cost cutting en-US 10 Smart Ways to Make Yourself Love Saving Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-smart-ways-to-make-yourself-love-saving-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman kissing piggy bank" title="woman kissing piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="149" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with saving.</p> <p>On one hand, I love saving because my endgame is always an investment that I'm confident will change my life for the better. On the other, saving causes me to cut back, miss out on certain activities, and otherwise frown when I'd rather be spending money on frivolous and fun things instead of staring at it in my online bank account. (See also: <a href="">10 Things Everyone Should Be Saving For</a>)</p> <p>While I can't take away all the pain of saving from you in a simple article, I can offer a few tips on how to get into a positive mindset that will make your decision to improve your life an easier pill to swallow.</p> <h2>1. Set Goals You Must Save For</h2> <p>When making any kind of resolution or major lifestyle change, you need to set goals. Why do so many people fail after three weeks into the New Year on their plan to get in shape? Because the only thought they put into it was taking their gym membership off hold and buying a new pair of sneakers. Unfortunately, that doesn't cut it. To succeed when you set goals that require a significant change in the way you live, you need to establish small, achievable steps that will hold you accountable on a regular basis along the way &mdash; and that will result in an achievement at the end.</p> <p>In my case, I'm in savings mode right now to buy a new home. In order to hold myself accountable, I've cut the fat out of my expenses, mapped out my income over the next six months, set dates by which I need to have a certain amount of money in the bank (for instance, $X,000 by July 31; $XX,000 by October 31, etc.), and a semi-solid plan to invest that money when I've reached that goal.</p> <h2>2. Establish Milestones and Rewards When You Reach Them</h2> <p>The end result of your savings effort is your final reward, but it doesn't hurt to reward yourself along the way for a job well done &mdash; if only to help you stay motivated. This tactic works especially well if you've set a long-term savings plan in place. These rewards shouldn't be huge, but rather a small prize in the form of whatever makes you happy. Personally, I enjoy traveling and shopping, so my reward when I've achieved a goal may be a new pair of shoes or a weekend trip to someplace affordable but new. By treating myself to something I love once in a while, I can pat myself on the back while re-energizing my motivation to stick to this challenge.</p> <h2>3. Think of Your Income in Terms of Specific Bills</h2> <p>I'll be completely honest in telling you that I don't have a monthly budget written on paper. Still, I'm able to manage my money effectively using a different method of spending and saving.</p> <p>First, I know how much I need to pay every month on necessary expenses, which includes my half of two mortgages and household expenses, my cell phone, my business phone, and two school loans. Essentially those are the only required expenses I have at the present time (because, as I mentioned earlier, I recently did a major trimming of fat to expedite the saving process), and they're pretty static from month to month.</p> <p>Next, I assign the monetary value of my projects (I'm self-employed) to a specific bill so I can be sure that I'm bringing in enough to cover it, to let me know when I need to work harder to earn more money, and gauge an estimated amount of money I can spend on non-essentials and how much I need to put into savings per month.</p> <p>As a personal example, I have to write X articles per month for Wise Bread to pay my cell phone bill and school loans. And I use this trick with all my clients &mdash; each one is assigned to a specific bill. I have to earn enough from each particular client to pay the bill to which they're assigned. Once I've met that goal on a monthly basis, everything else is surplus.</p> <p>For me at least, this is a great way to take the pressure off of earning and saving money.</p> <h2>4. Get Creative Socially</h2> <p>It's very easy to go to a sports game or out to a bar with your friends and spend upwards of $100 to have a good time; there's really not much thought involved in that process, in fact. But when you're dedicated to saving, changes will inevitably need to be instituted &mdash; most likely to your social life &mdash; if you want to meet your goal. This isn't necessarily a bad thing either. Rather, your dedication to saving gives you a chance to be creative with how you spend your time and money, which will most likely allow you to experience things you wouldn't have otherwise experienced while introducing a new lifestyle habit that will probably stick with you well after you've reached your goal. In this case, the grass is greener on the other side.</p> <h2>5. Find a Savings Buddy</h2> <p>We have friends and family to help us with countless other goals in our life &mdash; whether it's getting in shape, successfully completing school, getting a new job, etc. So it only makes sense that you find someone you can lean on during this goal as well. It will help the situation even more if you find someone who's in the same position as you &mdash; committed to saving &mdash; so you can relate to each other's struggles and accomplishments, and, frankly, spend time with each other when everyone else is out blowing their paychecks on a Friday night. You'll start to enjoy Saturdays much more when your bank account is growing &mdash; and you don't have a hangover.</p> <h2>6. Find Some Fun Money-Making Opportunities</h2> <p>Now that you're spending more time not spending money with your savings buddy, you can take advantage of your newfound physical wellness on the weekends by replacing your boozy brunch binges with money-making opportunities that will help you reach your goal faster. These don't have to be major commitments like a regular part-time job. Instead, I recommend one-off opportunities on Craigslist or another site conducive to these gigs. By picking and choosing short projects to take on &mdash; I used to help senior adults around their houses and yards when I was a teenager and in college to make extra cash &mdash; you'll keep the experience fun and fresh, and you might even make a few unexpected friends along the way.</p> <h2>7. Rethink Your Expenses</h2> <p>I've alluded to this tactic twice already in this post, so let's dive into it head on.</p> <p>First, identify what you truly don't need in your life and get rid of it. That will differ from person to person, but examples include ditching the cable and entertaining yourself with streaming content online, canceling subscriptions to other entertainment services you don't use often, dropping your gym membership and working out at home, carpooling to work to cut your monthly gas bill in half, and more. In my situation, I dumped my outside office space and got rid of my gym membership for the time being. These are things I can live without right now, and it's an extra $400 a month that I can put toward my goal without any extra effort. No brainer.</p> <h2>8. Turn Shopping Into a Fun Challenge to Maximize Your Savings</h2> <p>I love saving as much as I can when I'm shopping (I treat it like a game), so this is easy for me, but it may not be easy for you &mdash; and there are two main reasons why:</p> <ol> <li>You don't know how to save.