Just like the Connors on Roseanne, most families are looking for ways to spend less so that they can pay off debt and eventually build a savings account. In fact, it’s one of the top New Year’s resolutions for most people. But like most resolutions, it’s not an easy one to keep. Before you throw in the towel, check out these tips from Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. You’ll be counting your extra cash in no time!
#1: Dine out less.
Dining out regularly eats into your budget to the tune of $200 per month. While you don’t have to give up date nights or family dinners out completely, cooking at home more often will save money. You can also turn it into a fun bonding experience by getting your spouse and kids involved in the prep and cooking.
#2: Trim salon visits.
Whether you dye your hair at home, give yourself mani-pedis, or simply let your hair grow out a little longer to stretch time between visits, try to keep your trips to the salon to a minimum. You don’t have to give up all of your “me time”—cutting out or back on just one service should be enough to help with your spending.
#3: Movie night alternatives.
Skip the $5 movie from you cable provider for a $1 Redbox rental, or get your cinema fix via online streaming with Hulu. You can also pick up free DVDs at your local library, or swap movies you own with friends for something new to watch.
#4: Nix dry cleaning.
Simply use at-home dry-cleaning kits ($13 for 6 pouches), which freshen up your clothes in the dryer instantly. You might also want to think about avoiding dry clean only garments in the future if possible.
#5: Use your tax refund wisely.
The average tax refund in 2011 was nearly $3,000. If you’re fortunate enough to receive that kind of sum again this year, open a high-interest savings account and deposit the refund immediately. Then, review the W4 you have on file with your employer and adjust your withholding. You don’t want to miss out on an extra $250 of income each month going forward.
#6: Use coupons.
Coupons aren’t just for supermarkets. These days, you can find coupons for just about anything these days: spa services, restaurants, travel and movie theater outings (just to name a few). Sign up for retailer newsletters, follow brands on Facebook or Twitter, access digital coupons from apps like Coupon Sherpa.
#7: Buy discount gift cards.
You can find gift cards for less than face value at sites like Giftcardgranny.com. Purchase gift cards to use during everyday shopping trips to cut the overall cost. One mom challenged herself to using discount gift cards for most purchases and saved over $200 in one month.
#8: Never pay for shipping.
When shopping online, look for retailers who offer free shipping and free returns (you can also look for codes from FreeShipping.org). And don’t forget Free Shipping Day is Monday, December 17.
#9: Shop with a basket.
You are less likely to fill a small basket with unnecessary items (who wants to carry all of that around?) so you’ll cut back on impulse buys.
#10: Don’t pay for convenience.
Larger slabs of meat are less expensive than those that are already preformed into hamburger patties or cut into perfect skewer pieces. The same goes for produce, so always buy the whole produce to save nearly 40% compared to those that are sliced, diced and chopped.