1. Holiday Gift Giving
This tip is especially helpful for large families. Although it is fun buying for and receiving from everyone, it can be very expensive. Make an agreement with your family that you will continue to buy for the children but that the adults will go with a name exchange.
This way the children are not disappointed and you can spend a little more on one or two people rather than be spreading your money thin. For the members that you did not pick to exchange with, bake a loaf of their favorite homemade bread or cookies.
Here’s another way to give gifts to everyone for less than $1.00 each…
Do you own a computer?
If so the chances are you will have all the equipment you need to implement the following money saving gift strategy.
You will need to already own a computer, scanner or digital camera and CD burner.
The idea is to take photos… either with your digital camera or scan in photos from your existing album of your family.
Create a slide show and burn both the individual photos and slide show onto the CD. This will cost you less than $1.00 for each CD and your family members will love it.
By having the individual photos on the CD your family members can print out their own images afterward.
This is especially great if you have photos of major family events throughout the year such as reunions, gatherings and birthdays.
You could also create calendars and even video shows with the same content and burn them on the CD as well.
Always head straight for the clearance rack where you can find amazing bargains. Sometimes you may have to dig a little to find the right item but the savings will be well-worth your time. Most clearance racks offer variety, current trends, and great value. For example, Bed, Bath & Beyond has a clearance section where you can find all kinds of wonderful household items for a fraction of the original cost.
Another great way to save money is to shop on the Internet. There are big savings to be had from online auctions especially eBay
Be careful to take into account the cost of shipping before buying a product this way.
Other huge savings can be made from online stores because in most cases you are purchasing direct from the wholesaler.
3. Thrift / Surplus Stores
Unfortunately, thrift and surplus stores have been given a bad rap. Many of these stores are filled with hundreds of top quality items.
Name brand merchandise is easy to find but just like clearance racks, it takes some time to find. Find a thrift or surplus store close to where you live and then plan to spend some time to find those outstanding bargains.
One woman in Kansas City, Missouri located such a store about 20 minutes from her home. After shopping through every isle over the period of two hours, she walked out of the store with eight huge garbage bags filled to the brim with designer clothes for her and her children, many with the original tags still attached.
She even found a couple of Liz Claiborne suits for herself at $5.99 each and a Dooney & Burke purse normally valued at $225 for $19.95. Her children had an entire season of school clothes and best of all, she paid less than $200.
Do you know you can make money from this as well?
I know one family who finds brand name clothes at these stores and then sells them on eBay. It’s amazing… they are consistently making about $300 profit every week working part-time at this.
It certainly helps pay the bills.
4. Wrapping Paper and Bows
Create your own wrapping paper, which is not only unique but also fun. Use plain brown grocery bags and craft-like paints to make your design.
After wrapping the gift, let your creative juices flow. For example, using black and yellow craft paint, create a miniature road. Then dipping toy truck tires into red paint roll them along the paper making tire tracks.
You can then draw free hand a stop sign, yield sign, or stop light. Next, using a hot glue gun, glue a couple of the miniature trucks to the paper. This is perfect for a young boy. He will be just as thrilled with the wrapping as the actual gift.
For a girl, you can simply create miniature bows from existing fabric or lace and glue them on brown paper then free hand draw colorful flowers. Just use your creativity and look around for items you already have on hand to use.
When you shop, look for items that can be reused. Rechargeable batteries are a perfect example. Even though the initial purchase may be more than rechargeable batteries, there is a definite saving over a long period.
Another option would be to purchase a nice artificial Christmas tree. Many of the current artificial trees look amazingly real and with the right lights and ornaments, you can change the look from year to year. We actually purchased one of these trees this year and the kids absolutely loved it and now we can use it every year without any further expense.
If you are considering creating a nice flower garden area, shopping for plants even on sale can be expensive.
Before you go out and start spending, look around to see if you have other plants that can be split from your existing flowers.
Also, compare prices before you go. Check out this Outdoor Decor online shopping center to get an idea of what the prices should be before you venture out.
Additionally, if you have a good relationship with any of your neighbors, you might ask them if they have any plants you could use as a starter. Another great idea is the next time you are in the market to buy a lawnmower, purchase one that mulches leaves. This way, rather than buy mulch for your flowerbeds every year, you can simply use the mulch you make.
Everyone should create a budget. If you are not sure how or just not good with money, many businesses such as H&R Block, offer free financial consulting to help you put a budget together. Knowing where you are spending your money is by far the best way to save. In most cases, people have no idea where their money is really going and once they see it on paper, not only are they surprised but also eager to change their spending habits.
If you are wondering where to start to go to Google and search for budgeting tips and you will find plenty of free advice including spreadsheets. Another great place is to try your bank's website and go to the loan application area and they should have some free budget sheets as well.
Planning is a great way to save. Before you go to the grocery store, make a list and stick with it. If considering a vacation, plan everything. Heading out with no set direction will certainly lead you to impulsive spending.
