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If You Want To Save More Money, Own These Money-Saving Items

If You Want To Save More Money, Own These Money-Saving Items

Did your latest savings campaign end slowly, dribbling to a halt as you realized you weren’t saving as much money as you wanted or needed to?

It happens to all of us – good intentions and determined willpower slowly fade as we fail to meet our savings objectives.  With the right tools, however, maintaining budget-friendly habits and systems is infinitely easier. Support your financial ambitions and save more money by stocking your home, workspace and vehicle with the money-saving items shared here.

Around the home:

Ceiling Fans

Running ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter can lower both your cooling and heating bills.  The rotation disperses cooled or heated air, meaning less energy is required to establish and maintain the desired temperature in the space.  During moderate heat, the increased air flow from a ceiling fan may mean that you don’t even need to run your air conditioner.  Your budget will thank you, as your utility bill takes a nose dive.  Don’t know how to change the direction on your fan? Get up on a ladder and take a look – most have a switch on the side – or call the manufacturer directly.

UV-blocking Curtains

UV-blocking curtains can drastically reduce both your heating and cooling bills. Now, energy-efficient curtains are available in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can find them to match any decor in local home goods or even hardware stores.  Live somewhere particularly frigid in the winter? Put up liners during cold months to lock heat in even more effectively.  No matter what kind of curtains you have, remember to keep them drawn during particularly warm spells.

Reduced-flow Shower heads

Look for a shower head that allows you to select the flow rate, or one that automatically adjusts.  While it can be a pain to try to rinse shampoo out of long hair with inadequate water, you simply don’t need a high rate of flow for most needs.  Families in particular can save hundreds of dollars each year by installing reduced-flow heads into each of their bathrooms.

Toilets with Options

Think it takes the same amount of water to flush #1 and #2?  You’re right – it doesn’t, and if you’ve never thought about it, time you should!  While graphic, the amount of water used in your toilets each year adds up on your bill.  For about $100, you can install toilets with dual flush options, which means you don’t have to use extra water unless you need it.

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Grocery and Shopping Bags

Regularly ponying up $10 for small trash can liners for bathrooms, laundry rooms, or guest rooms?  Use grocery bags instead.  They’re the perfect size, reusing them is good for the environment, and you already paid for them when you made your purchase.  Grocery bags can also be used to clean up after your pet at the park, or stock your car for emergency spills.

Rechargeable Batteries

Whether your home is full of kid’s toys that eat batteries alive, or you need to fuel flashlights, smoke detectors, appliances, and more, rechargeable batteries make a lot of sense.  While they may require frequent recharging, they will save you over the long run.  Bonus benefit: no more grunts of frustration when you realize that you are out of the type of battery you need.  Remember to unplug chargers when they are not in use; anything plugged in will use energy that you pay for.

Clothes drying rack

Your dryer requires electricity, which can raise your utility bill sky high. Keep the bill in check by doing a bit o’ good for the environment by drying your clothes on a rack or line. Folding drying racks can be found at any home goods or superstore.  Or, hang a rod and line with materials readily found at hardware stores.

In Your Kitchen:

Cooler

Heading out with friends this weekend? Instead of meeting at a restaurant, stock a cooler with items from the grocery store and picnic at a local beach, garden, or park. Coolers really pay off for families who stock them with food from home and bring them to local entertainment venues. Many zoos, aquariums and parks allow you to bring your own food.

Insulated lunch box

Brown-bagging it during the week is a whole lot more attractive (and safe) when cheeses, meats, sandwich materials, fruits, and vegetables are kept at an appetizing and safe temperature for lunch-time consumption.  Look for a soft shell bag that can be compressed to fit inside a large purse or briefcase post-lunch.  Keep your lunch box in your car when not in use, to make it easy to slide leftovers into when you grab dinner on the go.

Coffee Pot

Make the daily runs to Starbucks a thing of the past, and save hundreds, if not thousands, every year. Brewing that cup o’ joe at home in the company of friends could also provide a substitute for costly weekend brunches or catch-up coffees, as well.  For added convenience, select a model that allows you to set a brew time, and wake up to that coffee aroma you love.

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Insulated Beverage Container

Take your second (or third, or fourth) morning cups of coffee on the road with you in an insulated beverage container.  Bonus: that same container can hold smoothies, soups, and other items you prepare yourself to save money.

