The quickest way to get in debt is to live beyond your means. Sure, most people want more than they have but life is not all about spending money. Be thankful for what you do have and learn how to enjoy the financial position you are in. This is where your budget will help identify the amount of money coming in against the amount of debt going out.
Rather than spending money just for the sake of spending, change the amount of deductions you have taken from your paycheck for your 401K or stock options. This is especially great if your company offers a competitive matching program. Increasing the amount you have deducted can quickly add up to a nice savings and is especially nice for retirement.
Many banks and financial institutions offer a Christmas Fund program. This is an excellent way to put aside some money for your holiday shopping so you do not end up with a ton of spending. With these programs, you do not even miss the money and better yet, less stress around the holidays.
Home videos and DVDs are hot items and perfect for any family entertainment. Now you can visit the major video chains and purchase previously viewed videos and DVDs for about half the cost. For example, at Blockbuster, you can purchase either one and get a 30-day warranty. This is still a wonderful way to have quality entertainment for a terrific savings. Another great option is to record your own movies either from TV or any of the popular cable channels such as HBO, Showtime or Disney. Rather than hitting the theater every weekend, make it a special occasion. Instead, pop your popcorn, grab a soda, spread out a blanket, and create your own theater-type atmosphere.
Invite friends over for dinner as a potluck. People love sharing their favorite recipe and by splitting dinner, everyone enjoys variety while saving money. In fact, make this a tradition amongst your friends.
Instant Messaging / Microphone
Rather than spend a small fortune in long distance, contact friends and family via instant messaging on the Internet. In addition, you can download a program that will allow you to connect a microphone and actually have a voice conversation free. All you pay for is the normal price of your Internet connection, which generally runs from $9.95 to $21.95 a month. Either option allows you to have real-time conversations for no extra money.
Long Distance Calling
If you do plan to use long-distance calling, shop around for the right carrier and be sure to read the small print. Even if you like your current carrier, you might be able to find an equally liked carrier for less money. Long distance is a very competitive market so deals are easy to find. The same would be true for your wireless carrier. The plans range vastly from one carrier to another so check out all your options for the best one. Do not forget to look at the coverage area. If you choose a carrier that does not have the right coverage for your area, even if the price is better, there is no savings if you cannot send or receive calls.
When you grocery shop, look for bargains on items that can be frozen. Most people do not even think about shredding block cheese and freezing it. Did you know that you could even freeze eggs? You can as long as you give them a little room to expand. When ready to use, simply set them out at room temperature. If you find apples on sale, make your own apple pies and freeze them or make applesauce. Many food items can be frozen with no problem. Therefore, the next time you see a great bargain think about freezing. (Dairy products other than cheese do not generally freeze well).
Instead of spending your money on overpriced items at the ballgame, take your own cooler of food. Some professional stadiums no longer allow this so check before going. If you have a son or daughter that plays little league or soccer, this is a great way to save money over paying high concession stand prices.
Purchase a discount coupon book, which generally costs around $25. As long as you use it faithfully and base your choices on options featured in the book, you can save hundreds of dollars. These books are great for restaurants, hotels, car rentals, and tons of entertainment and provide great variety and even better discounts.
Instead of buying expensive baby food, make your own. You can use fresh vegetables such as peas, green beans, or corn, run it through the blender, and then freeze individual servings in ice cube trays. When it comes time to feed the baby, simply pop out a cube of food, defrost, and you have instant food. This is a real time and money saver. Most foods can be frozen. In fact, if you make family foods like spaghetti or soups simply make a smaller portion with less salt and spice, puree, freeze just like the vegetables.
Squelch the Smoking
This is probably the hardest habit to break but in addition to saving your health, you will also save money. Cigarettes have become quite expensive and if you can quit smoking, you will enjoy breathing easier and having more to put away for a rainy day.
When you shop, always keep your eyes open for rebate programs. Although filling out the forms and clipping the UPC codes from a box is a hassle, the money you save is worth it. Some rebate items are not listed as offering a rebate. Check out AsmartShop.com or Rebateplace.com to see if any of your recent purchases offer a rebate.
One to three days after a holiday, stores mark their holiday items from 50% to 75% off. This is an ideal way to stock up on next year’s Christmas or Halloween decorations. This is true for stores that sell seasonal clothing as well. Shopping for jackets or sweaters in the summer will provide you with great deals.
Keep a jar or some type of container handy and each time you come home, drop in your change. Every time you break a bill, put the change in your container. You will be amazed how quickly your money will build.
Check out freebie sites such as TotallyFreebies.com or SassySue.com where you will find all types of sample items ranging from cosmetics to books to clothing. Most have no shipping charges and the ones that do are minimal. By filling out a few forms, you will receive sample size soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners, etc., which are ideal for the traveler.
See your Successes
It is important to have an understanding of money. Keep a journal where you can see your successes when it comes to saving money. This is a difficult task and takes time to learn but worth it. By keeping a list of the situations or ways you have saved money in front of you, you will be encouraged to keep going. These successes can be small or large. For example, if you normally buy your lunch, costing you from $5.00 to $7.00 per day and one week straight you packed your own lunch for $3.00 per day that is a success. If you wanted to buy a new dress but held off until it went on sale, saving 50%, that is another success.
Saving money requires some investigative skills, desire, determination, and creativity. Once you get in the habit of saving money, you will feel better about yourself and enjoy life much more without debt hanging over your head!