MSN/Money recently ran an article on 19 ways (and counting) to save money when you don’t make much in the first place. While targeted primarily at single, working moms, pretty much all of these suggestions are gender-neutral and would work equally well (or poorly) for anyone. Read on to see what they suggested…
(1) Stash a dollar in a jar every time you do laundry. (Nickel says: Better yet, stuff a dollar in the jar every time you go to the bathroom. Why not? That’s just as arbitrary as laundry and, for most people, far more often.)
(2) Save all your $5 bills in a coffee can or all of your $20 bills in shoe box. (Nickel says: This might actually work better with $1 bills, as very few people are going to have the discipline to do it with bigger denominations. Then again, you probably won’t have any ones left if you stash one every time you use the bathroom!)
(3) Cash in your spare change. (Nickel says: My bank won’t count my change, but they give free paper rolls to do it yourself.)
(4) Save any rebates, refunds or reimbursement checks that you receive.
(5) Take advantage of any free money that you can dig up, such as banking or credit card bonuses. (Nickel says: I’ve been able to clean up with Citi’s reward cards.)
(6) Set up automatic transfers into your long term savings. (Nickel says: This is probably the best tip on the list.)
(7) Round up your check/withdrawal amount to the nearest dollar. (Nickel says: While this would create a nice overage in your account, it would drive me absolutely nuts not to know my balance to the penny.)
(8) Save money by bartering. Swap your skills/willingness to work for something of value (e.g., cleaning in return for child care). Or swap items that you no longer use with others.
(9) Use a credit card to control your spending. As an added benefit, you might earn miles or other credit card rewards. (Nickel says: This runs contrary to prevailing wisdom that it’s easier to control your spending if you cut up your credit cards.)
(10) Divide large periodic expenses (such as insurance) into monthly chunks and stash it away bit by bit so you don’t get caught short. (Nickel says: Some insurers now do this for you, and offer auto-debit to go along with it.)
(11) Buy non-perishable items (e.g., cereals, rice, pastas, dried fruit and canned goods) in bulk.
(12) Team up with friends if you don’t go through enough ‘stuff’ to justify buying in bulk.
(13) Buy generic instead of brand-name products. (Nickel says: No kidding.)
(14) Research prices on the web, in clearance stores, etc. before you make a purchase.
(15) Buy second-hand whenever possible — you can often get name brand items for a song.
(16) Use web-based travel search engines if you’re looking to travel on the cheap. (Nickel says: Does anyone book travel anywhere but on the ‘net nowadays?)
(17) Make your own home furnishings.
(18) Make your own cleaning supplies (e.g., vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean just about anything). (Nickel says: Yeah, but then you’ll smell like vinegar! ;))
(19) Grow your own food in your garden. (Nickel says: Or, for extra savings, harvest from your neighbor’s garden!)
All in all, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary or insightful here, but there are some pretty solid tips on the list.