Saving money is always good. Contrary to popular belief it does not grow in your backyard. Here are some money-saving tips to get you on the right track. Sometimes it is difficult to take the first step. Not all of these tips will relate to everyone. However, you can start with a few. Each time you put a few extra dollars in your wallet, it becomes easier the next time. Soon you will find ways that you can save money without giving up any daily comforts.

1. Buy a good coffee machine.

Spending over $5 every time you stop at a coffee shop for a cup of coffee is insane. Sure, splurging every once in a while is special. However, if you get a cup every day, it becomes mundane. This is just a habit and very unfriendly for your budget. Invest in a good coffee machine and take your coffee with you. You can save over $1000 every year by not purchasing a cup of coffee 5 times a week.

2. Get rid of your home phone.

Cell phones are affordable and convenient. Having a cell phone will make you feel more secure. No matter where you are, your support system is only a telephone call away. There is no need to have a home phone as well as a cell phone. Ditch the home phone and stay with the mobile. If you must have a home phone, consider magic jack. A one-time payment of $59 and you are set for a year.

3. Change your TV plan.

How many times do you watch 150 channels? It takes forever just to flip thru the channels. Having less to choose from is not a disadvantage. Just make sure that the few channels you enjoy the most are on your plan. Remember when we only had 3 stations, and most of them went off the air at midnight. We were astounded when our available stations went from 4 to 5. It was unimaginable to have over 150 to choose from.

4. Make a list BEFORE shopping.

Impulse shopping can really cost a lot. Sure that package of green and orange noodles looks interesting. However, everyone prefers the regular spaghetti noodles and now you have green twirl macaroni in your pantry for years. You can not throw it out as you paid for it. Now you have to look at it every time you open the door.

Stick to the list. You will not spend as much and will be happier with what you have.

5. Don’t trade cars every year.

Your present car has a lot of miles left on it. You do not need a new car every year. Buy one with all the bells and whistles that you need. Next year’s model will have even more options that you will never use. The only way to get the full value of your car is to drive it until the wheels fall off. Unless you have to have the best of everything, buy used cars and drive them to the bitter end.

6. Change the oil in your car.

It seems odd to spend money to save money but this is one time you need to do just that. To help your car’s engine last longer and to get better gas mileage, change the oil in your car every 3,000 to 5,000 miles that you drive. Bu using synthetic oil for your oil change, you can increase the time between oil changes to 7500 miles. A new oil is now available which allows one time per year change.

7. Do not pay high parking fees. 

Parking fees can really add up. Often you can park a block away, walk, and pay much less. The parking lots close to your destination often charge extra for the convenience of your not having to walk very far. So be a little inconvenienced and walk a block. Ride your bike to work or carpool as alternatives.

8. Take public transportation.

Paying for public transportation can often save money. You do not have to pay for tolls, parking, or maintenance. Many people do not take into consideration the cost of upkeep. It costs in the long run when you use your breaks or wear down your tires. Let someone else do the driving and save your car.

9. Cut coupons.

The Sunday paper usually has coupons for items you need. Take the minute to see if there is a coupon for what is on your list. The extra dollars can stay in your pocket. Coupons become a challenge for the competitive shopper.

10. Buy when there is a sale.

Everything eventually goes on sale. You do not have to have it right now. Practice patience and wait for a sale. If your special item is not on sale or perhaps sold out, just wait, it will come back again. Also, buy in bulk. Costco and Sam’s Club offers great values for bulk purchases.

11. Think before making a big purchase.

You may think you have to have that piece of furniture but many times, after thinking about it for a day or two, you realize you really do not want or need it. Never buy on impulse.

12. Cut your own grass.

It is so easy just to call a yard man. Even if your yard is the size of a doormat. Today our lots are getting smaller and we do not need to have someone else cut the grass. Get out your scissors and cut it yourself! Lawn care can be between $50-100 every 2 weeks during the growing season.

13. Use the wisdom discount.

Every Wednesday our local grocery store gives a discount to seniors. You have to ask for it but there it is. Ready for the taking. Five percent off Wednesdays for seniors over 65  is available at Krogers.

