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Well, you have reconsidered your frivolous ways and are now looking for ways to keep more of the money that you worked so hard for. This is a very positive step, one that all of us should consider, sooner rather than later. However, for those who now want to be more money conscious might need some pointers as to how to get started or what to do.
Below find 17 tips that can help you begin saving more and spending less. None of them are hard, the hardest part will be breaking many of the frivolous habits that have been developed over a long period of time; but with some diligence and dedication, the amount of money in your savings accounts should start growing; and that will simply reinforce your behavior – thus making you want to save more.
1. Go cash and carry. Instead of charging every little thing to your credit cards or debit cards, start using cash for your daily spending such as eating out, getting gas, groceries or whatever other things. Using cash will make you spend less money, because you can see the money actually leaving your hand, and with every purchase you can see your supply dwindle. This is unlike credit cards, debit cards and even checks, where you never actually see the money exiting from your account. Cash essentially forces a budgeting mentality upon you.
2. Add smaller weekly savings transfers. Many have already started doing transfers to their savings account with every pay period, and that is a very good thing to do. However you could speed up you savings even more if you do smaller weekly transfers as well. It doesn’t have to be anything huge that will break your budget, perhaps $20 per week; it’s a relatively small transfer that you would barely notice, and you will save about $1,000 extra a year, on top of your larger savings transfers that you make when you get paid. Granted if you get paid weekly, then this may not work for you too well; though you could simply up your transfer by 10 or 20 dollars.
3. Home is where the savings is. Going out costs you money and more than likely you are spending it unnecessarily. While out, you eat at restaurants, go shopping, see a movie, and probably stop at the gas station for snacks. All of that money you just spent on things that you don’t really need could have been saved. Instead of blowing money on frivolous things why not just stay home, and find free or significantly cheaper entertainment; plus it is also a great way to bond with your loved ones.
4. Don’t get catalogs. Or emailed sales from companies trying to sell you stuff. These announcements of sales or for cool new products make it very tempting for you to buy something you don’t need. Instead, stop the catalogs and emails from ever getting to you in the first place, by contacting the companies and you will find that you spend less.
5. Put your impulses on probation. If you have an impulse to buy something you don’t absolutely need, put it on 30 day probation. Create a list of things that aren’t necessities that you want to buy; and you forbid yourself from buying them for 30 days. All that you buy during that time are necessities. If it isn’t a necessity then you write it on the list, with the date that you added it. After the 30 days are up, you can buy it; odds are though, your urge to buy it will be gone, meaning you just saved yourself from wasting money.
6. Cook at home. Yes, eating out is so much easier, particularly after working all day; but cooking isn’t really that hard. There are many recipes out there that are quick, easy, and tasty; such as a quick stir-fry, or how about make a home-made pizza with a ready-made crust, and your favorite toppings. You can put some spices on some meat and throw it in the oven, while you cook some rice and veggies. You will find that not only is cooking much cheaper than eating out, but it’s healthier too; and after a while you might just come to enjoy cooking too.
7. Exercise. This doesn’t mean that you have to join a costly gym, there is plenty of inexpensive exercise DVD’s out there; or you could simply take a vigorous walk every day. Even yard can get the heart pumping. A little exercise can help you avoid expensive medical bills later.
8. Begin using envelopes. This is a similar idea as using cash for spending, but you use envelopes to split your cash into categories; such as groceries, gas and miscellaneous spending. When the money is gone, then you spent your allotment of that category for that time frame.
9. Share with your significant other. It is important that you and your significant other are on the same page. Share your financial goals, and from there you should agree on a general spending plan that won’t have either of you wanting to choke the other. Ensure that you both know what bills have been paid and when; as well as what your balances are. A simple 20 minute discussion at the start or end of each month should be enough to cover these things.
10. Use spreadsheets. Sure there are programs out there that can help you manage your finances, but they are not cheap, and they can do amazing things with your financial information. You can even find free ones, on your desktop or online, that can do all kinds of things too. Often times we don’t always need all those bells and whistles; all we really need is a way to track our money easily, without all the other fancy stuff, and a way to access that information online from anywhere. Well, have no fear our friends at Google have what we are looking for with their Google Docs and Spreadsheets. You can create a simple spreadsheet to track your bank accounts that does everything that some of the costly programs do, and it is simple and free.
