Financial Preparedness: 100 tips to SPREAD your money VS. economic collapse or failure. Save, cut, reduce and go without. Frugality at its finest.
One of the biggest things to stress when striving for a financial preparedness is living below your means, and being as frugal as you need to be. With the cost of living increasing at a rate faster than our income rises, as well as a host of other possible problems, lots of us are left struggling. But before finding new ways to save money it might be wise to sit down and write out a budget. Figure out how every penny is being spent. You may be spending too much, even to the point of financial despair. Basically, are you getting a good value from your purchases? By creating and assessing a budget, some things might instantly pop out as red flags.
For example, at one point and time in my young life, I was spending $5 a day, $2.50 a piece, for energy drinks. I did this on a near-daily basis. Looking back now, $5 a day X 365 days, wound up being $1,725+ annually, on energy drinks. Sickening! As you may see, some things are just better off completely cut out of your budget.
By changing these routines you may think your happiness in some aspects, may diminish. Not drinking your favorite Red Bull for example. If living a frugal lifestyle becomes a burden then you are doing something wrong. Perhaps it is a mindset. When you believe that you require less you become happy with less. And by also embracing a frugal side, the corners that you cut enable you to spend less time working for things not needed to begin with. If times are good then your practice keeps money in your pocket for things that truly benefit your family. And if, God forbid times are tough, your newfound frugality maybe the lone thing keeping your family afloat.
Listed below are a list of near one hundred things you can do to start living below your means, spreading your buck and cutting Corners. Frugality at its finest. These are in specific order and by category.
Gym and Entertainment
1. Ditch your gym membership. Do push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks Etc in your own Home Instead. Go for a run, hike or even a bicycle ride. Based on your level of frugality, simply downsizing from a private gym to a family YMCA might also be a suitable option.
2. Stop playing the lotto. Its for people who aren’t very good at figuring out the odds. And the odds are about on par with getting hit with lightning if you expect to hit the jackpot.
3.Stay in with a family board game night. Its a free alternative that everyone in the family can enjoy. Make it a once a month routine.
4. Skip the night on the town and invite friends over for a few drinks. Fire up the grill and play some cards. A night at the bar(s) can add up quickly.
5. There are plenty of free books on Amazon and you couldn’t read them all if you wanted to. Download a bunch to your laptop or mobile device for future access.
6. Visit the library. There you can preview most media before buying it, or simply rent it for low or no cost. Most libraries carry DVDs, Bluray discs, CDs, as well as magazines. Often times they are interconnected and can order anything they dont have from a neighboring library.
7.Libraries for alternate entertainment. Mot libraries have movie nights and story telling for the kids, workshops to learn things such as basic computer skills as well as other perks, the most noticeably being free internet access for all of its members.
8.Cancel any magazine subscriptions. Once again they can all be obtained at the local library.
9. Frequent community events for local entertainment. Weather you are visiting a park for the day or the villages weekly lawn concert,Your town most likely offers periodic special events that are free or low cost ways to spend the day.
10. Stop eating out. Reduce your fine dining (and drive through visits) to once a month or less. You can most likely make the same meal for a fraction of the price, plus its a healthier option. Being frugal doesn’t mean Ramen noodles with mayonnaise and mustard sandwiches.
11. Men, start cutting your own hair. A 50 dollar pair of clippers goes a long way if you are satisfied with a buzz cut or letting your significant other cut your hair. 20 dollars every six weeks really adds up.
12. If you literally want to scrape, save all of those little bits of soap and compress them into a soap ball for reuse. Soap, after all is a self cleaning product.
13. Use a clothesline. This solar method of drying your clothes saves on your utility bill, extends the life of your clothes, and your home is quieter fort it.
14. Make your own laundry soap. The price of name-brand laundry soap is quite high. You can make your own for a few cents a load. The savings are very deep over time on this.
15. Use cold water when washing clothes. It’s not the temperature of the water that cleans clothes after all. Only use hot water for your bedding and whites.
16. Only wash your clothing when necessary. Obviously you need to wash your underwear after each use but do you really need to wash your jeans after one day?
17. Ladies, cut your hair at a beauty school. This is discounted greatly and at times even free.
18. Take the hotel soap and shampoo packets. They add up and are free to you as a hotel guest.
19. Cut your shampoo and conditioner with water. Keep an empty shampoo bottle and dumped half of a full one in it, creating two halves. Fill them up with water. Your hair products will last twice as long. Shampoo is very thick and strong, so thinning doesn’t eliminate potency.
