March 7, 2013
By David Bakke, a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance. He shares his tips for saving money, building wealth, and preparing for the future.
If your overall financial picture needs to be improved, it's going to take some time. However, you've got to start somewhere, and your monthly expenses are a good place to begin.
Saving $50 per month may not sound like much, but if you can find five different ways to do this, you'll have saved $3,000 in only one year. Here are five simple options:
1. Clip Coupons Most folks simply do not realize the power of clipping coupons to save on groceries. If you take it to the level of extreme couponing, you can shave as much as 80% off your monthly bill. Pick up a few extra copies of the Sunday paper, and get the kids involved to find coupons for the items you buy the most. Then, shop on the days when your grocer doubles their value to maximize savings. Organize your coupons in a file folder by expiration date so you can be sure to use them before they expire.
2. Bring a Brown Bag Lunch to Work Lunch is minor expense in the eyes of most, but it adds up fast. Let's say you eat out every work day and spend an average of $7. In one month, you've spent $140. Instead, pack some of last night's leftovers, or make a sandwich for yourself for a brown bag lunch. That way, you can easily cut your daily lunch expense in half, which saves much more than $50 over the course of a month.
3. Eliminate Your Landline Telephone If you have a cell phone, you may not need a land line anymore. As long as you have a reliable Internet connection, you can pick up a device that connects to your computer and then to a telephone, such as a magicJack. The upfront cost is minimal (around $40), and an annual subscription costs less than $50.
4. Reduce Entertainment Even if you only eliminate one night out at a restaurant or one trip to the movies per month, you could save $50. Instead of going out, cook a meal with the whole family pitching in, and rent movies at Redbox, which only costs about a dollar per DVD.
5. Cut Back on Personal Purchases Just about everything you buy at a convenience store can either be eliminated or purchased elsewhere for less. Newspapers, lottery tickets, snacks, sodas, and many other things are truly unnecessary purchases. If you're a coffee drinker, brew it at home instead of buying it at a store each day. There are plenty of other ways to reduce your personal purchases. Any time you reach for your wallet or purse, just ask yourself: Do I really need this?
Final Thoughts Let's say you implement all of these ideas, and the savings equal exactly $250 each month. Instead of wasting this money, figure out how to best use it. Pay off credit card balances, invest in your retirement plan, save money in your emergency fund, or set it aside for your children's college fund. Once you start to see positive effects of these savings, you'll have all the motivation you need to keep going. Can you think of any other ways to save $50 a month?
Learn More Savings Tips: