10 Ways To Save Real Money

The champagne is dry and crusty, and all the hundred-dollar bills used to light cigars have crumbled into ash. It’s time to tighten our belts and get real about spending less and saving more. Here’s 10 ways to save some serious cash…

10. Got any bank fees? Ask the bank to waive one as a courtesy
Most banks will give you at least one courtesy fee waive per year, but they won’t do it unless you ask ‘em first.

9. Lower Your APR by threatening to switch to another credit card company
Try saying this: “I think I’ve been a good customer. I’d like to stay with you, but I really want you to lower the rate on my card. Can you help me?”

8. Use a 0% balance transfer to get a reprieve from credit card interest for a few months
Many credit card companies offer 0% balance transfer deals where you can move your balance from another company’s card to theirs, and enjoy 0% APR for a few months. Be careful to read all the rules though, because if you break some of them, you can shoot back up to your old rate or higher. Also the 0% is for a limited time, so mark your calendar and be prepared to shift your funds again.

7. Lower your cable bill by threatening to cancel
Many of our readers have had success with this one. Mention competing offers you’ve researched and ask for them to give you a reason to stick around.

6. Get your spending under control so you’re paying off your credit card in full every month, and avoid paying extra interest
If you carrying a balance and paying finance charges on it, it amounts to an extra tax on everything you purchased. Why should you pay someone for your own money?

5. Pack your own lunch, make your own coffee, cook at home
Eating out is expensive, and those lattes add up. Rediscover the joy of cooking and you’ll feel enriched in more ways than just your pocketbook.

4. Adjust your tax withholdings so you’re not giving the IRS an interest-free loan
If you get a big ol rebate from the IRS, you may be claiming too few withholdings. I’m sure you know many better things to do with that money throughout the year than the IRS does. Here’s how to do it.

3. Take advantage of new low interest rates by refinancing your home to a lower rate
Pay a little less each month and that can add up to several thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan.

2. Switch to paying for most things in cash only…
Money hurts more. Pay for things in physical cash and you may find yourself making better purchase decisions.
…And then put all your pocket change in a piggy bank
The piggy bank can now become your Wii fund, or your vacation fund, or your new wardrobe fund. When it gets full, take it to Commerce Bank’s Penny Arcade and cash it in for free.

1. Make a budget
Simply monitoring your money forces you to be wiser with how you use it. I consider the personal budget the financial dashboard to making sure I’m master of my money instead of the other way around. Here’s a few tools to get you started:

Consumerist’s 9-Step Beginner’s Budget
An excel sheet I made that does the job rather well, if I may say so myself.
The Zero Based Budget
The idea behind it is that every single dollar you earn will get allocated to a specific category. There is no money sloshing around, you have total mastery over all of your money.
How To Budget With An Irregular Income
Most budgets assume a steady paycheck, but if your income comes in spurts, here’s a great way to still keep your bills paid and your money under control.
8 Free Personal Finance Management Programs (And 4 Pay Ones)
A roundup of Consumerist reader’s favorite budget tools.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. EWGF says:

    I’ve honestly been deciding about a piggy bank myself (doing everything else on the list).

    Are banks willing to accept that many pennies? I literally have sacks of them.

  2. Underpants Gnome says:

    I second #5. I started making my own coffee and lunch, and trips to the ATM are down from weekly to closer to monthly.
    Scary part is that my grocery bill didn’t even go up that much, since less food gets thrown away now.

  3. Womblebug says:

    @EWGF: Only if you roll them, most of the time. Or you can use a CoinStar machine, if you’re willing to pay them a cut. A big cut, IMO. Better to use TV time to roll them.

  4. SilberDrachi says:

    haha i have done the cable one before, this last time with WOW i was able to get upgraded to digital and they knocked $5 off the OLD bill… so i was paying about $30 less than the normal price

  5. haimtime says:

    Commerce Bank’s penny arcade is open to all. You do not need to have an account.

  6. bohemian says:

    Some banks will take & count pennies for you for free. Some won’t even do it anymore and some will only do it if you have an account.

  7. KD17 says:

    I put all my change in a 5 gallon water jug and carry it into the bank when it’s full.

    They always seem like I ruined their day but thats there problem.