</li> <li>You're too lazy to save.</li> </ol> <p>I can't do anything about the latter (expect to tell you that your laziness is costing you <em>a lot</em> of money in more ways than one), but I can do something about the former. And that's why I write for Wise Bread.</p> <p>You can browse the hundreds of posts I've written on the site about saving money &mdash; several of which specifically relate to shopping &mdash; but some quick examples of how to turn shopping into a fun savings challenge include learning how to coupon like a pro, download money-saving and cash-back apps (check out <a href="">Cartwheel</a> by Target and <a href="">Ibotta</a> &mdash; two of my personal favorites), always search for discount and free shipping coupon codes when shopping online, hit the clearance sections first (even in the grocery store), and sign up for email lists to score exclusive deals.</p> <p>Of course, you shouldn't go on shopping benders when you're in super savings mode, but when shopping is necessary, it's important to employ these tactics to pinch as many pennies as you can.</p> <h2>9. Put It &quot;Out of Sight, Out of Mind&quot;</h2> <p>A really simple trick to reduce your savings stress: Funnel a certain amount of money into your savings account via direct deposit every paycheck. After a while you won't miss what you don't have &mdash; except you do have it, just in a better place.</p> <h2>10. Give Yourself Plenty of Breathing Room</h2> <p>Whenever you set major goals for yourself, you run the risk of going off track along the way. You're especially susceptible to this inevitability when it comes to saving money &mdash; and there's only one way to deal with it: Relax. Accept that mistakes happen, and get right back on course. As they say, slow and steady wins the race &mdash; and this one is a marathon. Learn to love it along the way, however, and you'll finish in first.</p> <p><em>Do you have other tips on how to make yourself love saving money? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Smart Ways to Make Yourself Love Saving Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Shopping cost cutting goals saving savings strategies Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1153957 at 9 Easy Ways to Save $50 Every Month <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-easy-ways-to-save-50-every-month" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="50 dollar bill" title="50 dollar bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What would you do with an extra $50 this month?</p> <p>That extra Grant could go towards bumping up a credit card payment or contributing to next month's electricity bill. Or maybe a nice night out with your partner. The list of possibilities is endless. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Save $5 This Week</a>)</p> <p>Stop daydreaming and make that extra $50 a reality this month with these 9 tips.</p> <h2>1. Harry's or Dollar Shave Club</h2> <p>Shaving is a necessity for most men. As blades evolve and newer, better shaving technologies appear, the prices of shaving blade refills have skyrocketed. Unless you plan ahead you are very likely to end up paying around $20 for a 4-pack of blades at most retailers. That's a crazy $5 per blade!</p> <p>Fortunately, two new players have emerged in the shaving industry: Harry's and Dollar Shave Club. Taking a cue from and Columbia House (remember that CD mail club?), New York-based Harry's offers <a href="">shaving plans</a> that deliver blades straight to your doorstep at $1.88 per blade. The Columbia House component comes in that you can select what type of blades get delivered. You save both money and time, which means no more paying crazy amounts for a pack of blades.</p> <p>If you want to pay even less than $1.88 per blade and are fine with less than 5-blade razors, then <a href="">Dollar Shave Club</a> is also a good choice. Both companies also offer additional shaving toiletries that can be delivered over mail.</p> <h2>2. Ceiling Fan</h2> <p>Before you crank up that AC this summer, consider this:</p> <ul> <li>A central air conditioner unit uses about 3,500 watts per hour.</li> <li>The typical window AC unit uses between 600 to 900 watts per hour.</li> </ul> <p>This is why during the summer months, energy bills can skyrocket up to 50% more. The best tool to put a big dent on your electricity bill is to install ceiling fans, which even on the highest setting need only 75 watts per hour.</p> <p>Several retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe's, carry ceiling fans that are <a href="">Energy Star rated</a>. Look for the Energy Star label and follow these <a href="">installation and usage tips</a> to maximize your energy savings. (Remember: Counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter!)</p> <h2>3. Programmable Thermostat</h2> <p>If you cannot live without your central AC unit, then don't fall for the myth that running your central <a href="">AC all day uses less energy</a>. If you are away from home for long periods of time or have a bad memory, you need a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=BU5QT4MGNZGSESQP">programmable thermostat</a>.</p> <p>Through the proper use of its preprogrammed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you close to <a href="">$200 every year in energy costs</a>. Programmable thermostats start at $60 at home improvement stores and are a quick job to install.</p> <p>Don't forget about your window AC unit. If your unit doesn't come already with programmable features, you can buy a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=COWR22C3OTMW4PVI">plug-in timer</a> for about $5 and program its on and off times.</p> <h2>4. Coffee Maker</h2> <p>Your coffee habit is killing your wallet.</p> <p>Depending on where you buy your cuppa, you can expect to pay $1.40 to $1.80 for a medium sized jolt (12 ounces, or a Starbucks &quot;Tall&quot;). And that's just for regular old brewed. That's $7 to $9 a week, $28-$36 a month, not counting weekends.</p> <p>Starbucks says <a href=",default,pg.html">a pound of coffee yields 320 ounces</a>, or about 25, 12 ounce cups. Starbucks' &quot;Kenya&quot; coffee beans go for $13.95 a pound, which works out to 56 cents a cup, or $11.20 for four week's worth, and a savings of $14.80 to $24.80 a month &mdash; more if you purchase cheaper beans.</p> <p>The answer is clear. Buy a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002EJF8TI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NDAMYWIME3JFJMM7">cheap coffee maker</a>, a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0032Z7UJE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=B6VA3OTBSQ6OHWHR">reusable travel mug</a>, and a pound of coffee. After the initial outlay, you'll be in the black in no time.</p> <h2>5. Cash Back and Rewards Programs</h2> <p>Nowadays, many credit card companies offer cash back programs that give you up to 2% back on qualifying purchases. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Cash Back Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>Additionally, many cards offer additional &quot;points&quot; or rewards for spending in particular categories. Maximize the amount you get back by choosing the best cards for your lifestyle.