This sounds so simple and obvious you may even overlook it.
For example, do you know that the supermarket is deliberately laid out to entice you to buy more than you planned to? If you don’t write a list and then stick to it then you WILL definitely buy more than you budgeted for. Same goes for vacations. You can save a lot of money by booking ahead of time.
9. Buy in Bulk
It is true that warehouse shopping can save a lot of money. Even if you have a small family, you can always split large quantities. The price of items in bulk is generally a great bargain. If you are single, you might go in with friends or family on bulk items. Every town usually has a warehouse of some sort where you can buy bulk purchases. Another place to find bulk items is eBay. Most of the time when we think of bulk purchases we think of food or cleaning items however it doesn’t have to stop there.
Most search results in eBay also offer bulk lots. For example if you need a new camera you could buy a bulk lot and sell them individually to others and share in the savings. You would even be safer teaming up with 10 other people who needed the same item before buying then the cost is covered with no risk. You can buy all sorts of things in bulk from eBay and it’s well worth the effort to keep an eye out for a bargain.
Do not forget to give yourself an allowance for things you enjoy. Even if on a tight budget, buy something that you enjoy, which could be as simple as buying a new shirt or grabbing lunch at your favorite café. If you do not allow yourself this small “splurge”, you could find yourself in the same position as if dieting. Total deprivation leads to overindulgence.
The whole idea of this book is to show you how to save money while at the same time living a normal life. What’s the point of scrimping and saving to only live a miserable life? You can still spend money and be generous to others and perhaps even more so by being smarter with money in other areas of your life.
11. What Matters to You
Make a list of the 10 most important things in your life. Next to each item, rank them in order of importance using numbers 1 through 10. The purpose of this exercise is to help you see the things you consider the most and least important and to provide you with a visual of why you need to save.
Some examples of things that a person might put on their list include new home, car, special trip, artwork, starting a business, or pay off debts. Sometimes it pays to itemize how you are going to get those items. For example, if you go to the new home first you could use the equity from the home to purchase a car. However if you went for the car first you would more than likely struggle to get the home. See what I mean? Sit down and itemize what you want and then draw up a plan for how you can achieve those results.
12. Setting Goals
Break your goals into short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term. Being able to see your accomplishments is a great motivator for you to work hard at saving. If you set a short-term goal of saving for tickets to the symphony and reach that goal, you will be encouraged to keep saving for the intermediate and long-term goals.
13. Be Realistic
When it comes to saving money, make sure the goals you set for yourself are realistic. If you earn $50,000 a year, saving $20,000 would be nice but it is very unrealistic. Make your goals attainable or you will never save.
Once you have set your goal for saving, realize that things can and will change. The secret is learning ways to be flexible. If you normally save $150 a month, when something unexpected happens, you may only be able to save $50 that month. This is fine as long as you focus on getting back on track.
Shop around for insurance and work with a good agent that can provide information on discounts such as good student, multi-car discount, etc. Some people think the price of insurance is the same from one company to the next. However, prices can vary dramatically and ensure you get the best deal, you need to consider all your options.
This is not to be ignored. You can save enough from your insurance costs to pay for a decent end of year holiday.
Okay, maybe you used to laugh as you watched people pull out their coupons at stores but the truth is that using coupons can save you hundreds of dollars every year.Coupons can be used at grocery stores, retail chains, any store where the item is sold. Some stores offer double coupon days, which is an extra bonus. On average, you could easily save from 5% to 15% on a bill for $100 simply by presenting a coupon. Coupons are not just for food items and by scouring your local newspaper you can find coupons for all sorts of merchandise.
17. Credit Cards
Use credit cards only for emergency. Although convenient, credit cards are dangerous and damaging. In addition, if you have a credit card that has a $1,000 balance and you pay only the minimum payment each month, it will take you between 20 and 30 years to pay off that $1,000 balance since the majority of money is going strictly toward the interest and not the principal amount. Sadly the incorrect use of credit cards is the major cause of bankruptcy.
18. Mortgage Payment
Paying one additional mortgage payment each year, whether in a lump sum or monthly increments can lower a 30-year loan down to 18 years. If you pay more than one extra payment, the number of years will decrease even more. Since this additional payment will be applied only to the principal and not the interest, you end up saving thousands and thousands of dollars once the home is paid off. If you are budget conscious then home-equity loans will provide even greater savings.
19. Credit Card Interest
If you have credit cards and your credit is in good standing, call your credit card company, and ask for your interest rate to be lowered. It is truly that simple. Unfortunately, most people do not even realize this is an option so they never make the call. Just tell the representative that you want a better rate on your credit card and they will take care of your request.
Be patient when it comes to saving. This means that you need to accept that it will take a time to save and good planning. Be patient and remember that just because you want something, do not rush to buy just to satisfy your urge. Instead, wait for sales in order to get the best price, which in turn will save you money.