American Saves Week (Feb. 20-27) is a good time to look at your finances and budgeting…and decide if you need to do something about it.
To get started: 5 myths about saving:
Five Strategies to Saving
- Pay off high-cost debt
- Save for emergencies
- Participate in a work-related retirement program
- Outside of work, save monthly through an automatic transfer from checking to savings
- Buy a home and pay off the mortgage before you retire
Practical Savings Tips for Every Day Savings
-Try take-out once a month instead of dining out.
-Rent a video instead of going to the movies. If you really want to go to the movies, go to the less expensive afternoon “matinee.”
-Or better yet, go to your local library and borrow books, CDs, videos, and read the latest magazines and newspapers.
-Bring your lunch to work once or twice a week instead of buying it.
-Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach or you may end up buying more than you need.
-Cut down food costs by buying what you need on sale, buying generic brands, buying in bulk, and shopping at discount outlets.
-Don’t buy a sale item or use a coupon just for the sake of it being “cheaper.” Buy an item only if you need it! Shop with a list.
-Increase your gas mileage by taking care of your car with schedule check-ups, or just drive less. Consider carpooling, walking, taking the bus or metro, or riding your bike.
-Cancel your cable (or at least the premium channels), as well as subscriptions to magazines and newspapers.
-Exercise at home rather than joining a gym.
-Make your own coffee at home rather than buying from a store, or at least cut down the number of times per week you purchase coffee.
-Get health insurance.
-Track your spending and cash – know where every dollar goes!
-Organize a friend/relative/neighbor swap of clothes, toys, furniture, CDs, etc.
-Buy clothes for next year at the end-of-season sales – try garage sales and thrift stores.
-Find a simple hairstyle that doesn’t cost too much to take care of on daily/weekly basis.
-Take advantage of free entertainment in your community – parks, museums, exhibits, etc. Go to free park concerts and other community activities.
-Try to buy with cash, checks, or debit cards. If you use credit cards, get rid of all but one or two, and pay off the balance each month. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year by avoiding credit card interest charges.
-Always do your grocery shopping with a list of items you need — and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by avoiding impulse food purchases.
-Compare unit prices on labels when shopping (for example, price per ounce). You can save hundreds of dollars a year by purchasing items with the lowest price per unit.
-Avoid shopping at convenience stores. You pay for the convenience — the prices are usually higher than grocery stores.
-Consider taking your lunch to work rather than buying it. Depending on where you live and what you eat for lunch, you could save $5 a day.
-Review your telephone and cable bills for services you don’t use and cancel them. If you subscribe to magazines you rarely get around to reading, cancel the subscription. You could save tens of dollars each month.
-When choosing a cell phone plan, find one that’s appropriate for the calls you intend to make. For example, if you plan to use the phone only for emergencies, avoid plans with monthly fees or minimums.
-When your doctor prescribes a medicine, ask if a generic is available — you’ll pay less. If you’re taking a “maintenance” medicine, consider a mail-order pharmacy — you’ll pay -less.
-Before buying a car, compare insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs for comparable models. You can save thousands of dollars over the life of the car by choosing a model with low operating costs.
-Save hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline by making sure your car’s engine is tuned regularly and your tires have enough pressure.