Some people who know me will tell you that I can "pinch a penny so tight, I squeeze the boogers out of Lincoln's nose."
Now, I'm not cheap but I am frugal (yes, I firmly believe there is a difference). I like to pinch pennies in many areas of my life so that I have enough money to indulge in other areas. Frugality is also important when you have to save for things like your children's college education.
So, for all you other frugal folks out there (or those who aspire to pinch Lincoln's head a little tighter), I give you...drumroll please....10 tips for saving money.
Tip #1: This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people miss this one, ditch the brand name items for store brand especially in the case of groceries. The idea that store brand is not as high quality as name brand is absolutely not true, at least in the vast majority of cases. Most of the time the store brand options are made from the same manufacturers and with the same or comparable ingredients as the brand name items. In fact, in all my years of buying store brand I've only found two store brand items that flunked the taste test against the national brands. The first was Kroger's alternative to Captain Crunch. That stuff was truly awful. The second was the early Meijer's version of Manwhich, and that problem appears to be resolved. And the savings is definately significant. For example, we bought a bag of store brand "Cocoa Puffs" for $1.50. A box of national brand Cocoa Puffs cost double that and with less cereal in the box to boot.
You haven to be careful though, I have run into a couple of occasions where the store brand cost more than the national brand so always compare prices and check sales.
Tip #2: Brown bag it. Whether you are going to work or going on vacation you can save a lot of money by packing as many of your meals and snacks as possible. That way you can cut down on your trips to restuarants and fast food joints.
Tip #3: Use a cash back credit card and resist the urge to carry a balance. I use our cash back credit card routinely for gas. As a result I get a 5% refund everytime I fill up.
Tip #4: If you don't have your cell phone surgically attached to your ear, try switching to a pay as you go plan. If you only use your phone sporadically then you probably don't need that $80 a month unlimited plan. You could easily save $30 a month this way or more depending on how much you talk.
Tip #5: Looking to redecorate? Start with items you already own. Pull some of that furniture out of the attic. Spruce it up a bit. Add some new touches. You'll save hundreds of dollars by reusing your old items.
Tip #6: Think big when it comes to cooking. Buy your meat in the more economically priced "family sizes" or you can find a local butcher or farm that will sell meat in bulk sizes by the cow. Then, double your recipes when cooking at home and freeze whatever is left. You'll pay less per pound for the meat and you'll have a meal for hectic days when you would otherwise go out or order in.
Tip #7: Get free firewood. Call around to your local tree service companies. Many times they will let you come to the cleanup site and take the smaller limbs and branches. Also check your local landfills or city run yard cleanup sites for free or very inexpensive mulch.
Tip #8: Postpone your purchases. You know that item you see on the shelf while your out shopping...that one you didn't plan on getting but it just seems to be begging you to take it home...well don't. Wait. Postpone purchasing the item for a week or until your next shopping trip. Chances are you'll have forgotten all about it by the time the week rounds to a close and if you find that you're still longing for it after a week has passed then it's probably something you actually can use.
Tip #9: DIY (aka. do it yourself). You don't need to hire a professional for most of the smaller projects that need done around your house. Have a leaky faucet? Head to the library to get a few books on how to fix the problem. Want a new color paint on your walls? Head over to lowes or home depot for a brush and some free tips from their knowledgeable associates. There are a wide array of projects that are easy enough to do yourself with a little research and that can save you hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars.
Tip #10: This is an important one for all parents out there. Just say no. It's easier than it seems. N-O. When your kids say they will just "die" without the latest video game system or the newest $50 doll (complete with pooping mechanisms) give a nice, simple, firm "no". Trust me, your kids do not need all the latest toys. The will live without that $300 power wheels car. Their heads will not really explode if they don't get a trinket everytime you stop at the grocery store. Save your toy purchases for Christmas and birthdays and for those occasions utilize the clearance rack, second hand stores and craigslist/freecycle as much as possible. You can get your kids some nice stuff without completely blowing your budget.
Nowgo out into the world a more confident, wiser, stronger, and more frugal person.