According to USA.gov, saving money is the third most popular New Year’s resolution in 2009, right behind weight loss and reducing debt. Not surprisingly, many small business blogs started off the year by sharing some of their favorite money-saving tips. My favorite money-saving tips are those that don’t require any sacrifice on your part, either of needed materials, services, or time. Yes, I should probably re-negotiate my phone bill, but not everyone is good at haggling. Here are a few of my easy faves:
- Re-examine your monthly bills: are you using all the minutes on that cell phone plan? Do you pay to heat your entire home or office when you spend all day in just one room? Does your bank charge you a fee every month for not keeping a mimium balance? Take a look at your last few bills for gas, electricity, banking, phone and Internet service and make sure you are paying only for what you need. Maybe a bright task lamp and a small space heater would be more comfortable and cost effective than turning on all the overhead lights and cranking up the thermostat ten degrees. Maybe you don’t need to be paying for that text plan on your cell phone but you do need a better fit in your checking account.
- Use coupons: before you buy anything online, Google the website and the words “promotional code” or visit a site like RetailMeNot or CouponCabin to find relevant discounts for your order. These days you can save on almost every purchase, from office supplies to plane tickets.
- Purge: (see my previous post on The Great Purge) I’ll bet there’s a lot of crap in your home or office that you don’t want, need or use. Get rid of it–but DON’T throw it out. Donate it to a school, thrift store or other non-profit, or if its got some value, sell it online. Either way you’ll get money back, whether it’s cash, store credit or a tax write-off.
- Invite more people over. Rather than hanging out at bars or restaurants, eat, drink and socialize at your own house (or a friend’s). Our friends used to have a weekly ritual called the “Triple D,” which involved dinner, drinks and dessert at a neighborhood restaurant. This got really expensive, really fast, and was phased out in favor of a new ritual, “Family Dinner,” in which each week one of us hosts everyone else for dinner. Those who don’t cook all pitch in to do the clean-up. It’s usually better food, and it costs a whole lot less.