Easy Ways to Save Money Part II

January 29, 2013

Photo by kenteegardin, via Flickr

In the post, "Easy Ways to Save Money Part I," I gave you 5 ways you could save money with almost no effort. Well, what good are tips if they can’t be effectively used by the average person?

To prove that those 5 tips will actually save you cold hard cash, here are my examples of how I put them to good use.

1)  E-Coupons I needed to pick up some items for a family breakfast over the weekend. Here is what I got and the amount I saved with an e-coupon for each item:

  • Granola Bars: -$.50.
  • Pancake mix: -$.50.
  • Vegetable oil: -$.50.
  • Eggs: -$1.00.
  • Shredded Cheese: -$.50.
  • Paper plates: -$2.00.
  • Blueberries (1 pint): -$.50.
  • Orange Juice: -$.50.

Total e-coupon savings = $6.00. I know $6.00 doesn’t seem like a lot, but it equated to a savings of about 20% (total bill was around $25). If you could average a 20% savings on each grocery bill, you could save hundreds of dollars a year. And all I had to do was click a few buttons and then go shopping as usual.

Online Coupon Codes: On occasion, I will design party invitations for my family and friends. I never charge for my time, but sometimes printing and shipping can be pricey.  So, I always try to get the best deals whenever I print something. Using Current Codes, I was able to find a coupon code for 50% off! For a set of 100 invitations that would have cost $50 to print, I only had to pay $25.

2)  Automatic Savings Programs – I’ve actually been taking advantage of my bank’s automatic savings program for several years now.  Each month, $25 gets automatically transferred from my checking account to my savings account. After I filled out the initial paperwork, there was nothing else I needed to do.  I don’t even notice the transfer each month.  However, when a large expense pops up unexpectedly, the first thing I do is look to my savings account and I’m relieved that there is a nice cushion there for me to draw from.

3)  Empty Your Pockets – Personally, I don’t use cash that often and, admittedly, any leftover change I do have seems to mysteriously make its way to the vending machine. However, my husband has been emptying his pockets every day into a (medium-size) change jar for years. Once every three months or so, we exchange the coins for bills.  On average, a jar full of coins produces roughly $65 which we immediately deposit into our savings account.

4)  Stop Paying for Things You Don’t Use or Need – I am, undoubtedly, a “theatre person,” so I see a lot of shows. Many theatres employ a third-party vendor to handle their online ticketing systems.  This results in all sorts of added fees on top of the ticket price. For a recent production of Noises Off, there was an outrageous $8 fee per ticket to order online. Instead of dishing out the extra dough, I called the box office, purchased my tickets over the phone, and had the tickets waiting for me at will call. A quick phone call saved me $16 on two tickets.

5)  Up Your 401(k) Contributions – This one is a little harder to calculate since the big payoff will happen many years from now.  However, increasing my 401(k) contributions even just 1% hardly makes a dent in my take-home pay because while I’m putting a little more in my retirement account, I am also saving on my income taxes as 401(k) contributions are pre-tax deductions. There are many online calculators available (like this one from Bankrate.com) to help you determine just how much an increase in your contributions will impact your paycheck and your retirement account.  For many, a simple increase of 1% may provide tens of thousands more dollars for retirement.

In total, doing these steps saved me $137 (not including 401(k) savings) and took only about 15 minutes of my time.  If you can employ these tactics on an ongoing basis, your savings could certainly stack up!