  8. j03m0mma says:

    @Underpants Gnome: And another great Idea to take advantage of that cash and seeing it is pay yourself into your savings account what you would normally spend on Lunch, coffee, or eating out everytime you make your own coffee, or bring your lunch to work.

  9. dragonfire81 says:

    I disagree with only using cash. I prefer to do mainly debit because if there is Cash in my wallet, it’s too tempting to spend.

  10. Gev says:

    @Womblebug: Some CoinStar machines will give out “Gift Cards” (for lack of a better term) to Amazon and other online retailers with no cut.

    At least I think they still do this.

  11. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @dragonfire81:
    I think what they mean there is to not use credit. A debit card is basically cash, since it comes right out of your bank account.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    @radleyas: A debit card is better than a credit card for this purpose, but no, I’m really talking about using cold hard physical cash.

  13. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @Ben Popken:

    Bah, I’ll pass then! I hate carrying cash. I like using a debit card, as it’s basically cash, and allows me to keep better track of my purchases.

  14. meadandale says:

    So, I’m looking at this list and thinking “Almost none of this applies to me”.

    See, I already have $0 balances on all my credit cards and I already pay cash for everything.

    I already make coffee at home and bring my own breakfast to work–I’ve started making rather than buying lunches more frequently and I’ve recently started cooking more at home for dinner–although I have to tell you, with as high as food prices are getting in the grocery store, eating out isn’t as expensive as it seems.

  15. SuperSally says:

    I don’t know if this applies to everyone, obviously food prices vary from state to state, but here in Ky we grow tobacco, and horses and that’s about it. Consequently our food prices are ridiculous. Farmer’s Markets are astronomical. After the last few grocery trips I’ve come to the conclusion that eating out is almost dead even with cooking at home–no kidding.

  16. jodles says:

    @EWGF: tom green tried to pay for stuff with buckets of pennies; didn’t go over too well!

  17. SuperSally says:

    @Ben Popken: You’re crazy. A debit card I can keep up with–actual physical cash disappears so fast it’s not funny.

  18. lyfehacka says:

    I totally disagree on the Debit Card thing.

    A debit card takes the worst of cash and credit cards and subtracts the best.

    So you lose the “I see it physically vanishing from my wallet, and I might therefore spend less” or “I don’t have the cash with me so I will defer the purchase” that are the “advantages” of cash (and I say advantages in quotes because they’re really drawbacks that one might see as advantages if one can’t control their urge to spend).

    At the same time a Debit card doesn’t have the major benefits of a Credit Card – it doesn’t give you cashback (I get 5% for groceries… which is REAL MONEY) … in fact I can pay for one full month’s worth of groceries and gas with one year’s worth of Cashback rewards… yes you cash-spending folks read that again… by paying for EVERYTHING with my Amex Blue the result is that the REST OF YOU (in the end consumers are the ones who pay for all those perks) are buying my groceries, gas (and some of the Christmas presents) in December. You also don’t improve your credit history, you dont’ get to manage your cash-flow with an interest-free float, and in most cases you miss out on iron-clad liability protection (even where liability protection exists on your debit card you WILL initially deal with the money being siphoned from your account with all the possible consequences that can have), many warranty extensions etc.

    Bottom line: For most people, it is definitelly financially UNWISE to use a Debit card

  19. Chongo says:

    Its tough getting the balance transfer thing going. I had accrued my debt when I had good credit, so now if I want a balance transfer I can only get a small credit limit, which then would add yet another monthly payment. ARggg if ONLY I could just get one big fat credit card to transfer EVERYTHING to… I have managed to become responsible in my spending and paying bills but now its just tedious!

  20. Chongo says:

    Also, the CASH thing… I use MINT and the whole cash thing does not get tracked as easily.

  21. Vroomtrap says:

    With the savings rate being negative, I think people need 10 ways to MAKE REAL MONEY. Saving money is an illusion.

  22. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @lyfehacka:

    I dunno. Both debit cards I have are visa extra rewards cards. Every purchase I make earns me money. You don’t have to have a credit card to get one of the rewards programs.

  23. Laffy Daffy says:

    I’ve been doing the piggy bank for years, only in my case the bank is a giant green Crayola crayon. Every night I dump my change into the giant crayon. When it gets so full that the center of gravity shifts and the crayon tips over, I take it to the bank and cash out. That process takes 6 to 9 months, with $180 to about $215 that goes for something unbudgeted and totally fun.

