31 Ways To Save Money

We’ve talked a lot lately about budgeting and the trials of sticking to a budget. One thing that people usually learn when they start budgeting is that they need to cut expenses. Experts often talk about the coffee effect. Buying a $4 cup of coffee every workday costs $20 a week, $80 a month and almost a thousand dollars a year. A small change like this can have a real effect.

What else can you do?

  1. Shop Car And Home Insurance – You may save hundreds of dollars simply by shopping around. Your current insurance provider may offer a discount for responsible driving or for combining a car and homeowner’s policy. Start with your insurance agent and ask what they can do to lower your rate. If necessary, shop with other agents and companies.
  2. Assess TV Costs – What are you spending on television? Do you have cable, satellite, streaming services or an antenna? What do you use the most? If you mainly watch one streaming service and find yourself watching less cable, it could be time to cut the cord.
  3. Pack Lunch – The cost of fast food is creeping up there and the long term effects on your health can be dire. Save your wallet and your waistline by packing lunch. Invest in a lunchbag or thermos to bring leftovers. Skip the leftovers and buy special lunch foods – it’s still cheaper than dining out every day.
  4. Consider Subscriptions and Memberships – Examine what you’re paying for and not using. Maybe it’s a fitness app, a magazine or club membership you don’t use. Auto payments make it easy to lose track.
  5. Pack Snacks – Avoid the vending machine at work by stocking your desk with snacks. If you crave a snack on road trips, plan ahead and bring things from home.
  6. Bring Your Own Drink – Vending and gas station drinks are expensive. If you love Diet Coke, buy a six pack of bottles at the grocery for $3.50 instead of one bottle for $2. If water or coffee are your thing, try a reusable bottle or mug.
  7. Use The Library – The local library is a spectacular resource for books, movies, music and more! If they don’t have what you want, they can often interlibrary loan it. They usually have free wifi too!
  8. Use Your Kitchen – The kitchen counter isn’t just for mail! Strive to cook your meals instead of picking up take-out. That slow cooker and air fryer are just waiting for you to create a masterpiece!
  9. Shop Sales – If you like chicken and beef but just one is on sale, grab the sale item while it’s cheap. This makes stocking your freezer and pantry affordable and helps you plan meals around what’s on sale.
  10. Shop Your Pantry – That can of beans languishing in the back of the cupboard would work great in a pot of vegetable soup. Use up the open cereal or chips before reaching for new. In other words, use what you have and that could be wasted.
  11. Meal Plan – Those last two tips are optimized when you meal plan. Check your grocery store circular to see what’s on sale and build meals around what you have and what’s on sale. Instead of just grabbing everything that looks good, go to the store with a plan for what you will cook and get ingredients you need to complete the meal.
  12. Shop Your House – Before you run out and buy something you think you need, have a look around your home. Do you have an older version of the item that still works or something else that can be repurposed? Using what you have can be an effective and creative solution!
  13. Know Your Weaknesses – If you know you’re always too tired to cook on Wednesday night, have a simple plan to combat the drive-thru temptation like frozen lasagna or breakfast for dinner.
  14. Pay Bills On Time And In Full – Avoid late fees by paying your bills on time and avoid interest fees by paying them in full. Carrying credit card debt will cost large interest fees, adding up to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. Use VCNB Bill Pay to save on time and postage too.
  15. Refinance Your Home With VCNB – Rates are low, making it a great time to refinance and save on your mortgage!
  16. Study Healthcare Bills – When you receive healthcare services, ask for an itemized bill and read it. Do you recognize the services and the service dates? Was your insurance billed properly? Mistakes happen and can be costly.
  17. Reduce Energy Costs – Remember when your parents complained that every light in the house was on? Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Gaming devices, televisions, computers, etc. draw energy even when not in use so invest in a power strip with a surge protector to easily turn off everything at once. Take shorter showers and turn down your hot water heater a few degrees too.
  18. Reinvent Leftovers – Whether you live for leftovers or loathe them, it’s easy to transform them into something new! Roasted chicken and veggies can become chicken pot pie and taco meat can go in chili. There are tons of options if you get creative!
  19. Try a No Spend Challenge – Set a period of time and commit to spending no money. Pay your bills, put gas in the tank and buy groceries you need but commit to no spending on extras. Try it for a day or week and work up to a month.
  20. Audit Your Expenses – Write down all spending for a week. This should include every dollar you put in a vending machine, meals out, online purchases and the big stuff too. Do you see patterns? Add up all those purchases and see which ones you can reduce.
  21. Cold? – Dress for the weather and put on socks or a sweater rather than turn up the thermostat.
  22. Avoid Disposable Products – Single use products like bottled water, paper towels and styrofoam cups are costly for your budget and the environment.
  23. Switch Your Ceiling Fan Direction – There’s a switch on your ceiling fan that makes it go either clockwise or counterclockwise, according to the Hunter Fan Company. In the summer, they say a counterclockwise motion creates a downdraft and a nice breeze. In the winter, switch to clockwise to circulate warm air around the room.
  24. Delay Gratification – When you get the urge to buy, write it down and wait. If you delay some purchases, you may find they aren’t that important. If they remain a priority, start researching what you want and shop sales.
  25. Break A Bad Habit – Most of us have bad habits but some are quite expensive. What’s yours?
  26. Maintain Your Car – Putting off vehicle maintenance will cost you in the long run. Keep up with oil and filter changes. A clean air filter will improve gas mileage by up to seven percent. Properly inflated tires help with this too.
  27. Meatless Monday – It’s no secret that meat is expensive. Trying a meatless meal is a great way to trim dollars from your budget. Start with easy swaps like pasta dishes, soups and casseroles.
  28. Drink Water – Water is good for you and most people don’t get enough. Tap water and jugs from the store are cheaper than sports or soft drinks. Carry a refillable water bottle to kill the temptation to buy costly drinks on the go.
  29. Understand Food Spoilage – Americans waste hundreds of dollars on food every year. Learn to rotate the stock in your pantry and to understand the difference between the terms Sell By, Best Buy, and Use Buy. Prioritize cooking what you need or using leftovers so they don’t go to waste.
  30. Say No To Retail Therapy – Many of us shop when we’re stressed or sad but the anxiety will only worsen when you get the credit card bill. Try some free ways to lift your mood like a walk, a movie or playtime with your kids.
  31. Question Everything – Questioning your bills and habits and applying your priorities will help you make cost saving choices.

