If you haven't already, read my top 10 hacks for car buying and grocercies. These posts were inspired by long-ago advice from my old teacher Mr. Kloke, and my own path to learning to budget. I had a few more tips rolling around in my head I wanted to share with you. So… here!
1. Always order water
How to: By only ordering water at restaurants, you could save major bucks per year. Consider the average cost of a soda ($1.90, nationwide) multiplied by the number of times Americans eat out, on average, each week (3.1), times 52 weeks — $306.28. Keep in mind that the soda probably cost the restaurant around 10 cents.
2. Actually make a budget
How to: You can hand-write it, do a fancy Excel spreadsheet, or use other online budgeting tools. By taking a close look at what you make, what you have to spend (fixed costs like rent, payments, things that don’t change) you will better understand what you can spend in areas like groceries, entertainment, etc… This will help you be more accountable when shopping.
3. Never shop without a list
How to: Whether it’s the grocery store, Target, or Walmart —always keep in mind what you actually went in for and avoid impulse buys.
4. Be knowledgeable
How to: Whether you are shopping for a car, an apartment, a TV, or a steak, know what prices you can find in the marketplace. Information is literally just a click away— we have no excuse to be lazy, uneducated shoppers.
5. Pack your lunch
How to: By planning your meals before grocery shopping and packing your lunch every day (or almost every day) you can save huge each week (and probably eat healthier). For example, $12 day x $5 days/week is $60, and that’s not even counting coffee, dinners, or the weekend.
6. Unsubscribe to emails
How to: Companies are legally obligated to offer you a way to unsubscribe from emails—typically this is at the bottom of emails. By clearing your inbox of email clutter, you'll curb your impulse shopping.
7. Cut monthly costs
How to: Evaluate whether or not you need cable or satellite TV, or if you need the big channel package. By switching to Hulu or Netflix, you can save big. You can do this for other things, too, like Internet. Also, monitor your monthly utility bills—can you cut back and save?
8. Be properly insured
How to: Make sure you aren’t getting insurance you don’t need, like full coverage on a 1992 Honda Accord. BUT also make sure you do have enough coverage where you need it, so that you don’t end up getting walloped in the long run. Discount insurance dealers are probably offering cheap rates because they aren’t offering quality coverage.
If you don’t have enough coverage, you will be personally liable for the damage you cause, which can cost a huge amount.
9. Become your own credit union
How to: Make savings a priority and a habit. By creating a healthy savings account, you can dip into it when an emergency or an opportunity arises, instead of needing a loan.
10. Know your rates
How to: Make sure that you are paying the best rate you can get on all of your loans. If you've had a high interest credit card or car payment for a while, look into refinancing options—possibly with other lenders. (Your credit union is a great place to start.)
Of course, the key to qualifying for good rates is to keep your credit score in good shape.
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