You probably have noticed that prices of food and many other things have gone up in the last several months. While there’s nothing you can do about the state of our economy, there are some things you can do to help the state of your own economy. You can find ways to decrease the cost of many things you buy – products as well as services – so that you can save more money in 2014. Here are a few tips that can help you get off to a good start this year.
1. Phone service. If you have a cell phone that you use regularly, do you really need the land line in your house? In many instances, your cell phone is the smarter choice as, if there’s a power failure; it’s the only phone that will work (provided you keep it charged). Chances are your cell bill is much cheaper than the land line. If you bundle phone, internet, cable TV, you can still delete the phone part of your service. It could save you about $50 or more a month.
2. Live The Matinee Life. Did you know most theaters have significantly decreases ticket prices before 6 pm? You can often save $3-4 a ticket just by starting your date a little earlier.
3. Gas purchases. Gas prices have also risen but there are ways you can get fuel discounts to offset them. Stores like Kroger, et al, offer fuel points for purchases and have their own stations that offer greater discounts for members. Large retail chains like Meijer’s and discount warehouses like Costco also have their own gas stations and charge less for gas. Individual gas stations like Shell, BP, etc. also have their own cards and loyalty rewards programs.
4. Food purchases. Watch for weekly coupons at the stores you shop at, collect coupons from your Sunday paper, or go online to get them. A lot of stores have gotten out of the “double coupon” value but if you find one, you may want to shop there. Always bring a shopping list and shop after you’ve eaten to decrease impulse and/or “hunger” buying. Buy store brands which are about 25% cheaper than name brands. Shop on “Senior Discount Day” and subtract another 5% to 10% (or more) off your bill.
5. Rewards Programs. If you use credit cards, most lenders offer Rewards Programs. Some can be significant and reimburse you in gift cards that you can use at a variety of retailers, entertainment venues or restaurants. Some offer cash back, or others offer the ability to pay part of your bill off with them. You’ll want to shop around, because some offer cash back on every purchase, while other creditors have certain categories for certain months.
6. Filtered Water Saver. If you buy your drinking water, you can save money by buying a larger water filtering system like Brita, et al, and make your own filtered water. Fill up a large stainless steel thermos to carry with you during the day instead of plastic bottles. You’ll save money on buying bottles and the environment as well.
7. Coffee Stops. Do you stop at your local Starbucks, et al, for a latte, or other flavored coffee, every day? You can make your own at home by buying your own personal serve latte maker. With purchased coffees costing about $5 a drink, that adds up to $150.00 a month. Your home latte machine will pay for itself in a month. Buy some Styrofoam cups with covers, or put it in a thermos, and save some coffee cash. On a healthier side, you could skip the sugary coffee drinks and just make regular coffee with cream, a little cocoa powder, and some Stevia and save more.
8. Eating Out. Did you know that many restaurants offer discounted prices/ specials during the 4 pm to 6 pm hours? You can get full meals for about $5-7! Some call them Early Bird Specials or Senior Specials, but who cares, you still eat cheaper. However, you may want to limit your eating out to special occasions and cook more at home. New cooking devices like the NuWave Oven, George Foreman Grill, et al, enable you to cook incredible meals from frozen to table in less time than it would take you to drive to a restaurant. They can also save you $$ in energy costs, as well as improve your health.
9. Cable TV. Do you really need cable TV? How often do you watch ALL those channels? If you’re not making use of all the programs that even basic cable has to offer, you might want to just hook up an antenna on your digital TV. If you have an older, analog set, you’ll need a conversion box adapter. Either allows you to get all the regular broadcast channels like ABC, NBC, PBS, etc., for free! You could save about $1,000 a year. If you like to watch a lot of movies you can rent movies from the DVD kiosk at your grocery store, or from the local video store (many are only $1), get them from the library for free, or sign up for an online DVD movie service like NetFlix.
10. Your Home. Are you paying a mortgage, or rent? If you’re still paying on a mortgage you might want to shop around to refinance it at lower rates which have been around for the last few years. If you rent, you may try renegotiating your monthly fee with your landlord. Most like to keep steady, responsible, tenants and will try to accommodate them with a break in the rent, if possible. You might also ask if they’ll pick up a utility, like the water bill, if your use isn’t excessive.
These are just a few suggestions to help you save some extra money in 2014. Others include looking into debt consolidation, getting a part-time (10-20 hour/week) job, asking for senior discounts, changing your prescriptions to cheaper generics if possible, and/or selling items in your home you really don’t need or use.