Individual cost of living accounts for so many different types of spending, it can be hard to cover expenses. As a result, committed money managers welcome savings opportunities, wherever they can be found. And since most earners are simply trying to stretch their financial resources as far as possible, each chance to save money goes a long way, helping make ends meet.
Over time, frugal individuals have developed countless money saving strategies, which you too can apply for household savings. Brew your own coffee, rather than buying it for $2/cup. Carpool. Reuse paper towels. You’ve probably heard of these frugal approaches, and perhaps abide by the rules to free-up funds. And while these and other tips indeed point-out worthy ways to shave costs, adopting a few universal rules can help save on an even larger scale.
For the best results stretching your household budget, apply your frugal mindset in as many ways as possible, to repeat savings again and again.
Pay as You Go – Credit cards have become an everyday convenience most shoppers would be hard pressed to do without. In fact, cash has taken a back seat to other forms of payment, seldom showing up in checkout lines and at point of sale terminals. Instead, plastic is used for even the smallest purchases, creating revolving balances and credit difficulties for some users. As a convenience, credit cards can’t be beat, enabling spur of the moment buys you couldn’t otherwise afford. As a credit management tool, however, credit cards are among the worst ways to stretch your financial resources.
Building and erasing credit card balances each month can be an effective way to cover charges and build rewards/miles, but balances carried-over come with a substantial price tag attached. If you are growing debt faster than you can pay it down, consider freezing credit card purchases. Instead of reaching for your Visa or MasterCard, carry cash for everyday spending. That way, you’ll be limited to purchases you thought-out in advance and won’t be tempted to buy on margin.
Become an Informed Consumer – Knowledge is empowering, so the most successful personal money managers make it their business to stay informed.
Comparison Shopping – Spur of the moment spending decisions often leave money on the table. To make the most of your financial resources, shop around for the best value. Use online resources to compare pricing on major purchases, and always seek several bids when services are to be contracted.
Economics 101 – Even when finance is not your primary interest, understanding basic economic principles can help you find financial stability. When is the best time to buy a house? Which type of loan offers the best terms for car buyers? How do banks make credit decisions? Answers to these and other questions, for example, help expand your financial literacy, which translates to money-wise decision making.
Skilled Budgeting – Perhaps more than any single skill, the ability to craft and execute meaningful budgets lies at the heart of successful personal money management. Budgets reinforce discipline and spending resolve, stretching financial resources for maximum effect.
Cut Waste – Across the board, waste represents a significant financial failure. For starters, waste takes money “off the top”, before anyone benefits from the income. And it is avoidable, which gives every serious household pause to reflect on money-saving, waste-cutting strategies.
At the Pump – Gas and other motoring costs pile-up quickly, so tightening-up driving habits is a realistic way to save money. More efficient trips, ride-sharing, and conservative driving all stretch transportation resources, trimming the cost of staying on the road.
In the Kitchen – Meal planning and other frugal moves are essential for home cooks without money to waste. By establishing a meal plan and sticking to a shopping list, you’ll decrease spoiled food waste and ensure food is accounted for – even leftovers.
At the Thermostat – Heating and cooling costs represent a substantial share of most household budgets, so dialing-back utilities spending returns cash for other needs. Automatic thermostats and energy conscious behavior lead the way, yielding immediate savings for families committed to responsible energy use.
Every money saving opportunity represents a step in the right direction. It is up to you to harness each chance to keep financial fortune on your side. For immediate savings and sustained stability, strive to eliminate waste and use consumer knowledge to make informed spending decisions. And when debt faces-off with earnings, try a pay-as-you-go approach, to keep spending in-line with cash on hand.