Whether you're strapped for cash or feeling comfortable, we could all stand to make a few tweaks to our personal budgets. Save more, save faster and save smarter with these money saving ideas:
55 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY
1. Pay yourself first. Save money without thinking about it. Set up direct deposit into a savings account and watch your nest egg grow.
2. Brew it at home. If you grab even the cheapest of javas on the go, say a $2 cup every week day, you're shelling out $520 a year. Try the big tubs of coffee instead. They'll last and you'll save.
3. Unplug. Lots of gadgets, electronics and appliances draw power even when you're not using them. Pull the plug on items that you only use occasionally and for bonus points, unplug your chargers (cell, PDA and the like) when not in use.
4. Stay in with friends. This one's easy. Going out with pals almost always costs more than staying in. Resist the urge to splurge and invite friends over for cocktails, a potluck, board games or a movie.
5. Buy in bulk. Stores like Sam's Club and Costco are your best friends.
6. Brown bag it. If you prefer the grab and go, you could easily spend $1300 a year just on lunches ($5/lunch/week day). Pack your lunch instead - you'll save some dineros and the food will likely be more nutritious.
7. Team up. A great way to involve kids in the saving process is to pick a fun family item that you all want - maybe a new TV, an Xbox or a trip to the amusement park - and agree to toss your spare change in a bottle in the kitchen. It's a solid lesson in saving for what you want and teaming up will bring the family together.
8. Cut the cable (at least a little). There's often lots of room in the cable bill to cut costs. Cancel the channels you don't watch, ask for the latest promotions and cut out luxury features ( . DVR, Pay-Per-View).
9. Ditch the dry cleaner's. There are products widely available now that allow you to do your dry cleaning at home and with ease.
10. Build a budget. Find out how much is coming in and maybe more importantly, how much is going out each month, with free online budgeting software. Then, look at each and every bill for opportunities to make cuts and make them.
11. Get your news online. Instead of paying for costly subscriptions, log on and read online.
12. Turn off the tube. Save energy, you'll also shelter yourself from ads that may tempt you to take out your wallet.
13. Quit a vice. We all have 'em and they're the worst offenders in the wasteful spending department. Consider cutting back or quitting altogether. Smokers, consider this: If you smoke a pack a day, you could save $2,555 a year (at $7 a pop) by quitting.
14. Download coupons. Thanks to sites like ShortCuts and PG eSaver, you can put the scissors away and click your way to coupon heaven. Just select the coupons you want, download them to your grocery savings card and save money at checkout.
15. Borrow instead of buy. Remember that place you went to as a kid? You know, the one with all the books? At your local library, you can borrow books, CDs and DVDs and it will always beat Amazon's best deal.
16. Create a "slush fund." Deposit any random checks you get - like rebate, rewards or reimbursement checks - into this fund. You can use it for any purpose, but if you're in a position to enjoy some of your savings now, make the goal something fun like a vacation.
17. Opt for H2O. Swap out the soda, wine or cocktail for water, especially when out at a restaurant. It's free and better for you.
18. Forget the meat. Try veggies in place of a meat dish once a week and the dollars will add up.
19. Buy store brands. Ditch the brand names and you could save more than $1,000 per year.
20. Manage your credit. A good credit score will open up doors to the best interest rates and terms on credit cards and student, personal, auto and home loans. Get the low-down on your credit situation by checking your credit report and score online, then continue to manage and improve it to get the best deals.
21. Check coupon codes before checking out. Before you buy anything online, make it a habit to check for coupon codes from sites like first.
22. Bike it. If your destination is nearby, jump on your bike to get there instead of wasting expensive gas. (It's a great workout too!)
23. Auto-pay your student loans. Many student loan servicers offer a discounted rate if you opt to have your monthly payment automatically withdrawn from your bank account. Stop worrying about missing a payment and save a few bucks. =
24. Carpool. Split the driving duties and the gas costs.
25. Grow your own veggies. Produce is expensive! Save some green by indulging your green thumb.
26. Give your windows some TLC - Cold edition. When it's cold out, cover your windows with plastic and shrink-wrap them by using a hairdryer to heat the plastic at its edges. Winterizing older or cheaper windows could save you cash on your heating bill.
27. Give your windows some TLC - Hot edition. When it's hot out, skip the air conditioner. Instead, open your windows and use a box fan to suck warm air out.
