1. Make it automatic. Before I see my paycheck, a good portion of it is diverted to my 401(k)and savings
2. Keep minimum funds in checking account. We make our money work for us by funneling extra funds into our savings account where it will earn more interest than in our checking account.
3. Don’t pay banking fees! I use my bank for free bill pay, automatic deposits, free checks, and free reimbursements for all ATM fees. I won’t pay for any of those services. (I bank withUSAA, which is an awesome bank if you are eligible!). I also use ING, which is another great online bank with outstanding interest rates. ING $25 referral bonus.
4. Use rewards credit cards. I get cash back on every purchase and I pay the card off every month so I don’t pay any interest fees. I recommend reward cards, but only if you have no current credit card debt, and can afford to pay the balance every month!
5. Actively search out deals. It never hurts to try and find a better deal, or request a better deal from your service providers. Read about how I saved $1,000 by making two phone calls. I also actively search other money saving deals that can net me free money through sign ups and referrals.
6. Use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats save you an estimated 10-20% on your heating and cooling bills. When we aren’t home, or we are sleeping, our house is quite a bit warmer or cooler, depending on the season. We save a substantial amount on our utilities compared to our neighbors!
7. Use ceiling fans, floor fans, and space heaters. My wife and I program the thermostat to go to the mid-50s at night during the winter. Why so cold? Because we close the door to our room and use a space heater for heat. There is no sense heating an entire house while we sleep. We also use ceiling fans and floor fans to assist with heating and cooling – depending on the season of course! In our computer room we use an air vent booster to increase air flow.
8. Install CFLs to save energy. Compact fluorescent lights use about a quarter of the electricity of normal incandescent bulbs. They also need replaced much less often.
9. Drive smoothly. I accelerate smoothly and at a reasonable rate, and I coast to a stop as often as possible. I also use cruise control on the highway. My car is rated to get 26 mpg around town and I regularly get 29. That’s not quite hypermiling, but it’s not bad! You can also use these tips to save money on gas, and use gas rewards credit cards to save money on fuel costs.
10. Plan and research major purchases. My wife and I recently did this to save money on a vacation. A little planning on our end saved us over $2,000.
11. Buy quality products. Quality items may cost more up front, but they last longer and generally provide better results than cheaper, inferior products. Examples of items you should buy higher quality – furniture, clothes and shoes, vehicles, and other items that will see a lot of use. I used this premise to build a professional wardrobe on a budget.
12. Buy generic where applicable. Yes, I just wrote “buy quality,” but you can save a lot of money on generic items for which the brand name product is essentially the same as the store brand. Food and medicines come to mind as items where generic products are good deals.
13. Use coupons and rebates. We use coupons for oil changes, groceries, books, on-line purchases, and just about anything else we can find. You can even find coupons on the back of receipts. A great on-line resource is Ebates, which is an on-line rebate company. Ebates is free to join, and you can get great savings on on-line purchases (Ebates review). You can currently get $10 just to sign up!
14. Use store rewards cards. We do our grocery shopping at Kroger, and we “save” at least 10-15% every trip. (Personally, I dislike the savings cards because I believe the stores actually mark everything up to force their customers to get the cards, but that is another story…) We still save a lot of money on groceries, so we use it. You can currently get $200 in free groceriesfrom Kroger! (expires July 31, 2008).
15. Cook at home. My wife is a great cook and we both enjoy cooking and eating at home more than we do going out. We only go out about once a month, but when we do, we prefer to make an evening out of it and go somewhere fairly nice. We enjoy this method of eating out much more than eating out several times a week at chain restaurants such Chili’s or TGI Friday’s.
16. Eat leftovers. I grew up eating leftovers, and I still love them (as long as they are not leftover from when I was a kid! yuck!). I estimate I save a minimum of $20 a week by bringing my lunch to work. It is also healthier, and on the rare occasion I go out to lunch with coworkers, I enjoy it more.
17. Use the library. My wife and I borrow movies from the library almost every week. New releases aren’t always available, but lately, we have been watching a lot of classic movies from the 40s and 50s. My wife also borrows CDs and books, but I still have a lot of unread personal finance books to catch up on so I skip borrowing books!
18. Use parks. My wife and I love to go hiking. We have 2 great parks nearby that we visit often. We get great exercise and the only costs to us is the gas to drive there.
19. Take care of things. I treat things I own with respect and take good care of them. This includes doing things such as cleaning our house, washing our cars, and polishing shoes. Things last much longer when you take good care of them.
20. Buy insurance. Health insurance, home owner’s insurance, auto insurance, and other types of insurance are designed to save you money! Sure, you may end up paying premiums for years and never file a claim, but in the event you need to file a claim, your premium will likely be small compared to what you would have had to pay. You’ll be very happy if you ever need it!
21. Bundle cable and internet. You can save a lot of money by bundling these together rather than purchasing the separately. You can save more if you bundle your phone as well, but my wife and I actually save money by not paying for a landline.
22. Use cell phones – skip the landline. My wife and I each have a cell phone, and we do not use a regular telephone. We have been doing this for years and have never had a problem. Here are some tips to save money on your cell phone bill, and how to cancel your cell phone without paying early termination fees.
23. Cancel subscriptions. We don’t get the newspaper or magazines. Almost everything we want can be found on-line for free.
24. Home improvement. Once upon a time I was an aircraft mechanic in the USAF, so I am fairly handy with tools. I am comfortable repairing most items around the house, and I always attempt to repair problems before calling a professional. However, I am not afraid to hire out anything dangerous or that I don’t have the tools to do. (usually electrical or plumbing).
25. Avoid debt. We have a mortgage, which we don’t mind because we would either have a mortgage or pay rent. But we are free of any student loans or consumer debt including credit cards, automobiles, home equity line of credit, or anything else. This means we pay very little interest and are able to make more of our money work for us instead of work for someone else. And that’s the whole point of saving money, isn’t it?
I know some of these tips won’t apply for everyone, but they work for my wife and I. I’m sure there are many more things we can do to save money, and there are a few places where we can plug some money leaks, but overall, I think we are doing a good job. I hope these tips can help a few other people out there!