The best way to save money is to simply stop spending. But if you’re like most of us, this savings method is not as simple as it may seem. In fact, for many, it’s plain impossible. So if you’re finding it more and more difficult to stash away some extra cash, here are five ways to rack up some real savings.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
What do birthdays, anniversaries and holidays have in common? Besides being gift-giving opportunities, they usually occur on the same day each year. If you wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping, or buy your sister’s birthday gift, chances are you’ll spend more money. But if you plan ahead, you can save by comparing prices between stores and product brands. You can also ask retailers when they’re planning the next big sale and then make the most of it.
2. Leave the kids at home.
Kids often suffer from the “gimmies.” Most parents who take their kids grocery shopping will admit to spending ten to fifteen dollars more than expected on items their kids want but don’t really need. Young children, who are more likely to fuss in the store, may cause parents to rush without taking enough time to comparison shop or sort through coupons.
3. Shop off-season.
Picture this: the blizzard of ’97 dumps a foot of snow on your house earlier than expected. If you failed to see winter coming, then you may need to rush out and buy the first snow blower you see and pay a lot more in the process. Large household items, like snow blowers, air conditioners and lawn mowers, often are much less expensive when purchased at the end of the season. This way, you can take time to research the models that are best suited to your needs and wallets.
4. Rethink your spending habits.
It’s hard to resist that spending urge, but you can still spend smart and save. Let’s say you need a new suit for work. If you’re a smart shopper, you’ll shop at an outlet mall or a department store sale. You’ll still buy a nice outfit, but you’ll get more for your money by rethinking how and where you shop.
5. Pay with cash or don’t buy at all.
Can you pass the smart spender test? Take one week and pay cash for everything, then track your expenses. You’ll be amazed by how much you spend on impromptu lunches at work, entertainment, and even car expenses and clothing purchases. Most consumers confess that when using credit cards, it feels like they’re not spending real cash. By simply paying cash instead of using credit, you’ll start to consider your purchases more carefully.
Smart spending strategies like comparison shopping, using coupons, shopping at outlets and department store sales; will really start to make “cents” when you pay with cash.