28. Attack your closet. Put aside all the clothes you don't wear and give them to charity. Make sure to document everything and consult an online valuation guide so you can claim a generous deduction on your tax return next year.
29. Get the Entertainment book. These books are chock full of coupons and will pay for themselves after just a couple of uses.
30. Refinance your home loan. You may be shelling out extra dollars for your monthly home loan payment when you don't have to. Give your trusted mortgage banker a call to find out if you can reduce your mortgage rate and payment by refinancing. Or set up a free Rate Payment alert online that will let you know via email when a home loan program becomes available at the interest rate or payment "sweet spot" you're interested in.
31. Follow up on rebates. They can be a pain, but the return on your effort is worth it. Fill out the forms and snail mail them in.
32. Opt out of escrow. It may be a smart choice to opt out of having an escrow account on your home loan because it's non-interest-bearing. Instead, make the same payment via payroll deductions into a money market or high-yield savings account. In this market, your money may not earn much, but even 1% is better than 0%.
33. Reduce your rate. It never hurts to ask. Call up your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate on your card. If you carry balances, an interest rate reduction can save you big time.
34. Buy food for multiple meals. Maybe the veggies you're adding to your pasta sauce could also be served up in a veggie pita. Buying flexible menu items will ensure you get the most bang for your buck by getting multiple uses out of your food.
35. Never grocery shop hungry. Growling stomach = Stop sign.
36. Take advantage of points. Do some research and find out if you can earn points with your debit card or credit card. Then, use those points to buy things you'd have to buy anyway, like gifts for teachers, new electronics or school shopping.
37. Love your leftovers. Food in a doggy bag is like a free meal ticket. Suck it up and take advantage.
38. Pass on the ply. If your bum can handle it, go for single ply toilet paper. We're talking cents here in terms of savings, but if you really need to tighten the budget, you need to consider everything.
39. Print online. Things like business cards are a fraction of the cost online compared to the local printer.
40. Be prepared for a rainy day. Set your sights on saving 4 to 6 months worth of expenses in case of emergency. If a little rain falls in your life, like losing your job, having a money cushion could help you stay out of debt and avoid high interest rates. Keep tabs on your progress with free online savings tools.
41. Make gifts with your own two hands. Homemade gifts are the most thoughtful gifts one can give. Use sentimental items like pictures and souvenirs to put together a memorable present for a friend or family member.
42. Go grocery store, not corner store. If you're buying basics like milk and toilet paper at the pharmacy, corner store or gas station, you're probably paying more for each item than you would at the grocery store or supercenter.
43. Split the babysitting duties. Ask your neighbors and close friends if they'd be willing to babysit your kids sometime and in return, you'll look after theirs another time.
44. Split the babysitting costs. Coordinate nights out with your neighbors and close friends and go halfsies on the babysitter bill.
45. Bar hop with a brain. If you frequent the bar already, opt for happy hour or eat before you go.
46. Nix the car lease. Buy used or "new used" and drive the car as long as you can. If you've picked wisely, you can save big over the long-term.
47. Wait for the deal. Particularly on big ticket items, monitor sites like Slick Deals, Deal News and Fat Wallet for the best deals. Then take advantage.
48. Do your own simple home repairs. With all the home improvement shows out there, the "I don't know how" excuse no longer works. Google it, look it up on or , or ask the folks at the hardware or home improvement store, and get to work.
49. Help yourself to the highest yield savings. Move your money from your checking account to a high-yield savings account. Even a percentage point difference in interest rate can make your savings grow faster.
50. Comparison shop [dot] com. Websites like Shopzilla do the work for you. Just type in what you're looking for, press the button and voila! A list of prices and stores that carry your item so you can easily find the best deal in town.
51. Host a clothes swap. You know what they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Get a bunch of friends together, have everyone bring clothes that no longer fit or they're not interested in, and go to town!
52. Reel in a roommate. Splitting housing costs could save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars a month. It's a different lifestyle, but if you need to make big changes in your budget (ahem, spend less), this tip will get you there quicker than most.
53. Buy used. Whether it's clothing, books or iPods, buying used and refurbished items can save you a pretty penny off the sticker price.
54. Plan before you around a grocery store often leads to overspending. Plan your meal(s) before you shop and stick with your list.
55. Stick to the 10% rule. Follow the age-old rule of saving 10% of everything you make or are gifted. And start 'em young! If you have children, open up a savings account for each of them and have them follow this rule as well.
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