Seven Ways to Save Money with Ease

Saving money is a bit like exercise- most people know they need to do it, but few have the determination or willpower to get the job done. And yet, like exercise, saving money is critical for one's long term health- in this case, his or her financial health. Fortunately, most consumers can learn how to save money in ways that are slightly less time consuming (or painful) than undertaking a new exercise routine. Here are 7 easy ways to save money and build a financially stable future.

  1. Maximize your benefits. If you are a member of AAA, AARP or other widely recognized organization, you can likely get discounts at a variety of places. If you have a credit card that offers mileage or companion tickets, make sure to use these rewards when purchasing your next tickets. Or, if you are traveling during blackout dates (or foregoing your vacation entirely this year) consider selling your mileage before it expires. Even if you make half of the face value of a ticket you'll have more money in your pocket to spend on other things.
  2. Eat in. Studies show that Americans throw out approximately 15% of the groceries that they purchase each year. By eating in instead of dining out, consumers can make the most of the food that they've bought and avoid the expense of restaurant fare, tipping, parking and babysitters. Eating in also enables consumers to rediscover the joy of cooking and to take pleasure in a meal shared without distracting background noise.
  3. Renegotiate your rates. Many companies such as cell phone providers, cable providers, car insurance companies and even credit card companies offer different price packages throughout the year. Every few year or so consumers should take the time to call their service providers to see what deals are being offered and evaluate whether a new deal would result in annual savings. Even if no new rates are being offered by your current service provider, you may be able to arrange for a lower rate because you're a valued customer. Alternatively, check out a few competing services and consider whether it's worth switching providers to save money.
  4. Arrange for automatic payments. A great way to save money with ease is to arrange for automatic payments for monthly expenses like credit card bills, phone service and car payments. Automatic payments will alleviate a large part of the headache associated with bill paying and will make sure that you don't get slapped with unnecessary late fees because you forgot to pay the bill.
  5. Balance your checkbook. Although balancing your checkbook sounds like a chore (and for those with few or no records, it probably is one), it's a critical step to take in the pursuit of financial stability. Investing a few hours in balancing your checkbook will prevent the embarrassment of late fees and prevent you from paying avoidable bank charges.
  6. Find a new way to buy gifts. Although nobody enjoys being a stingy friend or relative, there are many ways to save money on gifts without tarnishing your reputation. If you have a family holiday party every year, ask whether it's possible to do a 'secret Santa' game instead of purchasing gifts for everyone invited. Alternatively, ask your relatives to put a price limit on each gift so that you don't feel uncomfortable giving a more affordable gift. Keep your eye out all year for bargains on wedding gifts, birth gifts or engagement gifts that you can save and use whenever the occasion arises.

There's no question that life is expensive (and that many products and services are quite tempting), but with the right perspective and focus consumers should be able to find ways to save hundreds of dollars annually. Investing these funds is a great way to build your nest egg for the future or to save up for other items that you are waiting to buy until you have the money.

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