The average American today has over $9000 in credit card debt
yet spends over $4.00 per day on coffee. Think about that for a second...
What that stat tells you, is that even when we're in bad financial shape,
Americans don't want to give up on life's little luxuries in order to cut
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of 101 tips to help you trim your debt
without having to give up too much. Some of these tips only get you small
savings every day, but keep in mind that all together these savings really add
Lifestyle Change? Nah, Just A ‘Readjustment’
cannot cut spending without checking how you are doing on your finances
presently. So you need to rework your budget (IF you have one!) and reassess
Necessary Evil: Budgets are painful, tedious and downright
boring. But if you want to fix that leaking money tap, a budget is the only
thing that can help you. It will help you keep tabs on how much and on what
you’re spending, and save you some money in the long run. (If you need help with
creating a budget, you could try these sites: Quicken, Microsoft
Money, or Moneydance)
2. If you are not single, it is important that you work with your partner to keep you spending habits in line. Both of you must agree on a budget for it to work.
3. Always keep a little money aside for emergency or unexpected expenses. This way your budget will not go into a disarray in case of an emergency.
4.Cutting your spending doesn’t mean you should become a miser.
Pinching pennies will only drive you crazy and isn’t good in the long run. It’s
a lot like crash dieting – the results may be immediate but definitely not
5. Get your bank to help you save. Instead of transferring your
entire salary into your household account, get 5 to 10 percent of your salary
automatically transferred to a savings account.
6. Got a salary hike? You will probably want the big screen
plasma TV or the latest SUV now. For a change, instead of investing your money
on these, you could consider increasing your 401k or IRA contribution.
7. Stop buying gadgets you don’t need. Those sales guys may make
it sound like life isn’t worth living without a propane-fueled weed torch
or a call forwarding facility for instance. But do you really need to spend
enormous amounts as fees just so you don’t use these thi
ngs? Next time, before you buy anything, try and figure out which ones you
really can live without.
8. Cut down your spending on luxurious items. Do you know that
just cutting some small luxuries can mean a lot to the bottom line? Mary
Carlomagno, author of Give It Up!: My Year of Learning to Live Better
with Less, cut back on a single expense every month to see how it
changed her life and her finances.
9. Cancel that gym membership NOW! According to a study by
Harvard, signing up for a gym membership is one of the best ways to prevent
exercise AND lose some hard earned money. The same goes for those information
websites that come at a price. Do you really need to know about any and every
kind of product under the sun before you make a purchase?
10. Is that super-saver deal really worth it? Most times, offers
that come as package deals, are just another way of making us pay for more than
we use or need. For instance, if you pay a ‘little’ more on your magazine
subscription, you can get five for the price of four. Do you really have the
time to read four or five magazines? Figure it out and THEN pay the money.
11. Use your retirement funds. If your employer is giving you
anything by way of matching retirement funds and you aren’t using it, you are
losing big money. For instance, you may be able to save a lot of money on
medical and dental fees if you use the coverage offered by your employer.
12. Pay your bills as soon as they come in. This is the best way
to avoid wrecking your budget.
13. Use cash. Whenever you can, use cash instead of credit
cards. Don't EVER use your credit cards to purchase daily items like groceries.
And don’t forget to note down your cash purchases.
14. If you have a mortgage, you could think of refinancing it.
Even a 0.5 percent difference in rates can save you a considerable amount of
15. Got a work bonus, or some unexpected money recently? Save
the money for things you want to buy but cannot afford right now.
Raise your auto insurance deductible.
This will make your premium fall. The money that you save can be added to your
17. Never pay more taxes than what you owe. Of course you will
get a refund but you will lose the interest you could have earned if the money
was in the bank instead.
18. Special treatment from your bank: You don’t need to be a
special customer to get preferential treatment. All you need to do is ask for
it. You could ask your bank for a no fee checking account or your credit card
company for lower interest rates. You can also check for discounts at shops.
19. Come out of the ‘use-n-throw’ mode: One of the best ways to
avoid major expenses is to maintain the high-cost items you own. That means, if
you take good care of your car, refrigerator, lawnmower, you can have them
running efficiently and lasting much longer. This way, you can save thousands on
utilities, repair bills, and replacement costs.
20. Health care is costly and could be one of the biggest drains
on your resources. You could try locating free or low-cost community services
such as clinics and health care offered at family centers.
Maximize Credit Card Benefits
Credit cards aren’t all that bad if you know how to use them:
High credit card interest: If your credit card company is
charging you a high rate of interest, it’s going to take longer to eliminate
that debt. You could call your credit card company and ask them to lower your
interest rate, or you could get yourself a lower interest card.