  24. mzs says:

    Regarding:

    7. Lower your cable bill by threatening to cancel

    Just plain cancel the cable already. Everything you want to watch you can wait for a year and then check it out from a library.

  25. novelgirl says:

    For some reason I can’t break myself from the habit of deliberately having too much taxes taken out. I know there’s the whole argument why are you giving the government a loan, but I’d rather get money back than owe it.
    Plus I had a nice surprise this year that allowed me get my car tuned up. It felt like Christmas came early!

  26. Chryss says:

    Switched grocery stores to Trader Joe’s, and started packing all breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. This has enabled me to budget one networking lunch a week and one dinner out a week, and I’m still WAY ahead. Kind of scary, but mostly cool.

  27. MonkeyMonk says:

    I’ve used this exact same system for years and with great results. My current fund is an XBox 360 fund and every time I save $$$ doing something around the house I’m allowed to put 50% of the savings into my fund.

    So far this year alone I was able to reduce my monthly cable/internet bill by $30 plus I researched and repaired a plumbing problem that I would have spent $200-$250 to have someone come out to fix. I’m nearly there. :)

  28. teapartys_over says:

    I do all the things listed above, but I have to say with the high cost of living in the NY area I am still screwed if things really go south. The mortgage is high, taxes are high, the heating bills are high. I can scrimp and save $100-$200/month by not spending on extras, and I could maybe squeeze a little more in an emergency, but the sad fact is that’s not going to get me the $5-6000 in living expenses we have every month, half of which is our completely nonnegotiable (fixed, low-rate) mortgage and taxes. And yes, I do save – but again, with high cost of living saving enough for more than a couple of months has been a huge challenge. Not to mention saving for retirement while trying to save for emergencies. I totally agree with those economists (don’t remember who they were) who said that it’s not the latte factor, it’s the cost of living, lower wages and no safety net with two people in the household already working. Not complaining, life is good – I’m just saying that no amount of virtuous living on our parts is going to keep us safe for more than a couple of months right now. We need steady (and steadily high, not retail wages) income, and if that goes away so does our living situation.

  29. @novelgirl: Me too. I think it’s a matter of psychology. For me, if I get the money back all in a chunk, it goes right into savings. But if I’m getting dribbles of it every month, I mentally adjust my income upwards and therefore I want to ALSO adjust my spending upwards, no matter how disciplined I try to be.

    This year we’re going to try adjusting to the right withholding and having that amount shifted towards the 401(k), so I won’t see it anyway. But I’ll miss the chunk.

    But if letting the IRS borrow your money psychs you out into saving, whereas keeping your withholding correct increases your spending, go with the brain trick and let the US borrow your money!

  30. theblackdog says:

    I’m doing number 8 now, including that I am budgeting the minimum I must pay to pay off my debt within the 1 year at 0% period.

    I should be clearing $5000 in credit card debt by next March.

  31. RandomHookup says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: One way to address that is to have the difference direct deposited into a separate savings account. Hopefully the growing balance will be a different psychological incentive.

  32. wwwhitney says:

    I used to make all my purchases exclusively on credit cards to accrue rewards points as I always pay my balance off in full every month. Using my credit card statements, I was able to track my expenses for 12 months to get an idea of what I typically spend in a month. Beginning in January, I moved fully over to an envelope system where every 4 weeks I withdraw my entire budget from the bank in cash and divide it into different envelopes based on my historical budget. I am hoping to move this year, so I instituted a self-imposed 15% budget cut based on my past spending habits. Given the rising cost of food, I will probably have to increase my grocery budget soon, but I have not gone over my total budget yet and I have actually ended up saving an additional $150 without feeling like my quality of life has suffered in any way.

    One thing I also do is any time I use my credit card (to buy something online or if I need to buy something but don’t have enough cash on me), I take out the money I spent from the appropriate envelope and put it into a separate envelope. Next time I go to the bank, the money in that envelope counts towards the next budget (that way I cheat on the budget when I use my credit card).

    Also, threatening to cancel your cable doesn’t always work (though I now pay $30 less a month after calling), but the worst thing that can happen is that they’ll refuse to give you a discount; they certainly won’t cancel your account unless you violently demand it. I will be canceling my cable shortly however, totally agree with one of the commenters above.

