A dollar is easier saved than earned. Opportunities to save money on daily expenditures can be found in local newspapers and mailbox flyers, by word of mouth, and on the Internet. While opportunities are many, saving money is not always convenient. Come up with a saving strategy that makes financial sense and doesn't end up costing you a headache.
Fill your vehicle using credit cards that offer a discount or cash back on gas purchases, or fill up at your grocery store's station if it offers a discount with grocery purchases. If you have to pay full price, get a mobile app that can tell you who has the lowest price on gas. Combine multiple errands on your trip around town and shop online for items you use regularly and can get shipped free. Downsize your vehicle -- you don't need a gas-guzzling seven-seater if there are only two people in your home -- or consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid. Avoid routinely carrying heavy loads in your car, which can reduce your fuel efficiency.
Take advantage of opportunities your employer offers to use some of your income tax-free. For example, tuck money into flexible spending accounts to cover medical costs like co-pays and medications, and for eligible child care expenses. Make sure any allowable deductions from your paycheck, such as your health insurance premium, come out before federal taxes, state taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use tax-free savings options, such as 529 accounts, to save money for college expenses and IRAs or 401ks to save for retirement.
Pack a lunch for work and brew your favorite coffee at home. Stock up on staple food items when they are on sale, buy in bulk and enjoy foods that are in season. When buying food, pay attention to the unit price, and buy smaller or larger products based on what really costs less, not what should cost less. Be open to generic brands that can cost half the price of name-brand items. Look for produce at farmer's markets or grow your own garden. When you do eat out, use restaurant coupons you carry in your car or wallet, drink water and take advantage of promotions, such as free kids' meals or buy-one-get-one-free meal deals.
Organize your home and sell items your family no longer uses, reducing costly clutter that costs money to house or store. Don't pay too much for insurance; compare prices every year to make sure you are still getting the best rates on car insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance. Also compare other monthly expenses like your cable, phone and Internet service. Often new customers get the lowest rates and loyal customers pay the highest rates. Take advantage of dental discount plans in addition to insurance if you have a lot of dental work done. Maintain good health and get regular preventive health care to minimize serious -- and costly -- healthcare expenses.
- Five Cent Nickel: How to Save Money on Groceries
- Get Rich Slowly: Saving at the Supermarket - 15 Great Grocery Shopping Tips
- WebMD: 10 Ways to Save Money on Food Shopping
- Indiana Americorps: Money Saving Tips
- Federal Trade Commission: 66 Ways to Save Money
- Prudential: Five Tax-Saving Strategies for Retirement
- Gas Buddy: Fuel and Money Saving Tips
- CBS News: 5 Quick and Painless Money Saving Tips
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.