A lot of us like to think that we’ll need to earn more money before we can save more.
But that’s simply not true. There are literally thousands of tricks we can all start using to spend less and keep more cash for ourselves.
Here are 11 easy tips to get the most out of your money.
1- Create a budget and stick to it
If you’re not keeping track of how much money you’re got coming in and out every month, then you’re missing out on a golden chance to really pin-point where your opportunities may be.
People who learn how to budget will discover something about their spending habits. This can help them to get their spending under control and divert those savings to places where the money could be better used. Take a look back at your spending over the past 6 months, and you might realize that you could have been sending a few hundred or even thousand extra dollars towards your IRA.
2- Get a credit card with better rewards
These days, if you’re not getting at least 2% or more for just about every single thing you buy with a credit card, then you’re not getting all the cash back you could be!
The credit card industry is practically falling on top of itself giving out lucrative rewards in an attempt to get new customers. This can be a great opportunity for you if you’re a person who is already pretty disciplined in the ways of using a credit card responsibly.
Last year, I was able to earn over $1,000 in rewards from my collection of credit cards. That’s money that I would have never had otherwise, and I can easily put towards some of my other savings initiatives.
3- Open a new savings account
Just like credit cards are trying to do everything they can to get new customers, so too are the banks. All you have to do is open new account and –boom- you get a cool hundred dollars or so!
I have a bank account with Chase, and I see them run this offer all the time. Search the Internet and you will be able to easily find one yourself.
4- Start bringing your lunch to work
It can be a lot of fun to eat out for lunch every day. The food is good, and the company is even better! But if you’re spending $10 to $20 per meal, over the course of a year, that’s going to add up to a lot of squandered cash! $2,746 on average (to be exact) according to a survey from Visa!
The better alternative: Bring in left-overs from your home. Whatever it was that you had the night before for dinner, make a little extra so that you can bring it in for lunch the next day. Pair it with some fruits and vegetables, and you’ve got the makings of both a healthy and inexpensive meal.
5- Negotiate your car insurance lower
Online car insurance has literally killed the old ways of paying $100 or more per month for your car insurance. I remember being a slave to the old brick and mortar establishment of paying AAA top dollar for my car insurance every month. But eventually I wised up, went online, and found that I could get the same thing for about 2/3 of the price. In one phone call, I was able to save over $600 for the year. That’s a pretty incredible return on the effort!
6- In fact, negotiate all your bills lower
Your car insurance isn’t the only thing you can pay a lower price for. If you really try hard, you can do the same thing with your cable and phone bills as well. The magic ingredient: competition! As long as you have a competitors coupon and let your current provider know that you’re ready to cancel in favor of a better deal, then they will generally try to make you a counter-offer to keep your business. All in all, this works out to be a better deal for you.
Trust me – I’ve had HBO for years and years because I call and re-negotiate my bills every year!
7- Go to the Library
These days, the library can seem like an old passé thing to do. But here’s the thing: Getting a book to read will hog your attention, and more importantly it will distract you from doing things like … say … going to the mall for entertainment!
So do yourself a favor and find a good book to read. If you’d prefer to not leave your couch, check to see if your local library offers ebooks. Mine does!
8- Hit the Redbox
When it comes to what to do on a Saturday night, the math is pretty simple: Would you rather spend $1.50 to watch a movie tonight, or go to the movie theater and pay $50 or more for the tickets, popcorn, drinks, etc?
My thoughts exactly! …
9- Fill Your Tires
A lot of people tend to overlook this trick, but filling your tires is an easy way to improve your gas mileage. Over the long term, it can also be a simple way to keep your tires wearing evenly (along with properly rotating your tires), which will then make them last longer. After all – replacing tires is not cheap!
10- Stream Your Music
I still remember the days of going to Best Buy and spending $15 for every new CD I want. Now, to get the music I want, I simply stream it for free through Pandora, Spotify, or some other free app. I can’t even remember the last time I logged on to iTunes and downloaded a whole album. These days, with the way that bands practically give away their music, there just isn’t a whole lot of need to do so.
11- Pay for Something with Cash
This is one of my favorite psychological financial tricks. For some reason, as humans, spending cold-card cash is just a whole lot harder to do than swiping our plastic. Try it, and you’ll see what I mean.
To my spending in check, every once in a while, I’ll pay for something with cash. And yes, I’ll find myself cringing at the sight of seeing dollar bills leave my hands. When I do that, it makes me NOT want to spend any money for a while. And that helps me keep my spending in check.
What tricks will you use to save more money this year?
DJ is the ebook author and guy behind the blog 1,000 Ways to Save, a website that is devoted to coming up with as many useful strategies as possible for saving more money.