Making big changes in your life (such as selling your car and using public transportation or moving to more affordable housing) are dramatic ways to change your budget. And if you are having a hard time living within your budget or setting aside money, you may want to consider larger changes or working with a financial advisor (at your bank or through MTSTCIL) to reexamine your budget.
But another easy way to trim your budget without trimming your lifestyle is to address the small things. You may be surprised at how your small expenses are adding up. A recent survey showed that the average person could save almost $60 a year by banking only at their bank (thus not paying ATM fees), over $200 a year by bringing their coffee to work instead of buying it, and almost $700 a year by using the local library instead of buying books and buying or renting videos. That's almost $1,000 in savings from just a few simple lifestyle changes!
Where there are probably hundreds of ways to save money, we've come up with just a few suggestions to get you started.
Check weekly coupons at drug stores and grocery stores and stock up on sale items.
Whether it's a favorite toothpaste or the smell of fabric softener, we all have a few things we don't want to do without - but why not save on others? Stock up on dish detergent or paper products at the dollar store. Eat your barbecue with half-priced Christmas napkins!
Save money by bringing breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks to work or when you're out running errands.
Save on energy and save on money by turning off lights, appliances, and lowering the heat or air conditioning when you aren't home. Check with your local gas, electric, or phone company to see if they can send you information on lowering your rates (most publish pamphlets or information on their Web sites about conserving energy.)
It sounds so easy, most people are afraid to do it. But you'd be surprised how often companies have special offers for clients who ask. While you may not want to ask for a price check on everything you buy at the store, if you are buying something in bulk from an individual, see if you can get a discount rate. Call your phone company or cable company to see if they have a more affordable plan that better suits your needs (sometimes they offer new plans but don't call old clients to tell them about the cheaper rates.) Check to see if your gym has any special summer or winter offers, or ask your credit card company to lower your interest if you are having a hard time paying your balance at the end of the month.
Why pay for books, magazines, videos, or CDs, when you can borrow them for free? Take advantage of your local library - many of them now loan videos, DVDs, and CDs as well as books. They also keep track of many local events like free plays, dances, and movie showings.
Whether it's sharing rides, splitting bulk items, or going Dutch on a weekend vacation or lawn mover, sharing costs with a trusted friend or relative can help you both.
Next: Saving for a Rainy Day