As the financial squeeze tightens, everything seems to be getting more and more expensive. Imagine what you could do with a little extra cash in your pocket each month. Save for a vacation? Pay down your loans? Turning that dream into reality is actually easier than you think. To help get you started, here are five easy things you can do to save money.
1) Become master of the thermostat
Sure, it feels pretty awesome to crank down your thermostat on hot summer nights—but at what cost? The United States Energy Department offers some great tips on mastering your thermostat to get the maximum amount of savings on your electric bill. An easy way to save energy in the summer months is to simply set your thermostat higher while you are asleep. In winter and fall months, open your curtains on south-facing windows during the day and allow the sun to naturally heat your home. Programmable thermostats are also a great way to save on home energy costs. Nest thermostats are incredibly popular and do a great job of delivering both savings and convenience.
2) It’s time to cut the cord
If you’re one of the dwindling number of Americans who still pay for cable, you’ve probably already considered doing without. With so many great ala cart options out there, like Netflix and Hulu, cutting cable can significantly lower your monthly expenses and you won’t miss an entertainment beat! If local programing and sports are your concern, there are plenty of HD Digital TV Antennas out there that can give you all your local network channels for one low price. Cutting cable out of your life may hurt at first. But within a few weeks, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do it sooner—especially when it’s time to pay your bills.
3) Utilize customer rewards
It costs a lot more for a business to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones. Because of this fact, most big retailers offer robust customer reward programs. Most of the programs are free, you just have to sign up! CVS ExtraCare, for example gives you big time savings throughout the store, plus a stockpile of coupons at the bottom of every receipt. Target RedCard is a debit card option that links to your existing checking account and gives you 5% back on everything you buy. Look into reward programs at all the stores you frequent. If you’re going to shop there anyway, you might as well get rewarded for it!
4) Don’t use it? Sell it!
Do you really still need that old video game system? How about those purses collecting dust in the back of your closet? As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” If you’re no longer using it, turn it into something you can use—cold hard cash. Ebay is still a solid online option for selling your old stuff. If you don’t want to mess with shipping, check and see if there’s a “Swap and Shop” group for your neighborhood on Facebook. There’s more at stake than dollars and cents. As this article in Psychology Today suggests, a less cluttered house can lead to a happier, less cluttered life!
5) Buy quality appliances that last
If you’re on this website, there’s a good chance you’re in the market for a new appliance. It’s a wise use of your time to do online research before you buy. A cheap dishwasher will no doubt save you money up front. But if the product is poorly made and breaks down early or often, it will end up costing you more in the long run. Try zeroing in on a few different models and scouring the internet for customer reviews. If you’re old school, check out back issues of Consumer Reports. You’ll also want to learn how energy efficient your appliances are before you buy. Those energy savings add up and could save you a significant amount of cash over the years.
You’ve got this!
The hardest part about saving money can be getting started. Start small and start today. Incorporate these five easy steps into your daily routine and you’ll have enough money saved for that vacation in no time!