  33. Orv says:

    Tried #9 with my Citibank card, and they refused to lower the rate. I made good on the threat and transferred all my balances to a different card. Now the Citibank one sits unused in my filing cabinet.

  34. mgresser says:

    Well if you really wanna save money, I recommend following the Pentagon procurement procedures. They seem really efficient.

    [impatientsufferance.com]

  35. styrofoam says:

    With 0% balance transfers, make sure to note that there’s usually a $50 fee per transfer or for each check you write off your new credit card. This will probably still end up saving you money ($50 once vs. recurring high interest for a year),
    but most balance transfers aren’t free!

  36. youbastid says:

    #8 is simply horrible advice. All cards with “0% balance transfers” come with a 3% transfer fee these days, which can amount to hundreds of dollars. Further, it’s not exactly a good savings tool for people with bad spending habits to open up ANOTHER line of credit.

  37. x40sw0n says:

    My wife and I are about to try the process of using credit cards exclusively for functional purchases (we have a pair of low-limit cards, just a few hundred each) things like groceries and lunch. This will enforce a budget limit on a monthly basis that we then pay off entirely each month. It will build revolving credit and possibly side benefits (rewards), as well as helping to repair (mostly my) credit. Large purchases, or out of scope stuff will be done via cash, (though by cash I usually mean debit).

    It seemed like a strange way to go to me at first but I have warmed to the idea.

  38. drjayphd says:

    @novelgirl: Same here. If I have the money as part of my paycheck, I’m going to spend it. Tax refunds go into savings or towards bigger things (such as a down payment on a car).

  39. savvy9999 says:

    One way I save money is by maxing up my FSA contribution at work (to a reasonable amount that I expect to use, of course, since everything I don’t spendt is forfeited)… but I don’t file for the reimbursements until the end of the year. This year I expect to get back over $5k in my de-facto FSA ‘savings’ account. It’s kinda like having too much taxes taken out, except it’s pre-tax $.

    Sure, it’s not earning paltry interest, but I’m also not spending it either.

  40. redheadedstepchild says:

    See, cash ENCOURAGES spending for me. Its money I have on hand. A couple of bucks for coffee w/friends, beers, etc? Sure, why not. But I won’t pull out CC for it. So if I have cash, its a 5 dollar cap, and if not, I just hang out.

  41. snowmentality says:

    @teapartys_over: I absolutely agree with this comment. That’s not to say that budgeting and saving aren’t worth doing — but the fact is, the price of necessities like groceries, power, natural gas, and water is shooting up fast enough to wipe out anything I can save by cutting back on non-necessities. Building up a safety net of savings is a slow process, and if something happens before it’s built up, you’re done for. Ramit Sethi, one of my favorite money bloggers, says the answer to this is “Figure out how to make more money” but right now, I’m not sure how possible that is for me (I’m in grad school).

  42. Orv says:

    @youbastid: Usually if they’re running a promotion the balance transfer fee is capped at some amount, like $50, though. If you have a large balance this can still save you a lot of money. I have a balance I’ve been diligently working on paying down, and one of these transfers has saved me hundreds of dollars in interest fees (which I can then put towards paying down the principle.)

    I agree this is stupid if you’re just shuffling it around to avoid paying, though. And it’s doubly stupid if you then charge up a balance on the original card again.

  43. Javert says:

    @dragonfire81: I am a huge fan of a credit card with a good rebate. I use Amex Blue for everything. I am not a fan of debit cards because of the risk. Someone fraudulently uses my Amex, no big deal, I call and am never out money. Someone fraudulently uses your debit card? You are out every penny until the bank fixes it. Even if this is as quick as 48 hours, if you have automatic billing, your payments could bounce.

    I know every hates credit cards because of the temptation but if you can learn discipline, it is not only safer but with a good cash back program, it can be pretty good money maker in itself.

  44. bricklayer says:

    Does anyone know of a Southern California bank with nice, free penny counters like Commerce?

  45. anatak says:

    @radleyas: The “using cash” advice needs to be paired up with the “make a budget advice” and add ‘use an envelope system’. If you cash is already divided out and you can see it, then the system works much better. Just having cash in your wallet is an easy way to get into trouble, unless you know that it is for just one purpose (dinning out, groceries, home improvement)

  46. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @anatak:

    Ahh. My husband and I use the reverse budget system. Works well for us. We didn’t know the system even had a name until recently.

