We’re living in an age of instant gratification. We can send text messages in the blink of an eye without taking the time to actually call each other. We can download songs and movies in a matter of seconds without bothering to drive to the store to buy a CD or DVD. The fact that most of us are so accustomed to “getting what we want as soon as we want it” has caused a lot of financial problems for millions of people.
Once upon a time, credit cards were only used for emergencies—if the washing machine suddenly died or some unforeseen car problems popped up and a trip to the mechanic was necessary. These days, though, a lot of people have immense amounts of credit card debt because they purchased things on a whim. If it was the latest greatest thing (iPad, anyone?) and they couldn’t really afford it, they just broke out the old Visa card and bought it anyway.
Start Saving Money Today
If you’ve decided to pay off your debt once and for all, these easy ways to save money will come in handy. Check them out.
1. Clip coupons. Even if you read most of your news online, buy the newspaper on Sundays. It’s full of coupons that will pay for the cost of the paper tenfold. Clipping coupons doesn’t take very long, and it’s an incredibly easy way to save money. If you find a coupon that’s a really great deal, go buy another Sunday paper so you can have two copies. You can also print coupons online. Most grocery stores and supercenters now offer printable coupons right on their websites.
2. Take advantage of the library. I love to read, but buying books can definitely add up. I also wind up buying a lot of books that become dust collectors I never read again. If you have the same problems, do yourself a favor and go somewhere you probably haven’t visited since high school or college—the library. Not only can you borrow books, most libraries also have a decent selection of magazines, DVDs and audio books.
3. Get rid of your landline. If your cell phone is your main method of communication, ditch your landline. You’ll probably save thirty or forty bucks a month by getting rid of something that you won’t even miss. If you still want a phone number that you can give out to people you don’t know very well (i.e. people you wouldn’t want calling your cell) you can get a Magic Jack or use Skype.
4. Cancel or cut back on cable. Not only is TV is one of the biggest time wasters out there, it’s expensive and truth be told, it is possible to live without cable. You can watch most new TV shows online for free but if you absolutely can’t bear to cancel your cable, get rid of the premium movie channels you probably don’t even watch anyway.
5. Make your own coffee. Zipping through the Starbucks drive-thru is incredibly convenient, but those lattes really do add up quickly. Make your own coffee at home each morning and pour it into an insulated reusable mug for a fraction of the cost. There are enough flavored coffee creamers out there that you can make it almost as fancy as Starbucks does. Prefer iced coffee? You can make that at home, too. I’ve done it myself.
6. Skip the restaurants. Dining out is even more expensive than hitting Starbucks but we all do it regularly. Going out for lunch and dinner is fun, but oh my does it get expensive! Even a casual meal for two at a sit-down restaurant can cost ten or twelve bucks more than you think it should after you tack on a couple of Cokes and a tip. Eat at home as often as possible. You’ll save a lot of money.
7. Save your coins. In the rare event that you have cash (most people rely on plastic) stick your coins into a jar at the end of the day. A couple of quarters here, a few dimes there … it adds up over time. Empty your jar every six months or so. You can roll the change and head to the bank or visit a coin counting machine at the grocery store. It will feel like you just received some free money.
What are your favorite easy ways to save money? Share them with me—I’d love to hear your thoughts!