</p> <p>Your favorite stores might have similar rewards programs, too. For example, by joining the <a href="">Safeway Reward Points</a> program, you can gain points to save up to $1 per gallon of gas at participating gas stations. This program is a major perk for places that have high gas prices, such as California, New York, and Hawaii.</p> <h2>6. Reusable Water Bottle</h2> <p>Those plastic bottle waters are not only harmful to the planet, but also to your wallet. If you buy a $6 case of bottled water a week, then you are spending $312 a year. This amount doesn't include applicable redemption fees and taxes. If you have a large family your water bottle expense ends up being much more.</p> <p>Instead invest a good reusable water bottle and fill up on water at home and at the office's water cooler. You'll keep extra money in the bank and socialize more often at work.</p> <h2>7. Energy Star-Rated Refrigerator</h2> <p>When my wife and I first bought our apartment, we didn't have enough to upgrade the old refrigerator from the previous owner. This was a refrigerator from the early 1980s. We didn't think it would be a big deal and started saving for our kitchen renovation for several months.</p> <p>With the renovation, we opted for an Energy Star-rated refrigerator. The change in our electricity bill was dramatic: between $40 to $50 per month! If you own a very old refrigerator, the investment in an Energy Star-rated one pays for itself in a few months. For us it was even faster than expected because of the <a href="">$125 rebate for trading</a> our old refrigerator for a new Energy Star one in the State of Hawaii.</p> <p>Remember to search online for rebates for switching to Energy Star appliances in your state and learn what are the requirements.</p> <h2>8. Discounted Gym Plan Memberships and Fitness Reimbursement Programs</h2> <p>For a one time fee of $100, Kaiser Permanente's <a href="">Active &amp; Fit</a> fitness facility program provides members unlimited access to several participating fitness facilities as long as they maintain their health care coverage with Kaiser Permanente.</p> <p>For example, a 24 Hour Fitness monthly membership for a single location costs about $39.99 before taxes, more if you want to access additional locations. With Active &amp; Fit, you can access <em>all</em>24 Hour Fitness locations for $100 per year.</p> <p>Other health insurance carriers, such as <a href="">Capital Health</a>, <a href="">Optum</a>, <a href="">United Healthcare</a> or <a href=",217714&amp;_dad=portal&amp;_schema=PORTAL">Harvard Pilgrim</a>, offer fitness reimbursement programs. The reimbursements are usually up to $150 per year and require you to hold your gym membership for a minimum of a few consecutive months.</p> <h2>9. Warehouse Memberships</h2> <p>If you are hesitant to pay for a warehouse membership, think again. You can make back that fee in no time and continue to save throughout the whole year. (See also: <a href="">10 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco</a>)</p> <p>At Costco you can buy almost anything from tires to funeral supplies. Additionally, you can also save on a common budget buster: dining and entertainment. Get dining gift cards like <a href=";-Two-%2450-Gift-Cards.product.100108132.html">$100 worth of Buca di Beppo gift cards</a> for $74.99 or discounted movie tickets.</p> <p>Think of your warehouse membership as the key to access a world of high end and <a href="">everyday items</a> at much lower prices.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite ways to save? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Easy Ways to Save $50 Every Month" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Budgeting Shopping cost cutting expenses saving Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1145792 at Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-be-paying-someone-else-to-do-these-7-common-chores" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="tired cleaning" title="tired cleaning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>DIY has been getting a lot of good press lately as we all process the lessons of the Great Recession and get more in-touch with our self-reliant selves. But is DIY always the smartest way to go? Considering money saved versus potential money-earned and other cost-benefit analyses, when is DIY a smart saving strategy, and when is it a waste of time? Here are seven typical DIY projects and approximate associated savings. (See also: <a href="">Why the Time-Value of Money Matters</a>)</p> <h2>1. Basic Auto Maintenance</h2> <p>You don't need to take a class in auto mechanics or invest in a pneumatic impact wrenches and a hydraulic car lift. But by checking fluids and tire pressure regularly, knowing how to replace an air filter or fuse, and learning a few other <a href="">DIY auto maintenance</a> skills, you can save some serious cash in the short- and long-term. Though car repair and maintenance costs differ based on the state you live in and the task, hourly rates of mechanics in the US range from $115.00 to $150.00.</p> <h2>2. Tax Preparation</h2> <p>One of the wonderful things about the Information Age is the access each of us has to software once reserved for the pros. This access comes in particularly handy at tax time when, if your tax situation isn't too complicated, you can complete and file a simple return online all with the help of intuitive software and easy-to-use programs &mdash; <a href="">sometimes even for free</a>.</p> <p>Like most things in life, the key to stress-free tax preparation is keeping meticulous records and carving out enough time to do it and do it right. Next year, crunch the numbers yourself and see if it makes sense to prepare and file your taxes on your own &mdash; especially considering that according to the National Society of Accountants, the <a href="">average cost</a> to file a federal return in 2013 was $261.00. (See also: <a href="">Turn Last Year's Taxes Into This Year's Financial Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h2>3. Yard Work</h2> <p>It's hard to convince most people of the joys and health benefits of yard work. Considering that the average cost of two hour's worth of lawn-mowing services in my part of the country can be as low as $11.85, I can see why many folks opt to skip this particular form of DIY in exchange for a little R&amp;R. This handy <a href="">ZIP Code based rate calculator</a> from Homewyse can help you see what the high and low lawn care rates are in your neck of the woods.</p> <p>Still committed to the idea of DIY lawn care? Relieve some of the drudgery by involving the whole family and sharing the work for a few hours a couple of days each week, then reward everyone with a movie and pizza afterward. Not so skilled at the finer points of lawn care? <a href="">Try this recipe</a> to turn that brown lawn into a carpet of green.</p> <h2>4. House Cleaning</h2> <p>House cleaning is a lot like yard work &mdash; it's easy to lean toward a non-DIY approach because of the sheer drudgery and time commitment involved. According to Angie's List, average <a href="">hourly rates for house cleaners</a> fall between $25.00-$35.00, though those numbers seem a bit high for many parts of the country. In this category, a clear cost-benefit analysis has to include factors like how much stress a dirty or disorganized environment causes you, any gains in productivity you'd achieve with this particular to-do off your list, and &mdash; since housecleaning doesn't pair well with multitasking &mdash; the amount of leisure time or productive time that's sacrificed with this activity.