Thursday Thirteen

With the hike in gas prices and the spiraling real estate market, saving money in any way possible seems to be on the minds of everyone these days. Saving money has also become a HUGE trend with celebrities donating millions to charity and the wealthy living on half their income because they can... whether you already live paycheck-to-paycheck or you have money to burn, there is nothing cool about wasting it!

So, this week's Thursday Thirteen is all about saving money and simple ways YOU can do it!

Thirteen (or 21!) Ways To Save Money:

1. Reduce your trash and recycle! You can get a huge discount requesting a smaller trash can from ACI and making a bigger effort to recycle as those blue and green trash cans are FREE and unlimited here in California!

2. Take the time to switch out all your light bulbs to the new, energy star savers. They are more expensive upfront but last up to 7 years and can save nearly $60/annually!

3. Stop buying bottled water and purchase a water pitcher or faucet attachment so you can refill your water supply yourself.

4. Combine your errands into 1-2 days a week and try not to drive your car 2-3 days a week (weekends for those of you who have to work during the week). Also, fill up your tank during the week as gas prices tend to go up on weekends! Try not to leave your engine idling when waiting in line at the car wash or the drive-thru and try to walk a bit more, you may be surprised at how close things are to you and how good it will feel to have 1-2 miles under your belt everyday!

5. Clip coupons!!! It takes 10 minutes and $1.50 on Sundays and you could end up saving close to $50 per month (on average!), if not more, depending on which products your family uses. Also, join a Coupon Train with friends and other families to share coupons that you mail twice a month.

6. Turn off those lights!!! Open up your blinds and your curtains to let in natural light during the day and don't use artificial light at all, until night time. Be sure to turn off your lights when you aren't in the room.

7. Buy in bulk and be sure to save those leftovers, they make great next-day lunches! Also, be sure to take advantage of "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" offers at stores; it may mean a larger than normal bill at the time but it's worth it if you will end up using it before it perishes, like pasta sauces, salad dressings, bread you can freeze, etc.

8. Shut down your computer and turn off the actual power source. Most people don't know how much power their computers pull, even when not in use so, be sure to turn them off completely, shut them down AND flip off that power strip to disconnect the electrical circuit. Things plugged in, even when turned off still draw power! Don't leave anything plugged in!

9. Don't throw things away! Take the time to host a garage sale every quarter or twice a year or check out local consignment shops. A few minutes of your time could really add up!

10. Siphon off $10+ every paycheck automatically into a savings account or set up direct deposit with your employer and you'll have a small (or large!) savings in no time. You probably won't even miss the money. :)

11. Check out Craig's List's "FREE" section, there are always people desperate to get rid of things and it's amazing what you can find and pick up! Craig's List is a great resource for selling your unwanting items and finding things, gently used, for 1/2 or 1/4 of the retail price. It's the best place, in my opinion, to find toys and gear for children! :)

12. Set up a monthly budget and stick to it! It's work to watch your money but it's worth knowing when and where it is at all times, watching your spending (or wasting!) trends and seeing how you can improve your bad (or good!) habits. It's easy to get carried away with the daily $4.00 latte's and $11.00 lunches out and those things add up each month!

13. Monitor all your accounts and always ask for promotional specials! One thing in particular: check your cell phone bill and be sure you are using all those minutes and features you are paying for and reduce your monthly minute rate plan if you have rollover minutes in excess of 2,000 as those will begin to expire. Also, ask yourself how important caller id is to you on your home phone as that could decrease your monthly phone bill by up to $25! Cancel any cable channels you just don't need and be sure to research competitors for better deals... it never hurts to ask!

14. Wash everything in cold water! There are fantastic detergents on the market to work with cold water and you'll save a ton in gas or electric bills from not having to heat up that water! Also, don't run your dryer for an hour to completely dry your clothes... dry until just damp and then, lay flat to dry.

15. Try to only run your dishwasher when completely full and turn off that "heat dry" feature, using a towel to wipe those dishes dry when the cycle is complete... a little elbow grease never hurt anyone!

16. Check out EBAY for magazine specials - most you can find for pennies each issue!

17. Evaluate your gym membership and whether you can get by without it, working out at home or taking a run around your neighborhood. It may even end up being cheaper to purchase some exercise equipment off Craig's List than continuing to pay your monthly dues.

18. With the mild weather here in the bay, there's no need to water your yard, garden or flowers every single day and you could save gallons of water watering only every other day. Also, try running room fans rather than your A/C all day long and if you need to use your A/C, keep it set at a comfortable 70 at night and 76 during the day... just a few degrees could save hundreds!

19. Recycle those empty ink cartridges and batteries rather than trowing them away and buying brand new ones!

20. When shopping, grab the cheaper, generic brands at places like Target and Safeway, especially for things that you aren't particular about like storage bags, trash bags, canned goods, condiments, and paper products.

21. Be sure you really are getting a good deal, a great deal, when shopping at bargain warehouses like Sam's Club and Costco... bigger doesn't always mean cheaper!

Shoot me an email with YOUR money savings tips!

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