Cell, TV, computer and electronics
20. Look at your phone services. Maybe you carry a cell phone and a landline. Do you really need a home telephone? If so there are VoIP options that may be much cheaper than a traditional landline.
21. Cut out television entirely or lower it to basic cable or a lower package. Do you need to spend $140 a month on 300 channels?
23. Utilize Netflix, Hulu or Amazon streaming services. These subscriptions may be considerably cheaper than cable television, while still offering the same programs your family enjoys.
24. Drop your cellular carrier for a less expensive one. There are people out there spending over $100 for a cellular plan. Switch to a prepaid phone. One of the more popular ones, Walmart Straight Talk, offers a $45 a month plan that utilizes the same Towers your cell phone accesses but for half the price.
25. Use open source software. There are many open source and free to use programs and even operating systems. Don’t think that you need to purchase a program to read your office documents. There are suitable and free replacements.
26. When printing something, always use print preview. The item may be printing unwanted pages that you can remove from the screen.
27. Have your televisions, computers and any other electronics with self timers to shut off or rest when not in use. Your child’s a video game system for example can be set to shut down when not in use, over a set period of time.
28. Reduce the speed of your internet. Chances are you can lower your internet speed and do most things without a dramatic reduction in speed. If you don’t play high end video games online or stream 4K movies, you won’t notice the difference.
29. Unplug an electronic device not in some state of us. It is said these devices still use power while plugged in, even went off. Invest in a power strip you can toggle on and off instead.
30. Driving at a reduced speed. Driving 55 and a 65 mile per hour Zone may upset other drivers, but not your wallet. The difference between 55 and 65 miles per hour is 15% more gas used. Just make sure to stay in the right-hand Lane.
31. Replace your vehicle’s air filter often. Doing so improves gas mileage up to 7% that can equate to a $50 bill bill every 5000 miles.
32. Do your own basic auto maintenance. Wash and Detail your car and check your own fluids. The big one, learn to change your own oil. If you have to pay someone else, you are paying quite the premium.
33. Errand-running. Don’t leave the house for just one place or thing unless it’s vital. Combine trips to multiple places and avoid all those extra trips to the gas pump as well. Also avoid rush hour traffic if it puts you idling in the car longer than normal. Gas isn’t cheap.
34. Discount gas cards save at the pump. You usually save $0.05 or more with a gas card.
35. Run your car into the ground, figuratively speaking. Ride it for as long as you can. Obviously you don’t want to visit the shop monthly, but if you can stretch that old beater for another year or two without a car payment it may be a wise move financially.
36. If your family is spread out, try planning a trip somewhere where family or friends are nearby. Staying with your mother-in-law for a few nights could save thousands in hotel Associated fees.
37. When on the road for vacation, fill the car with snacks from home and avoid spending money at the overpriced rest stops. Even cold sandwiches on the side of the road are better than what you get at the Thruway rest stop.
38. You can also shop locally once you reach your destination. The supermarkets out of town may be cheaper. If so it may be wise to buy and prepare some meals during your vacation as well.
39. Just say no. Whether you have an eight-year-old or an 18 year old begging for the latest toy or Gadget, initially say no if you don’t already. Incorporate ways to help them earn it.
40. Don’t waste idle time shopping. Whether you are surfing Amazon for hours on end, or shambling around window shopping at the nearest strip mall, doing this is proven to result and impulse purchases that are often unneeded or unwarranted.
41. Be patient. Be patient while shopping. Do you need that item at once? The next model of Glock to be released May come down in price and six months when used models hit the resale Market. Rushing to make a purchase is as bad as an impulse purchase.
42. Visit a thrift store or second hand store. Go to yard sales. If you are bringing something home at a discount for being used that you would have paid for new, you may be head of the consumer woes of overpaying.
43. Search for discounts prior to shopping online. Before checking out, check Google to see if you can find any coupon or promo codes. Simply search for the store name and the search term promo code.
Health and baby
44. Visit a College University with a dental program. You can score it discounted or even free teeth cleaning.
45. Tell your doctor if you are having trouble affording your prescription drugs. He may stockpile you with samples if possible.
46. Mail-order drug prescriptions. Some insurance companies allow for mail order drugs at a discount.
47. Use generic prescriptions if possible. Ask your doctor for the generic drug and called to see if any pharmacies offer discounts as well. Generic prescriptions contain the same ingredients at a fraction of the price.