</p> <h2>5. Car Washing</h2> <p>My local touchless car wash has four pricing options: The &quot;deluxe&quot; option is $8.00, and it includes a wash, spot-free rinse, the application of some sort of wax protectant, and a blow dry at the very end. Options decrease in price and features from there, going as low as $5.00. Granted, I could save a buck or two by washing my car myself (the old bucket, sponge, and shammy method), but honestly either option seems better than paying for a full-service hand wash. An express hand wash at the location nearest to me is $31.00. With tip, that's four times more than the most expensive touchless option.</p> <p>The lesson here is this: There are varying degrees of DIY. Even when we resolve not pay someone else to our grunt-work, there's a range of what I call &quot;semi-DIY&quot; options that are still convenient and relatively quick.</p> <h2>6. Dining Out</h2> <p>Though we may not think of this way, every time we pull up to the drive-through window or sit down to order in a restaurant, we're outsourcing cooking and meal prep. With dining out, however, the costs are a bit more difficult to pin down; prices vary based on region, type of meal, service level, food choices, gratuity, and other add-ons.</p> <p>Still, it's important to think of the costs of restaurant meals holistically. What are the health consequences of not being able to control portion size or ingredients? What comparable dish could you make at home with minimal effort, tools, time, and money?</p> <p>For example, if dinner at your favorite restaurant costs $17.00, how much would it cost to create a similar meal at home and how might that meal be healthier? How many more meals would the ingredients produce? Would cooking be time lost, or is it something you enjoy and could pair with another activity? What's specifically is gained in buying prepared food and are those gains impossible to maintain if you cooked at home?</p> <p>If you'd like to try more DIY meals, start a collection of quick and simple recipes that you can make without dozens of ingredients and a kitchen full of specialized wonder-gadgets. If you have the time, make more than you need or make a few meals ahead and freeze the rest for quick and healthy solutions that keep you miles away from McCuisine. (See also: 2 <a href="">5 Healthy Recipes for Lazy People</a>)</p> <h2>7. Dry Cleaning</h2> <p>A dear friend of mine works in an office where business professional attire is the standard. And, though I have no firm numbers to prove it, her monthly dry-cleaning expenses must exceed my monthly cell phone bill. Still, she continues to buy clothing that can only be dry cleaned. Suits and formal wear aside, with all the advances in microfibers and washable wool, why are we still stuffing our closets with items that need to be carted off to a specialist to be properly cleaned?</p> <p>Okay, now I'll step off my soapbox and suggest a few DIY options and alternatives for some of those dry-clean only items. Hand-washing in cold water and air-drying, using an at-home dry-cleaning kit, or freshening up clothes with a good steam ironing can keep you out of the dry-cleaners or at least make your visit far less frequent. <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=home%20dry%20cleaning%20kit&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahome%20dry%20cleaning%20kit&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=TKFMPSEZT6TTEV5T">At-home dry cleaning kits</a> run about $10.00. Though the effectiveness and number of treatments vary by brand, success with these kits usually depends on thorough pre-treating with water or stain-remover.</p> <p>Of course, the response I often hear against the idea of DIY goes something like this: &quot;If I earn $45.00 an hour, I actually <em>save</em> money by hiring a lower-wage worker to take care of certain tasks and using the spare time to earn more money or recharge.&quot; And that's a completely fair conclusion. The key is understanding what the real savings are when we choose to complete a task ourselves or hire it done.</p> <p><em>Are you a committed DIYer? What tasks would you gladly pay someone else to do if the costs and benefits supported it?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Lifestyle car maintenance cost cutting house cleaning yard work Thu, 05 Jun 2014 21:00:33 +0000 Kentin Waits 1141612 at 12 Extreme Ways to Save Money That Could Work for You <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-extreme-ways-to-save-money-that-could-work-for-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="laundry" title="laundry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Just about everyone is interested in ways to save money &mdash; some of us more than others. For many, pinching pennies is the only way to get through the month and cover the essentials, such as electricity and food. (See also: <a href="">101 Ways to Save Around the House</a>)</p> <p>Although most people are familiar with obvious money saving techniques, such as cooking their own food and shopping less, these aren't the only ways to be frugal.</p> <p>Think outside the box, and you'll discover a variety of clever, and sometimes extreme, ways to hold onto your cash.</p> <h2>1. Stop Eating Meat</h2> <p>Beef, pork, and chicken can drive up your grocery bill, especially if you're shopping for a family. If you cut meat from your diet and plan meals around protein alternatives like tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa, and tempeh, you can knock several dollars off each grocery trip. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Items for Your Vegan Pantry</a>)</p> <h2>2. Barter With Friends</h2> <p>Get with a few of your friends and barter services to save money. For example, if you need plumbing work or other household repairs, you can trade services with someone who has expertise in the handyman arts. If this person agrees to fix your plumbing issues, you can agree to offer your own expertise and services.</p> <h2>3. Hang Dry Your Laundry</h2> <p>Yes, it'll take longer to dry your clothes. However, using a drying rack instead of your clothes dryer can <a href="">reduce your energy cost</a> each month, especially if you wash and dry several loads a week.</p> <h2>4. Resole Your Shoes</h2> <p>Old, worn shoes are a good excuse to hit the store and buy a new pair. But don't quickly replace your shoes. Go to a shoe repair store, and you might be able to resole the bottom. This extends the life of your shoes, ultimately saving you money.</p> <h2>5. Move Into a Smaller Place</h2> <p>Most people don't want to give up space. However, downsizing to a much smaller home is a practical way to reduce expenditures. You'll save on housing, and with less room to store items, living in a smaller space might curb shopping too. (See also: <a href="">How to Downsize and Life Better</a>)</p> <h2>6. Sleep at the Airport When Traveling</h2> <p>If you have an overnight layover, or if your flight's canceled due to bad weather, skip the hotel and<a href=""> bunk at the airport</a>. It might not be the most comfortable sleep, but at least you'll avoid hotel costs, and the cost of transportation to and from the airport (if the hotel doesn't offer a free shuttle service). To keep belongings safe, use your carry-on bag as a pillow or footrest.