(MP) Everyday families across America are looking for ways to save money. Whether rising childcare, education and grocery bill costs, the bottom line is everything is skyrocketing, and you should be saving as much money as possible. The problem is most money-saving advice requires a complete lifestyle changes for you to see the results. That’s something most of us are unwilling to commit to and that’s understandable. However, sacrifices will have to be made and I wanted to point you to 10 areas where it will make all the difference. When you begin to experience saving money with your family it isn’t all about extreme frugalism or neglect of quality time; it’s about making the necessary changes to afford quality living and keeping a few bucks. Let’s have a look at –
10 Areas You Can Save Money
Debt is an area you can lose lots of money in if you’re not careful. For instance, if you have a $1,000 balance on a credit card that charges an 18% rate, you blow $180 every year on interest. Carrying a balance can also cost you down the line in the form of a lower credit score that will trigger higher interest rates on your loans. The only thing not smarter than buying something you can’t afford is buying something you can’t afford at huge interest rates. Don’t waste money handing it over to banks — pay interest off quickly. Also when you use a bank ATM that is not yours, they charge you. Then our bank charges you again. That’s twice and that $2 or $3 bucks adds up. And don’t even get me started on overdraft fees from bounced checks. Consider switching to Ally Bank, they don’t charge ATM fees and will reimburse you for fees other banks charge. Another way to avoid fees if there’s no network ATM nearby is to get cash back when you make purchases at the grocery or drug store chains such as CVS or RiteAid.
Transportation is the second biggest waste money waste. Gas and motor oil account for 4.8%, while vehicle purchases (i.e., car payments) account for 6.5%. Again, if selecting where you move is an option, choose a place as close your workplace as possible. It could save you not just time, but potentially as much as $125,000 in ten years.
3. Eating Out
Eating in restaurants weekly can take a huge chunk out of your budget. It takes a bit of time to learn to how to make good, inexpensive food and shop smarter, but the payoff can be huge. Don’t wast money by eating out so much. Reduce your dining experiences to one or two times per week. Trust me, changing your dining out habits saves the average American hundreds if not thousands a year.
Timing your buying efforts can save you tons of money every year. Did you know most things are marked down at certain times each year. Planning your buys to get big-ticket items when they’re at their lowest price can save you hundreds of dollars. For example, apparel is marked down dramatically at the end of every season, during sales events, and over holiday weekends, i.e., Labor Day and Memorial Day. Furniture is discounted as much as 60% during clearance sales in January and July. Prices on TVs and computers are slashed on Black Friday — and the list goes on.
5. Buying Brand-Name
From groceries to clothing to prescription drugs, you can save money by choosing an off-brand over a fancy label. And in many cases, you won’t sacrifice much in quality. Clever advertising and fancy packaging don’t make brand-name products better than lesser-known brands. For example, generic drugs can cost as much as 80% less than their brand-name alternatives. The lower list price makes a huge difference when you’re in your insurance plan’s deductible period and paying the full price out of your pocket.
6. Household Expenses
Don’t waste money cooling or heating an empty apartment or house. When you leave your house, lower — or raise the thermostat –depending on the season You can save 5% to 15% (about $180 a year) by adjusting your thermostat 10 degrees to 15 degrees for eight hours, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A programmable thermostat makes setting your home’s temperature easy.
Sure, it’s convenient to do all of your shopping at one site. But if you buy your food, medicine, toiletries and paper products at the same store, you’re probably spending more than you have to on many items in your shopping cart. Find out where the deals are and go there.
7. Fuel Types
There’s literally no need to waste money for premium fuel if the auto manufacturer says regular will do. If your car is capable of using flex-fuel — a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline — it still might be more cost-effective to stick with regular gasoline. Even though the average price of flex-fuel now is less per gallon than gas, vehicles get fewer miles per gallon with it because ethanol has less energy. Learn more about Flex fuel.
8. Food Expiration Dates
You maybe throwing away hundreds or even thousands of dollars’ worth of food each year before it has gone bad. If you’re using sell-by and expiration dates as gauges for whether food is still edible money is being wasted. These dates are just manufacturers’ best guess of when food is at peak quality and are not related to safety, according to Emily M. Broad Leib, director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic. “Because of confusion over food date labeling, a family of four spends between $1,365 and $2,275 per year, on average, on food that is wasted.”
The average American household spends about $2,700 a year on entertainment. The first thing your should do is ditch cable television Premium channels (90% reality TV shows) because the cost is pretty outrageous when there are free or inexpensive options. There’s plenty of weekend activities for free in you know where to look.
You waste money yearly if you’re not itemizing your tax return and claiming every last deduction you can. You’re not just wasting money you’re handing that money over to the IRS for free. See the IRS’s list on itemized deductions and Bankrate’s list of 10 Overlooked Deductions, so you can plan accordingly
Take a look at your own budget and see where your cash might be getting away from you. It can happen easier than you think and most often it does.
60 Money Saving Tips for Frugal Living – Shalom Mama
54 Ways to Save Cash – America Saves
Ways Families Can Save Money – WiseBread