What are your tips? Comment and tell us what you would add!

35 Ways To Save Some Dollars

While it’s tempting to look for big ways to save money, don’t discount the small things you can do to save a few dollars that will ultimately add up to big dollars. Here are 35 small things you can do, simple behavior changes, that can help you stretch your hard earned cash a little further.

Little changes can save big money over time!

Little changes can save big money over time!

1.  Pay bills on time to avoid late fees and interest charges.2.  Mom was right. Turn off the lights when no one is using the room.

3.   Swap sugary drinks for water. It’s free and it’s good for you!

4.  Use Billpay at VCNB! This service is free to online banking customers as long as you use it at least once a month. You just schedule your payment and we take care of the rest. There’s no stamp to buy or envelope to lick, making it convenient and easy to use

5.  Skip the drive thru and make your coffee at home. Along those lines, carry a reusable water bottle when you travel. It will save you money and help the environment.

6.  Sign up for rewards programs at stores you frequent. Grocers and pharmacies will often give you coupons for discounts or even free merchandise.

7.  Try the store brands of your favorite foods. Often times, the packaging looks different and the price is higher but the contents are the same as the name brand.

8.  Share music, books and movies with a friend. It’s a great way to introduce each other to new artists.

9.  Remember it’s usually cheaper to cook for your family than to pick up fast food. Stock your freezer with some convenience meals for those nights you’re tempted to order takeout.

