Simple Ways to Cut Down on Everyday Costs

Saving money is far easier than many of us make it out to be. There are many simple changes you can make in your life starting now to help cut down on your everyday costs, allowing you to have more precious funding left over at the end of the month.

Grocery Gouging
It is safe to say that the grocery store is an area where we tend to spend the most money that we don’t need to every month, particularly since, for most families, the grocery bill is the highest non-fixed expense. There are many ways to save money at the grocery store, potentially cutting your bill by up to 50% or more!

• Grocery shopping starts at home: plan out all meals for the week and go spelunking through your drawers and cupboards for the necessary ingredients. Any items that you do not have, but will need for that week’s menu should go on the list. Take this list to the store with you and STICK WITH IT: No impulse buys!

• If you don’t clip coupons, it’s time to start now. While the Sunday Press may seem like the best place to find coupons, there are more places than ever before to obtain these little savings miracles; the internet is teeming with coupon sharing sites and social media that are focused solely on getting you coupons. Before the next shopping excursion at your local grocery store, search online and through the paper for coupons that are on your shopping list.

• Buy generic, off-brand items instead of brand names. You will save money, and will often be using the exact same product as you would have had you bought brand name.

• Leave your kids at home when grocery shopping. Children are great at running up a grocery bill by adding additional items to the cart. And it’s much easier to say no to yourself, than to your kids.

Utility Understanding
Think about your last utility bill…

Was it higher than you thought it would/should be? If so, then you are among the majority of consumers who have seen huge increases in their utility bills due to steadily rising energy costs. There are many small steps you can take to reduce your energy costs and subsequently lower your utility bills.

• Replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. One fluorescent bulb has a lifespan 13 times that of its incandescent cousin. Plus, fluorescent bulbs use 75% less energy, which will translate into savings when you receive your next electrical bill.

• Energy experts suggest setting your thermostat at 78° F in the summer and 68° F in winter. While these temperatures are uncomfortable for some, wearing extra clothes or using a fan to add comfort to these temperatures can cut your energy bill by 3% per degree. Thus, if you normally have your thermostat set at 70° F in the winter, you can save $6 a month by making a two-degree change.

• Insulating your attic is the easiest and most effective step you can take to lower your utility bill. Those who have done so reported savings of up to 15% on their utility bill due to less use of the thermostat caused by the trapped heat.

• Unplugging all appliances that are not in use can cut your electricity bill by as much as 5%. Even though they are “off,” these household items still suck a small amount of electricity just by being plugged in.

Fixed Bill Bumbling
Some of your fixed bills like your mortgage, car payment, and insurance premiums stay relatively fixed with little wiggle room to change them. However, since now you are being proactive, there are some things you can do to cut these costs a bit.

• Refinancing a loan can not only cut your interest rate significantly, but can also lessen your monthly payment.

• Examine your fixed monthly bills and decide if any of them can be lessened:

o Cable TV package

o Cell phone plan

o Gym membership

o Netflix

Saving money is a lot like riding a bike: Once you learn how to do it, you will never forget. However, it is up to you whether you ride the bike at all, or leave it in the garage to eat up more of your precious, hard earned money.

Cynthia Waverly is a stay-at-home mother of two and regularly writes about personal finance, specifically the power of coupons. Aside from freelance writing and parenting, Cynthia enjoys making her way to each of America’s wonderful national parks.

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