TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH
By: Tracy L. Hirsch, Attorney
For most of us, life is more expensive now than it has ever been, and we do not always have enough money to go around. Here are a few easy, friendly ways to help make your monthly budget pass muster:
1- Learn how to save on your utility bill- lower the setting on your hot water heater, install a timer on your thermostat, and make sure to turn the lights out when you leave a room.
2- When planning weekly meals for your family, look through the grocery ads, cut coupons, make a list, and buy and make food in bulk. Freezing leftovers can not only save you money and reduce waste, but it can save you time on those busy nights when everyone comes home late!
3- Brown bag your lunch. People sometimes spend a fortune on eating lunch out. Not only is it often healthier to make your own meals, you will save on food and gas costs as well.
4- Write everything down!! Similar to a diet, we think about what we are spending (or eating) when we force ourselves to be accountable for our spending habits. If you realize that you are spending $15.00 a week on Starbucks, it may help to explain why you may be short on cash at the end of the month.
5- Avoid ATM and other bank fees. Be aware of the fees your bank may charge you to use ATM machines, if your bank charges for usage at other banks, make sure to only stick to your bank’s ATM machine. Additionally, pay attention to your bank balance on a daily basis in order to avoid bounced checks, overdrafts, and other service charges.
6- Buy generic brands as often as possible. For many items, such as over the counter medications, and several food items, there is no difference in the quality or content of these products. Read labels carefully and save money when you can by purchasing the generic equivalent.
7- Find free activities for your family. Look through the paper and search online for free local entertainment for the kids. Libraries, zoos, museums, festivals at schools, church groups, are all good sources for information on free entertainment for people of all ages.
8- Pay bills online. Almost all banks have free online banking now. If you set up payments through your bank, not only will you save money on postage, you can set up your payment to be certain to arrive to the creditor on time and avoid any late fees.
9- Price insurance annually. You can save several hundred dollars a year by purchasing auto and home insurance from a licensed, low-price insurer. Make sure to get four price quotes before committing to one company.
10- When shopping for major purchases, check local ads and the internet for the best prices and also be sure to check consumer reports to ensure you are making the best decision for your budget.