As we celebrate the beginning of 2010 many are asking, "How will I ever be able to afford a new home, new car or vacation?" I was taught by my grandmother, if you take care of the pennies, they will become dollars. The New Year is a perfect time to assess spending habits and make a few frugal resolutions. Here are few ideas of where waste could be occurring in everyday spending. By making a few small changes now, you could build a big down payment by 2011!
- Brownbag It! The average American spends an average of $6 when they go out to lunch at work. I don't remember a lunch out with the girls to be less than $10 myself. But if you chose to brown-bag at lunchtime, the average cost drops to $2! That works out to $4 a day, $20 a week, or over $1,000 a year.
- Check it Out at the Public Library People forget all of the publications that are available in the public library. A person can save on books, magazines, and DVD rentals. If your family buys an average of 2 books, 2 magazines and 3 DVD rentals a month, that can add up to nearly $500 a year. If you are like my family and like to OWN your books and DVD's, consider buying at a used book stores where prices are 50% off the list price.
- Ask for Discounts Most people would never consider paying sticker price for a car but forget to ask about discounts and sales at other stores and restaurants. If you belong to AAA or employed by an organization offering a MERSC discount, this can save $3-5 and more on every day purchases like oil changes, haircuts and lift tickets at Wild Mountain. Many companies provide discounts but only for those customers who request them. The total annual savings can be significant depending on the number of offers that your family takes advantage of.
- Declutter and Sell Don't wait to spring clean! Go through your closets, garage, basement and attic now and find the items you no longer use. In the spring have a garage sale. Or locate stores which buy and sell used merchandise for cash or will do consignment sales on EBay for you. My family has held periodic garage sales over the years and sold hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars of unwanted stuff during each sale. We pack up what hasn't sold and donate the rest to charity. A clean house, money in our pockets and a donation to boot...what more can you ask for?
- Print and Clip Coupons Many store have coupons and discounts online that other shoppers are not aware of. By registering for emails from favorite stores and restaurants, we save hundreds of dollars a month at stores shop at regularly. SuperTarget has weekly coupons that you can select and print to take to the store for additional discounts. Sometimes the price is discounted so much it is nearly given away for FREE. A local Forest Lake and Ham Lake favorite, Mansetti's emails a new coupon to registered customers weekly to print out and bring in. My family is also registered with TGIFriday's in their Give Me More Stripes program which sends out coupon special s in a similar way. It may seem like only a few dollars here and there but when I tracked our savings for a few months, it was several hundred dollars EACH month!
- Shut off the Lights...And Turn Down the Heat! If you haven't already switched over to lower energy, long lasting light bulbs, now is the time. By installing a programmable thermostat in your home, you can save gas by having the heat turned down automatically when you are not home. When we first had a programmable thermostat installed decades ago, we saw a 25% drop in our heating bill! Pretty significant money was kept in our budget.
Simple changes in your shopping patterns and daily life can mean huge money in your bank account over time. And then you can use the money for that trip to Hawaii, new car or as a down payment on your new home!