Four Simple Ways to Spend Less and Save More

As the rising demand for oil reshapes national economies, consumers in prosperous countries like the United States face greater economic challenges than to simply order and view credit report every year. In America, where gasoline prices are reaching $4 a gallon, where the mortgage crisis is creating an epidemic of foreclosures, and where a credit crunch is putting an end to run-away consumer spending, many people, faced with the need to economize, have no idea where to start. By consciously observing your daily habits, you can make common sense changes and spend less.

Use Gasoline Wisely

a.) Take the bus or train to work or seek another form of transportation. Can you car pool with others in your office, walk or take a bike to work? Get creative. It may be necessary to drive part of the way, but could you then park and bike the remainder of the distance?

b.) Cut down on the number of errands you run. Think about your route. Recently big delivery companies trained their drivers to eliminate costly left hand turns that waste both time and fuel. Accomplish your errands in the most orderly route possible. Minimize stops and turns and combine tasks so that you go out in your car once instead of several times.

c.) If you have to be spending your money on fuel, make it count in as many ways as possible. Buy car chargers and power up your cell phone or MP3 player while you’re on the go. (But don’t forget to put your gadgets in your bag or pocket when you leave the car. Don’t tempt thieves.)

Shop for Food Consciously

a.) Most consumers shop by habit, not by price. Store brands always cost less than name brands and often there’s little if any difference in the product. Try the store brand and if it is acceptable, start using it.

b.) Pay attention to buyer reward deals offering two of one item for a special price. If it’s something you use routinely, it’s a good deal.

c.) Use coupons. Many grocery stores have one day a week when they pay double the face value of the coupon. The savings can add up quickly.

d.) Consider augmenting your diet with home grown vegetables. Many plants, like tomatoes, do well in large containers on a patio or balcony. A single well-tended tomato plant can produce 100 lbs. of fruit in a single growing season; about $200 worth. Share the tomatoes with family and friends or trade them at a local farmer’s market for other types of produce.

e.) And of course, it goes without saying, eat at home as much as possible. Eating out is super expensive and not as healthy.

Cut Your Electric Bill

a.) Utility bills are a major drain on the budget, especially during the hot summer months. Set your thermostat at 72 degrees or higher and use fans. Moving air cools the skin and the fans use far less electricity than your air conditioner.

b.) The two appliances that consume the most wattage in any home are the stove and the AC unit. Use the microwave, slow cookers, steamers, and electric grills rather than powering up the stove just to bake a potato.

c.) Change out old-fashioned incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents. They use less electricity, generate less heat, and put out fewer emissions that are harmful to the environment.

d.) Get on top of “phantom” energy drains. Many electrical devices, like audio/visual equipment, continue to consume electricity even when they are turned off. Look for tell-tale lights that remain lit even after you power off the device. Plug several devices into one power strip and get in the habit of cutting the power by turning off the strip when the devices are not in use.

Look for Less Expensive Entertainment

a.) Get to know your regional library. Good public libraries acquire new books almost as quickly as stores. You may have to wait a little longer to read that hot best seller, but in the meantime you’ll discover authors and books you might not have otherwise noticed. Libraries also have DVDs (containing audio books, movies, and music) and computer games.

b.) Get out in your community and attend free concerts in the park, local festivals, art shows at area universities, and similar events. (All good museums will have parts of their collection open to the public free at all times.) If nothing else, pack a picnic and take the family to the park on a Saturday afternoon. Getting outdoors and spending time together is inexpensive and builds family ties.

Consciousness is Key

Paying attention is the key to spending less. Watch your habits and make simple changes. You can save money, use your time more wisely (like combining all your errands in one trip), and have more quality time with your family. If you stop and ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this or buy that?” you’ll be surprised how often the answer is, “No.”

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