It’s the little things that make a big difference. Your day-to-day expenses that seem small eat up a big chunk of your income. If you have barely anything in your savings and find it tough to save on big expenses alone, you need to cut back on your small expenses and save more money. Here are some innovative ways to do that.
I recently discovered that a lot of budget conscious people have a rule – seek at least three bids even for mundane purchases. They shop around for almost everything they buy. This way, they find a vendor with the lowest price, or buy from a different vendor by quoting the competitor’s lower price.
If you are an impulse buyer, make it a habit to prepare a shopping list before going to the store. Don’t buy anything that doesn’t appear on your list.
Save on electricity
Did you know that, of the total electricity consumed by your home electronics, about 40% is used when the devices are turned off? That’s because most people keep the adapters turned on while it is plugged into the device. Moreover, the voltage adapters use energy even if they are not plugged into the device.
Turn off your PC/laptop when it’s not in use. In most cases, people leave their computers on only because of convenience. Also, always make sure that you’ve turned the light off when leaving the room. It’s a myth that it takes more electricity to turn the light on than to keep it on. Switching on a light takes as much energy as keeping the light on for fractions of a second. And yes, get those energy efficient bulbs. They will generate significant savings over time.
Water? How can you possibly save on water? Well, there are a few pretty good ways to do that. Get a shower-reduction kit, which costs almost nothing. It reduces the flow to the showerhead, and you barely notice the change. Take quick showers, if possible.
Leaky faucets and toilets waste plenty of water. Get them fixed. Don’t leave the faucet running when brushing teeth or shaving. When not in use, keep your pool covered to lower evaporation. And yes, avoid buying bottled water except in unusual circumstances.
Cable and telephone
Most people don’t use the hundreds of channels that come with their cable package, including the premium ones. You can save more than $100 on monthly cable bills by watching TV online. Netflix offers on-demand videos for less than $10 a month. In case you have cable Internet, keeping basic cable is much cheaper than paying for Internet alone.
Take a look at your telephone bill, and shop around based on your needs. If you make a lot of long-distance calls, an unlimited plan makes more sense. But if you mostly make local calls, a bare-bones option would suffice. Skype, Gchat and other similar services allow you to make free video calls, and low-cost calls to telephones and cell phones.
Miscellaneous household items
Remember, you’ll save more money by making your water heater work less. Lower your shower’s temperature by a couple of degrees. If possible, use a microwave rather than the oven. You can easily cook a full meal in the microwave for the cost of just preheating the oven.
And yes, many utilities offer rebates if you install high-efficiency appliances like refrigerators, furnaces, dishwashers and wall insulation. Invest $100 in an espresso machine or $10 in a coffee pot. Make your own coffee rather than buying custom lattes at the coffee shop.
Resell kids’ clothes
You know kids grow really fast, prompting you to buy them new clothes every few months. You can reap a nice return by selling their old clothes. And this money can be spent on their next wardrobe.
Sometimes it’s funny to see people with almost-zero in savings telling you about the latest movie release with the cost of theater popcorn. Tickets to a play, music concerts, and sporting events can easily run hundreds of dollars for a couple. Not to mention the expenses of food and drinks once you’re at the event. For a night in, most of the times, the difference between a $10 and $30 bottle of wine is the price. So go with the cheaper option. When dining out, look at the prices on the menu first. Avoid ordering delivery of expensive food because you are enjoying only the food, not the atmosphere. If the atmosphere were no concern, cooking for yourself would have been much cheaper.
Do you know any other ways to save on your small expenses? Share with us in comments.
Photo by Alan Cleaver on Flickr