Saving money can seem hopeless.  It can wreak havoc on your nerves.  Not a spare dime to be had!
Do you wish you had extra spending money each month?  Are you having a difficult time making ends meet?Oftentimes, it is difficult to find spare money to even take our beloved pets to the vet, ourselves to the doctor, or get our vehicles repaired.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, some of these tips may provide you with new ways of saving or at least cut back on your spending.  Even if you are able to save a tiny bit each paycheck, that savings will eventually turn into a lot.
I will be the first to say it is not easy to save!  But one of the many life lessons we all learn is that improving finances provides peace of mind.
You don’t have to start big.  If you are not in the habit of saving, it may take a while to get used to it.  Start with baby steps.
Setting the goal is easy.  Reaching the goal can be challenging, but the benefits will be well worth it in the end.  Make that goal a small one to begin with.  Then make those baby steps attainable.  You will get there!
If you don’t reach the first goal you set, all is not lost.  Just set another goal, perhaps smaller.  Never give up!
The very first step to saving money is making that commitment to yourself.  If you are not committed to changing your spending habits through making lifestyle changes, it may be a bit difficult to succeed.  Before implementing any of the following tips, check with your spouse or significant other first.  Sometimes ideas spark other ideas!
If you are ready to make that commitment (it doesn’t have to be hard), let’s get to it!
  • Use those coupons!  Many of us are known as Coupon Queens and proud of it!  It can be annoying to get behind someone in the check-out line who uses coupons, but they are not paying your bills.  If they are in a hurry, there are plenty of other lines they can get in (well, usually).  I would not call myself an extreme coupon person, but I am consistently amazed at what I save with coupons!
  • Ask for an overhaul on your cell phone plan.  Every time I ask (which is a lot), I am provided with a lower-cost plan.  Even a $10 a month less plan is $120 per year.  Do your research for companies that charge less for cell service.  They are out there.
  • Thinking of making a big purchase?  Sleep on it for a day or two (or more), and you just may change your mind.  Don’t be a compulsive shopper.  Some people sleep on ANY purchase they are contemplating, making an even smarter choice.
  • Paying for cable AND Netflix?  Get rid of one or the other, or both!  Get an antenna, and you will be shocked at the amount you save per year.  Do you really need to watch TV that much anyway?  We all know people who say they are much happier and less stressed not having so much TV in their life.
  • Are you thinking of a cruise vacation this year?  Plan your trip for the off-season.  Of course, the off-season depends on where you are cruising to.  Google the cruise lines or the location of your choice to find their off-season.  Cruises are much less costly when school is in session as well.  If you can leave at the last minute, you may find extreme savings!
  • Get a budget.  And after you make that budget, write it down.  Keep yourself accountable to yourself!  I have been on more than one budget in my lifetime, and I can promise that it works!  But you must be committed to stick to it.  When you write your budget down, make columns of your income, categories that are non-negotiable such as car payments and house payments, categories that are negotiable such as groceries and fun stuff.
  • Write up a meal plan.  If you write up a bunch of meal plans, you can use the same ones and sporadically rotate them.  You will spend less at the grocery store if you have meal plans and stick to them.  And think of the gas you’ll save going back and forth to the grocery store if you have a plan for what you need when you go!  If you shave a mere $20 off your grocery bill every month, that’s $240 a year.  Just pick a few things in your shopping cart and put them back on the shelf!  Reaching your goal of spending less and saving money will be much more attainable with a budget.
  • Stick to the list you made for your meal plans.  Only purchase what you need.  If you sneak in items such as chips and cookies, you WILL spend more than you planned.  This list plan works to save money if you stick to it.  Another great benefit is that if you do not have cookies, ice cream, and other heavy calorie snacks in your cart, just think of the calories you’ll save!
  • Give up convenience food/fast-food!  I know, it’s hard.  But these days, you can get the same type of fast-food stuff at the grocery store, probably with less calories and much less expensive.  Try it, see what you think.
