re paying a lot of interest on your credit cards, it’s important to know that you do have some power as long as you’ve been making your payments. Not only do you have the right to negotiate your current interest rate with your credit card issuer, but you have the right to transfer your balance to an entirely different card as well. (In fact, that is perhaps your biggest bargaining chip.)
Start by calling your card issuer at the number on the back of your card and explaining your request. If you don’t make any progress with them, check out these balance transfer credit cards to find one with an introductory 0% APR that could help you save hundreds of dollars in interest over time.
12. Clean out those closets.
Go through your closets and find anything and everything you no longer use. Then, don’t just get rid of it, use it to your benefit.
You can have a yard sale with it, sell it on eBay or Craigslist, take it to a consignment shop, or even donate it for the tax deduction (mark down what you give away so you can get a receipt). All of these options can turn old stuff you don’t want anymore into money in your pocket. Not only that, it’s often a psychological load off your mind to clean out your closets.
13. Buy video games that have a lot of replay value – and don’t acquire new ones until you’ve mastered what you have.
My video game buying habits have changed quite a bit since my “game of the week” days. Now, I focus on games that can be played over and over and over again, and I focus on mastering the games that I buy. Good targets include puzzle games and long, involved quest games – they maximize the value of your gaming dollar.
Once you’re done with a game for good, take it to a video game resale shop like GameStop and see if you can trade it in for store credit you can use to get another game.
14. Drink more water.
Not only does drinking plenty of water have great health benefits — it has financial benefits, too. Drink a big glass of water before each meal in order to stay fuller longer and ultimately eat less. Not only will you save on the food bill, but you’ll also feel better after you become properly hydrated.
Even better, drinking more water — whether in a refillable bottle or at restaurants — means spending less money on beverages like soda, juice, and tea. Remember: Tap water is not only just as clean as bottled water, it’s also free.
15. Avoid convenience foods and fast food.
Instead of eating fast food or just nuking some prepackaged dinner when you get home, try making some simple and healthy replacements that you can take with you. An hour’s worth of preparation one weekend can leave you with a ton of cheap and easy dinner and snack options for the following week.
Also consider breaking out the ol’ crock pot for some inexpensive meal options that not only save money, but time, too.
16. For heaven’s sake, quit smoking.
If you’re still a smoker, you have to know by now that your habit is not only expensive, but potentially deadly as well. If you want to add years to your life and save a boatload of money, the easiest thing to do is to stop smoking altogether. You can quit cold turkey, try some of the many anti-smoking products that are out there, or switch to an electronic cigarette to buy some time. Whichever path you choose, you will be much better off.
17. Make a quadruple batch of a casserole.
We all know that casseroles are nice, easy dishes to prepare. The next time you make a casserole, make four batches of it and put the other three in the freezer. Then, when you need a quick meal for the family, you can grab one of those ready-made casseroles and just heat it up.
Preparing a few at once allows you to buy the ingredients in bulk, which can mean additional savings. Meanwhile, having several casseroles in the freezer makes it less likely that you’ll turn to fast food or junk food when you’re in a hurry.
18. Turn off the lights.
Keeping the lights on in your home may not be expensive on a per-watt basis, but it sure does cost money over time. To save as much as you can, turn off lights any time you leave your house – or even when you leave the room. Turning off lights when you have plenty of natural sunlight can also help keep your electric bill down over time. The bottom line: If you aren’t using a light, turn it off.
19. Swap books, music, and DVDs on the Internet or at the library.
You can very easily swap the books, CDs, and DVDs you’ve grown bored with online. Just clean out your media collection, and trade them with others online using sites like PaperBackSwap. If you live near a library that loans DVDs in addition to books, you’ll be even better off. The more you can borrow and barter with others, the more money you’ll save over time.
20. Maximize yard sales.
Yard sales are a great place to score awesome deals on items you need anyway – think housewares, shoes, clothing, or even sports equipment. The key is, you have to be careful not to use the low prices found at sales as an excuse to buy things you don’t need. At your next garage sale, limit yourself to items that were already on your list of things to buy.
If you follow these steps, you could really start to see some extra cash at the end of the month. For a full list of 100 easy ways to save money check out the original story here.