  47. timkim says:

    @snowmentality: Try undertool.com. It’s a website where people can post tasks they want to get done, like getting a fence fixed or a wall painted and then the contractors bid on it. The cheapest one gets the job. So you can make more money whenever your time permits it. And if you want to get rid of some chores like ironing without paying the drycleaners all the time it is a way to save money.

  48. csdiego says:

    I’m already doing all these things except for the budget. I don’t have cable or a credit card, I pay cash almost all the time, I cook most of what I eat myself, and I don’t drink coffee. I give myself a (low) set amount of “mad money” each week, in cash, to spend on going out and any little whims, and I’m pretty good about sticking to it.

    I think the next step is to pay more attention to my grocery bills.

  49. catcherintheeye says:

    @mzs: No problem, I’ll just wait a year and check out my local library for the Cubs game going on RIGHT NOW. Well, that’s OK, I’ll just watch it on WGN…oh wait, it’s on CSN? Well, shit..

  50. Lawk Salih says:

    Money, money, money-Why don’t you fall like rain?

  51. @RandomHookup: Yes, that was the other option we considered (which we already do with a sporadic income stream), but our 401(k) needs more funding anyway. :)

  52. berribrand says:

    I think you should use credit cards if you can control yourself AND if you get rewards. Getting 3% or 5% cash back is better than getting 0% cash back using “cold hard cash.”

  53. forgottenpassword says:

    out of that whole list….. the only thing that I CAN do is to not eat out as much (#5). Everything else I am already doing.

  54. Jim says:

    @mzs: Amen, we’ve been doing that for about 2 years now. Very liberating. Eventually you start to realize you aren’t really missing anything.

    So, all of this either applies to me, or we’re already doing it. I’m very grateful to be in such a positive situation. But now what? I’m not feeling financially secure…like Joseph and teapartys_over said.

    I started taking the bus instead of the car this month, and other than giving up my Coca-Cola habit and switching to one of those mowers with just blades that you push, I’m not seeing how to cut more, especially with baby #2 due to arrive any day now.

    Appreciate the article, hope there’s a part 2, the “OK, Done. Now what?” article.

  55. maddypilar says:

    @meadandale: Then it all applies to you. You’re just already saving real money.

  56. SuperSally says:

    We have an electric mower and it’s fantastic. Once you get used to the cord it’s just like vacuuming. And the draw on the electric bill is nowhere near the amount it costs to get gas for one.

  57. hozay909 says:

    I am doing all of it. but still can seem to stay afloat. I do like using my debit card because I get cash back in my account every year it is not much but it is better then no money at all from hard cash. Also with the rise of food and gas it will be hard to save what little I was trying to save now.

  58. howie_in_az says:

    We keep all of our change in a huge jug and then take it to one of those Coinstar machines. They’ll skim a little off the top in fees or whatever, but it all works out for us.

    We also put our “fun money” on a prepaid VISA card. We were going to eliminate both debit cards as we use the bank’s billpay feature extensively, then use the prepaid VISA for everything else, but that proved to be too much of a hassle.

  59. snowmentality says:

    @SuperSally: I have a cordless electric mower! Bought it off Craigslist for 1/4 price. It has, according to my boyfriend, currently conked out, but I want to have a look at it because I suspect it’s fixable. Electric mower FTW.

  60. RandomHookup says:

    @snowmentality: Actually, being in grad school can give you the opportunity to make some decent (if sporadic) money. Here are some options:

    * Studies with your school’s psych dept
    * MRI studies with psych dept (can pay $50-100 per session if you can handle being in an MRI and qualify)
    * Medical studies — especially sleep studies
    * Focus groups with local marketing companies
    * Reselling furniture and books and such on eBay/Craigslist that students leave behind when they move
    * Do mystery shopping, especially for meals

    The secret is to check the bulletin boards on campus and Craigslist regularly. I live near Harvard and MIT, so they have tons of stuff going on as do all the med schools and research centers in the area. Craigslist may also have lots of “quickie” jobs — passing out fliers, valet parking at a party, staffing a table to get students to sign up for credit cards, catering jobs (check with the student employment office, too).

    Oh, and take advantage of all the free meals on campus…swing in to have pizza and listen to a speaker while skimming your notes. I see a ton of good movies for free while eating Harvard’s pizza.