  • Have a date night every week?  Switch that to once a month or once every other week.  Big savings there!  Once-a-week spending of at least $100?  Once-a-month spending of at least $100?  Yep, big savings!  If you still want a date night of entertainment every week, order in and watch a movie.  People spend a fortune on entertainment.  Cut that back to just half of your normal spending amount.  Save the other half.
  • Hang a picture of what you are saving for.  Trust me, this is one of the best motivators!  Looking for a bigger house, a nicer car, or a great university to send your child to?  Hang a picture right in your kitchen of what you are aiming for and look at it every day.  Great big incentive!
  • Apps that round up.  Did you know there are apps that will round up your purchase to the nearest dollar?  All you have to do is connect a credit card to the app and make your purchase with that credit card.  Use a cash-back credit card and get a double whammy!  Two kinds of savings!  It’s like throwing your spare change in a jar.  And we all know how those jars of change add up!  Say you spend $5.15 for a burger.  That’s .75 in your jar!  One app is Qapital.  Very motivating app.  BoostUp is another good savings app.  Bank of America has a Keep the Change debit card that rounds up to the nearest dollar and saves it for you in your savings account or your child’s savings account.  Another great app for saving is Chime.  Works like a debit card but with a great way to save attached to it!
  • You can save by grabbing those samples!  Not kidding!  Face make-up is a great example of that.  Most department stores will gladly give you make-up samples.  Need some perfume?  Head to one of those department stores that offer a “free gift with purchase.”  Buy that perfume (we all want to smell good) when they are offering free gift of eyeshadow.  Lipstick, face make-up, skincare, etcetera for free!  Grab those samples (shampoo, soap) from your hotel room.  Put them in your luggage every day on your trip and get a new one every day.  Hey, that’s what they put them there for!
  • Sign up for eBates.  This is a free service that you earn cash back for your purchases.  Put whatever cash you get back in your savings jar!
  • Sign up for InBoxDollars.  Another free service that is super easy to join!  You can earn money for taking surveys, watching TV and videos, redeeming coupons and much more.  If you make a few extra bucks on this service, throw that extra in your jar!
  • Did you know that you can RENT extra space at your house to store other people’s stuff?  Check it out.
  • Every time your renewal comes up for your auto or home insurance, negotiate!  Call around for other quotes.  It can be time-consuming research, but it can be well worth it.  Go back to your current insurance agent with the offers you received in your research, and your current agent will likely lower their rate for you.  Try it!  Many people save money by using an independent agent rather than a large, well-known insurance company.
  • Don’t confuse wants with needs.  Big difference between the two.  Ask yourself if you really NEED this item.
  • Get one of those water-saving showerheads.  This will probably make your water bill a few bucks less every month.  Think of all the water we waste when we take a shower!  You could save even more if you showered together!  Just sayin’.
  • Get a programmable thermostat.  Guaranteed to save on your electric bill!  These are quite affordable and super easy to install and set.  Just set it and forget it!
  • Use plastic coating.  If you have windows in your home that have no covers, like half-moon windows at the top of another window, cover them with plastic coating.  You can purchase this inexpensive, see-through covering at most home improvement stores.  Helps reduce the electric bill!
  • Do not charge.  If you do not have the money for it, don’t get it.  Charge cards sometimes take years (and years) to pay off, if it ever gets paid off.  The only exception to this is if there is a huge MEDICAL emergency.  Or get a loan.  Never compromise on health issues.  Pay the credit off ASAP.
  • An exception to the above statement is if you do have credit cards, pay them off every single month.  We have several credit cards that rack up miles and points.  We use them frequently but pay them off when the bill comes.  If you do not have the money to pay them off, don’t charge.
Those are some tips, albeit some of them tiny, that may save a bit here and a bit there.  You will enjoy life much more if you are not stressing over finances.
Try feeling content with what you have.  If you are constantly competing with the Joneses, that is a breeding ground for overspending.
To really get ahead financially, your spending cannot exceed your earnings.  You cannot live beyond your means.
Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul does not usually work out too well.  Many of us learn this the hard way.
I hope this helps you to be motivated to be the boss of your money rather than letting your money be your boss.  What a great feeling it is to take control of your own finances!
Start today and go for it!