Sunday, September 18, 2011

7 Easy Ways to Save Money

1.  Track Your Spending.  Unless you track the money you spend every month, you really don't know where your money is going.  Everyone should have a budget.  You don't need to buy fancy software.  Just set up an excel spread sheet.  Type in the months of the year at the top of the spread sheet and categories of spending at the left of the spread sheet.  Every time you spend, save the receipts so you can add them to the categories.  Make sure your categories are detailed enough to give you an idea where you could be wasting money.  For instance, instead of a Food category, separate food into Fruits, Vegetables, Meats, Nuts, Cheese, Milk, Bread, Grains, Cold Cereal, Frozen Processed Products (Pizza, dinners, etc.), Junk Food (candy, chips, ice cream, etc.), Condiments, and Restaurants.  You'll be surprised at how much you spend on junk food and restaurants.

2.  Do Not Eat in Restaurants.  Restaurants are very expensive.  Eating in a restaurant should be reserved for a special occasion or at the most a monthly treat instead of several times per week.  In addition, when you do eat at a restaurant, eliminate the appetizers and drinks.  Drinks and appetizers for 2 people can add several hundred unneeded calories and at least $15.  I usually ask for ice water with lemon.  And if you eat desert, share one desert with 2 people.  Deserts in restaurants are usually very high in calories, fat, and sugar.  Anyway, I usually find that after the first couple of bites, I am satisfied.  Another trick I use so I don't overeat in a restaurant is to have a small piece of fruit before I go out to eat.  

3.  Write a List First.  Never, ever go shopping without a list, whether it is for groceries or clothing.  If you don't have the will power to resist temptation, then bring cash only for what you plan to buy.  Studies have shown that people who write lists and carry cash spend less.

4.  Never Go Grocery Shopping Hungry or Stuffed Like a Thanksgiving Turkey.  Everyone knows about the dangers of going shopping while hungry.  I've also found that going shopping right after eating a full meal is not good either.  When I am full, I tend not to buy much fruits and vegetables and healthier alternatives.  I want to buy sweets and coffee.  I think the best time to go grocery shopping is a couple of hours after eating.  
5. Buy Generic Brands.  Generic brands usually not only much less money than the name brands but are still less money than the name brands with a coupon.  For those of you that don't know, generic brands are name brands purchased and packaged by your supermarket. 

6. Buy Your Own Coffee.  You should buy your own coffee for two reasons.  If you buy your own coffee, you can purchase organic, fair trade coffee.  Starbucks (and even local coffee houses) does not have organic, fair trade coffee.  Regular coffee has up to 1000 chemicals and the half and half is not organic either.  That means you are ingesting chemicals, more acid, and hormones and udder pus (if you add half and half).  Not good for your health or pocketbook.  I buy my whole grain, organic, fair trade coffee at Trader Joe's.  I grind a couple of days worth at once and put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Not only does it taste much better but it is healthier.  For your health, keep coffee drinking down to 12 ounces per day.  Even the best coffee is acidic.  

7.  Don't Buy Warranties.  This is the biggest scam going.  Do not buy warranties.  They are a waste of money.  Most products have a manufacturer's warranty for one year.  Usually if something is going to break down, it will in the first year.  If not, it will break down after the warranty period ends.  I purchased a Dell Computer with a 3 year warranty (the warranty was included).  The hard drive on my Dell crashed one month (I'm not kidding) after the warranty ended.  To test this theory, set up a separate bank account for repairs on items that would have been covered under a warranty.  For instance, when you purchase a product with a warranty of $20 for 2 years, instead of purchasing the warranty, put that money aside in a bank account.  Then on a piece of paper write down the product and the warranty expiration had you purchased it.  If something goes wrong with the product during the warranty time period, take the money out of the bank account to purchase a new one.  Trust me on this one.  Depending on how much cars, appliances, electronics or other products you buy that have warranties, you will have a nice savings within a few years. 

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