The main complaint I hear from people when I talk with them about saving for retirement is that they just can’t find any way to save any money. They complain that their normal monthly expenditures don’t leave much to sock away for the future. In most cases I’ve found that the problem lies either in misaligned priorities or misplaced assumptions that there are no places that they can save. Well here are a few areas that I’ve found that are often not fully exploited:
Make Your Meals – I know it’s fun to eat out, but many people do it all too often. Making a few more of your own meals can make a large difference. Bringing your own lunch could easily save some people $5+/day. That’s over $25/week. With 50 weeks of work, that’s $1250/year. If you’re a family of four and both you and your spouse and children all buy your lunches every day, that number is even larger. If you’re finding it hard to make the move, think about how long you have to work to earn that money. Don’t forget the money that is taken out in taxes as well. If you make $25/hr, you would have to work for over 50 hours just to cover those lunches.
Buy In Bulk – Buying in bulk is a way to get an additional discount on a product based on the quantity you purchase. You can enhance that discount by buying when the product is already on a discount due to over supply. That way you can get a double discount. Buying in bulk also gives you the added benefit of having more of the item on hand than you need, so that you can hold off purchasing again until the price is in your favor again. Of course, for that to work, whatever you buy has to have a long shelf life and not take up more space than you can spare.
Coupons! Coupons! Coupons! – They might not be sexy, but coupons can really make a difference. You might be thinking that half a buck off a can of soup is not much to save, but you’d be wrong in so many ways. First off, those small coupons add up over time and can make a difference in your savings. Second, coupons can sometimes be for significantly more than a half a buck in the right store. For instance at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, you can get coupons worth $5-10 off a purchase or even 20% off an item.* Also, don’t forget online coupons or coupon codes. Places like RetailMeNot.com can be great places to locate coupons online. They can sometimes save you large amounts of money depending on what you are purchasing online.
Comparison Shop Online - Even if you’re using coupons at the store or coupon codes online, you might not be getting the best price. Always search out the best price online for anything you buy online or off. By searching either at a general price comparison site like PriceGrabber.com or at stores specific to the item you’re searching for like 1800contacts.com if you’re looking for contacts, you can save hundreds or thousands a year, depending on your previous level of spending.
Cut the Cord – A lot of people are sure that they can’t cut the cord and lose their cable tv. Before you make that decision, spend a month or two tracking everything that your family watches on television. Then see how much of that you can get online for free, what you wouldn’t mind not watching and how much it would cost to see the rest using services like Hulu Plus, Netflix or via renting the programs or movies on Amazon or iTunes.
Now this isn’t a comprehensive money saving list, but those five areas will give anyone a good start. If you can conquer those areas, you’ll be on your way and you will gain a better understanding of the types of areas in your life you can modify to keep a little more of your hard earned money in your pocket…or bank account.
* Bonus Tip! - While their coupons don’t state it, Bed, Bath & Beyond allows you to use more than one coupon during a visit, even if the coupon is expired. The only catch is that you can’t use more than one coupon on any one item.