  61. mzs says:

    @catcherintheeye: Channel 9 still has a bunch of games, no less really then I remember in years past:

    [wgnsuperstation.trb.com]

    AM 720 has the games as far as I know. It’s also a lot o fun to go to the pub to watch the games with your buddies. Heck the weather is great, if there is a game local game you really want to see why not just head out to Wrigley field.

    The last time I had comcast they wanted $80/month for the extended basic+ or what ever they called it plan that had CSN. You could do an occasional game and pu trip and save more money at that rate.

    Plus isn’t comcast the company everyone here is routinely complaining about here. I’m not the only one that got fed-up with them and cancelled, right? I mean that is the only thing that can make them improve.

  62. fuzzymuffins says:

    @mzs:

    indeed. cancel your cable all together. i haven’t had a TV or cable for 7 YEARS…. but still keep up with the handful of shows that i enjoy.

    1. go out for tv. tv’s are everywhere….. bars, restaurants… even better, spend time with your friends and their TV.

    2. is there a tv show produced nowadays that ISN’T on the net or later found on DVD?

    after a while, you’ll find that you begin to watch “tv” for a purpose, not just as a random ‘time sucking’ convenience….

    time saver… and money saver.

  63. louveciennes says:

    Re #5: Done, done, and done! Bento is a big hobby of mine, so I always bring my lunch to work; my coffee is better than Starbux or anything I could buy; and luckily I really enjoy cooking.

  64. cerbie says:

    10. Credit Union FTW! My worst that has stuck was one overdraft fee.

    9, 8. N/A. No CC.

    7. N/A living w/ parents, still; but good idea.

    6. N/A.

    5. Biggie. It’s cheaper for me to buy coffee, but if I’m going to make cofee, it’s starting green :). It does save me $20-40 a week when I bring stuff from home. I haven’t been very good about making it a regular habit, though, and there’s an awesome Mexican place not far from work :(.

    4. I’ve considered that. I’ll probably do it once I have some money in the bank. My tax refunds nearly doubled my checking account :).

    3. See 7.

    2. I’m actually much more impulsive with cash. I’ve found it makes a far greater difference to eat a bit before I go shopping. Rly.

    1. Not easy one, but, yeah, it works.

  65. Ragman says:

    10. Got any bank fees? Ask the bank to waive one as a courtesy
    Nope. YOU pay ME to profit off of my money.

    9. Lower Your APR by threatening to switch to another credit card company
    8. Use a 0% balance transfer to get a reprieve from credit card interest for a few months
    N/A on both – balance paid in full each month.

    7. Lower your cable bill by threatening to cancel
    Fios has me on last year’s rates since I’ve been with them for a while. Getting the discount having both tv and ISP as well. Who the hell would I switch to? Comcast? Hell, they’d probably tell me to go ahead. Then they’d shaft me with the current rates when I switched back.

    6. Get your spending under control so you’re paying off your credit card in full every month, and avoid paying extra interest
    Again, paid in full each month.

    5. Pack your own lunch, make your own coffee, cook at home
    Always done it. Saw a calculator that showed college students who used student loans to pay for a $4 a day Starbucks habit added a few grand to their debt by graduation.

    4. Adjust your tax withholdings so you’re not giving the IRS an interest-free loan
    Done on a yearly basis.

    3. Take advantage of new low interest rates by refinancing your home to a lower rate
    When they drop to 5% I will.

    2. Switch to paying for most things in cash only…
    Uhh, that would cost me hundreds of dollars a year more. Plus ATM fees. Discover Cashback, balance paid in full – financial f***ing discipline FTW. (Yes, I do get hundreds a year in cashback).

    1. Make a budget
    Yep. Actually did that on starting college. That’s also why I started bringing my snacks and sodas to work instead of hitting the vending machine everyday.

    Sitting down and calculating every stinking dime you spend on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is the best way to find $$ motivation to cut costs. A coke & candy bar from the grocery store runs you $0.50 vs the $1.25-$1.50 in the machine per day. If you can save $0.75 a day doing this, it adds up: assuming you work 5 days a week, allowing 4 weeks a year for holidays and vacation (assuming you don’t hit the vending machine any other time), that’s 5 days * 48 weeks * $0.75 = $180/year.

