Who couldn't use more money? None of us likes to admit that we're wasting money, but it's easy to overlook ways to save money on everyday purchases. Whether you're looking for ways to jumpstart your new frugal lifestyle or you're a veteran cheap skate looking for even more ways to save some cash, check out these ten ways to start saving money today.
1. Use a budget. You can't start saving money until you know where your money is currently going. Take a month to track your expenses, and you'll instantly identify places where you can cut back. There is a budgeting system out there to fit every personality type, even if you're a free-spirited spender.
2. Pay cash. It's easy to swipe a card at the register, too easy in fact. Spending cash evokes a psychological loss response. Spending cash literally hurts a little. You're more likely to spend less when you're spending cash.
3. Use a list. Shopping lists, especially for groceries, is an absolute must. There is nothing more dangerous to your pocketbook than walking into a store without a plan. Meal planning is also a great way to cut down on your food costs.
4. Coupon sensibly. Do shows and stories like Extreme Couponers make you think that couponing is completely out of your reach? Anyone can coupon and all you need to start is the Sunday edition of your local paper or an internet connection. Printing coupons at home takes all the guesswork out of using coupons.
5. Make it at home. Learning to DIY your own household cleaners, laundry supplies and beauty products can save you big over the course of a year. To really take a big bite out of your budget, make your meals at home. You don't have to be a gourmet chef to whip up a family friendly meal.
6. Stop using disposable products. Start to question every product you buy with the intent to throw it away. Using paper towels, plastic baggies, and disposable diapers are literally throwing money into the trash. Reusable options may cost more initially, but they pay themselves off quickly.
7. Get properly insured. If it's been awhile since you analyzed your home, auto, and health insurance, revisit your policies to make sure you're adequately covered at a good price. Maintaining insurance will save you big when life throws you a curveball.
8. Rethink necessary. Do you really need that premium cable package or data-heavy cell phone plan? Opting out of cable or satellite services and toning down your cell phone usage can equal big monthly savings.
9. Purchase used. Buying used, whether from a second-hand store, yard sale, or online sales forum, is kinder to the earth and to your monthly budget. Look for great deals on children's toys and clothing, furniture, and household goods.
10. Shop around for the best bargains. Use internet searches to price check major purchases before plunking down your hard-earned money. You can usually compare local brick and mortar stores with online retailers to find the best deal.
Saving money becomes second nature the longer you focus on finding the best deals possible. Frugality is not an inborn trait, but rather a finely tuned skill developed with practice and perseverance. Keep in mind the reasons you have for living frugally, whether that's paying down debt, saving for a major purchase or setting yourself up for future financial success. It may take some sacrifice at first, but the rewards of being financially fit are always worth the effort.
Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at moderatelycrunchy.com.