Everyone loves saving an extra $50 or $100 per month, but no one enjoys cramping their lifestyle in order to cut costs. You may want to save money, but you still want to dine at restaurants, go on vacation and enjoy other fun aspects of life.
Well, don't worry: there are plenty of ways to cut costs without significantly altering your lifestyle. Here are eight money-saving suggestions.
#1: Skimp on Gasoline
Horrified by the $4-per-gallon prices you see at the pump? Live in an area with limited public transit, where taking the bus or riding a bike just isn't a realistic option? Here are a few ways you can save on gas.
- Buy items online -- Don't be shy about online shopping for small items like sunblock and toothpaste, if you can get free delivery. (Amazon.com ships many orders over $25 for free). You'll save on the gasoline, vehicle wear-and-tear and time required to drive to the store.
- Bundle your errands together -- Sometimes it's smarter to buy something at a brick-and-mortar location, especially if you think there's a chance you might need to return the item. In these instances, bundle your errands together so that you make one trip in which you stop at three or four stores. It will spare you the fuel, the vehicle expenses, AND the time and hassle of making four distinct trips.
- Pay attention -- Tune into the price of gas on the routes you normally drive. There will often be one gas station with prices lower than its competitors. Simply shaving 10 cents per gallon off a 15-gallon tank that you refill weekly will save you $6 per month, or $72 a year.
- Keep your tires inflated -- Maintaining proper inflation in your tires will not only extend the life of your tires, it will also help you improve your car's fuel economy.
#2: Slash Those Stations You Don't Watch
Many Americans subscribe far more cable or satellite channels than they'll ever have time to watch. In fact, there's an "80/20" Rule of Thumb that says people spend 80 percent of their TV-viewing time watching 20 percent of their channels. Scale down to the subscription package that fits the bulk of your viewing habits. Better yet, get rid of cable or satellite completely in favor of an online streaming service.
#3: Cut Back on Grocery Waste
The average American family of four throws away $500 - $2,000 of groceries per year. Restraining your grocery purchases to foods you'll actually eat before they spoil can save you thousands. For incredibly detailed tips on how to skimp at the grocery store in good taste, check out this article.
#4: Buy Fewer, Better Clothes
The same 80/20 rule that applies to cable television stations also applies to our closets: people generally wear 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time. Cut back on buying the types of clothes you don't wear often; if you only occasionally slip into a cocktail dress or a suit, there's no need to have more than a couple of those types of outfits. In other words: load up on the types of clothes you wear most often, like office wear, and scale back on the clothes you don't wear often, like evening wear or beach wear.
Furthermore, avoid buying clothes that don't fit well. Some people, in an effort to save money, buy something on the clearance rack if it "almost fits" because its a good deal. But more often than not, these clothes end up gathering dust in the back of your closet. It's better to spend a little more money on an item that you'll wear often.
#5: Trim Your Utility Bills
Turn off lights when you're not in the room. Turn off the water when you're brushing your teeth. Keep the thermostat just a few degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter. These tried-and-true tips make a massive impact on your utility bills. Shaving $5 per month from your electricity bill and another $5 per month from your gas bill results in a savings of $120 per year.