Use these smart money-saving strategies to cut everyday costs on shopping, insurance, travel and more.
Save Money On Utilities|
descriptionEasy tips to help you save money now on household utility costs.
Whether you're getting ready for swimsuit season or looking to be active, joining a gym can help. But don't overpay for the privilege. Here are three ways to save. Take advantage of free trials. Many gyms will give you a free pass for a few days or even a week to test out their facilities. Line up your free offers back-to-back to make comparison easy. During your visit, ask a few members what they like and dislike about the gym. Call your health insurance provider and your HR department at work. Both insurers and large employers negotiate discounts with fitness centers, or may offer partial reimbursement of your membership fees. Follow the gym of your choice on social media and watch for coupons and special deals. If nothing comes up, try bargaining. Some facilities will price-match, and you may get a better deal by paying in full instead of month to month. That will mean more money upfront, of course. But it might just be the motivation you need to stick with your workout.
It's hard to save money when your bank is always dinging you with a new fee. Here are three ways to save on banking fees. First, consider a credit union. They differ from banks because they're non-profit and are owned by their membership. So, if you open an account there, that includes you. And they typically have fewer fees and lower fees than banks. Second, open a high-yield checking account. You can find one at checkingfinder.com. These accounts typically have no minimums, no fees, and no ATM charges. They'll also pay you a little interest if you're willing to jump through some hoops each month, like swiping your debit card a certain number of times, getting your statements by e-mail, or doing a direct deposit. Finally, avoid expensive overdraft fees by using a bank that offers account alerts. You specify a minimum amount of cash you like to have in the account, and the bank pays you when your account balance slips below that level. Sometimes, the best way to save is to know when to stop spending.
Save money on household cleaning products by making your own. You just need 4 natural ingredients, vinegar, baking soda, borax and washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate. To make floor shine, take a half gallon of hot water and add a cup of vinegar, and a half cup of baking soda. Toss in a tablespoon each of borax and washing soda. Mop and dry with a towel and viola, you're ready for a dance party. To clean and disinfect countertops, combine 4 cups hot water, a cup of vinegar, and a tablespoon each of borax and washing soda. Pour into a spray bottle, spray, wipe clean with a damp cloth and admire the shine. To tackle the toilet, turn off the shut-off valve and flush until the bowl is empty. Scrub with a half cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar. Turn the water back on and flush. Finally, to clean glass, mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Sprits the surface and wipe with a limp-free rag or a newspaper. Now enjoy your sparkling reflection and the extra cash in your piggy bank.
The best way to save on dry cleaning cost is to dry clean less. Households spend an average of $1,500 a year on dry cleaning. And 65 percent of those clothes are actually washable, according to one study. Wool, cashmere, silk, rayon, polyester, and spandex can all be washed from the machine, if you're careful. Use the delicate or hand wash cycle and cold water, and a gentle fabric care product. The launders.com is a site specializing in gentle cleaning products. Lay wool or cashmere flat to dry. Everything else, including cotton and linen, can be thrown in the dryer on a low heat setting, and then pressed. Suits should be hung up immediately, air it out, and spot cleaned with a lint-free cloth. Follow that routine, and you could limit dry cleaning to two to four times a season. Meanwhile, be sure to occasionally clean the machine that's washing your fine clothes. Pour two cups of vinegar into the tub, and run through a complete cycle on the hottest setting. This will help remove stains, odors, and detergent buildup. Though you may have to invest a little more time, you'll appreciate wearing clean clothes that have a little more cash in the pockets.
-It's no fun getting sick and the high cost of prescriptions can add insult to injury. Here are three ways to save on your medications. Start at your doctor's office. Always ask if there is a generic version of the drug. About 4 or 5 FDA-approved drugs have generic equivalents and studies show they cost up to four times less on average than brand name drugs. Second, shop around. Discount stores and warehouse clubs offer the most popular generic drug with just a few dollars a month or check out a few drug comparison websites such as goodrx.com and werx.com. You enter the prescription name and your zip code and the sites find the lowest prices. Finally, if you really can't afford your prescriptions, check out the assistance plans on needymeds.com. The site gives information on drug companies that supply their meds at huge discounts or even for free. With savings like this, you'll be feeling better before you know it.
Talk really isn't cheap, and neither is texting, web surfing, and all those other things you do with a smart phone. American families spend about $1,700 a year on their phones, according to JD Power and Associates. There are three ways to save. First, consolidate family phones with one provider, and ask for a share plan. It offers discounts on multiple phone lines and free in-network calls. You don't need to share with blood relatives. Set up a family plan with friends, as long as you can trust them to pay their bills. Ditch the contract and consider a pay-as-you-go plan, especially if you don't use all the minutes or data in your current monthly plan. All the major cell phone companies have prepaid divisions. To conserve minutes in your prepaid plan, connect to friends with free apps like TextFree and Skype Mobile. Finally, see if you're eligible for an employee discount. Just do an internet search for employee discount with your cell phone provider's name. If your employer has negotiated a deal, you can get up to 25 percent off devices and plans. That kind of savings will really give you something to talk about.
-Many parents welcome the back to school season, but not the cost that come with it. Families spend hundreds of dollars each year on clothing, shoes, and supplies. Here are some easy ways to save. Make an inventory of all the clothes that still fit your child, then see where the gaps are. Base their wardrobe on five or six easy care items, jeans, a few shirts, and sweaters. And for girls, a neutral colored dress then mix in low cost accessories like T-shirts, scarves, and tights to change up the look. Second, buy in bulk. Recruit friends who need the same school supplies as your child. Buy them in a warehouse club then split 'em up. Third, use social media to get ahead on sales. Big buck stores tend to have competitive prices on items like backpacks and lunch boxes, so sign up for their e-mail coupons and keep an eye on their Facebook and Twitter feeds for special deals. Finally, watch for tax holidays. Many states give residents a break on sales taxes in early August to boost local economies. Time your buys accordingly and enjoy the savings.
-Family getaways worth dreaming about don't come cheap. Here's how to make memories with your family for a fraction of the cost. First, save on food. Look for kids stay and eat free packages. You can also order groceries online and have them delivered to your room for far less than you pay at the hotel store. Second, plan ahead. That all-inclusive family resort may be wonderful, but it costs a lot more if you pay with plastic and carry the balance. A 6,000-dollar credit card bill at 18% interest will set you back nearly 8,500 if you only make minimum monthly payments. Suck away every month for your next vacation so it's paid off before you go. Finally, be flexible on your destination. Online travel sites like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, and Cheaptickets offer last minute vacation packages that can save you big. Remember, vacations are a great way to reconnect with your loved ones, but there's that much sweeter when you don't come with debt.
-How do you get a brand name college degree for less than a sticker price? The answer of course is ingenuity. College-bound kids can save a bundle if they work the system smart. First, consider community college. You can reduce your tuition by tens of thousands of dollars by doing your core curriculum at a budget-friendly community college and transfer into a four-year school during your junior year. Second, spend your summers on your studies. The best way to cut college cost is to graduate as quickly as possible. Take summer classes at your local community college for extra credits that are a fraction of the cost. Finally, tap free mine. Always apply for every grant and scholarship for which you're eligible. Many are need-based, but others are earmarked for a specific demographic. Search online using databases like fastweb.com and scholarships.com. With tuition cost rising at twice the rate of inflation, a little resourcefulness can at least take the sting our of your future student loans.