14. Take the fast food surveys.

McDonald’s puts a buy one get one free on their receipt if you take the survey. Take the survey. Next time you can get two for the price of one. This can really add up for the frequent McDonald’s patron.

15. Order a senior drink.

Many fast food restaurants have senior drinks. It is not advertised so you have to request it. The drink is usually a smaller size but so is the price. Ask for it. At McDonald’s, this reduces the price of a drink from $1 to 35 cents.

16. Skip the appetizer.

Restaurants make lots of money on the appetizer. Often the cost is the same as the cost for a meal. The appetizer adds nothing to the fun of the evening, just more dollars to the bill. Also, forget the dessert. People are already overweight. Save the money and the calories.

17. Drink water.

Soda drinks have a tremendous profit margin for a restaurant. Soda is also not healthy. Have you considered that you could purchase that drink for less than a dollar but in the restaurant, you have to pay upwards of $4 for the same item? Drink water.

18. Shop around for auto insurance.

Insurers know that after they have a customer, they usually keep that customer. It is a lot of trouble to compare insurance plans, It is much easier just to stay where you are, regardless of the annual increases. Shop around.

19. Do not get a new roof unless you need it.

Your roof was not damaged by the hail last week. Is your roof leaking? Did shingles fall off? The salesman who knocks on your door takes advantage of your naivety. They ask if they can inspect your roof for free. You do not need a new roof. Learn to say no.

20. Purchase airline tickets on a Sunday.

Plan your trips well. Use the airline’s flight planner. Often you can see the different prices from day to day. Take advantage of the cheaper fare days. Best fares are usually purchased on Sundays. Clark Howard gives information about great airline bargains and which days to purchase tickets.

21. Join hotel rewards clubs.

It costs nothing to join but rates are usually cheaper if you are a member. Check it out before you make that reservation.

22. Check the cost of that hotel room online.

Many times the cost of a room is cheaper if you make it online rather than as a walk-in. Make the reservation online if this is the case. Then go into the hotel and claim your room. It only takes a minute more to do it online. Use your smartphone and save dollars.

23. Look for online coupons.

Google coupons for the store you are ordering from. If one is available, add the code to the requested box and you may get a discount or at the very least, free shipping. Same item, same time frame.

24. Buy the store brand.

For many items, the store brand is exactly the same as a name brand. The only difference is the label. Numerous non-prescription medications range widely in price depending on the trade name. The same medication may be available in a generic chain store brand. Look on the back of the package check the ingredients. The only difference is that the box may say Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS, etc. rather than the brand name. But the price is a lot less.

25. Take your lunch.

If you eat out once less per week, you are ahead of the game. Assuming you pay $15 for your lunches at a restaurant, you can save $780 in one year.

26. Eat dinner at home.

Dinners in a restaurant are not cheap. Your dinner probably cost at least $25. If you eat out one less time per month you can save $300 in one year. Eating out has become the American norm. A family of 4-5  can save several thousand per year by preparing meals at home. The self- prepared food is often more nutritious and less likely to give you stomach problems.

27. Avoid ATM fees.

Why do you need to pay an ATM fee? Use the ATM with no fees for your card. Go to the ATM which will not charge fees. Ask your bank which machine will not charge fees.  You may have to drive an extra block but it is worth the savings. The ATM fee is at least $1.50 to $5.00 every time. You get nothing for it. What a waste of money!

28. Keep the required minimum balance in your bank account.

Banks usually require a minimum amount of between $500 to $1000 in your checking account to avoid a sizable fee between $5 and $30 every month. The fee is different for each bank. If your account gets a service charge every month, it is because the banks will charge you for not having the minimum balance.  Make sure your balance is the needed minimum.

29. Use credit cards for points and rewards.

Look for a credit card with a great reward. And don’t forget to use the rewards. It is a waste of money to let it lapse. You may be able to get a gift card with the points in your account. Now you can purchase something you want and not have to pay for it. You used the card, the credit card company got paid, and now you are getting paid.

However, if you are unable to control your spending, do not get a card. Otherwise, put purchases on a card to get the rewards but pay off the card monthly. The rates for credit cards are unbelievable. More money down the drain.