48. Outfit your baby’s room with used cribs, high chairs, toys and more. These high-priced items don’t warrant the price tag considering they will be used for such a short period time.
49. Free baby formula. If not worried about the opinions of others, request free samples at every visit. It’s not called liquid gold for nothing.
Food and shopping
50. Buy meat in bulk from a butcher when possible. If you can afford to split a half a cow or Pig with someone and have the freezer space to spare, you can save a lot of money.
51. Buy everything you can in bulk. BJ’s, Amazon Costco and any other bulk Co-op can offer great deals. As long as you’re home accommodates for a big pantry you can buy and stock in bulk. You can always split that case of tuna fish with a neighbor or friend if you feel you are buying too much of any one thing just for the sake of saving money.
52. If you frequent Dunkin Donuts or other coffee chains you know $2 really adds up. Purchase a thermos.
53. Don’t be afraid to buy the cheap cut of meat. They can usually become very tender and tasty again if cooked in a crock pot. Now the discounted meat no longer has any flaw you saved at the butcher too.
54. Shop store brand. They are often less expensive than name brand counterparts. Granted there may never be a suitable replacement for Hellman’s Mayo no matter the savings, your cocoa rice and Cocoa Krispies probably taste identical.
55. Use coupons When shopping. Seasoned couponers can save quite a bit at the register. How much? Just take a handful of coupons out of the Sunday paper and tally up the savings.
56. Watch the scanner during checkout. Things can very easily scan and properly, multiple times or not at all.
57. Sign up for a store card. They often offer deeper discounts on some purchases and memberships are usually free of charge.
58. Start canning your food. Weather you grow fresh food in a garden or purchase it from a local market, canning produce extends the shelf life and today’s technology has streamlined the process.
59. Eat leftovers. More importantly, eat the leftover leftovers. Throwing away edible food is unfortunate on many levels, the worst of being a financial waste. Get your family in the habit of eating leftovers while finding new ways to reintroduce them.
60. Drink water. At the very least stop drinking soda. 1.99 for a 20 ounce Cola seems to be a bit pricey because it is. Water is a free and healthy choice.
61. Grow a garden. While this topic can branch off into its own series of books, simply put, growing a garden comes with free, organic food. You can also can most of what you grow for longer-term food storage. This also reduces your overall cost of food. Even in small apartments one can garden effectively if creative enough.
62. Frequent your local farmers market. The prices are very competitive and there is nothing more fresh then freshly picked produce. Visit prior to closing and the folks selling their goods are more apt to barter and lower the price, rather than haul produce back home for another week.
63. Consider raising a few chickens in your backyard. This livestock is incredibly low maintenance, inexpensive to feed and will generate organic breakfast daily.
64. Make your own bread. Something almost everyone consumes. You can do this by hand or by using a bread machine. It beats $2.50 for a loaf of bread.
65. Visit Bakery Outlet Store. Our local Freihofer’s Outlet sells bread closer to expiration at a great discount. They also sell other pastries and snacks.
66. Purchase a deep freeze. By freezing your meat, fruits and vegetables you can buy in bulk when the good deals arrive and prolong that great sale by freezing your food.
67. Invest in a food vacuum sealer. By vacuum sealing many Foods the shelf/expiration extends much further. If you use this regularly it quickly pays for itself.
68. If you steam your vegetables at the stovetop you can shut your burners off early by simply placing a lid on the pot. Once the water comes to a boil the steam and stored heat will continue to cook your vegetables without the continued use of the burner.
69. Substitute store-bought meet by growing and processing your own. While not for everyone, faint of heart or location prohibiting, there are some animals you can raise your own with limited space. Three that come to mind are meat rabbits, chickens and pigs. As shocking as it may sound two pigs are incredibly happy in an 8 by 10 foot space. They grow to suitable size it just nine months. Even after the butcher’s bill you are ahead financially as long as the animals grow healthy.
70. Pay your insurance premiums annually versus monthly. Many insurance companies offer discounts for doing so.
71. Pay a little more on your mortgage each month, or make one additional payment each year. Doing this can shave years off the life of your loan. Check with your lender.
72. Turn down the thermostat. 62 degrees sounds cold to some but not if you are wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt instead of a short one. Layering your clothing lightly in the winter can save a lot of money. Providing heat is usually the most expensive utility for any home, no matter the source.
73. Only accumulate debt if you must. Avoid paying interest rates or shop around to borrow money at the lowest interest rate possible. There is a big difference in money saved when starting a home loan with a 6% interest rate vs a 3% rate.
