Now, everyone is looking for innovative ways of saving money in order to keep their heads above water. This recession has certainly brought the best in some people, and the worst in others. Now, you know how far you can be pushed by debt until you lose it. You probably have a million ways of how ta save money, and probably the following methods by Madhu Naicker will come as no surprise to some, but they may be helpful to others and they will probably learn a thing or two on how to save money which they had no idea of.
1. First things first – Create a budget.
You can make better decisions if you know where your money is going. This would help you save money quite easily. At the beginning of every month, draw up a budget taking all your expenses into account. Take charge of your finances by determining your expenses, and deciding where your income should go. After listing out all your regular expenses, you can set aside some money for entertainment, and eating out. And always stash away some money for emergencies. Overall, keep your living expenses low.
2. Reduce your debts
Analyze any debts you may have. Pay off those with the highest interest rate first – usually your credit card expenditure. Pay a lump sum on your credit card or close the outstanding amount, and reduce any other loan repayments. Always give higher preference to closing the higher interest rate loans first. If you have a good credit standing with your bank, bargain with your bank to reduce your interest rates or to adjust EMIs so they don’t pinch you. If your bank refuses to do either, look out for alternatives. Several banks offer transfer of outstanding amount on credit cards or loan transfers. Bear in mind that loans like Home loan actually have Income Tax benefits associated. So, do some savings-vs-expense analysis before closing that loan.
Always put money away for a rainy day, and make sure you have a cushion of cash savings. Do not dig into this entire amount to pay off your existing loans – it is in your safety to have some money stashed away.
3. Cut your spending
Make this a priority. Think whether you really need that new flat-screen TV now. Maybe going on your dream overseas holiday can wait one more year? Making sacrifices this year and living on a tighter budget will leave you much better off in the long run. Cut down on frequent visits to the local Multiplex. Instead, rent a movie from your nearby rental store and watch it at home, rather than spending hundreds on a multiplex!
4. Slash your Mobile and Internet bills
Save on mobile phone usage. Often, your mobile connection plan might come with low-cost add-on services like – National Roaming, STD and/or ISD connection, GPRS etc. Analyze the services you really need, and cancel off unnecessary ones – there is no point in paying monthly rentals for services you don’t really use. Also think about downgrading your mobile connection plan. If you are a user with a good-standing, you should not have a problem in getting your Service provider to make these changes for you – for free.
Do the same for your Internet connection. Think if you can downgrade your Internet plan – or find a cheaper service. If you are going in for a new connection, compare all services available and bargain to get the cheapest deal available.
5. Save on Travel
Whenever possible, use public service for travelling. If that is not possible, you can try various alternatives. Does your company provide commutation to and from work? Opt for it. It could be way cheaper – and more relaxing – than driving your car to work each day! If using Company travel is not your cup of Tea, why not choose to Carpool or share a Bike to work? Splitting costs even two-way would cut your expenses by half!
Save on Fuel – If you have been putting off on getting the LPG Conversion kit for your car, now is the time to do it. Change from Petrol to LPG version and see for yourself how your Fuel expenditure reduces drastically! By the way, take that walk from the Bus stop to your home rather than taking an Auto-Rickshaw. It’s not only free, it’s also healthier!
6. Save on Electricity
This is another money-guzzler particularly since the scorching summer is here, and it is impossible to stay without the AC. So how can you save on your Electricity bills? Turn off lights and fans whenever you leave a room. Turn off your computer when you are not working. Use Water Heater (Geyser) and Microwave Oven minimally – both are high-power devices that draw a lot of power. These small savings will slowly, but surely, add up.
If you are planning to buy an AC to beat the summer, choose one that has a certified Star rating for low electricity consumption. If you already have an AC at home, have it serviced regularly. Did you know that cleaning the AC filters would do wonders to improve the efficiency of your AC? You can do it yourself, but if you don’t know how, have a certified service professional to do it first. Watch, and learn so you can do it yourself the next time.
Turn off the main supply to your TV when you are not watching the TV. Turning it off with the Remote is not enough as your stabilizer would still be drawing power all night. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time to change those old incandescent bulbs, and start using energy-efficient lights (CFL).
7. Save on Food expenses
Reduce your expenditure on eating out. Trust me, it can be fun to have the whole family take part in cooking on the weekends! Try out new dishes right at home with your spouse and kids – not only will it be fun, you would also end up saving more than half the money! If you do eat out, check for early evening offers, buffet deals, new restaurants with specials, and hotels that offer discounts. Oh, and start taking your lunch to work. Not only would this save you money, it is a much healthier alternative!
8. Shop right
When you go shopping for Groceries, plan your meals, make a list and shop to the list. If you stick to your plan and your list, you won’t spend money on all that food (particularly, junk food) that looks good but that you don’t need. Avoid disposables, and use re-useables instead – disposables are a waste of money. Instead of paper towels, use washable cloth dish towels. Instead of paper cups and plates, just use your regular dishes. Use cloth handkerchiefs instead of buying tissues. Spend a few minutes to think about such small changes that you can make to your shopping behaviour that can save you money. Look for good deals before you go out for Shopping. Online Resources like http://www.DiscountsVu.com can help you find the best deals in the market.
9. Avoid using Credit Cards
Lock your credit cards away, and fight the temptation to use it. It would certainly be tempting and easy to use Credit Cards when you are short of cash – but it is a fact that you lose track of your expenses when you use credit cards. Use cash instead. Go to the ATM, withdraw some money, and set that aside for household expenses. Try to limit your expenses within that amount. And when you find yourself short of cash, do NOT use your credit card – go to the ATM again. If anything, all these extra trips to the ATM will be a deterrent, and might actually reduce your expenses!!
10. Save on Gifts
Always be on the look out for good deals. Save by buying things under sale – for example, while shopping for yourself, choose a ‘Buy 1 Get 1’ offer on Clothing. Keep 1 for yourself and gift the other on your friend’s birthday! Create a collection of original gift ideas. Present your dear ones with hand-made gifts, a personally embroidered handkerchief, fresh homemade pickles etc. They will appreciate your skill as well as efforts, and you will save a lot of money.
The Recession may not be the easiest of times to live through, but with a little planning and disciplined saving and spending, it needn’t be as bad as you think!