During tough economic times, it’s easy to feel the pinch when you’re short on cash. Prices seem higher than ever and the paycheck doesn’t seem to cover as much as it once did. It’s during these times that you need to tighten the belt and lower your cost of living. However, tightening the old belt doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you can’t enjoy life. Here are ten easy ways to cut down on your cost of living:
1. Thrift Stores and Garage Sales
Looking for bargains is really easy. Thrift stores have come a long way from the small mom and pop joints that maybe only carried a few items back in the day. Gone are the days of ripped clothing or broken items. Today’s thrift stores are cashing in on the fact that a lot of us like to buy things for an inexpensive price. The best part is that the quality of the merchandise has continually gone up and the prices have stayed relatively cheap. Check out your local Goodwill or Salvation Army and be sure to peruse the Garage Sale section in your local paper on Friday evening.
2. Earn Money from your Debit Card
Recently there are more and more cashback debit card rewards programs popping up. PerkStreet Financial is one of the more popular ones offering up to 2% back on all purchases. At this rate many households can earn/save $50 or more each month.
3. Clip Coupons or Find Coupons Online
Coupons can make a world of difference when you’re shopping for food. Check your local newspapers and magazines for coupon inserts. Another great resource is the Internet. Many companies offer great coupons on their Web sites. Most of the time it only requires your e-mail address in order to be able to print these babies off.
4. Wait for Items to Go on sale
The key to this option is to be patient. Almost all retailers and manufacturers offer sales during key times of the year. Most of the time this will occur when new versions of products are released or when stock needs to be rotated.
You certainly don’t need me to tell you that gas is expensive. It just makes sense to ask your friends, neighbors or co-workers to set up a carpool schedule with you.
6. Raise the Deductibles on your Car Insurance
A higher car insurance deductible will mean lower payments. Of course, if you have an accident, it will take a lot more of the expense directly out of your pocket at the time of repair. You need to weigh your options when doing this and decide how much of a deductible you can actually afford. Another possibility for long term savings is to shop around for a different insurance company. Check out some of the top rated insurance companies to find a winner.
7. Borrow Movies (DVDs and Video Tapes) from the Library Rather than Paying to Rent Them
I’m a huge movie buff. I love almost all genres. What I don’t love is the high rent on new releases. This is where your local library comes in really handy. In most cases they’ll have a wide variety of DVD or Video Cassette movies on their shelves. You can check these movies out for free! Another great thing to do is to use the library Web site to reserve copies of the movie you’re interested in. This saves time and effort and it doesn’t cost a thing.
8. Use Generic Items
In general, almost all name brand items are priced higher than their generic counterparts. Most people already know this. What you may not know, is that many times, the generics are manufactured and packaged in the same factories that the name brands are manufactured and packaged in. You’re getting the same quality, just different names.
9. Reduce Your Debt
Pay off small debts as quickly as possible. After you’ve paid them off, roll those payments into larger debts until all your debts are all paid off. Another key to this step: Don’t get into more debt.
10. Adjust the Temperatures in your Home
Set your water heater temperature three or four degrees lower than it currently is. You won’t notice a huge amount of difference in your shower, but you’ll definitely notice a difference in the electrical or gas bill. During cold months, lower your furnace thermostat by two degrees and during warm months raise your air conditioner thermostat by two or more degrees. The savings will surprise you.
Many of these tips are just plain common sense, but many times we don’t think about them. We forget that we can adjust the temperature on the air conditioner or we don’t realize that raising our deductible on insurance might give us a substantial monthly savings. When you begin changing your habits in the little things, they can add up to a lot of savings in the long run.
This article was by Bob who writes for Christian Finance – a blog that looks at personal finance using Biblical principles.