74. Auto insurance. Do you need the coverage you are paying for? Collision may not be a wise choice on that 1993 Grand Am if the premium out ways the price of the vehicle. Double check and see if you have roadside assistance with your insurance carrier before adding something like Triple A or vice a versa. You may be carrying both without knowing. Lastly, shop around. Geico may have the best rates in your town now but not three years from now. Call and compare annually.
75. Separate your change. Old Loose Change is more valuable than the new. Pennies prior to 1982 are 100% copper and dimes and quarters prior to 1963 are pure silver. You want to set these aside as they are worth more than face value.
76. Keep the rest of your change indefinitely. It adds up quickly. My spouse and I generate a little more than $50 of spare change each month. We do this without missing or needing our loose change. If we saved our change for 20 years, we would accumulate over $12,000 in savings. That’s a nice chunk of cash towards a college education or even a vehicle.
77. Ditch your bank and find a credit union. If you bank with one of the big Banks chances are you’re paying them some sort of fee just for having an account. Making the switch to a local credit union usually offers more competitive interest rates and no membership fees or hidden costs.
78. Keep your freezer full, even if it means you are filling the empty space with bottles of Frozen water. It is less expensive running a freezer with less unoccupied volume. l
79. Lower the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees from the standard 140. This will not ruin bath time. You still have very hot water with a more mild water temperature.
80. Turn your oven off early period while cooking turn your oven off 15 to 20 minutes early and let your ovens built in heat finish off the job.
81. Do excessive baking on the real cold nights. It offsets some of the heat from your primary heat Source, multi-tasking all the while with baked goods.
82. Button up your house and keep cool air out and your heating bill down. Attic insulation, windows, doors and even electrical outlet panels bring in the cold if not sealed.
83. Keep your blinds closed during the summer months help block out the Sun. Open up the windows at night when temperature cools down to help avoid the cost of running an air conditioner.
84. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Lower the temperature overnight in the winter months to offset the price of heat. During the summer for those with central air, raise the temperature when not home.
85. Close off various rooms of your house in the winter to avoid eating them. If your home is zoned properly and you don’t need the space, you can seal off portions of your home and not have to eat it. This makes sense for big homes with empty rooms.
86. Avoid using the AC if possible. Heat you once found unbearable might seem like a minor annoyance once you adapt to it.
87. Change and clean the filter of your air conditioner regularly. It doesn’t have to work as hard, saving precious BTUs and money.
88. Use Rags that you can rewash. Paper towel and napkin products can be awfully expensive. Shred old clothes into rags and towels before throwing them away.
89. Start making your own household cleaners. Products you most likely already have on hand such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice come to mind as active ingredients. You can use a one-to-one white vinegar and water solution for many things, but it does an amazing job on glass and is a fraction of the price of Windex.
90. Learn how to do basic home repairs and general Home Maintenance. The more you can avoid a contractor or service man, the more money that ends up in your pocket.
91. Check the damaged lumber at the local hardware store. Lowe’s has a section with damaged wood that comes in handy for some construction projects.
92. Give do-it-yourself projects ago. YouTube as well as other sites offer video tutorials galore dedicated to creating and repairing.
93. Learn to sew. It’s a lost skill for so many this generation but repairing clothing that we would otherwise throw out stops us from buying more. A loose seam or popped button is quite simple to replace.
94. Tobacco hit $10 a pack way back in 2010. Instead of buying name brand, buy it in bulk by the pound. Rolling your own can bring that $10 back down to a buck or two per pack.
95. Or just quit smoking. You are paying quite the price just to kill yourself. I quit in 2011. At a pack a day (Marlboro lights were $10+) I personally saved over $20,000 since then. That’s a small addition on your house!
96. Rid yourself of possessions you don’t need or never use. EBay, Craigslist or even a garage sale, some things we keep for absolutely no reason. Contemplate selling some of those items.
97. Consider a community college for your electives. From there you can transfer to a college with a better name if needed. The savings for classes at the community college level versus the more prestigious can be very high.
98. Buy college textbooks used. Barnes & Noble has an excellent used textbooks section.
Financial woes happen and no matter the cause, be it a waning economy, bad decisions, or a string of Unfortunate Events, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. All that matters is that you take the steps to ensure the cause, whatever it may be, limits its burden upon you and your family. Learning to be fine actually prepared as a great step in the right direction. Hopefully these tips help or at least spark some creative thinking on your behalf when dealing with Financial Preparedness head on.