22. When you transfer to a lower rate credit card, use the cash
advances to pay off the balance on your other credit cards or other debts. A
word of caution: Read the fine print before applying. Some cards charge a higher
fee for transferred balances.
23. Waiver of your credit card fees. You could ask your bank to
waive your credit card fees or you could go in for a no fee credit card.
24. If you have a balance on more than one credit card, pay off
the highest interest debt first. And while you are paying it off, don’t forget
to make minimum payments on each of your other cards. Repeat the process until
you’ve paid off all your debts.
25. Better still, you can automate your card payments. This way,
you don’t have to worry about late fees. Just ensure that you don’t charge too
much to your card.
26. Avoid ATM machines that charge fees. A better idea is to
withdraw a fixed amount each month and stick to it.
27. Try to get something back from your credit cards. For
instance, you could look for credit cards that offer some kind of reward
or probably low APR – anything that could lower your overhead expenses.
28. If you’ve paid off your credit card and don’t want to use it
any more, you MUST call the company and ask that your account be closed. That
will help you resist the temptation.
Food For Thought
Shopping is fun. That’s until you add up everything and see how big a dent the
grocery bill, clothes bill and other bills make in your monthly budget. Here’s
how you can lower costs:
29. Try to plan your meals before you shop. Once you’ve done
that, make a list of all the items you need to purchase.
Budget your purchases. You should have a general idea of how
much money you would have to spend for your purchases. Try to limit yourself to
this figure. If, for some reason, you just have to spend more than you
anticipated, try to cut corners somewhere else. Probably you could leave eating
out until next week.
31. Comapre prices. Always compare prices of national, store,
and generic product brands. Sometimes store brands may work out to be cheaper
and as good as national brands. Thoroughly investigating each purchase can help
you get the best value or you may decide that the purchase isn't worth the
32. Always skipped the ‘expensive’ grocery stores? They may not
be as expensive as you think – large grocery stores often offer more discounts!
One trick is to use coupons whenever you can in conjunction with the
weekly sales items.
33. You can also purchase items for less with the ‘buy one get
one’ sales offers that grocery stores have every now and then. But remember,
these offers generally come on items, which are close to their expiry date. So
you must ensure that you can finish it all up before that date.
34. Downsize: Always go in for the super-size ice-cream tub? Try
one size smaller. It’s also healthy to have lesser.
35. Never shop when you are hungry, tired, or rushed.
36. Try to distinguish between items you must buy and things it
would be nice to own. Everytime you pick up something, first ask yourself if you
really need it or whether you are buying it on an impulse.
NO! I know it’s easy to stock up on food from the pre-made section. But
the deli counter could also make your purse lighter by a load of money. You can
actually bring down your weekly grocery bill by 20% percent if you skip the deli
counter. All you need to do is wake up a little earlier than usual and prepare
some of your own food!
Check your receipts. If you are anything like most others, (and
me) you’ll just bag your bill and hope to check it sometime in the future. Wake
up call buddy – store receipts can have errors. Errors that can involve you
losing more than a little money! Make it a practice to check your receipts. And
what can you do with the money you save? Go in for the super-size ice-cream
bucket for one!
39. Ever asked for discounts on the purchases you made? I know,
even I was shocked I could actually do that. In reality, many retailers are
ready to sell an item for less than the listed price. The problem is most
consumers don’t think of asking.
No More Shoppin' Till You Drop
40. Play the ‘either-or’ game: Get an idea of the competitive
prices of the things you want to buy from other stores or even the Net. And if
your store doesn’t offer you a reasonable price, try another one.
41. Pay cash. There are three benefits to it:
- When you use a card, the retailer, restaurants, and hotels have to pay anything
between 2 to 5 percent to the credit card company. With cash, there is no such
-Secondly bargaining becomes that much easier. It’s not easy to refuse hard cash
- And finally, you will not try to buy something that’s way off your budget.
42. Know yourself: This one’s more for the female of the
species. We tend to have this habit of buying something that looks spectacular
on the mannequin. Once you’ve paid a bomb and bought it, you realize you don’t
look too good in it. So what do you do? Stash it away in the deepest corner of
43. Just because something’s coming at a discount, it doesn’t
become a must-have. Understand your requirements and see if the things you buy
44. Every time you feel you need to buy new clothes, check your
closet first. You many not realize buy you probably have quite a few clothes or
shoes you may not have worn more than once.
45. Often when you buy things off the net, you realize that they
aren’t the right size or color. What do you do – stash it away or return it? If
you value your money, you’d probably want to return and get a refund or
an exchange – either way, you don’t lose that money.
