7 Tips to Save You Money this Year

There is a funny saying attributed to Bill Earle that goes, "If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall." Everyone could use creative budgeting to cut costs in almost any area that money can be spent. These pointers can help you keep a little more in your pocket at the end of the year.

1. Make a list before you shop
Shopping by list prevents impulse buying, so make a plan and stick to it. The process of creating the list forces you to make conscious, deliberate decisions about spending your money wisely. In contrast, stores are designed to make you want to buy on impulse. Everyone can think of an item bought on impulse that has not received much use. For example, an impulse buy on an extra shirt or pair of pants can cost about $40. If the purchase had been intentional, the buyer would likely have been able to save money using either a coupon or one of the tips below.

$_____________ saved preventing impulse buys x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 1. 4 impulse buys per year at $40 each = $160 per year

2. Buy comparable non-name brand products
Comparable non-name brand products usually have many, if not all of the same features as the brand name products we rely on. But that is why we buy them; we've grown accustomed to the same products out of force of habit. We overlook the fact that comparables are often cheaper and may even have other competitive features. Non-name brand foods, for example, contain larger quantities to try to compete with established brands. Think of the big bags of cereal at the store. There is more cereal in the bag than the name brand box, and it even tastes the same. Just evaluate the necessary features of the product to see if a non-name brand product is right for the situation. Once you've decided that the fourth blade on your razor doesn't really make a difference, a non-name brand comparable may be right for the situation.

$_____________ saved in buying off-brands x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 2. $20 savings per month on comparable off-brand groceries and toiletries = $240 per year

3. Buy name brands if they are discounted
When name brand companies realize that their following is beginning to stray, they reenergize their base by cutting them a good deal. They may do this through coupons, prize drawings, or lowering prices in retail stores and online. When we find these deals, it's a win-win for us. We get the brand we love and the discount. After all, there are some name brands that are hard to give up (especially because your favorite brand of ice cream does not taste the same as the off-brand).

$_____________ saved in buying brand names on sale x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 3. $5 per month saved on discounted brand name items x 12 months = $60 per year

4. Use coupons on necessities
Let's face it; we have to buy some things to meet our needs. This is where coupons are extremely useful. From flyers to newspapers to websites, coupons are all around. SmartSource coupons are even included in the Sunday paper in many areas (cost of about $2.00). According to inmar.com, the average coupon face value is $1.44, and the savings increase when using coupons on larger retail purchases. Plus, cutting or printing is such a small burden that the savings are well worthwhile. Also, don't be afraid to try new items or meet small requirements to receive a discount. But remember to follow through if the discount is a mail-in rebate!

$_____________ saved in coupons per month x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 4. 15 coupons per month x 12 months x $1.44 = $259.20 per year

5. Take your lunch to work or school
This one requires some effort each morning or the night before work, but the difference in cost between a homemade meal and eating out makes the effort worthwhile. An average fast food meal probably costs about $6.00, and a homemade meal can reasonably be made for $5.00 with leftovers for the next day. Now to wait in line for the office microwave!

$_____________ saved on lunch per month x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 5. $6.00 - $2.50 = $3.50 saved per day
$3.50 x 50 work weeks per year x 5 days per work week = $875 per year

6. Make your own coffee in the morning
Coffee shops are expensive because they sell the experience and the brand name as well as the coffee. If you can give up the former two commodities, you can easily save.

$_____________ saved by making coffee at home per month x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 6. $2.50 per cup x 50 work weeks per year x 5 days per work week = $625 per year

7. Shave your cellular bill
This one sounds crazy, but there are some things we really can do without. Turn off texting for a couple months. Come to think of it, that data plan can go too. WiFi availability is increasing in most public buildings, and many phones can connect via WiFi. Having to pay to stay connected seems frivolous. Use your imagination to think of other services that can be left by the wayside.

$_____________ saved on lunch per month x 12 months = $_____________

Hypo 7. $10 saved per month on unlimited texting + $15 saved per month on a minimum data plan =$25 per month
$25 per month x 12 months = $300 per year

Total savings earned: $2519.20 per year.

Continue reading here: 7 Tips to Save You Money this Year

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