</p> <h2>7. Stop Buying New</h2> <p>Join the Compact and challenge yourself to <a href="">buy nothing new for a year</a> (with a few exceptions for food, healthcare, and services). While the Compact is primarily about environmental and economic awareness, nearly all of its pledgees wind up saving hundreds &mdash; even thousands &mdash; of dollars during the challenge. Many, of course, continue the lifestyle once the year is up &mdash; and continue to save.</p> <h2>8. Give Coupons as Gifts</h2> <p>Buying gifts for Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special events can take a chunk from your already tight budget. Since there is no rule that says you have to spend money on gifts, get creative with your gift-giving.</p> <p>Save up good coupons that you aren't going to use and gift them to people who would. If you have a <a href="">rewards credit card</a>, redeem your points for gift cards and give these as gifts. You can also <a href="">make your own coupons</a> for gifts!</p> <h2>9. Eat Before You Go Out to Eat</h2> <p>Eat at home before meeting up with friends at a restaurant, and you won't have to spend money on an expensive entree. You can order a dessert or a cheap side and enjoy good conversation without the expensive bill. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Ways to Hang Out With Friends</a>)</p> <h2>10. Use a Single Light Bulb</h2> <p>Keeping multiple lights on in your home drives up your electricity bill. If your house is small enough, only use one light at night &mdash; perhaps a hall light &mdash; and keep the remaining lights off.</p> <h2>11. Let Students Practice on You</h2> <p>Going to a spa, getting your hair done, and dental visits can be costly. However, you can save money by using students in training.</p> <p>For example, schedule an appointment with a local hair school or massage school and receive services at a fraction of the cost. And if you live within vicinity of a dental college, you might be able to schedule routine dental services for less. (See also: <a href="">Get Free High-End Haircuts as a Hair Model</a>)</p> <h2>12. Surf the Internet Outside Your House</h2> <p>Home Internet service isn't cheap &mdash; costing $40 (or more) a month. The truth is, if you're not a big Internet user, you can probably survive without the service. Use your smartphone if you have a data plan, and there's always the option of using free Wi-Fi at a fast food restaurant, coffee shop, or the library. Also, if your neighbor has a strong signal, ask permission to use his or her Wi-Fi. Offer to share the cost, or maybe barter something in exchange?</p> <p><em>Have you tried any extreme measures to save money? Did they work for you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Extreme Ways to Save Money That Could Work for You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living cost cutting extreme saving saving Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:48:15 +0000 Mikey Rox 1135138 at 5 Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes That Could Save You $1,500 This Year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-you-can-do-in-15-minutes-that-could-save-you-1500-this-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="clock" title="clock" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are <a href="">101 things you can do to improve your life</a> if you have 15 minutes to spare, and saving yourself some serious cash is one of them. In fact, you can reduce some of your most costly expenses and put almost $1,500 in your pocket in the same time it takes to check your Facebook feed. (See also: <a href="">101 Ways to Save Money Around the House</a>)</p> <h2>Reduce Your Screen Brightness</h2> <p>Turning off the TV and computer monitor when you leave the room is a no-brainer way to reduce your energy bills, but you can do even more to save money while the screen is still on.</p> <p>At the highest brightness setting, LCD, LED, and plasma TVs can <a href="">cost you from $10 to $80 to each year</a>, depending on the model and size. While having the brightness cranked all the way up makes screens look great on the store floor, it's not necessary in your living room. By turning down the brightness and contrast by half, you can <a href="">save 15% off your electricity bill</a> annually, and have <a href="">a prettier picture</a> to boot. Although this may not seem like much on its own, the savings can add up over the life of your TV.</p> <p>Likewise, decreasing the brightness on your computer screen from the highest setting to the lowest can <a href="">reduce the monitor's cost by 50%</a>.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Annual Savings: $12 to $20</strong></p> <h2>Adjust the Thermostat</h2> <p>Turning the thermostat up or down three degrees can save you <a href="">$74 per year on your energy bills</a>. You can save $84 every year if you adjust the thermostat by degrees 10 degrees at night and any time you'll be out of the house for long stretches.</p> <p>Combining these two options will maximize your savings, but consistency is key. Investing $30 to $100 in a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009GDHYPQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">programmable thermostat</a> may well be worth it within the first year.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Annual Savings: $74 to $100</strong></p> <h2>Turn Down the Water Heater</h2> <p>Household water heaters can provide water at upwards of 150 degrees, although most manufacturers set the default temperature to 140 degrees. But considering the fact that hot tubs run at only 100 degrees, the default is still way too hot to be comfortable &mdash; <a href="">or safe</a>.</p> <p>Higher temps require more fuel to reheat the tank when someone uses the hot water. And from a physics standpoint, the hotter the water, the faster it loses heat, necessitating more energy to maintain the temperature.</p> <p>Reducing the water heater's temperature by 10 degrees can save you between <a href="">$12 and $30 each year</a> from heat loss and about $130 in tank reheating costs. At the U.S. Department of Energy's recommended setting of 120 degrees, you can still have a steaming-hot shower without letting your money go down the drain. (See also: <a href="">How to Lower Water Heater Costs</a>)</p> <p><strong>Estimated Annual Savings: $140 to $160</strong></p> <h2>Renegotiate Prices for Services</h2> <p>Although most companies focus their efforts on advertising discounts for new business, existing customers can receive price cuts as well. In many cases, all you have to do is call up your service providers and ask if they have any better deals to offer. With a few minutes of research beforehand, you can find out what a company's competitors charge for similar service and use those numbers to negotiate. (See also: <a href="">How to Negotiate With Confidence</a>)</p> <p>And if you run into resistance, you can always request to terminate your service. The department that handles cancellations can often offer special deals as a last-ditch effort to retain customers.</p> <p>Even if you're only paying $500 per month spread across utilities, insurance, phone service, Internet access, and cable, you can save yourself $30 each month with a 10% discount on just three of your services. (See also: <a href="">6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills</a>)</p> <p><strong>Estimated Annual Savings: $360</strong></p> <h2>Automate Early Bill Payments</h2> <p>Setting up your bill payments so they occur <a href="">as early as possible</a> will not only help you save money on late fees, you can also save a bundle on interest and may also be able to receive discounts on your services. Everyone's financial situation is unique, but with US averages of <a href="">$4,878</a> in credit card debt at <a href="">15% interest</a> and <a href="">$113</a> in late fees per household, you could save yourself $56 in interest each month and eliminate penalty charges altogether.