Saving money doesn't mean your life has to go back to the Stone Age. With the economy in the tank, everyone is looking to cut back. Some tips however, are just downright painful. I mean, no more Lattes... ever? Let's get real, people.
Here are 21 practical and mostly pain free tips to save cash now:
1. Reduce your cable package.
You can save $40+ a month by dropping those 200 channels you never watch. 24/7 Reality TV? That's just called “Life”.
2. Reduce your cell phone plan.
Take a look at your cell phone bill, if you're like many people you have way more minutes than you need. Drop your plan down. Make more calls in the evening and save $20 a month.
3. Plan your meals. Cook in bulk.
I was a boy scout for a year. It didn't work out for me but I did learn to "Be Prepared". If you plan your meals ahead of time you can cook in bulk and save money. Plus, who doesn't love leftovers?
4. Forget the theater. Get Netflix.
Two movie tickets and some popcorn can run you $30 today. Get a $20 plan from Netflix and catch up on some great TV on DVD (The Wire, The Office, Battlestar Galactica, Entourage, 24, LOST... so many great series)
5. Forget Netflix. Read a book.
To spend $0 this month on entertainment, hit up your local library. Not only do they have magazines, DVD, and books on tape, they have thousands of real books as well! It's incredible and 100% free.
6. Have a Picnic.
Instead of going out to a fancy dinner with your Significant Other, plan a romantic picnic. Not only will you save cash, you'll earn lots of points with your partner.
7. Buy local groceries, not corporate.
Can't live without your organic milk from Whole Foods? Organic food doesn't have to be expensive. You just need to know where to find it. Forget the big chains. Hit up your local Farmers Market where prices can be 50% what you'd pay at Whole Foods.
8. Carpool more.
Going out with friends? Does everyone really need to drive? Offer to pick up your buddies, and have them return the favor next time. Plus, you'll be able to get in the carpool lane without using that fake dummy of yours.
9. Keep your house cooler.
Keep your windows open in the morning. Keep lights turned off. You'll save electricity and keep your place cooler. More tips to keep your home cool in the summer.
10. Get a frugal battle buddy.
When you go through Army basic training, you get assigned a "battle buddy". Your buddy is there to make sure you make it. Get a frugal battle buddy and commit to frugal spending. Bonus: There are no push-ups in frugal boot camp!
11. Forget Vegas. Go camping.
Sure Vegas hotels are still cheap, but have you seen airfare prices? Forget it. Take a longer vacation in a state or national park. Your biggest expense can be food! Eat well, hike a bit, and enjoy the great outdoors. Sure, you can't bet it all on Red, but bring a deck of cards and you can always bet marshmallows.
12. Reduce sky-high interest rates.
Got credit card debt? Join the club. Call up your provider and ask for a rate reduction. Many will offer on the spot to reduce your rate (especially if you mention you're thinking of doing a balance transfer...). It's like asking a lady out, the worst they can so is no, right?
13. Refinance your high-interest debt.
If you're carrying over 5K in CC debt and have a credit score over 640 get a personal loan from Lending Club to refinance your credit card debt. You'll lower your monthly payments right away, and be debt free in a few years.
14. Walk to the grocery store.
Grocery store a mile away? Why not shop weekly ("real food" doesn't store!), and carry a light load a mile? It will be good for your health as well as your wallet!
15. Make your own lunch.
The brown bag is always a good way to go...just make sure and throw in a note to yourself just like Mom used to do!
Ask your boss if you can telecommute one or more days a week. So them how you'll be more productive being able to work from home. You'll save gas as well as avoid peer pressure to eat out for lunch or happy hour.
17. Host a dinner party.
Don't feel like cooking? Why not just play host? Invite your pals over for a night of food and games. Just make sure everyone brings something! Everyone will thank you for hosting, and all you get stuck with is the dishes.
18. Become a Little League super-fan.
Want a great cheap source of entertainment? Hit up your local ball field and find a little league team to cheer on. I did this last summer, and it was a total blast. Sno-cones are cheap, and the higher level leagues play good ball.
19. Raise your deductible.
Are you pretty healthy? Don't visit the doctor much? Consider raising your health insurance deductible. You'll still be protected against a major medical event, but your insurance bill will drop.
20. Ditch Bank Fees.
Banks will eat away at your hard earned money if you let them. Analyze all your financial accounts for stupid fees. Switch banks or brokers if you need too, but don't pay fees you shouldn't.
21. Harness the Power of the Web.
Do you have any nearly painless tips to share, on how to save money today? Please share your best one!