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Top 5 Easy Ways To Save Money That Anyone Can Do

Published 12/10/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

I think you can ask anyone for advice about their personal top five ways to save money and you'll likely end up with a variety of suggestions. We all have different guilty pleasures and financial priorities so obviously the list would differ greatly from person to person. Some of these habits are hard to give up. For example earlier, I talked about the reasons why I chose to buck the conventional frugality wisdom of avoiding bottled water. For me, the health benefits and convenience outweighed the long terms costs.

Cutting back on purchases that you wouldn't miss or expenses that wouldn't cause too much discomfort or inconvenience are the easiest ways to save money. I'm offering a few suggestions that hopefully will get people thinking about some of the simple day to day expenses that we may have a tendency to overlook, but that may go a long way in helping us save money for the future:

1) Don't Pay Extra For Sodas During Lunch - Ask For a Free Cup Of Tap Water Instead.
This is probably one of the easiest habits to break. Did you know that most cafe lunch joints charge a premium for sodas and bottled drinks? These type of meal accessories are much easier to overcharge because lunch and meal patrons focus on the cost of the main dish, frequently overlooking the extra charges when they decide on where to eat out for lunch.

Besides, drinking water is much healthier than loading up on sugar-filled sodas or other bottled drinks. Even seemingly healthy drinks like bottled teas are frequently disproportionally filled with sugar. Too much sugar contributes to diabetic effects and offers nothing but empty calories that may cause unhealthy weight gain and sluggish bodily function. Next time you grab a sandwich at your lunch diner, be sure to ask for a free cup of water rather than a cup of pricey soda. If they offer you bottled water, ask for tap instead.

2) Reduce the Cost Of Your Cell Phone, Cable Television, and Internet Service By Asking For Discounts Or Threatening To Cancel.
Monthly recurring expenses such as cell phone service and utility bills are frequently overlooked because they happen so regularly and we often pay off the bill without much thought. Especially for people like me who use automatic debit payment, I often don't take a hard enough look at my actual monthly charges. For your cable or satellite television service, think about it. Do you really need all of those premium channels? Do you actually watch them all or even have the time to enjoy them? I used to have premium digital cable television service with Comcast but eventually downgraded to plain old analog. Yes I drastically reduced my channel lineup, but I didn't lose much because I still had my important and frequently watched channels like CNN, Discovery, History Channel, and ESPN.

If your cable television carrier refuses to offer discounts or price reductions, call back frequently and threaten to cancel. I had to call back numerous times and speak to different customer service representatives but eventually I found someone who was willing to offer me a significant discount. Just be persistent, even when the rep tells you further price reductions are not possible. As for your cell phone service, consider reducing the amount of minutes you have on your plan, particularly if you don't use it much. I reduced my Verizon Wireless plan to the cheapest one after I noticed that I was consistently underusing my minutes.

3) Cut Down On Gasoline Cost By Finding and Frequenting the Cheapest Gas Stations In Your Area.
I don't drive too much but for many it is a big money drain. My advice is to use a free online service like GasBuddy to plot a gas price map of your area showing you where the cheapest pumps are located. Gas prices are usually much more expensive in high end neighborhoods. I managed to locate significantly more affordable pumps only a mile or two away that I now frequently visit. Whenever you need gas, rather than pulling over at any gas pump you see, try to head to the cheap locations that you pinpointed earlier on the gas price maps.

4) Run Your Central Heater Less During the Winter And Compensate By Dressing In Layers and Using a Portable Heating Unit.
Why are you basically sleeping in the nude and walking around in your shorts when it is a freezing zero degrees outside? If that is what it's like in your home in the winter, your thermostat is turned way too high. I set mine at a reasonable 70 degrees during the winter and put on slippers and a sweater to keep warm. At night, I run a portable heater in my bedroom so central heat is not wasted on unoccupied rooms.

5) Take Advantage of Free Information Available On the Internet and the World Wide Web.
This one is more controversial. There are many people out there who love reading and buying books. I don't want to knock the hobby and educational benefits of book reading, but I personally obtain almost all of my information online through cost-free means. Why buy a self help book from the bookstore when the internet is filled with forums and bloggers espousing the same opinions and content that can be found in expensive paper books? If you really want to read a book, I recommend visiting a bookstore and reading it there for free, or borrowing it from the local library.

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6 Responses to “Top 5 Easy Ways To Save Money That Anyone Can Do” 

  1. Honest Dollar says:

    Given high gas prices, #3 is a good idea. But it shouldn't be taken to the extreme. Whenever my boyfriend and I went hiking in upstate New York, which required us to drive through New Jersey for a stretch, we'd see dozens of cars with New York plates lined up to pump gas in Jersey. This is above and beyond finding the cheap local pumps. These people probably wasted more money in gas, time, and effort going to Jersey and back than they would have sticking to New York pumps, driving less, and using the free time not spent in Jersey brainstorming other ways to save money.

  2. Raymond says:

    Yeah it doesn't make much sense to drive too far out of the way for gas, but if the gas maps can take you to a station along your regularly scheduled path, why not go for it?

    Along the same lines, I used to have a Costco membership but gave that up because the nearest location was over 20 miles away. The cost savings couldn't justify the premium I paid to travel such distances to save a few dollars and cents.

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    One big difference I've found in sleeping temperature is shoulder covering. If I wear a sleeveless shirt (doesn't have to be spaghetti strap, just no sleeves), I feel a lot cooler than if I wear a t-shirt. So in the summer I have a couple sleeveless tops to sleep in so I'm cool enough at night. And simply switching to a t-shirt keeps me nice and warm in the winter. Sometimes I have to add another blanket too...but we have a lot of those.

  4. Odd Lot says:

    Great post! Here's one that has saved me a ton of cash and helped me build a lot of net worth on someone else's dime over the years.

    If Your Company Offers Free Money, Take It
    Would you like to get an instant 125% return on your savings plus a bigger tax return? Many company have 401k Matching programs of up to $5,000. This means that they'll match you dollar for dollar on every penny that you contribute. That's a 100% free return for any money that they agree to match.

    In addition to this free match, all of your 401k contributions reduce your taxable income so you will get a bigger tax return next year. If you're in a 25% tax bracket, you avoid that 25% tax on every dollar you contribute. If you're not contributing, I can promise with 100% confidence that you can contribute at least 2 or 3% of your income without even noticing the difference.

    For example, if you bring home $2,500 per month and decide to contribute 3% to your 401k to take advantage of this free money, you will still bring home $2,425. What do you get in return? 125% instant gain on your money plus a bigger tax return. The average return on the S&P 500 since 1975 has been 10.75% so a 125% return is a pretty good deal. (keep in mind that this article is about "painless" ways to save, I would normally recommend contributing a much higher percentage. You should contribute at least as much as your company matches, it's free money!)

    Great post, thank you for all the great tips, I'm always looking for more ways to save. (-:
    Cheers!

  5. Candy Maciver says:

    I'm going to be glued to my chair watching the World Cup!

  6. Charmain Coffee says:

    Man...i have been taping the games and keeping up to ridiculous hours of the night watching them...I love it...Its actually addicitve for me

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