Photo by: Getty ImagesBy Matthew Perry
Stretch your dollar even further with these innovative tips. Photo by Getty Images.
1. Talk to your honey.
You can't save when you're out of sync with your husband. Put a monthly money chat on the calendar so you and your spouse can accomplish key goals. Instead of squabbling over whether to save for a new sofa or a vacation (that will get you nowhere), spend the time on strategies for how to save for something you both want.
Related: Discover the 9 fights to have with your husband.
2. Be a borrower.
Why shell out for a mower, power drill or kayak if you can rent or borrow one? Community sites like ShareSomeSugar.com help connect folks who need big-ticket items with people willing to rent or lend them.
3. "Like" your bank.
On Facebook, that is, and tell your friends to do the same. Many banks tout "refer-a-friend" perks, as well as award points that can be applied to purchases. Discover offers $50 for referrals through Facebook, and Chase even gave away money to Facebook users who "liked" them.
4. Buy old.
Upgrading your computer? Opt for a dealer-certified refurbished model. A used MacBook Air from Apple often runs around $400 less than a new model. Amazon and Newegg are also good bets for used electronics. Just make sure your purchase comes with a manufacturer's warranty.
Your beloved $7 bottle of Merlot is sold for $25 at the local bistro, so reduce the cost of date nights by frequenting BYOB places (check out BYOBGuide.com for bottle-friendly restaurants in your area, or just call ahead). Even with the $5 corkage fee some places might charge, you'll still come out ahead when the check arrives.
Related: Check out these 10 things you didn't know you could rent.
6. Thwart your DNA.
Human beings aren't programmed to save, according to extensive behavioral research. Combat your Stone Age instincts to consume all available resources (that is, to go on a massive shopping spree) by putting your savings where you can't access it. FDIC-insured online ING Direct has no branches and takes two business days to transfer money to your checking account, which gives you time to rethink your cavewoman impulses. You could also open a savings account but say no to an ATM card.
7. Benefit from your job.
The vast majority of big companies offer flexible spending accounts, yet less than 25% of eligible workers opt into FSAs-leaving all kinds of money on the table. Not only does your FSA help you pay for health needs that range from ordinary (annual checkups) to unorthodox (Lasik surgery), but the money you put into your FSA isn't taxed. That's like having 25% or 30% more to spend.
8. Try a need-only diet.
Over seven days, stick to buying only strict necessities and pass up things like gum or that caffe latte, then pocket your savings. You don't have to make a radical change-just try it and watch for a sweet savings bump. If you survive the week, go for two!
9. Fortify yourself.
If you're blowing $25 on takeout each week because there's no plan of action in the kitchen, sign up for the weekly Six O'Clock Scramble menu (TheScramble.com), which provides seven days' worth of recipes and a shopping list for the ingredients. Membership costs as little as $3 a month; meanwhile, many Scramble subscribers report that they're saving 20% to 25% on their grocery bills because they're better organized.
10. Don't touch.
Stores are filled with items begging to be handled-but it's best to resist the urge. One study found that the longer you hold something, the greater your desire to own it-and the more you are willing to pay for it. Worse, those possessive feelings kick in after a mere 30 seconds of holding the item. Keep your hands in your pockets unless you're reaching for something on your list.
11. Sloooow down.
The Department of Energy estimates that every 5 mph over 60 that you drive costs you an extra 64¢ for every gallon of gas in your tank. Speeding tickets are pricey, too, so take your lead foot off the pedal!
12. Buddy up.
Just as a training partner can help you get fit, studies show that a savings pal can keep you on a healthy financial track. If you don't have one, services like Payoff.com and PiggyMojo.com allow you to set goals and receive encouraging texts when you hold off on impulse buys.
13. Supersize your refund.
Next tax season, enlist Uncle Sam to help you save. Use IRS Form 8888 and funnel your refund into interest-bearing U.S. savings bonds (the instructions come with the form). The interest rate for I bonds, as they're called, is currently 2.20%-higher than what your bank offers and just as secure. You can stash your money for up to 30 years or cash out before that if you need to. You can even give I bonds as a gift. Simply leave the money alone and watch $1,000 turn into $1,115 in five years and $1,243 in 10.
14. Save more on DIY.
You love to give friends and family your knitted scarves at Christmas, but this season, try something different to make and give away. CraftBits.com/Recycled-Crafts has instructions for beautiful projects made from everyday objects like magazine pages and soda cans.
15. Invest in a high-tech thermostat.
Programmable thermostats now come with wireless connectivity and mobile apps. They're not cheap-the Nest Learning Thermostat retails for $24-but you can install many of them yourself. These smart thermostats can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling bills, and since the average home costs close to $2,000 a year to heat and cool, it pays for itself within that time.
16. Be timely.
Credit card late fees are typically around $25 a month, so call your card provider to set your own due date to a time that's convenient for you. That way, the bill isn't due when money is short, and you can pay all your bills at a sitting without one slipping through the cracks. Or say sayonara to the big boys and use a card from your community bank or credit union, many of which charge only between $10 to $15 in fees (just make sure there's no annual fee).
17. Eat everything you pay for.
The average family throws out 14% of its food purchases-like extra ingredients and items that go bad before they are used. That's tossing more than $70 of a $500 food budget. Use a site like SuperCook.com to find uses for spare celery, cheese, carrots, cooked chicken, even that lonely banana in the fruit bowl. You will eat better-and save.
18. Think outside of eBay.
Just about everyone has clutter that could be turned into cash. Outgrown baby clothes? Thredup.com will pick them up, sell them and funnel your chunk of the profit through PayPal. A well-preserved set of Barbies? Try Keepio.com. NeverLikedItAnyway.com is where you can dump that ring your ex once gave you-and stash the money for something more meaningful.
Related: Discover 9 buys that are cheaper online.
19. Aim high.
If you didn't ask for a higher deductible on your home or car insurance, you're probably paying bigger premiums. Raising your home insurance deductible from $250 to $1,000 could save you between 10% and 25% on your payments-for instance, $200 a year on a policy for a $200,000 home.
20. Call your mother.
She'll be pleased when you tell her that bona fide PhD researchers have found that she was right all along: Shopping with a list does help you save. Thanks, Mom!
21. Divide and conquer.
Galia Gichon of Down-to-Earth Finance created a simple way to give yourself a weekly allowance for extras: 1) Tally up basic monthly expenses. 2) Add in the amount you want to save. 3) Subtract that total from your monthly income. 4) Divide the remaining amount by four.
22. Go the extra 1%.
Consider saving 1% more. Use The New York Times's "1% More Savings Calculator": If you earn $45,000 and save 5% per year in your 401(k), saving an extra 1% could net you an extra $6,490 in your nest egg over 10 years-or $18,580 more in 20.
23. Save your savings!
When University of Oxford prof Peter Tufano was studying saving habits, he uncovered a common mistake: "Many people, when they buy something on sale, count that money as saved-but they haven't actually saved it yet," he notes. So deposit it in a savings account. It will add up in no time.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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