By Robert Stitt
It’s no fun living paycheck to paycheck. You have probably read dozens of articles on creating budgets, cutting back on the trips to the salon, forgoing that designer coffee, and so forth. Yet, you are still strapped for cash. If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to get creative in your quest to cut back on expenses and save some money. Not all are fun or easy to do, but they can go a long way in easing your financial burden.
- Get rid of your car. Next to student loans and your house or apartment, your vehicle is likely the largest bill you have. On average, that monthly expense runs several hundreds of dollars each month. By selling your car and using the money to pay off your debts, you can come out way ahead. And how to get around? Use a bike, public transportation, and when you absolutely need a car, try ZipCar or Uber. Not only will you save money each month, but you might get in better shape while you’re at it. If you absolutely, positively can’t do without your car, at least try carpooling and save some money on gas.
- Consolidate your loans. There are numerous sites such as Lending Club, Prosper, and New Egg that will combine your credit cards, loans, and such into one payment that will likely have a lower interest rate than what you are currently paying. The single payment will probably be smaller than the combined minimum payments of the debts you consolidate as well.
- Change the way you shop. This doesn’t mean that you cannot wear designer clothing, it just means that you need to stop buying them new. Consider shopping at the local thrift, consignment, or discount store. You may have to spend a little more time searching for the clothes you want, but when you find them, you will have saved a fortune. You should also consider making a list of the clothing that you want and watch for the huge name brand sales that most mega-grocery stores run three to four times each year. With food, consider buying the store brands. Consumer reports and other rating sites have consistently supported the idea that with a few exceptions, store brands are packaged in the same plants as name brand food and have the same quality. The only differences are the labels and the prices.
- Go lower tech. If you are serious about saving money, get serious about evaluating how much you need your current high-tech phone. The reality is that if you are not a using all the bells and whistles on your phone (and almost nobody does) you can save a lot of money by getting a cheaper one with a less expensive plan. You might even consider going with a pre-paid plan from Cricket or TracFone.
- Change your hot water heater temperature. According to The Network Journal, heating your water can add up to nearly 15 percent of your monthly energy costs. To save money, lower “your temperature to about 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and put on a water heater blanket to retain heat. For further savings, insulate your hot water pipes.”
These ideas are not going to make you rich, but they could make the difference between making your monthly payments and falling further into debt.