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10 Creative Ways To Save Money Efficiently In The 21st Century

10 Creative Ways To Save Money Efficiently In The 21st Century

“Spend smart, save smart”. We’ve all heard it before: don’t spend more than you need to, and save every penny you can. Fortunately, today’s technologically savvy world gives us plenty of tools to help us save our money for the future. And, most of that conventional wisdom your grandparents passed down to you still applies, too!

Here is a list of creative ways you can make your money-saving systems more efficient. The great news is, you can do almost all of them right away!

1. Make it automatic.

Almost every bank will let you set up a system that automatically deposits a bit of money into your savings account whenever you pay for something with your debit card. And, that amount can be as low as 50 cents – making it possible for everyone to save money without having to think about it. With automatic savings, you’re guaranteed to save money because you’re paying yourself first.

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2. Ask for lower interest.

Call your credit card company and tell them you want a lower interest rate. Chances are, they’ll say yes. Of course, it’s better if you’re not carrying a balance at all – but just in case, it’s nice to have to pay a little less interest, right?

3. Use cash.

Allocate a specific amount each week for food, clothing and gifts, entertainment, transportation, pets, etc and take that amount out of your bank in cash. You choose the categories that work for you. Write down every single item you purchase. As the cash depletes, you can bet you’ll find reasons not to spend it. You want to have some left at the end of the week!

4. Put things on timers.

Your thermostat, your lights, your TV – you can control it all with the touch of a button. There are plenty of cheap products designed to let you program when things switch on – and when they switch off. By setting electronics to turn off by themselves, you’re saving money on electricity.

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5. Close your curtains.

Don’t have curtains? Even sheets will do. Curtains keep the sun (and heat) out when it’s really hot, so you don’t need to use your air conditioning as much. And they keep the cold out too, so you don’t have to use your heat as much. Down, down, down go your utilities bill.

6. Switch to more energy efficient bulbs.

The latest lighting technology might cost more up front, but the long-run savings far outweigh your initial investment. Go get some LED bulbs.

7. Have a clothing swap.

Want new clothes? Your friends probably have stuff you envy, and they never even wear it. Invite them over and have them bring at least 10 items they’re willing to swap. Everyone leaves with new outfits, and no one spends a penny.

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8. Use daily deals sites.

Get stuff you like at crazy discounts with Groupon and similar sites. You can save a lot of money on Christmas gifts and for other events when you buy these deals. Just make sure you’re getting coupons you’ll actually use, and don’t let them expire – then you’ve just thrown money down the drain.

9. Ditch the gym membership.

Not using that fancy gym membership? Cancel it, put your sneakers on and take a brisk walk. You get your exercise, you save money, and the fresh air will increase your focus and productivity.

10. Sell your stuff.

That cupboard above your fridge. The (way, way) back of your closet. Under your bed. You haven’t been there in years, but those cubbyholes are full of stuff. Do you even know what’s there? If not, you probably don’t need it. Sell it and put the money in a savings account. You’ll be surprised how much junk you can convert into cash!

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There are lots of other ways to save a buck, but a lot of them are DIY hacks that take a bit more time, making them less efficient. If you’re looking for ways to make saving more money a low-effort affair, the ten money-saving tips above are a win.

Once you have all of these in place, you get to decide what to do with all the money you’re saving. Start a business? Go back to school? Book a much-needed vacation? The options are endless.

Featured photo credit: 10 Creative Ways To Save Money Efficiently In The 21st Century via morguefile.com

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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