</p> <p><strong>Estimated Annual Savings: $780</strong></p> <p><em>So there you have it. 15 minutes just saved you nearly $1,500 over the course of a year. What are some of your quick money-saving tips?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes That Could Save You $1,500 This Year" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Lauren Treadwell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance General Tips cost cutting easy money saving Wed, 26 Mar 2014 09:36:14 +0000 Lauren Treadwell 1132969 at 101 Ways to Save Money Around the House <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/101-ways-to-save-money-around-the-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family" title="family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With some common sense tips and some not-so-obvious suggestions, there are many ways you can save a pretty penny around the house. Here's over a hundred ways you can start saving anything from a few cents to thousands of dollars today. (See also: <a href="">12 Ways to Make Yourself Save</a>)</p> <h2>1. Shop at the Right Time of Year</h2> <p>Time home item purchases to get the cheapest prices. Think furniture in January/February, barbecues in fall, and holiday decor after Christmas. See <a href="">Wise Bread's shopping calendar</a> to find the best times to buy (and stay tuned for our monthly &quot;What to Buy&quot; feature, which runs on or around the first of every month).</p> <h2>2. Renegotiate Your Rent or Refinance Your Mortgage</h2> <p>Try negotiating a lower rent the next time your lease is up for renewal. For homeowners, investigate refinancing your mortgage if you can save a couple of percentage points on your interest rate.</p> <h2>3. Get a Sunday Paper Delivery</h2> <p>Sunday papers are full of coupons. The amount of savings gained from using these food and retailer coupons will far exceed the cost of the paper.</p> <h2>4. Collect Spare Change</h2> <p>Keep a jar to collect loose change. Don't forget to check old junk drawers and the couch for coins, too. Every few months you can dump the change in your supermarket's Coinstar machine to use towards groceries. You'll pay no fees if you convert your coins to a variety of gift cards, including Amazon gift cards, where you can take advantage of <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DBYBNEE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Prime</a> and <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Subscribe and Save</a>.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>5. Switch to Cloth Napkins</h2> <p>You can get good-enough-for-everyday and still much nicer than paper, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005HGICXY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">all-cotton table napkins</a> at Amazon and elsewhere, in a variety of colors and patterns, for a couple of dollars each, and sometimes less. Since they're cotton instead of linen, just wash and fold, no ironing required!</p> <h2>6. Dollar Store Household Items</h2> <p>Get to know your local dollar stores. Buying household staples like tape, wrapping paper, soap, and other items will save you a bundle over the grocery store or pharmacy. (See also: <a href="">Things You Should Buy at the Dollar Store</a>)</p> <h2>7. Relax for Less</h2> <p>Rather than pay for relaxation, find other cheaper ways to unwind. Try meditation, reading, napping, or an affordable hobby instead of old habits that cost more, like shopping online or mixing up expensive cocktails.</p> <h2>8. Grow Some Herbs</h2> <p>Herbs can easily be grown indoors on a small windowsill or outside in pots or gardens. They will help you save on buying expensive grocery store jars of seasonings, will taste fresher, and can be easily dried and stored.</p> <h2>9. View Coupons as Money</h2> <p>When you realize a $10 coupon for something you need is the same as someone giving you $10 in cash towards your purchase, you'll start to see the value of coupons and savings in a whole new way.</p> <h2>10. Close Closet Doors</h2> <p>Help keep your energy costs lower by closing closet doors so you aren't needlessly heating and cooling closet space.</p> <h2>11. Pay Your Bills Online</h2> <p>Not only will this save you stamps and checks, but the many email reminders and ease of paying online will help you never miss a bill and have to pay a late charge. (See also: <a href="">How to Avoid Late Fees</a>)</p> <h2>12. Use Supermarket Weekly Circulars</h2> <p>Don't just throw out that weekly grocery store circular. Give them a good look and plan to strategically shop the many deals they have, or stock up on deeply discounted items when bargains arise.</p> <h2>13. Entertain Over Brunch Instead of Dinner</h2> <p>Brunch items are often cheaper to prepare than dinner for guests (think French toast vs. expensive steaks). You'll also save on alcohol, as people are less likely to drink as much.</p> <h2>14. Make a Household Budget</h2> <p>It's time to sit down and do a budget to trim the fat, see where your hidden expenses are, and examine where your dollars are going. You can <a href="">learn to build a budget</a> in no time flat, or tune up one you currently have.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>15. Make Your Own Cheap Wall Art</h2> <p>Affordable wall decor is at your fingertips when you transform some of your favorite photos into a collage of cool black and whites, frame beautiful fabric scraps, utilize your kid's artwork, or paint your own scenes. (See also: <a href="">Inexpensive, DIY Art</a>)</p> <h2>16. Take Free Classes</h2> <p>Free or discounted continuing education classes in many subjects and hobbies can be found in certain communities with just a little searching. Instead of paying for a private tutor or a fancy school, consider looking for community options.</p> <h2>17. Organize and Use Your Pantry</h2> <p>Keeping a well-organized food pantry means you are less likely to buy things you don't need or let items go passed their expiration dates. Like a good episode of Food Network's &quot;Chopped,&quot; you should also make sure to use all items in your pantry, too. (See also: <a href="">How to Organize Your Pantry</a>)</p> <h2>18. Always Check for Online Coupons and Discounts</h2> <p>Before you purchase anything online, hit up sites, like <a href="">RetailMeNot</a> and <a href="">Froogle</a>, to check for promo codes, free shipping, and where to find your item at the cheapest price.</p> <h2>19. Make Your Own Drapes</h2> <p>If you've ever seen how much curtains can go for these days, you'll understand why making your own is a huge saver. You don't even need to know how to sew if you follow some easy <a href="">no-sew drape tutorials</a>. (See also: <a href="">Make Your Own Curtains</a>)</p> <h2>20. Use Free Designers and Advice</h2> <p>Take advantage of many retailers' in-house design teams. Furniture stores often offer free design consultants, paint stores always have some knowledgeable advice, and even certain clothing retailers have free stylists to help you shop.