Sunday, February 22, 2009

Save Money Tips

How to save money is the question on many people's lips and I am not surprised. Saving money is the new black for a whole generation. Not even the parents of the current 20-somethings know how to save money - so why would their kids. For really money saving tips we have to step a whole lot further into the past - grandparents who survived the last depression -the one in the 1930's knew how to save money in tough economic times and that knowledge needs to be reclaimed for a new generation.

Wasted not want not, may not be what you want to hear: in fact its a totally new concept to many young people trying to work out where the money is going! The emphasis is usually on increasing income - but unless you earnings are very,very low - its much easier to save money and consider your spending rather than increasing your earnings - by a payrise or taking on another job - if you can get one.

You can save money in all aspects of your life - there has been a lot of talk recently about saving money on gas - but that's a bit out of fashion now that the price of oil has dropped again. Saving money really starts at a more basic level than that.

Think about what you spend most your money on - some items in your budget are harder to trim than others. Saving money on your mortgage or rent payments can be difficult. The bank may not want to re-negotiate your fees and interest rates. But some items in your budget you really do control. There is an ad on TV recently where I live - its touting a health insurance fund and suggesting that its easier to same $400 and swap to their product than just not buy clothes for a year. Well in my opinion this is just not true. Unless you are a growing child, or a serious yo-yo dieter as an adult - you can probably not buy clothes for a year- and not even have anything wear out! I don't buy expensive brand names or quality clothing but most items will still last 6 months being worn every second or third day - which I do when I travel. Given the size of most people's wardrobes - quite buying clothes now - and you will definitly save quite a lot of money.

Saving money is a bit like dieting - don't stop spending money entirely - but become mindful of what you are spending it on. That's what younger people who have never gone through hard times need to learn. Its the money you spend without thinking about which is the easiest thing to save money on.

Saving money on the mindless spending that we all do because every one does is the easiest way to start getting your budget under control. Do you need to have all those expensive lunches and fancy clothes just to look good in the office? Are you valuable in terms of your talents and abilities or how you look or how fancy a restaurant you go to lunch to?

The trouble with saving money is that it has been out of fashion for so long that people really have no idea how to go about it! Remember those old saying - a stitch in time saves nine- they need updating "losing a button is not a good recent to throw the garment out!" Many people think they are cooking from scratch if they assemble their own burger using a frozen pattie.

Step back a bit - what are the basic components and will you save money buying them not the end product - to which the answer is almost always yes. This is just not about substituting takeways for homemade burgers - but actually making the pattie and the sauce. Its not that hard really but in some areas people have lost the skills.

For somethings too it may not actually save you money. Imported clothing is so cheap now that to buy a sewing machine and to learn to sew may not be economical. You may be paying more for the sewing notions and fabric than you would for the completed garment.

For cooking too many people don't understand what they do and don't need. You don't need self-raising flour - buy regular and add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to every cup of flour. Pasta source- its just tomatoes and spices - though sometimes its cheaper to buy canned tomatoes rather than fresh - its never cheaper to buy pasta sauce than canned tomatoes and tomato paste! And don't get me started about buying cake and cookie mix rather than flour sugar and water - those are the basics - stick to those and you will save lots and lots of money on groceries!

Check out what costs the most in your shopping basket -invariably its the highly processed treats: cookies, snacks, ice cream. Save money on your grocery shopping and you will save your health and waistline too!

Saving money on auto costs and transport can be tricky too. Taking public transit may save you money - but not always - sometimes car-pooling is a lot cheaper way to go. Downsizing your car may make you feel all enviromentally friendly- but it you may not actually save money with a smaller car. In fact some hybrid cars will not only not save you money they won't even save the environment - the batteries are a bigger enviromental nightmare than oil! Instead save money on gas by getting your car tuned regularly and don't carry unecessary weight in the back. Don't speed, drive at constant, moderate speed, turn the a/c off. These tips will all help you to save money on gas and much faster rate than going further into debt and buyign a new car!

How to get control of your budget and save money is all about taking control of your life and becoming a thoughtful consumer. I'm not advocate of totally frugal living- it doesn't sound much fun at all not to take vacations or never eat at a good restaraunt - to me those things are important to my lifestyle and my happiness. However what brand of clothes I buy or whether I buy my groceries depending on what's on special - makes no difference to my lifestyle - it just makes a difference to how much money I have left at the end of the week to spend on what I really want in my life.

Learing to save money is a way to get control of your life. Stop making your shopping choices based on what the advertisers tell you to and instead learn to make choices which make you happier - rather than the advertisers!

The best ways to save money is to become aware of where you money goes. I know writing it all down for a week or two is raal drag -but its one of the best ways to save money out there! Saving money on the stuff that doesn't matter to you is painless. Now I am not great fan of frugal living: never going out for a meal or going on vacation would make my life miserable. Saving money on clothes and groceries, on hte other hand is really, realy easy for me cause I really don't care about what I look like or whether I use expensive jam or cheap stuff! Saving money on drink is important to me - I drink at home rather than down the pub - or make my own beer - but giving up drinking is not an option for me.

Its all about finding that way which makes you most comfortable about saving money. Saving money is just like dieting - you can't expect to succeed if you set yourself unrealistic goals. A strict budget will fail in just the same way that a strict diet will - its not fun or realistic. You may have a budget of $500 for car repairs -but if you car stops - you need it repaired - regardless of what that will do to your budget. The trick is to have enough slack in a budget to make it workable. That's probably my top tip for saving money - be kind to yourself. People search the internet for the "top 10 tips to save money" " or best 15 ways to save money" - but at the end of the day there are few specific tips which will save all of us long-term the money that we want. After all I don't live in the US - in my country I generally save money on insurance by not having any. Yes I have no health insurance - now that would be crazy in the US - but my country has reasonable standards of public health care and I am reasonably healthy so I sleep at night snd save what, for me, is a unnecessary expense which I can eliminate.

If you save money sensibly it gives you a the freedom to have a better life. Spending all you earn, regardless of your income is the trap of the middle classes. Do you know that you should have savings equivalent to 3 month's expenses on hand - do you? Few people do - because their expenses are so damme high. Cut those expenses down by a 1/3 and guels what you suddenly have freedom: freedom to live better by getting out of the job you hate and following your passion even though it might pay significantly less than you are used to!

I like to take long,long holidays - to me 6 months is a nice break - and normally I spend less on vacation than I do at home because I use all my tricks to save money on travel. A lot of travel is very expensive because its about packing in a lot of stuff into a few days - take a slow trip and in most of the world your daily expenses will be less than your at-home budget. If you long to be free and make money from passion or just work at home with your family then getting control of you spending is the important first step.

Get used to saving money on a routine basis - and then you have control of your life. The current recession means that people are more aware of saving money and spending less- bu the reality is that if they continue to do this when the good times return -they are less dependent on the great dollar and the job that gives that to them. The extreme is going off-grid and living a self-sufficient frugal lifestyle - but even if you don't want to do that you can have a better life by spending less, a lot less! Pay yourself first and it starts from there you know.