10.  Cancel memberships and subscriptions that you don’t use. There’s no sense paying for a magazine that you don’t read or a gym membership if you never go.

11.  Skip the vending machine and try bringing snacks from home.

12.  Jazz up leftovers to avoid wasting food.  There are a lot of websites and blogs dedicated to cooking and some to reinventing leftovers. See number 16 another great idea for leftovers!

13.  Improve gas mileage by airing up your tires. Experts say that for every two PSI that all of your tires are below the recommended level, you lose one percent on your gas mileage.

14.  Try your hand at Meatless Monday. There are tons of great casseroles and soups that are delicious and inexpensive to make because they don’t use meat.

15.  Plug your electronic devices into a surge protector.  All those cords for your TV, DVD player and gaming devices have to plug in somewhere. Many people don’t realize that they continue to use power even when turned off so be sure to flip the switch when they aren’t in use.

16.  Pack your lunch and save a bundle every month. By bringing leftovers or a sandwich from home, you can eat a healthier lunch and save money. If you typically spend just $5 a day on lunch, at five days a week for four weeks, you can save $100 a month!

17.  Close the blinds or drapes during the day to keep light and heat from coming in during the summer. The extra heat will make your air conditioner work harder in the summer. On the other hand, open them up to let in sunshine to help with winter heating.

18.  When conditions are appropriate, use cruise control to regulate your speed and improve your gas mileage.

19.  Another great way to save on gas is to combine errands into one trip.  If some stops are close together, park your car and walk a bit. Since walking is good for your health there’s an added benefit!

20.  Going to the movies? Check out the matinee instead of the evening show. Ticket prices at some theaters are significantly cheaper earlier in the day and theaters are less crowded.

21.  Kick your vices to the curb. Whether it’s smoking or a daily run to the ice cream shop, these habits can be expensive and bad for your health.

22.  Do you shop when you’re bored? Why not play a game with your kids, take a walk or check out a community event instead?

23.  Check out your local library for all sorts of free resources. You might be surprised to find so many new release books and movies as well as magazines, free events and things for the kids to enjoy.

24.  Ask your physician to consider prescribing generic drugs. Generic drugs can cost several hundred dollars less to purchase annually than brand-name drugs.

25.  Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater just a few degrees to save a lot of dollars each year.

26.  Plan ahead for holidays. Buying cards, wrapping paper and gift bags after Christmas can save you 50 to 75 percent on these needed items. But you can also find cupcake wrappers, cards and decorations deeply discounted after every holiday throughout the year.

27.  Repair (or work around) before you pitch. Don’t toss out that blouse because it needs a button or that vase because it has a chip in the side. Learn to sew that button back on and how to turn the vase so no one sees the flaw!

28.  Buy produce that’s in season. It will taste better and save you dollars. If you find a great deal on berries, buy extra to freeze for later and enjoy the flavor of the season for less.

29.  Make sure that your drapes and furniture don’t block heating and cooling vents.

30.  Unplug your cell phone charger when it isn’t in use.

31.  Leave the thermostat alone. If you’re cold, put on a sweater or get up and move around.

32.  Open the windows! If the outside temperature is moderate, open the windows and let the breeze and sunshine in. It will save on your electric bill and help to air out your home.

33.  Carpool to work. Make friends with a coworker in your neighborhood and take turns driving. You will save wear and tear on your vehicle and on fuel. Plus you will have company along the way!

34.   Have a spill that’s not too messy? Use a dish towel instead of a paper towel. The expense of disposable products adds up quickly.

35.  Plan your week. Don’t wake up every day wondering what your kid will take for lunch. Create a meal plan and shop for it and prepare meals and pack leftovers into your lunch the night before. Also remember to plan for what tomorrow will bring. If your daughter has soccer practice, pack some snacks so you don’t have to swing into the drive thru.

Do you have other tips for saving money in your everyday life? We would love to hear them! Post a comment below and remember also to subscribe so you never miss a post from VCNB.