Sunday, March 8, 2009

20 Money Saving tips To Fight The Recession

20 Money Saving tips To Fight The RecessionOn Friday, the government announced that the United States lost 651,000 jobs in February, bringing the number of layoffs since the start of the recession to 4.4 million. The Labor Department also revealed February's unemployment rate at 8.1%, the highest level in 25 years.

The scary thing is that the US recession has not yet hit bottom, so things can get very much worse in the coming weeks. How do we continue to save money amid this recession of epic proportions? Can we still dream about enjoying financial freedom with our loved ones?

The answer is yes. Our level of financial contentment depends on our mindset. It is not what we have, but what we enjoy which constitutes our abundance.

While the harsh environment means my family is not able to save as much money (due to lesser income), I learn to be more creative and explore ways to make our money work harder. I have also lowered my expectations of "abundance."

To fight this recession, here are 20 money saving tips which can be easily implemented:

1. Visit discount stores as the norm rather than exception. You can save big bucks on branded goods, be it clothing, food, house appliances, etc. especially with coupons in tow.

2. Cook at home and forget about eating out. Occasionally, cook for your friends or plan a potluck party. They will invite you to their homes for meals in return.

3. Keep a change jar and empty your coins into it; you'll be surprised how much you accumulate when you count them in a month's time.

4. Used items are not worthless. From my experience of buying and selling on eBay, I must say that there is a huge market for used items. Often, used books, music and videos are sold in great condition, so it is value for money for buyers. And if you take care of the items, you can even sell them back when you am done.

Beware of fraudulent transactions though - it can waste much of your time and money, so study each seller's track record carefully before you buy!

5. Buy a fixer-upper. It is more economical to find a house in a good location with ugly paint, broken windows, torn carpet, etc. and then renovating it. When the housing market recovers, your initial investment of a few thousand dollars on renovation can increase the value of your home by $15k to $30k.

6. Rent movies. A movie night at home runs you a fourth of the price of two theater tickets. Older flicks are often cheaper than new releases – and may contain less questionable content. (Bonus tip: Don't let late fees drain your savings!)

7. Remove cable services. I have no time for 300 channels when I finish work and do my daily rounds of answering emails and blogging. It is better to save yourself $300 to 400 a year by simply "cutting the cord."

8. Purchase a second hand car. A reliable used car with low mileage costs thousands less than a new one; insurance costs less too. Eopinions offer great feedback from buyers on nearly every make and model.

9. Don't neglect to exercise. A lot of people are stressed out by this recession and exercising can alleviate some of the pent-up frustrations. By all means, sign up for a gym, but make sure you fully utilize the equipment.

I know a lot of people go to the gym for the first few weeks after signing up but then find excuses to slack off while continuing to pay the gym fees. You must maintain the discipline, else forget about the gym altogether. Just buy a $10 exercise video, purchase used equipment or join a running club.

10. Pay off your mortgage loan faster. Go for a mortgage accelerator plan whereby you make half a house payment every two weeks rather than paying in full once a month. You'll accelerate your equity, save tens of thousands of dollars in interests, and pay off your mortgage years ahead of schedule.

11. Split a meal. Many restaurants pile on the food. Save by sharing, or making a second meal from your leftovers.

12. Don't get excited about sales. If you've filled your closet with wrong-sized, wrong-colored, wrong-flavored items you'll never use, you've flushed money down the drain. Shop carefully: a "sale" isn't always a "good deal."

13. Do not be enticed by attractive credit cards offers. Unless you are out to impress a girl, just keep one credit card in your wallet and pay off the balance monthly. You'll save on interest fees and avoid buying things you can't afford.

14. Limit the liquor. The dire consequences of drink-driving aside, alcohol is just plain expensive. Especially in clubs where the pretty ladies just encourage to go on a binge. In some states, insurance rates can skyrocket based on a person's alcohol intake.

15. Pack your meals for work. Why spend $6 a day for lunch? You can bring leftovers or a sandwich for next to nothing! And bring along a bottle of water or fruit juice. Buying drinks from cafes or restaurants defeats the purpose of saving money from packing lunch.

16. Adjust your latte dosage from daily to weekly. Do the math: 260 weekdays a year x $4 for a cuppa of coffee = $1040. Instead, set up a coffee pot at work and have coworkers chip in for beans.

17. Prepare a shopping list. Clever in-store advertising begs you to impulse buy. Your only hope is to remember what you came for. (Bonus tip: Don't shop for groceries when you're hungry!)

18. Ponder prescriptions. Buy the generic brand of your medication. Even better, purchase prescriptions by mail. You'll get several months' worth at once and save on co-pays.

19. Care for your car. Paying too much for gas and repairs? Experts provide fuel-efficient driving and maintenance tips at Fuel Economy.

20. Learn to do-it-yourself. If you spent weekends lazing on the couch watching football or rented videos, why not pick up home improvement skills? You can save thousands of dollars on your home by learning to landscape, redecorate, and do your own plumbing.