With the economy still in a slump and jobs hard to find, many families are looking for ways to cut back on expenses. Listed below are some of the tips we have been using at our house to save a little money on our every day expenses.
1. Cancel hard copy magazine subscriptions
I decided that the magazines I used to subscribe to really didn't have any articles where the information couldn't be found online these days for free, so I cancelled several magazine subscriptions. I've also stopped buying magazines at the grocery store checkout line. Each time I think about buying a $4 magazine at the checkout line because of some interesting article, I remind myself that:
a. If I type the topic of the article into the Google search bar I can probably find thousands, if not millions, of web sites with the same information that I can read online for free instead of paying $4.
b. I can borrow the same magazine, or an entire book on the subject, at my local library for free.
c. I can buy a whole book at the used bookstore for that same $4.
If I need something in hard copy to take to places like the airport, instead of magazines I just plan ahead and print off some article from the web or pack a couple of used books from thrift stores to take along on my trip.
By canceling three magazine subscriptions averaging $20 each per year, in one year that amounts to a savings of $60. In ten years that adds up to $600, plus interest, if we invest the savings each year.
2. Replace disposable products with reusable items
Consumer goods manufacturers love disposable items because it means customers have to keep coming back for more. We have been ingrained to use many disposable products as a way of life due to the influence of advertising on our lives. Yet today, with growing landfills and shrinking family incomes, the true cost of disposable items needs a closer look. One way I have been trying to personally cut down on the use of limited use goods has been to ask myself, "What would my grandmother or great grandmother have used instead?" Listed below are some changes to consider to save a little money and help the environment at the same time.
a. Using rechargeable batteries where appropriate. Though rechargeable batteries might start out a little more expensive than single use batteries, over the product lifetime one rechargeable may take the place of hundreds of single use batteries, saving both money and landfill space. In our house our main opportunity for savings has been trying to get our kids in the habit of using rechargeable batteries in their game consoles.
b. Using more washable dish cloths instead of paper towels.
c. Taking reusable shopping bags to the store. Some grocery stores give discounts to people who bring their own bags. Our local Trader Joe's gives out free raffle tickets to customers toting reusable shopping bags.
3. Pay Bills Online / Use Rewards Card for Expenses
We save on time and postage by paying all of our bills online. For as many bills as I can, I pay them using a cash back credit card. It isn't a lot of cash back for each bill, but over the year this method adds up to hundreds of dollars in "free money". (This tip only works if you pay your charge cards off on time and in full each month. Otherwise you will lose money due to interest charges and late fees. )
S. L. Simmons is a thrifty mom of two and the editor of Always Frugal. Visit her web site site and frugal blog for more money saving ideas.