Wednesday, November 19, 2014

7 Ways to Spend Less and Enjoy Life More

We've all been told that saving money versus spending is much better in the long run. But of course spending money is much easier than saving it. Well, maybe that doesn't always have to be the case. Here are seven tips that can help you make saving money easier.  

1. Make a Budget

Ok, so budgeting is nobody’s favorite thing to do. But it can be much less painful if you use the right tools. There are hundreds of ways to budget, and you can try as many as you want until you find the one that fits your family perfectly.

If you can’t stand the thought of working on a boring Excel spreadsheet, look for other programs and apps that you can handle and enjoy. There are hundreds on the market, both free and subscription based. There are some fabulous, easy-to-use interactive programs that require a one-time fee, which may seem high in the beginning. However, if you try the free trial and the program works for you, the fee will be nothing at all compared to the amount of money you’ll save using it.

2. Shop Smart to Save Money

How can shopping save you money? It’s actually very simple: Take advantage of sales. You can get almost everything on sale if you wait for the right time. For example, around labor day and early fall, you can stock up on summer clothing and supplies for the next year at up to 75 percent off.

Likewise, wait to buy Christmas decor until the week after Christmas. Prices are slashed to the bone as stores rush to clear the Christmas merchandise to make space for new items. It might mean sacrificing a little this Christmas, but your budget will certainly thank you for it, and next year’s Christmas decor will be stunning. So, don’t feel guilty about going on a shopping spree if you buy only things you know you will need during end-of-season sales.

3. Get Started with Couponing

If you’re willing to put some work into couponing, you can cut your grocery budget up to 50 percent. (Some have reported savings up to 90 percent!) You've probably heard all about couponing and how great it is, but it can still seem daunting. Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

  • Plan your weekly menu based on what’s on sale.
  • Browse, Facebook, Pinterest, and other online sources for coupons.
  • Buy only items you use and buy them in bulk if it’s a great deal.
  • If possible, cash in coupons when the item goes on sale in stores.
  • Subscribe to your local newspaper to get the coupon inserts.
  • Organize your coupons so that you can check out hassle-free at the checkout stand.

You’ll be surprised how exciting couponing can be, especially when you watch the savings roll in.

4. Attach Reminders to Credit Cards

It’s always difficult to focus on long-term saving when the chance for instant gratification is at hand. So, remind yourself of your long term goals by attaching a photo or catchy reminder to your charge cards. For example, you could tape a picture of the vacation you are saving for or your dream car to your credit card or stick a slogan that says “A penny a day keeps the debt collectors away” on your debit card. With this help, you’ll be reminded to save rather than spend every time you pull out your charge cards.

5. Recognize Real Sales—Don’t Be Duped

As a marketing tool, restaurants and companies will mark up the price of one item to make another item look more affordable. You might think you are getting a deal at a restaurant because you ordered the $50 wine rather than the $100 one. In department stores, you will often see neon-colored signs that claim the price is reduced by 25%. But if you are a savvy shopper, you’ll obtain a general knowledge of what items generally cost and compare those prices to other stores. You might find that the “sale price” is the same or more than the regular price.

6. Buy a Used Car Over a New One

If you need a new car, don’t sweat it. You can find a like-new, low-mileage, perfectly functioning luxury car without breaking the bank—if you buy it used. So, if you have your eye on a 2015 Acura, why not dial back a little and look into a 2010 model instead. You’ll save thousands of dollars while keeping the quality you want. Some dealers specialize exclusively in used luxury cars and sell them for a fraction of the cost, like this one.

7. Find New Recipes

Cooking rather than eating out is an excellent way to save money. It can be a blast to look for and try tons of new recipes. If you aren't very talented in the kitchen, there are hundreds of blogs and tips and tricks to help you get started. Just spend a few minutes on Pinterest and you’ll get your fill of great recipes and informative articles. With a little time and intuition, you can learn to make gourmet meals in less than an hour. You might even discover that you prefer home cooked meals to eating out.

Stop living your life worrying about how you are going to make ends meet. The secret to enjoying life is spending less. So try these tips and watch your savings grow!  

**Author: Amber Brubaker**

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