</p> <h2>21. Drink Discount Wines</h2> <p>Shop your local wine store for great promotions and sales. Most decent stores have a section of their favorite budget picks or advertise weekly promotions from new wineries. (See also: <a href="">Great Wines Under $10</a>)</p> <h2>22. Use Energy Efficient Lighting</h2> <p>Now that the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs are being phased-out, finding affordable <a href="">CFL and LED bulb options</a> is getting easier. The total lifetime savings from these energy-efficient bulbs will greatly out-weigh their initial investment and save on overall energy costs.</p> <h2>23. Be Your Own Barista</h2> <p>We all know how much coffee shops can cost, so brew your own at home and take a to-go mug with you in the morning. Invest in small hand-frothers, syrups, or just use cinnamon or other common flavorings to fancy things up. (See also: <a href="">5 Best Coffeemakers</a>)</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>24. Join Store Loyalty Programs</h2> <p>Supermarkets, pharmacies, and retailers all offer loyalty cards these days. The points and savings really add up. You can save almost 25% or more off purchases just by being part of the program.</p> <h2>25. Find Cheaper Gas</h2> <p>Before you head out to the pump, check gas price sites, like <a href="">Gas Buddy</a>, to locate the cheapest gas in town and plan accordingly.</p> <h2>26. Make Your Own Cleaners</h2> <p>There are so many ways to <a href="">make your own cleaning products</a> using things like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and other common household items, all of which are cheaper than brand name cleaners.</p> <h2>27. Divide Landscaping Plants and Use Transplants</h2> <p>When planning your outdoor landscape, look to friends or relatives that have extra plants you can to transplant in your garden. Or divide your own larger plantings and spread them around the yard.</p> <h2>28. Rethink Your Cable</h2> <p>Cut back on premium channels or try the many alternative, cheaper online viewing options, such as <a href="">Netflix</a> and Hulu+, which you can access via your laptop or connected devices like <a href="">Google Chromecast</a> and <a href="">Apple TV</a>, among others.</p> <h2>29. Buy in Season or Frozen Veggies</h2> <p>Avoid pricey out-of-season fruits and vegetables or exotic fresh picks at your grocery store and instead buy local, in-season options. Frozen is also cheaper and just as full of nutrients. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Use Frozen Veggies</a>)</p> <h2>30. Buy Generic</h2> <p>There are great savings to be had with certain generic brands in every supermarket. Often the generic options are just as good, if not better, than some of their pricier brand name counterparts. In fact, many store or &quot;private label&quot; brands are manufactured by the same companies that make the name brands.</p> <h2>31. Cash Back Reward Cards</h2> <p>If you must use credit, make sure you are getting cash back rewards on your card. Credit card companies are super competitive, so if your card is not giving you benefits, there is definitely one that will (just make sure to check the APR). (See also: <a href="">Top 5 Cash Back Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>32. Pack Your Lunch</h2> <p>Sure it might seem easier to grab lunch while out, but brown bagging can save you a lot of cash each week. It's also especially helpful for those who just can't step out of the office or need more willpower to stick with a healthy lunch.</p> <h2>33. Cancel Certain Memberships</h2> <p>Got a credit card with an annual fee, a rarely used gym membership, or a club you pay for but don't access? Time to cut it out and get rid of the extra cost that's not worth the reward.</p> <h2>34. Stop Buying Bottled Water</h2> <p>Install a sink filter or get a Brita filter or other similar unit. It will save lots of dollars over the lifetime of use and is better for the environment than bottled. (See also: <a href="">Best Water Filters</a>)</p> <h2>35. Repurpose Instead of Buying New</h2> <p>Transform old items to make instant new decor. Ideas include recovering old chairs, updating cabinet hardware, repainting furniture, and using old bottles as shelf decor.</p> <h2>36. Recycle for Cash</h2> <p>There are many programs out there, like <a href="">Recyclebank</a>, which work with your waste hauler to give rewards for regular recycling. Such benefits include earning coupons for your favorite restaurants, supermarket gift certificates, and free magazines. You can also &quot;recycle&quot; old electronics for cash through sites like <a href="">uSell</a>, <a href=";U=255320&amp;M=45652&amp;urllink=">Gazelle</a>, and <a href=";fot=9999&amp;foc=1">NextWorth</a>.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>37. Curb the Takeout</h2> <p>Cooking at home, rather than ordering that all-too-easy take-out, really will help you save. If you're spending about $10 on average per person with your takeout, that can easily equate to several (or more) home-cooked meals per week. (See also: <a href="">Kitchen Tricks That'll Make You Love Cooking</a>)</p> <h2>38. Use Public Transportation</h2> <p>If you live in the city you know the difference of a subway ride vs. paying for a cab. Even if you live out in the burbs, public rails can save a bundle on commutes.</p> <h2>39. Start Using Rechargeable Batteries</h2> <p>If you burn through batteries frequently, then it's time to make the switch to rechargeable. You'll end up saving in the long run by ditching the disposables.</p> <h2>40. Smart At-Home Printing</h2> <p>Always turn off the color cartridge if you don't need it. Print only necessary pages at home and try printing at work (non-sensitive docs of course) to save money on expensive ink cartridges and paper.</p> <h2>41. Wash Clothes in Cold Water</h2> <p>Most detergents work just as well in cold water as they do in hot. Save energy costs and switch to cold when you can.</p> <h2>42. Change/Clean Your Filters</h2> <p>This goes for everything from changing your HVAC filters to cleaning your dryer screens to cleaning your dishwasher filter. Keeping screens clean or replacing them on schedule will help appliances run more efficiently and economically.</p> <h2>43. Dry Clean Less</h2> <p>Find ways to hand wash items yourself, or try <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=dryel&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps">Dryel</a> or other <a href="">in-home dry cleaning kits</a> to save big on professional dry cleaning.</p> <h2>44. Buy Cookware at Discount Home Stores</h2> <p>You don't need a high-end retailer selling $300 Dutch ovens and skillets. Try places like <a href="">HomeGoods</a> or other discounters where you can find pots, pans, and other cookware from well-known brands for 60% off or more.</p> <h2>45. Use Takeout Coupons</h2> <p>If you must order out, take advantage of coupons. Chain restaurants often have online offers and coupons, while local establishments usually send out mailers or have weekly savings ads.</p> <h2>46. Get Rid of Clutter</h2> <p>Tidying up can make you see what you have, rediscover old items to put to good use, and make sure you don't buy duplicates.</p> <h2>47. Turn Off the Lights</h2> <p>You've heard it before, but making sure you are diligent about turning off the lights when not in use can really help keep energy costs down.</p> <h2>48. Make Your Own Gifts</h2> <p>There are so many items you can make cheaply and give as gifts. Things as simple as personalized picture frames to more complex knitting, sewing, or painting projects can save a bundle. (See also: <a href="">Gifts You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>49. Cook Cheap Recipes</h2> <p>Get a collection of <a href="">yummy economical recipes</a> to cook up, which utilize low-cost ingredients and help your wallet.