40 instant ways to save
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40 instant ways to save

Consider the following tips and whether these options are for you ...

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There just isn't enough money. The electric bill can be paid, but everything else is a few weeks behind. Once you are caught up with the most important bills there is enough to buy half of what you normally purchase in groceries, and maybe enough gas to drive to work - if that last trip is on fumes.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, many Americans are well acquainted with this scenario. More money would certainly be nice, but while you are trying to figure that one out, bills still have to be paid, and the family has to eat. In lieu of more income, you need to curb the spending and stretch the dollar. Consider the following tips and whether these options are for you.

Cancel any service you can do without for awhile
  • Cable TV
  • Newspaper and magazine subscriptions
  • High-speed internet - Unless used for business

  • Take advantage of the public library system. The library is an excellent resource for much more than books. Magazines, movies, music, newspapers, computer and internet access on site, and many different programs benefit the community. Ask your librarian about their website's features. Can't find a movie you want at your library? Put in a request. Most libraries have lending programs with other libraries.

Let some things pull double duty
  • Tea bags - Twice
  • Dryer sheets - Save used sheets, then use two of these at a time in place of one new one
  • Bath towels - Don't wash the towels after each use
  • Oven - Cook several dishes at a time; it takes extra electricity to preheat it

Use less than the amount you usually do
  • Laundry soap
  • Hand soap
  • Body soap - Use with a bath sponge to make it go further
  • Cleaning liquid for the mop bucket
  • Sugar in powdered drinks or iced tea

  • Toilet paper for facial tissues - Family only! Reserve the proper stuff for guests
  • A regular broom instead of one which requires refills
  • Bar soap for body gel - And don't allow your kids to leave the bar in the water while bathing
  • Homemade household cleaners for store-bought - Lots of tested recipes on the internet
  • Real plates for paper.

At the grocery store
  • Pass up the chips; buy popcorn instead - the kind you pop on the stove. (It tastes better anyway.)
  • Pass on lunchmeat. Buy a turkey or ham on sale and slice it up, or boil a whole chicken, chop the meat and mix with your favorite barbecue sauce. You will come out way ahead.
  • Experiment with how cheaply you can buy orange juice and still enjoy it.
  • Try the store brands at least once.
  • Buy vegetables and fruits on sale, but don't skip them to save money. Eating right will save you from medical bills.
  • Give up or severely cut back on soft drinks, tobacco products, alcohol, and gourmet coffee. (An even bigger savings in medical bills. Good luck!)
  • Learn to bake from scratch. Only buy mixes when on sale.
  • Eat simple foods. Any recipe with a lot of ingredients is going to cost more money, like the supposedly economical casseroles.
  • Skip the packaged lettuce and buy a head of lettuce. If you need the convenience of a bag, spend a few minutes on your day off to wash and tear up the lettuce, saving it in a ziploc bag along with shredded carrots or whatever else you want in there ready to go.
  • Skip the packaged cakes and bake some from one of those mixes you bought on sale.
  • Cut down on meat by planning for more meals without it. Substitute with other protein-rich foods like eggs, beans or cheese.
  • Pass on little things like pickles, olives, or other nutritionally weak extras.
  • Buy quality when the cheaper version runs out twice as fast. Liquid dish soap is one good example.
  • Find alternatives to cold cereal and other convenience foods for breakfast, such as toast, eggs, and/or oatmeal.
  • Take lunch to work.

If you must eat out
  • Order from the fast food dollar menu
  • Split a meal with your dining companion
  • Ask for half portions
  • Take half of your entrée home
  • Skip the appetizers and dessert, and drink water

  • Join a carpool to commute to and from work or school

  • Quit working out at the gym and find a way to exercise for free

You can save hundreds of dollars each month by following each of these tips. Too tough to swallow? Start small. Award yourself with occasional small indulgences, and remind yourself that tightening the belt is better than losing your home. (don)
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