More Simple Ways to Save Money

I can’t think of a time in my life when it wasn’t important to save money. But I can think of a time when it is more important than ever. And that’s right now. 

We live in the most uncertain of times. A global pandemic and extreme weather events. Civil unrest, a volatile economy and more.

From one day to the next, we never know what calamity is going to strike. And how it’s going to affect us personally.

The formula for saving money is simple – earn more and spend less. Putting it into practice is where it gets complicated.

General money-saving strategies

Today I want to take a look at some simple ways to save money. That way, no matter what crisis occurs next, we’ll be in better shape to handle it.

First though, here’s a quick review of some general money-saving strategies I’ve given you in the past. Then we’ll move into more specific ways to do this.

  • Pay off debt. Easier said than done, but debt is the top money drainer.
  • Reduce costs by separating your wants from your needs.
  • Save a percentage of your earnings, ideally in something like a 401k.
  • Don’t dip into your savings unless you absolutely have to.
  • Stick to your budget. It’s challenging but necessary.
  • Don’t use credit if you don’t have to.
  • Sell stuff you don’t need. You might be surprised how much you have that you don’t need.
  • Use money management apps. There are plenty of them available.
  • Don’t do it alone. Work with your spouse or friend. Get an accountability partner.
  • Ask for help if necessary. Bill collectors may be willing to work with you.

Now for some specific ways to save money, with a concentration on groceries and utilities.

Saving on groceries

Make a list. Grocers know how to position products so shoppers will purchase them. If you have a list, you’ll know just what you need. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry.

Buy store brands. Buying store brands can take a huge chunk out of your grocery costs. Sometimes there will be a brand name item or two that you can’t do without, but more often than not you won’t notice the difference, other than the lower price.

Buy in bulk. This isn’t about warehouse stores with membership fees. It’s about buying more of items you use often when there’s a significant sale. If it means you shop less often, this can add up to even more savings.

Freeze meals. If you’re buying in bulk, make sure your food doesn’t go to waste. You can freeze many items including bread, milk and chopped vegetables, as well as whole meals. There are even cookbooks with recipes for freezing meals in bulk. When you make a meal, cook enough for two meals so you can serve one and freeze the other.

Use digital coupons. Many stores offer digital coupons not available in the weekly newspaper. To acquire these savings, you’ll likely need to set up an account and check off the coupons you wish to use each time you shop.

Stick to the store perimeter. Center aisles have many expensive, processed foods full of salt, sugar and other additives. The outside ring of the store is where you’ll find more foods such as produce, meat and dairy.

Use fewer ingredients. Sometimes the simplest food tastes best, but you wouldn’t always know it looking at some of the complicated recipes out there. Sites such as Allrecipes (AllRecipes.com) are great for finding different options for your favorite recipes, and usually the top reviews will include tips on how to make them even easier.

Saving on utilities

Insulate. Thermal insulation wrapped around your water heater can reduce heat loss, and walls and ceiling insulation will also save on heat and cooling. To see where you need insulation, check your roof after the next frost. Dark spots indicate where heat is escaping.

Eliminate leaks and inefficiencies. Make sure you aren’t losing heat through drafty doors or windows. Your local hardware store has plenty of cheap solutions. Keeping blinds closed in summer makes rooms cooler, and closing off unused rooms also helps you use less energy.

Be eco-friendly in the bathroom. Many people save on water costs with low-flow toilets, and some even adopt the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” policy. Avoid buying expensive bathroom cleaners, instead making your own 10 percent bleach solution. Diluted vinegar also works wonders on windows and glass.

Make small changes around energy use. We don’t always notice all the little ways we use excess energy. For example, laundry doesn’t always need hot water. Cold water gets the job done while preserving colors, and hanging clothes up after a few minutes in the dryer also helps clothes last. Lights on appliances that are not running are also energy vampires, so unplug them when you can or use a power strip.

I’ll leave you with one more thought. Some items in your home wear out and you have to replace them. When possible, use items that take a lot longer to wear out.

One example is batteries. Rechargeable batteries last much longer than regular batteries. This not only saves you money in the long run, it helps the environment. It’s a win-win.

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