With the economy in a slump and a possible recession looming, many people find themselves trying to maintain the standard of living they are used to while combating higher gas prices and more expensive goods and services.
Since, chances are, you won’t be able to increase your income any time soon, the need to save money is even greater than ever. And, this is actually easier than you think it is. All you need to do is make some adjustments to your lifestyle.
If you smoke, quit. Depending on where you live, cigarettes can run as much as $4-$5 per pack or more. If you smoke a pack a day, that’s roughly $150 a month you could save by quitting. If you need help, your doctor is available to do that and most insurance companies help with paying for stop-smoking prescriptions and treatments because it saves them money in the long run too.
Plan your meals ahead of time. The biggest problem my wife and I have always had when it came to budgeting was finding ourselves in a time pinch and having to eat at McDonald’s or some other restaurant. Now, we plan ahead. We figure out what we want to eat, make a grocery list with the ingredients we need (and stick to it) and, if we know we won’t have time to make dinner one day, we make the meal ahead of time and then just warm it up. Not only does this save us money at dinner, we have plenty of leftovers for lunches.
One other suggestion; when you do your grocery shopping, go to a grocery store rather than a department store that sells groceries (like Super Wal-Mart). That way, there will be less temptation to buy more than you’re shopping for.
Clip Coupons. A few pennies here and a few more pennies there may not seem like much, but if you use coupons on a regular basis, the savings adds up quickly. One suggestion with this though, only clip the coupons for the items you would normally buy. If you buy something just because you have the coupon, that defeats the purpose.
Conserve gas. If everyone had the money, I’m sure they would go out and buy the newest hybrid car that gets 50-60 miles per gallon. But, since most of us don’t, the next best thing is conserving gas when we can. Try to do your grocery shopping in one trip versus several small trips. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and the car is well-maintained. And, whenever possible, walk.
Review your bills. About a year ago, I volunteered to audit customer accounts at work. And, during the course of that audit, we learned we were unintentionally overcharging about one out of every 20 customers. And, some of those mistakes were as high as $20 a month. We did the right thing and corrected their bills. But, most companies don’t. And, most customers don’t even look at their bills to see if they are correct. A couple times a year, sit down and look your bills over. Even if it’s correct, you might have missed a price increase; something that probably could be brought back down with a simple call to customer service.
Extra money can be found. You just need to have some discipline and be willing to make the necessary changes. That way, you’ll be prepared if a recession does hit.