11. Pay yourself first. When you sit down to pay your bills, make the first bills you pay be your savings transfer and then your debt payments. If you pay them last you’ll often end up shortchanging yourself. By paying them first, you will make sure you still pay your rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries and gas; so you will then have to cut back on other spending.
12. Cut the cable. This does not mean that you quit watching TV altogether; instead you can watch DVD’s that you checked out from your local library; and there are subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu, that cost substantially less that cable or satellite service, where you can stream the shows that you want to watch, when you want to watch them. There are also digital antennae that you can hook up to your fancy flat-screen that can give you the same picture quality as cable or satellite. You will find that once it is gone you won’t miss it.
13. Try borrowing or lending. Give books and clothes and toys you don’t need any more to your friends, family or charities. If there is something that you need, try asking if anyone you know might have it; odds are someone will just give it to you if they aren’t using it anymore.
14. Haggle or Barter. These are the ways business was done for centuries, and in many instances they can still be employed. Don’t be afraid to ask a sales clerk for a cheaper price, sometimes, as long as your offer is reasonable, they will reduce the price because they know a sale at a lower price is better than no sale at all. Bartering probably won’t work in a store, but there are some instances where you can trade your services for the services of another.
15. Use nontraditional banks. Did you know you could set up an online savings account with nontraditional banks? You can earn a higher interest rate than most normal bank’s savings accounts, and if you opt out of getting an ATM it makes it all the harder to withdraw the money; which makes it less likely that you will get money out for an impulse purchase.
16. “Teach the children well . . .” If you have kids, teaching them about money can save you some money too in the long run. If they know about the importance of saving and earning money, then they should respect the money that you earn, and that you are trying to save. If you teach them that gift-giving doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money, they won’t necessarily want the expensive gifts. A little knowledge goes a long way.
17. Don't be embarrassed to use coupons. You are standing the line at the grocery store and have a decision to make....do I fiddle with a bunch of paper coupons and hold up the line or just pay and go? Using coupons can add up over time. If you are shopping online, use online coupons and promotion codes to save big or get free shipping. The savings are real.
18. Find happiness in life, not “stuff.” There is a misbelief that the acquiring or things can make us happy. This isn’t further from the truth. The constant pursuit of more things usually ends with us feeling less happy. This is because all of those things have to be paid for, and if they are being financed through the use high interest rate credit cards, then it doesn’t take too long to find yourself in a bit of a hole of debt. Even if you are using the “cash and carry” method, all that buying of stuff is taking money away from more fruitful endeavors such as saving for retirement. This is a really long way of saying that regardless of how much money you are making or have, you should not seek happiness in materialistic things. They are cold and uncaring. Instead just be thankful for what you do have, and start saving some of that hard earned money. The more you save the richer you will feel; and you will find that you are doing just fine without any or all of those “things,” that will eventually just get thrown away. Enjoy life for what it is, not what you have.
Just about everyone who has every scrimped, saved, spent or borrowed money in their lifetime has had a stretch where anything from their judgment to how they went about handling their finances was anything but enviable.
Perhaps you lost your job, started using credit cards or opening lines of credit to just stay afloat, so that you could pay your bills, take care of your family and not lose your home. Maybe an emergency fund was already depleted and when your roof collapsed so did what was left of your savings account. And, of course, there’s always just the plain, dumb decision making that plagues the masses as it relates to spending money.
No matter how you arrived at this desolate place from a money standpoint, chances are you’ll be here for a while, and you’ll need help picking yourself up and dusting off what’s left of your budgeting and financial self worth. You may enlist the help of a financial planner or search high and low for a consolidation company that, at least in some form, has your best interests in mind and isn’t interested in hitting you with one fee after another.
As disheartening as all this sounds, you still don’t have to take this setback lying down but instead should take it as an opportunity to get better at saving money and grind your way back to even, or at least close to it.
How exactly is that possible, particularly if you’re really struggling with your money? First, you have to get over the spot that you’re in and start assuming that you’re in the midst of a financial turnaround, not a crisis. You also have to train yourself to totally pull a 180 degree turn on your lifestyle and really look hard at cutting out day to day expenses or long term bills that you simply don’t need.
In addition to combing through your expenses to determine what gets cut and what doesn’t, you also might have to pack a lunch so to speak and start working a little longer or, if it is that paramount, get a second job. Working needs to be a primary focus since that is how you’ll earn all, or at least a majority of, your money. The sooner you come to terms with exactly where you are, the sooner you can reverse the trend of spending and improper money managing and start pulling in a much more enviable direction.