30. Avoid food purchases at gas stations.

The cost at a grocery store is often less than half of the cost at a “quick trip” or as we know them, a “7-11”. Go to the grocery store. A bar of candy is not worth the extra money.

31. Find a less expensive movie theater.

Look for a discount movie theater. If your town has a University or College, they often have movie nights with popular movies at a fraction of the cost. Yes, even seniors are welcome at their movies. If you must see a new movie, check prices and the afternoon matinee maybe half the cost of the evening show.

32. Use grocery store rewards points.

Kroger gives gas points when you purchase groceries. It is up to you to use the points and not let them expire. The extra savings is yours.

33. Move your bank account.

If a bank is giving away items or possibly cash if you open an account, give it serious thought. Many times if you ask the bank to order checks, they will. You will be out nothing but may obtain some great rewards.

34. Buy food in bulk.

Have you checked out Sam’s or Costco? If you are baking, consider baking 3 times as much. Buy the ingredients in bulk and freeze the extra portions. You will save dollars on the cost of the recipe and have it available when needed.

35. Stop smoking.

It goes without saying that if you smoke, stop. Not only are you spending money unnecessarily but everyone should be aware of the health issues. Help yourself and stop. Excess alcohol consumption is also a source of money loss. Live in moderation.

36. Use energy efficient light bulbs.

When you replace your light bulbs be sure to purchase energy-efficient bulbs. They will cost more initially but the maintenance costs will more than make up for the initial costs.

37. Set your thermostat a few degrees warmer or colder.

Keep your thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter. Put on a sweater if you get cold. No sense in burning up your dollars.

38. Check the cost of prescriptions.

Many times a 3 month supply of medications from a big box store (Costco) is much less expensive than at your corner drug store. Be dollar conscience when purchasing prescriptions. Kroger and Publix, as well as other stores with pharmacies, often offer drugs at discounted prices or perhaps even free.

39. Ask for a discount, especially for medical bills.

Many hospitals will give you a discount when you pay cash. Be sure to ask for a discount. It can not hurt to ask and they can only say no.

40. Check your car’s tire pressure.

Under inflating or over inflating your tires can increase the gas needed for your car. Make sure they are at the correct psi. Your tires will also wear out prematurely when under inflated.

41. Rotate the tires on your car.

If the tires are not rotated properly they will wear down quickly. You will have to replace them more often.

42. Turn the lights off.

Remember the rule: one person one light, two people, two lights. Leaving on the lights, computer, TV, and other  appliances waste electricity and money

43. Check your cell phone plan.

The cell companies are often initiating specials. Many times the new special is cheaper than what you are paying. If you do not call and ask for it, you do not get it.

44. Check your TV plan.

Same story as above for your TV plan.

45. Do not be late on payments.

The penalties for late credit card payments and utility payments are often high. Never be late. It is a waste of money to pay late fees and penalties. You have to pay the bill anyway.

46. Use your library.

You are paying for it so use it. No need to purchase books when you can just as easily borrow them from the library.

47. Homestead exemption.

Make sure you have the homestead exemption on your home. Your tax bill will be cheaper. Information about the homestead exemption is often available on-line.

48. Don’t drive too fast.

Driving even a few miles an hour slower will save gas. Also, it will prevent you from getting an expensive speeding ticket.

49. Don’t slam on brakes.

When coming to a stop in your car, slow down before the last minute. It will save your brakes as well as your tires.

50. Medicare insurance payments.

If you are on Medicare, you should realize that all of the medicare supplemental plans are the same. Every insurance company selling supplemental Medicare insurance has the identical A through G plans. The insurance companies charge different amounts for this insurance. These range from $100 – 250 difference for the exact same plan! Call around and make sure you have the least expensive payment.

51. Check your credit card bill for items not needed.

Check your monthly credit card statements. There may be recurring fees that you have forgotten about. Cancel them now, before another monthly fee is charged to your account. Also, check your statement for false claims under your card number.

52. Change the air filter in your A/C system.

Changing your A/C filter every 3 to 4 months will make your system last longer. It also costs more in electricity when your filter is dirty. The system is not as efficient when it is pulling air thru all that cat hair and dust.

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