When times are tough, many of us do the usual things to save money. We clip coupons, carefully plan trips to save gas, and rent DVDs instead of buying them—all of which prove to be helpful. However, if you want to save even more money, there are other creative measures that you can take as well.
These steps require some work on your part, but when implemented, can cut spending over time.
- Don’t buy bulk-club memberships. Instead, wait until the warehouse clubs offer free trial periods. Take these opportunities to stock up on staples. If you have enough storage space and cash, you can grab enough of the basics to last you for a year, if not longer, without paying membership fees.
- Spend more on debt reduction. This does not sound very sane at first. How are you saving money if you pay more toward your debts? One word: interest. The faster you pay off a debt, the less money you’ll funnel toward interest. Pay down the credit cards, mortgage and student loans as quickly as possible.
- Stop using lines of credit. Don’t use them unless you have no other choice. You don’t need to buy a new television or an entire wardrobe this week. Lines of credit are the least expensive to you when they’re used only in emergencies.
- Plan your weekly menu based on sales, coupons and other discounts. Many of us plan our menus and then go to the store. If you do things the other way around, you can save some money at the grocery store. You should also keep in mind that you can stock up on clearance-priced items and store them. You might not need twenty cans of tomato sauce this month, but you’ll probably use them all well before they expire.
- Change the way that you treat your climate-control systems. You’re probably already setting the thermostat a bit higher to save money, but do you use the system even on mild days? When the weather is mild, you might turn off the system and open up your windows. Use fans to circulate the cool breeze, too.
- Craigslist and Freecycle are your friends. These are excellent ways to acquire things for little or no money. You can find everything from nearly-new furniture to cars to clothing—all for far less than the retail prices.
- Look at your loyalty cards and other incentive programs to be sure that you’re really getting good deals. If, for example, you earn points when you use your debit card, you should think about every purchase you make. If you spend money on things that you don’t really need just to earn points, your budget is going to suffer.
- Be patient. Patience is vital to a consumer who’s trying to save money. Remind yourself that, after a new item has been on the market for a while, the price will drop. DVDs that people just had to buy new only one year ago are now available for streaming online. The same goes for sneakers, appliances and books, among other things.
You should also talk about saving money with friends and family members. This is a great way to share information about upcoming sales and other special deals. Having a network of like-minded people helps everybody, so don’t be shy about discussing various ways to save money.