Blender

Make your own smoothies, juices, baby foods, and more with a heavy-duty blender. Not only will you save money, but you can ensure you get that flavor you like exactly right, every time.  Earn extra savings points by only blending with in-season fruits and vegetables to lower your grocery bill even further.

Crockpot

Think you don’t have time to cook? Toss meat and vegetables in the pot in the morning, turn it to low, and have a delicious meal waiting when you get back from work.  Extras can be frozen for another day, meaning yet another meal you won’t have to cook for.

Glass Food Storage Containers

Available in a variety of sizes, glass storage containers are the healthiest way to store leftovers. Anytime you cook at home, cook extra – not only will you have plenty to toss in that fancy lunchbox the next day, but preparing food in larger quantities means you can buy it in larger volume and take advantage of bulk discounts.

Deep Freezer, or refrigerator with large freezer capacity

Having hefty freezing capabilities means you can buy and cook in bulk, then freeze.  Can’t see yourself ever using pounds of meat or gallons of soup? Split bulk-buying costs with a friend, and ask them to chip in a few dollars to use your freezer.

Chalkboard

Create a grocery list as you run out of items, as well as any other items you need to stock up.  Stick to the list during weekly errands to minimize impulse spending; numerous studies show that shopping with a list can drastically cut your bill.

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In Your Office:

File Folder, Envelope, Paper Clips, Binder

… or whatever is most useful to you in tracking and logging receipts for all purchases and expenditures.  You can’t save more effectively, if you don’t know where your money is going in the first place.  Analyze your spending habits at several points during the month to allow for time to correct for any wayward expenditures.  At the end of each month, scrutinize ways to improve your savings rate even more.

Internet at Home

Shop online retailers, or the online warehouses of your favorite stores, for virtual discounts and deals.  Don’t want to shell out more for wireless? Talk to your phone provider – many smartphones can be used as a hub, within the limits of your data plan.

“Smart” Power Strips

If you use a computer at home, or run multiple devices like a laptop, printer, stereo, and so on from your desk, this item is a “must have.” The power strip focuses power usage on the devices you’re actually using, reducing the energy sent to the others and negating “phantom charge.” While some consider unplugging energy from gadgets you’re not actually using to be a waste of time, consider that the charges aren’t so “phantom” when they show up on your bill.

In Your Living Room:

In-Home Entertainment Subscription

Regularly shelling out $25 to see the latest movie on the big screen? For far less, you can have unlimited entertainment at home through Netflix or similar entertainment options.  At-home entertainment can also be a great option for a date night or fun evening in with friends that saves you all money.

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In Your Garage and Yard:

Patio or In-Ground Garden

Whether it’s a single planter with basic herbs on a windowsill, pots of tomatoes on your porch, or an extensive in-ground plot, gardening will cut your produce bill.  Having plants around may also reduce stress and improve the overall quality of your living environment, cutting doctor’s bills and the need for that stress-busters class you pay for each week.

Loose Change Jar

Every penny you lose is a penny that could be spent reducing debt, contributed to an emergency fund, or otherwise constructively employed. Keep track of them and give yourself a visually encouraging boost with a loose change jar in an easily accessible location.  Decide how you’ll use the money before you toss in the coins, and delight at how quickly it adds up.

In Your Wallet:

Library Card

Make Barnes & Noble (and their expensive, tempting coffee bar) a thing of the past by checking out books at your local library.  Many libraries also maintain subscriptions to popular magazines.  While you may not be able to check them out, you can enjoy them at the library.

Membership to a Warehouse or Bulk Discount Club

If you turn up your nose at the thought of bulk shopping, it might be high time to check out your nearest Costco or Sam’s Club.  These retailers often carry organics, clothing, household goods, furniture, and office supplies.  If you truly can’t use anything in bulk, or lack room to store it, split the membership with a friend and buy items you both use, together.

Bonus Savings if You Have:

A Friend or Co-Worker Willing to Ride Share

Always drive yourself? Consider teaming up with a friend during weekend outings, or better yet, find a coworker who can help your commute.  You’ll save money in gas, mileage-based insurance and, over time, vehicle maintenance.

Thirsty for more tips and tricks? Check out these 55 Practical Ways to Save Money Efficiently.

Featured photo credit: Kristina Zuidema via flickr.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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