Income ManagementLifestyle

Keeping a Few More Bucks in Your Pocket: Tips to Cut Down Expenses

A mere $2.50 for coffee every morning—no big deal, right? It’s not very much. But every day for 365 days in a year adds up to $912.50. Imagine how much you could buy for $912.50!

Perhaps, you could have a few extra gifts under the Christmas tree, or add it to your college fund. We often don’t realize how small expenses add up.

There are many little things you can do to add a few more bucks in your pocket. Here are a several ways you can save yourself some money:

Saving Money around the House
• Conserving energy not only helps the planet, but your wallet as well. Spare a few seconds to turn off the lights before you leave the house. Leaving unnecessary lights on for two hours can cost you up to $50.
• Replace your light bulbs with CFL bulbs. Though CFL bulbs are more expensive that incandescent bulbs, they will pay for themselves in the long run, as you energy bill reduces.
• Turn off heating and cooling when you leave the house. Set your thermostat to 78oF during the summer time and 68oF in the winter—each degree cooler during the winter can save 3-5% on your energy bill.
• Watch less television! This way, you will be less exposed to ads that convince you buy things. Plus, you will not only save on your electricity bill, but will also have more time to do something productive! Get rid of cable TV and subscribe to Netflix or Hulu (which is free) instead.
• Cancel your landline if you already have a cell phone. Most people rely on their cell phones only and landlines can be an unnecessary expense.
• Recycle and compost as much as possible to save on your trash bill. You’re helping the planet and yourself. Can’t get much better than that.

Cut down on Food Expenses
• Skip the coffee shop every morning! If you enjoy a cup of Starbucks coffee every morning, buy the coffee blend from your local supermarket and brew it yourself! You’ll save a considerable amount of money which will add up.
• Instead of grabbing fast food or microwave foods, buy healthy snacks in bulk, like crackers or nut mixes, to munch on when you get hungry. They are healthier and will save you some money.

• Rather than driving to work every morning, take public transportation or bike if you can. You’ll skip the traffic and save money on gasoline
• Or, carpool with a co-worker who lives in your area. A break from driving and some company each morning is a great way to start off the day.

• Before you hop in the car to drive to the store and buy everything you lay your eyes on, take a few minutes to make a shopping list before you’re off on your errands. Don’t allow yourself to buy anything that isn’t on your list. However, there will always be something that catches your attention at the store and put you in the angel-devil-on-your-shoulders situation. If you really want something, write it down somewhere and revisit the items on that “Want” list after a couple of weeks. Usually, the urge to buy has passed and your money is still in your pocket.
• Buy in bulk rather than buying frequently in small quantities. Visit your local wholesaler every month or so and stock up on the products that you use often including toiletries, paper products, and coffee blends (to brew your own coffee, remember?)
• When going clothes shopping, look out for sales and coupons in advance. You wouldn’t want to spend extra on clothes that you could have got for 25% off the following week.
• Sign up for rewards programs at stores you frequently shop at. Though the money that you save may seem minimal, it all adds up in the long run.
• Shop for next year’s holidays a couple days after this year’s. For example, begin your 2014 Easter shopping in April of this year. Holiday specific merchandise usually goes on clearance sale right after the holiday has passed. Take advantage of these sales!

Remember that every little expense adds up! Find small ways to cut down on many unnecessary expenses and you’ll realize that saving money isn’t so hard, after all.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy and save money with NerdWallet’s no fee checking accounts.


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