46. You may not be able to use this tip this year, but you could
in 2007. One of the easiest ways to save money on winter clothing is to buy
early. Usually, around September, department stores offer a discount on their
winter merchandise. Sometimes, these stores may offer newspaper coupons for an
additional 15% off sale merchandise.
47. Winter shopping. If you are late for winter shopping at
department stores, you could still try discount stores like Value City or
the outlet malls. These stores usually sell coats for less than retail.
48. If you cannot wait till next September, you can maybe do
your winter shopping after the current season is over. You’ll be surprised to
know that you can find winter coats for nearly 75 percent off the retail price.
49. Fashionable clothes: Have a taste for fashionable, branded
clothes but not the money to buy them with? Don’t worry, all you need is some
patience. Most high-end department stores have clearance sales at the end of the
season and you can get incredible deals at these sales.
50. If you’ve got kids, your budget is already stretched to the
limit. You could lighten your burden though by stocking up on school supplies
for next year. All you need to do is make bulk purchases every time there is a
clearance sale at your store.
51. Gardening need not be an expensive hobby. Instead of buying
gardening supplies, you could use old spoons, spatulas and other things to dig,
smooth and weed plants in pots or small areas.
52. If you love to buy and read books, you should try shopping
online. Sites like Amazon.com, offer great discounts on some items and usually
sell books much lower than list price.
53. Try ordering your prescriptions through mail order instead of your local drug
store. You will see how much prices fall on this one
No Pain Fun
This bit wasn’t easy – how are you supposed to have fun without spending some
money. Well, there are ways to reduce the expenditure without losing the
54. You like buying different types of things? Your call. But
ensure that you use ALL of everything. Turn bottles upside down and drain to get
the last bit from them.
55. Eating out can be enjoyable, but it can also be quite
costly. But that doesn’t mean you curl up at home day after boring day. Here’s
one little nugget: Instead of eating out for dinner, try lunch. While the menu
selection is usually identical, the prices are much lesser. That’s because
dinner is a more popular time for eating out.
56. Avoid costly extras unless you are ready to spend that extra
bit. This will save you money AND will help you do justice to the main
course. And, if you forgot, stay away from the dessert. Have water instead of
wine or other expensive drinks. It’s healthy and cheap.
57. If you have children, you could check if the restaurant you
are dining at has a ‘kids eat free’ night.
58. Look for coupons. Quite a few
restaurants offer 2-for-1 specials on certain days of the week.
59. Do you have eating habits? Another lovely tip is to eat a
homemade gourmet dinner and then go out for dessert. This gives the feeling of
having eaten out and doesn’t weigh so heavily on your wallet.
60. Friendly get together: If you love to have friends over but
cannot afford to entertain them on a regular basis, ask everyone to bring over
food and wine.
61. Watching movies: Love to watch movies but cannot afford
tickets for every movie that’s showing in town? Well, try a video swap instead.
Most of us buy DVDs, and videos, watch the movie once and forget about it. What
you could do is swap your videos with your neighbors, friends.
62. If you love to travel during vacations, off-season’s a good
time to travel. This way you get lower prices and no crowds. And wherever you
can, try getting accommodation in discount hotels. They are good AND
63. Cheap travel: Another way to travel cheap is to go in groups
and get group discounts.
64. Look for free entertainment and recreation. For instance,
you could go to the park, spend a day at the beach, join a book club... anything
that you find interesting.
65. Love books? If you love books but don’t want to buy them,
you could always join a library.
66. Want to read magazines but cannot afford all the ones you
want? Try magazine swapping. The technique is the same as that of a video swap.
Utilities: You Can Save Here Too!
67. Power saving tips: If you need to leave certain lights like
your kid’s bathroom lights switched on through the night, you could install
energy-efficient bulbs. They provide four times as much light and last ten times
longer than regular bulbs.
68. Do you really need to bathe in boiling hot water? You could
lower the temperature on your hot water heater and save a load of money in
heating. You could also insulate your hot water heater to save money.
69. Winter dillema: Winter does not automatically mean your home
has to be HOT. You can set your thermostat at a reasonable level like 68 degrees
in winter and lower heating costs. The same goes for summer as well.
70. Use of Microwave: Whenever possible, try to use your
microwave instead of your oven-- it’s more energy efficient.
71. Try to do your laundry once or twice a week. This way,
you’ll be able to do full loads and save on water, and electricity.
72. Fix anything that’s leaking – faucets, running toilets –
everything can make you lose water.
73. Stick to basic phone service and avoid any features that you
don't use like call forwarding or call waiting. This saves you a lot of money.
74. Save on Calling. Nowadays most of us have at least one
landline and a cell phone. If you don't do much long distance calling; and your
cell phone offers free long distance, you can stop your long distance access on
the other line.
