Ways to turn spending into savings
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. It seems as if our financial needs outstrip our ability to meet them. Limited resources and rising expenses can make “getting ahead” feel impossible. In fact, about two-thirds of respondents in The Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence™ said that they are spenders rather than savers.1
Breaking out of this trap begins with acknowledging that everyone’s spending habits have room for improvement. With an open mind and a dose of discipline, you can find simple ways to convert your spending into savings. Here are some places to start:
1. Find a different hobby
Bargain shopping and impulse purchases are frequently the result of boredom or anxiety management. Find a new, less expensive diversion. Learn a foreign language online for free, join a book club, visit museums when they offer free admission, or use your cell phone to improve your photography skills.
2. Save energy costs, save the planet
Become more energy efficient by performing an energy audit. You can do it yourself by purchasing a home energy monitor, or ask your local power utility, which may offer in-home energy audits. Consider these cost-saving ideas.
- Install a programmable thermostat to regulate home temperatures while you’re out. (You know you’ll never remember on your own.)
- Use a power strip to reduce the electrical use of your “instant on” devices by shutting off the power strip at bedtime.
- Weather strip and caulk; install door sweeps to block drafts and close the fireplace damper when not in use.
- Service your heating system for optimal efficiency.
- Service your car to increase gas mileage; better yet, use public transportation.
3. Save on gym membership
Unused memberships are an expensive waste of money. If you do join:
- You can reduce membership costs by signing up when there is a special offer. Negotiate to get their best price or join with a friend and potentially get a discount.
- Ask your employer or insurance carrier who may subsidize membership costs or offer special affiliated pricing.
4. Don’t keep cable and cell service on autopilot
Call your provider and negotiate a new rate. Cell providers face stiff competition and are very responsive. Cable companies may be less so but review your package to ensure that you are not paying for channels you don’t watch. And do you really need to keep your landline?
5. Track your spending
You would be surprised by where your money goes. Track every purchase for the next 30 days. It’ll provide you good insight into whether your spending reflects your priorities. Consider these examples of silent money suckers:
- Paying for Bottled Water — Spending a few dollars a day or more for water adds up quickly. Plus, all those plastic bottles are bad for the environment.
- Gourmet Coffee — Three or four dollars a day for your favorite coffee beverage may not seem like a lot of money but could amount to $90-$120/month.
- Eating Out — Depending on where you live, you may be spending as much as $8 for breakfasts, $10-$15 on lunches, and even more for take-out dinners! If you pack a brown-bag lunch, and pre-cook dinners on the weekend, you’ll save money and eat healthier, too.
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