Trying to slash your budget? Follow one of these money-saving tips everday, and you'll cut cost by the end of the month.
Go to billshrink.com and input the details of your current plan. The site will search all available plans from four major carriers―AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile―to see if you can do better. It’ll even calculate switching fees for you.
The average person spends $6.60 on lunch away from home. Bring your midday meal just twice this week and save $13. Do it eight times this month and save $52. Hint: Buy healthy snacks at thet grocery store to toss in your purse rather than raiding the vending machine. You’ll save money and calories.
Lower your water heater temperature by 25 degrees, and save $50 this year―not to mention doing your bit for the planet.
Have you ever bought a quart of buttermilk and used only half of it? Make your own by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp. of vinegar and letting it stand for 10 minutes. More easy trades: instead of red wine, use pure cranberry juice. Instead of white wine, use white grape juice or apple juice. And skip the pricey fresh herbs―for every 1 Tbsp. of fresh, substitute 1 tsp. of dried.
For cut-rate tickets to live events check goldstar.com. Stubhub often has good deals on tickets for sporting events; the closer you are to game day, the bigger the discounts are likely to be. Save on DVDs and CDs by renting from your local library, and cut back on premium cable channels by watching TV shows for free at modernfeed.com and hulu.com.
When looking for deals online, don’t skip from site to site. Instead, enter the product name on comparisonshop.com. It simultaneously searches several price comparison sites, including shopzilla.com and nextag.com. P.S. Don’t always go for the new stuff. Find bargains on used items still in great shape at eBay.com.
Buying in small packages sometimes saves you more, especially if you have a coupon. Suppose you have a $1.50 coupon for laundry detergent. If you buy a 200-oz. bottle for $7.49 and use the coupon, that would be 3 cents per ounce. But a 100-oz. bottle for $3.99 would be 2.5 cents per ounce with the coupon. Even better: clip two coupons and buy two small bottles.
If you decide to make tacos because ground beef is 25 percent off this week, you could end up buying full-price tortillas and salsa. Instead, buy the beef and freeze it. Continue to collect ingredients as they go on sale, then pull together meals from your pantry.
If you’re having trouble paying for doctor visits, consider a sliding-fee clinic, which lets you pay what you can afford. These clinics often offer a full range of medical and dental services; to find one in your area, go to ask.hrsa.gov/pc. Or, for common ailments, try a retail clinic such as those found in CVS. One study showed that these clinics cost 25 percent less than a physician’s office.
Insurance from your employer is usually the best deal. But if you can’t get insurance at work or you don’t have a job, shop around. Two good places to start are healthinsurance.com and ehealthinsurance.com. Avoid sites that don’t provide instant quotes―some ask for your personal information and then sell it to insurance salespeople. Also, consider going to a broker. A good one will know which plans have the best rates and most doctors in your area, and there’s no charge for the broker’s services. To find one, go the web site of the National Association of Health Underwriters (nahu.org).
You may not be thinking about keeping your house toasty warm now, but you will in a few months, when the bills start coming in. Plan ahead. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, buy one now for every heating zone in your house. You can save $150 per year.
Trees and shrubs are great for beautifying your yard. But did you know they also shield your home from sun and wind? You could save up to 30 percent in home heating and air conditioning costs by planting some natural protection.
If you put down less than 20 percent on your home, you’re probably paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). Find out if you’ve built up enough equity to drop it. You could save $1,000 a year.
Just once this week, take an inventory of what’s in your cupboard and fridge. Try planning a meal that requires no extra ingredients. You’ll not only get rid of lingering groceries, you’ll reduce your shopping list for the week.
Showers account for two-thirds of all water-heating costs, so using less H20 saves money. A low-flow showerhead can help. Try the Evolve Roadrunner ($40; evolveshowerheads.com), which can save a family of three about $246 per year.
For all purpose-cleaner, mix 1 cup each of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Use it to clean counters, soap scum in the shower and toilets (don’t use it on natural stone). And try baking soda to clean bathroom surfaces, stainless steel appliances, sinks and stove tops. Lightly wet the surface, sprinkle baking soda on top, scrub with a sponge and rinse.
When you’re pushing your cart down the aisles, keep an eye out for these extra ways to save: “Blinkies” are those little dispensers attached to the shelves, “peelies” are stuck to the product, and “catalinas” are dispense by the register when you check out. Collect them and file with the rest of your coupons.
Instead of buying boxes and bins, be creative with what you have around the house. Use jars for jewelry, paper clips and other office supplies. Ziplock bags work great for markers, brochures, and small toys such as doll clothes and action figures. Use shoe boxes for bills, photos cosmetics and recipes (make it pretty by covering with paper or fabric).
Sign up for your bank’s automatic bill payment service―this works well for recurring payments in the same amount (think mortgage, student loan, car insurance). You won’t wreck your credit or rack up fees by missing due dates. And you’ll save on postage, too!
Cut dryer sheets in half―they work just as well. And dust your furniture with used dryer sheets.
Spaying or neutering is not only good for your pet, it’ll save you money (no puppies or kittens to care for!) These organizations
can help you offset the cost:
The next time the kids are whining “I’m bored!,” try one of these no-cost solutions: Create a “slip and slide” from a large sheet of plastic, baby shampoo and the hose. Assemble carnival games from household items―a ringtoss made with a hula hoop and stuffed animals, a bowling game using empty 2-liter plastic bottles. If you have a camcorder, get the kids to shoot their own movie. Have them brainstorm on the script, collect the props and film the action. Later, gather the family with a bowl of popcorn to watch their creation.
If you love reading, go ahead and browse in bookstores. Jot down titles that interest you and then go to your library’s web site to reserve them. Do this a few times a month and you’ll have a steady supply of books without spending a dime.
A few deft touches can make last season’s outfits seem new again. Sew a ribbon along the hem of a skirt. Replace plastic buttons with “statement” buttons: think brass or fun jewels. Refresh scuffed white shoes or sneakers by painting on a little correction fluid; clean or buff the area with white shoe polish.
You may qualify for additional discounts if you’ve paid off a car loan or moved to a new zip code, if your commuting habits have changed, if your car has aged so much that collision coverage is no longer advisable, or if you kids have moved away. P.S. By insuring your home and car with the same company, you can cut your bill by 5 to 15 percent.