75. Try to avoid heating up your oven for just one item. For
instance when you cook food, try to make extra – two roasts, two pies. You save
time, electricity AND money.
76. Switch off unused appliances, lights and other switches.
Whenever you leave a room, ensure that you’ve switched off everything unless you
plan to return in a few minutes. And when you go to sleep, don’t forget to turn
the telly off.
77. Switch off your computer when you are not using it. If you
didn’t know, your computer uses way too much electricity when left switched on.
78. Have a gas furnace? Don’t forget to turn the pilot light off
during hot weather. The pilot light wastes gas and produces unwanted heat.
Common Sense Savings
Sometimes, the money is lying there waiting for you to pick it up. Only you don’t
seem to notice. Check out these methods:
79. Don't misplace your money. Watch the ground and see if you
can find pennies lying around. You probably don’t realize the amount of money
that just gets lost because you misplace it. You'd be surprised at how quickly
you can come up with a hundred pennies. And while you are at it, don’t forget to
check the car floor, under the couch cushions.
80. Want a good haircut from an up market salon but don’t want
to pay the price? One way to do it is by going to the salon on training day.
This way you can get your hair styled by the top stylist at almost no price at
81. Don’t throw away leftover food. You can put them in serving
sized containers and fridge. Next time you are busy or tired, you’ve got dinner
waiting in the fridge for you.
82. If the quantity of leftovers isn’t too much, you can add it
to dog or cat food occasionally. This stretches their regular food and reduces
83. Whenever you eat at a fast food place, save the unused
packets of ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper. This will stand you in good stead on
picnics or trips out of town.
84. Try cooking food from scratch. You could do this on weekends
and cook enough for the week and freeze the food. This will save you a load of
money and is much healthier than any take away.
85. And no, you don’t need to always follow manufacturers’
instructions. When you do your laundry for instance, just because it
says on the box that you need a full cup, doesn't mean that you really need that
much. Use your common sense and reduce the quantity of your usage to see the
products last longer.
Maintain your vehicle to ensure that it doesn’t run into
problems. If the tires are not inflated well, oil’s dirty, air
filters are clogged… your fuel costs will rise considerably. You can cut your
fuel consumption by up to 10 percent by just taking good care of your vehicle.
87. Avoid multiple trips whenever possible. If you need to go to
town for something, try to club it with a few other things so that you
consolidate your trips and get the most out of fewer trips.
88. When it comes to cars, idling aren't good. All you’re doing
is driving up your fuel costs. Make it a rule to turn off the engine if you are
going to be parked for more than half a minute.
89. Save on your fuel. Research shows that you can cut fuel
costs by 30 per cent if you drive carefully. Surprised? So was I. What most of
us don’t realize is that accelerating and braking all the time is the most
expensive way to drive a car. And then there is also the wear and tear on
brakes. You can save a lot of money by just being aware of the cars around you,
keeping your distance AND driving carefully.
90. Do you really need that air conditioning on all the time you
drive? It adds to fuel costs, so try to use them only when you need to.
91. If you are planning to buy car, try to do it around the end
of the month. Most companies have sales targets to meet and the month-end is a
good time to get the car at lower rates.
92. Use a hot water bottle instead of an electric blanket to
93. If you have a garden, it’s a good idea to plant perennial
flowers instead of annuals. This ensures that you don’t have to spend money
every year for plants and can enjoy your garden for years.
Bet You Didn't Know This
94. Get money that’s owed to you. Don’t know how to do it? Read
Assets Unknown: How to Find Money You Didn’t Know You Had, by
David Folsom. Alternately, you could check out unclaimedassets.com.
95. Get products at cheaper rate. There are many websites on the
Internet that offer goods at dirt prices or even for free. For instance, there’s
Freecycle.org a giant exchange of products and services at no cost.
96. Ever heard of reward programs? Quite a few departmental
stores, book stores and other types of shops offer rewards cards that
automatically record your purchases at that particular store. This helps you get
a savings reward coupon annually.
97. When out purchasing anything, never stick to one retailer if
you want to save money. Always shop around to know about the best prices on
98. The net’s here to help you again. Heard of Refund
Cents? All you need to do is pay a subscription fee to get alerted on new
deals. You can save on almost everything from groceries to clothes.
99. Go Goodwill
Shopping. No, I’m not joking. You’ll be surprised to know they have
brand new merchandise at dirt cheap rates.
100. Did you know that companies offer freebies – all you need
to do is ask. You can call Freebies magazine or search under “freebies” on Google.
To get a list of freebies.
101. If you don’t like the idea of freebies, you could ask
companies for coupons. You can either check valuepage.com or contact a
company directly for coupons.