You mean well. You want to start saving; paying off debts; or just get by without running out of money three days before pay day. But you just have so many needs! And your spare cash just seems to disappear. What to do?
Let's take a closer look at your spending habits -- a really close look. Pull out a shopping list from a recent grocery store run; and then pull out your receipt. Let's get out our checklist and evaluate the things that could be better left on the shelves, in the bins, at the coffeeshop ...
Trying to save money? Look first to these seven items
I know a good glass of wine is hard to resist, but some serious cash can be consumed along with the tannins. Even though I've never been a heavy drinker, in the times in my life when I was drinking a few glasses of wine with dinner most nights, a good 25% or more of my grocery budget went to alcohol -- to the tune of $1000 a year. Can you imagine what that would be earning in an IRA right now?
It may be a cliche, but it's true: at $2.75 to $4.50 apiece, lattes and other fancy coffee drinks are as pricey as they come. Add to that the super-generous tip left by most big spenders like yourself (yeah, I know you!) and you're racking up an expense of over $100 a month, even if you only get one latte a day. How about a fancy coffee drink for special occasions, and learn the tricks of brewing great beans at home the rest of the month?
Want to remember this moment, at the fair, on that special trip to the amusement park, when you went on a business trip to Chicago and wanted your kids to remember you still loved 'em? Take a picture. Every time my husband and I go back through our receipts from a trip, the ones we rue most are the fleeting souvenirs, usually long-since relegated to the trash bin or the give-away pile. Memories were meant to be remembered -- not tossed in the garbage.
It may be fun to let your kids pick out their own cereal, but you get a lot less bang for your buck -- not to mention, adding unneeded packaging to the waste stream. Don't do it!
Vitamins + Water. Brilliant, right? You get your water, you get your vitamins...uh-uh. It would be tons cheaper to just buy a bottle of multi-vitamins, and get your water from the tap. In most cities, the tap water is just as healthy as bottled water -- if not better. Just remember to run the water for a few minutes if you live in an older house. Even if you get the priciest multivitamins, you'll save $30 or $40 a month off a one-bottle-a-day habit.
When you buy gift cards (for yourself too!), not only are you giving the establishment an interest-free loan for an unforeseen amount of time, you're also giving the company free money, too -- in nearly every case, you won't be able to get your small change back as cash, and you can never find anything on which to spend 71 cents. What's more, about 10% of gift cards are *never* spent; wouldn't you have rather put that in your bank account and invited your friend out for a latte, instead?
Going to the farmer's market to save money? Bring a bottle of water along with -- you'll spend your money on the good stuff (veggies! baked goods! dairy-fresh cheese!) and save your diet, too.