    I have bills paid by credit card (which I pay in full) that save me the cost of a check and postage each, plus cashback. My water/trash bill is autodebited from my checking account for a $1.50 discount, plus saving a check and first class stamp each month. I have at least 10 items that normally would be paid by check and mailed in that are now paid either automatically or online for a savings of $4.10/month in postage alone. Until the postage goes up in May. I’ve forgotten what my per check costs were. Something like 8 or 9 cents each.

    It’s all behavior changes. Like dieting, though I found it easier than giving up favorite foods(which I haven’t). If you can successfully make little changes like that, then the savings add up like putting the pocket change in a jar. Some are easier changes, like putting monthly bills on the credit card. I now only worry about paying 3 credit cards on time. Which have had the due dates adjusted so that I handle them together at the end of the month. The statements show up a week before the month ends, and I have until the middle of the next month before they’re due. Not that I wait long to pay, but I have 10 days grace if my online payment gets fragged somehow.

    It’s pretty easy to think in terms of how much cash you have in the bank, but if you can think of what you have left in terms of a budget, you’ll come out further ahead. Especially with using credit cards.

  66. ShariC says:

    Unless you’re living on minimum wage, chances are the main area where expenses can be cut are in housing and “necessities” that aren’t really necessities. Most people live in places which are bigger than absolutely necessary which carry concurrently higher heating and cooling bills. As for how big is “necessary”, consider that my husband and I live in 250 sq. ft. apartment (in Tokyo). Would we like more space? Sure. Do we absolutely need it? No. We pay $1100 a month in rent for this small space and live in one of the most expensive cities in the world on a combined income of $55,000 a year, but save about $1,300 a month. It’d be really easy to toss some of that money into a bigger, nicer place, but we’d rather save it.

    Many people convince themselves that things are necessary which are not. They buy new clothes far too frequently and have more than they need to get through a week without doing laundry. They have cell phones which they don’t really need but feel insecure without.

    Also, cooking for yourself is always cheaper than eating out, but not if you aren’t attempting to downsize your meal expenses in addition to cooking on your own. If you want to live cheaply, use eggs as the protein you consume for a meal twice a week instead of any sort of meat. Eat beans once a week as the central part of a meal. Avoid pre-prepared meals and add-ons to meals at all costs including things like cold breakfast cereals. Things like oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, etc. a few times a week will also reduce overall meal expenses. Also, you need to buy in bulk, but only things which you will actually use up. People should view food they throw away is money tossed in the trash.

  67. Rusted says:

    10. Keep a high minimum balance.

    9,8 & 6. What credit card?

    7. What cable?

    5. Eat in.

    4. Yep.

    3. What mortgage?

    2. Buy less

    1. I do my monthly budget on Excel but any spreadsheet will work and Open Office is free.

  68. dtmoulton says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Same here brother. Couldn’t justify putting games on a card. You’ll love the xbox. It’s taken over my life.

  69. #2 Kudos for Commerce Bank. They give you something banks forgot a while ago: service -and not nickel-and-dime you for it.

    Another way to save money is to use all the public services you can use. Mass transit saves you gas, library visits saves you on books and even movie rentals. Find a public park you can go instead of the gym you’re paying for. Let’s face it, you’re not using it so why waste that money?

  70. Anonymous says:

    I tried the cable thing on Saturday morning. I pointed out to Comcast that DirectTV was offering me a plan about $30 cheaper, with more options, than what they were offering. In response, they knocked $25 off my monthly bill and added Encore for no extra charge.

    I think it helped that I was prepared with the specifics of a competing offer and polite to the CSR during the call.

    Thanks for the suggestion Consumerist.

  71. Jahnavi says:

    I totally agree with economists (do not remember who they were) who said that this is not the latte factor is the cost of living, lower wages and no safety net at home two people who are already working. Do not complain, life is good – I just want to say that no amount of good life for us to keep us safe for more than two months.
    List of Ways to Save Money

  72. Jahnavi says:

    You had to say coffee! I just about punched myself in the gut. I swear I spend more money on my coffee than I do on anything else. http://www.financemetrics.com/ I seriously need to break this coffee obsession. I could be saving hundreds and hundreds of dollars if I could just get rid of this caffeine fixation. Or better yet, start making coffee at home. Good post, nonetheless.