Face it: We all know we CAN and probably SHOULD live on less. But that image we've got of ourselves in financial bliss often seems like a pipe dream.
Think of it in the same way you do (or should) exercise or healthy living. If your final goal is to look like a cover model for Fitness magazine, great. But if you make that your only goal, you'll likely fail. You must set intermediate goals. Baby steps, if you will. Here are eight (relatively) easy ways to save money every day.
Not the babiest of the baby steps, but fundamental. Know clearly what your expenses are. List your monthly bills, grocery lists, etc., and how they coincide with your income checks. Not knowing where you are financially makes it much easier to rationalize financial splurges. If you know you can't afford something, it will be that much harder to buy, and you will be that much more at peace.
Unplug Your Appliances
Electrical appliances suck energy even when they are turned off. This is true even for such small items as cell phone chargers and toasters. When you leave town, unplug even more-used appliances. You can always reset the clock on your microwave later.
Plan Your Meals
Before you go grocery shopping, plan a menu for the week. Buy the things you need. Resist the urge to buy a serving of pizza pockets for $4 when you could easily use the same amount to make a pasta dish that serves four. Eating in is cheaper than eating out. Think you can't cook? Find a "For Dummies" book at the library!
Pay Less for Hot Water
Your water heater fares better than a coal-fired stove and a pail of water, but it isn't the most efficient appliance in the house. Water heaters come internally insulated, but you can save considerable dollars by going to your hardware store and buying it a special blanket. Also, depending on who has tinkered with your heater, it may be set too high. All heaters have temperature gauges on the sides (often behind a panel). Set the temperature to 130 (lower temperatures in the tank encourage bacteria growth).
Don't pound the gas pedal when the light turns green. Take it easy on the interstate; especially at higher speeds, every mile per hour faster you drive costs you. Besides the wear and tear you will save your vehicle by driving gently, which translates into mechanics' bills, you'll spend less on gas. Investigate opportunities for public transit in your area. Walk a half mile to the corner shop instead of conducting that stop-go routine you hate when driving there. Ride a bike, or carpool!
Don't Fear the Weather
When a heatwave strikes your town, no one will pooh-pooh you turning on the A/C. When you wake up in the morning and the glass of water on your bedside table has frozen, it may be time to turn on the heat. But your house does not need to be 65 degrees in the summer, 79 in the winter. If you get hot, use low-energy fans and light clothing. If you get cold, try blankets and sweaters.
Take Up New Hobbies
Do you kill time surfing the internet or watching movies? Unplug the TV, the DVD player, and the computer. Go outside, exercise, read a book, write a letter or story, learn to knit or crochet, take up cross-stitch. There is always something else you can enjoy doing. One hobby you try is to learn investing and trading. There are fun ways of doing this such as researching the stock market or finding the best forex trading platform from resources online.
Stop Using Credit
This one might be hard. But think of it this way: Using credit is spending money you don't have. Be honest: How many of us are putting Cheez-Its and DVDs on our credit cards, as opposed to, say, prescriptions? Chances are, credit is encouraging us to make unwise financial decisions. Know what you have, and spend only it.
Here's a bonus tip: It hurts to save now. You'll love it later.