The other night my 8 year old son said, “I think people could live without money.” He went on to talk about how he could pick berries to eat and catch fish. If only it were that easy! With the cost of everything going up—gas, food, shoes—I may have to start berry picking and catching fish to make ends meet!
In all seriousness, I could do better. In fact, when I asked around for good ways to save money and waste less of it, I had many “I should’ve thought about that!” moments. So you don’t have to learn the hard way, iMOM has some great ideas to help you keep more of your cash.
1. ATM Fees. Sure, it can be a time saver, but it’s a huge money waster! Plan ahead so you have the cash you need. Find ATMs that don’t charge: your bank branch, some grocery stores, etc. You can even buy a pack of gum at the store and get cash back for a less expensive way to get cash.
2. Coffee. Plan on splurging on your fancy brew once a week. The rest of the time, brew at home or buy from a shop that gives you a discount for bringing your own cup.
3. Impulse Buys. I recently bought a snack at a coffee shop. I laughed and said, “Impulse buy!” The clerk did me one better, “That’s actually how those things are coded on our registers—impulse purchase.” Before you go into any place that you’re going to spend money—Target, Wal-Mart, or a coffee shop—decide ahead of time what you need, and don’t browse.
4. Good Food Gone Bad. Do you have some UFOs in your fridge—unidentified food objects? I confess, I have a pomegranate in my refrigerator that has gone bad. I had good intentions, but I never got around to eating it. I might as well throw two dollars in the garbage along with the pomegranate. So eat your leftovers or freeze them for a later meal.
5. Not Packing Lunch. I ate out yesterday and had a very simple lunch—a sandwich and a piece of pumpkin bread. Total cost, almost ten bucks! And it wasn’t even a restaurant where you leave a tip. Make your lunch the night before, or pack it in the morning. It might not sound appetizing when you’re packing it, but if you wait for hunger pangs to strike at noon, you’ll go for the quick, and more expensive, fix.
6. Buying Based on Cuteness. It is so very hard to resist cute clothes and shoes for our kids, but how many dresses, tops, pants, and shoes do our kids really need? If you’re going into debt (putting your purchases on credit cards) to buy unnecessary clothes, you are wasting your money.
7. Water. Stop buying bottled water. You have options. Get an under sink filter. You can get pitcher after pitcher of clean water for pennies. Get a Brita type filter. Get reusable water bottles.
8. Missing the Big Picture. Yes, clipping that coupon to save a dollar on a box of cereal is great, but be sure you’re going after the bigger fish too. Every year, call around to see if you can get a better rate on insurance for your home, cars, and medical care.
9. Taking Your Kids Grocery Shopping. The last time I took my 8 year old shopping, I came home with a couple of things I hadn’t planned on—Milano cookies and Sun Chips. Those aren’t necessarily bad in themselves, but they weren’t on my original shopping list and they weren’t in my budget. If you have to take your children grocery shopping, plan ahead on what you will, and won’t let them have. You can also give them a treat from home before you hit the store.
10. Bargain Shopping. How can you resist that awesome canister set when it’s 70 percent off? The problem is, you don’t have room on your counter for a canister set and you won’t use one if you get it. So, if something you don’t need is a good deal, it’s actually not a deal at all.