</p> <h2>50. Reuse Containers</h2> <p>Don't pay for organization and storage when you can <a href="">reuse many common kitchen containers</a> in drawers, closets, and around the house.</p> <h2>51. Use Solar Lights</h2> <p>Use inexpensive solar lights for your landscape or front walk instead of getting expensive professionally wired options.</p> <h2>52. Install Window Coverings</h2> <p>Window treatments not only maintain privacy, but they help keep energy costs at bay. Blinds, shutters, and thermal curtains are all great options to get the job done.</p> <h2>53. Get a Better Cell/Data Plan</h2> <p>Check your cell and data usage and make sure your plan is in line with your needs. Be sure you're not going over your limits, or if you usually only have minimal usage, adjust your plan and save.</p> <h2>54. Start a Vegetable Garden</h2> <p>Your own vegetable garden is a great way to bring some cheap, organic food into the house, not to mention it can be a fun hobby. (See also: <a href="">The 4 Things a Vegetable Garden Needs</a>)</p> <h2>55. Do Your Own Nails</h2> <p>Skip your regular salon visits by doing your own nails to save a small fortune. Or, limit your visits to once a month and do your own touch-ups between visits.</p> <h2>56. Buy Certain Things in Bulk</h2> <p>Check the per unit price at warehouse clubs and supermarkets to get the best deals per unit when buying in bulk. Avoid buying fresh items and dairy in bulk unless you intend to use them immediately. (See also: <a href="">Bulk Buying Basics</a>)</p> <h2>57. Lower Your Heat or Turn Down Your AC</h2> <p>It's no mystery that keeping your thermostat in check will help save money. It is estimated that you can save <a href="">1% for every degree</a> you adjust up or down.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>58. Entertain at Home</h2> <p>Skipping restaurants and dining at home is a great way to save on your entertainment spend. Utilize the chance for outdoor dining and barbecues in the warmer weather and cozy indoor dinners in the wintertime.</p> <h2>59. Cheaper Curb Appeal</h2> <p>Gather large rocks to make your own free edging, shop discount stores for cheap front door pottery choices, and arrange your own planters instead of paying for expensive premade garden center arrangements.</p> <h2>60. Recycle Wrapping Paper</h2> <p>Don't waste money on wrapping paper when you can reuse perfectly good paper from a recent present, or find other creative <a href="">ways to save on wrapping paper</a> for your gift giving.</p> <h2>61. Make Your Own Beauty Products</h2> <p>Like making your own cleaning products, beauty products can also be made from many common pantry and food items. Learn some great <a href="">homemade beauty product recipes</a> using things like avocados, oatmeal, and honey.</p> <h2>62. Stick to Shopping Lists</h2> <p>Always make a list and stick to it when setting out for the grocery store, mall, or online shopping. You are less likely to make random buys when something is not on your list.</p> <h2>63. Skip Storage Units</h2> <p>Sort through your belongings and keep what is most essential to forgo the expense of renting a storage unit. Or, find better ways around the house to use storage or lend things out to friends.</p> <h2>64. Shop Around Contractor Quotes</h2> <p>Make sure to shop around and compare quotes when getting work done. Also ask about any hidden fees or potential overages that could come up.</p> <h2>65. Plug Electronics Into Power Strips</h2> <p><a href="">Standby energy drain</a> is estimated to cost U.S. households $100 per year. Reduce your standby power loads by keeping all electronics plugged into a power strip so that you can easily turn the strip off when not in use to ensure your power is truly off.</p> <h2>66. Shop Resellers for Designer Items</h2> <p>There are a slew of consignment clothing resellers, like <a href="">Tradesy</a>, <a href="">Poshmark</a>, and <a href="">Threadflip</a>, where you can find a huge inventory of gently used designer clothing for a fraction of the cost of buying new.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>67. Lower Your Credit Card Rates</h2> <p>Call your credit card companies and ask for a lower rate. Often, card issuers will be willing to work with you, especially if you mention other lower rate competitors.</p> <h2>68. Run Full Loads of Wash or Dishes</h2> <p>You can save significant amounts of water and energy by running full loads of clothes in your washing machine or dishes in your dishwasher.</p> <h2>69. Pay January's Mortgage Payment Early</h2> <p>You can cut your taxes with an early January mortgage payment. Paying your January mortgage bill in December allows you to count the interest towards this year's tax deduction.</p> <h2>70. Plan Family Get-Togethers</h2> <p>Skip the cost of a babysitter and plan to have guests over with all the kids involved. Or, find some family-friendly social outings to get you all out of the house and entertained.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>71. Keep Your Freezer Full</h2> <p>A full freezer runs more efficiently and takes less energy to keep things frozen. You can also place water bottles or plastic bags full of water in empty spots to get the same effect. (See also: <a href="">How to Freeze Foods That Don't Freeze Well</a>)</p> <h2>72. Print Coupons Online</h2> <p>Spend a few minutes printing out some valuable coupons and learning about freebies and deals at all kinds of stores in your area. Great sites include <a href="">The Krazy Coupon Lady</a> and <a href="">She Saved</a>.</p> <h2>73. Use Ceiling Fans</h2> <p>Using your ceiling fan can help save a good amount on cooling and heating costs. There are many ways <a href="">ceiling fans save on energy</a>, including reversing them in winter to keep warm air in the room.</p> <h2>74. Adjust Your Water Heater</h2> <p><a href="">Lowering your water heater</a> down to a setting of 120 degrees can help save energy costs. It is estimated that you can save up to $30 annually for every 10-degree reduction.</p> <h2>75. Learn to Mend Your Clothes</h2> <p>You don't need to be a professional tailor, but learning how to make common repairs, like small holes, buttons, and hems, can save you a bundle.</p> <h2>76. Let Discount Stores Be Your Friend</h2> <p>Discount shopping has come a long way, and many great brands are taking part. Hit up places like <a href="">TJ Maxx</a> and <a href="">Marshalls</a> for some fantastic deals.</p> <h2>77. Skip Online Photo Books</h2> <p>Online photo books cost a small fortune, not to mention take a lot of time to make. Make it a habit to get the old fashioned prints at a fraction of the cost and buy cheap albums to place them in yourself.</p> <h2>78. Weather Strip Doors and Windows</h2> <p>Inexpensive weather stripping on doors and windows can save you on energy costs. Or, try a simple DIY <a href="">door draft stopper</a>, or buy a decorative one for a few bucks.</p> <h2>79. Save on Kid Entertainment</h2> <p>Don't pay big on entertaining the kids, when there are plenty of cheap activities they will also love. Renting DVDs, baking together, playing outside, playing board games, and doing arts and crafts all cost less than expensive game centers, movie theaters, and restaurants. (See also: <a href="">25 Free or Cheap Ways to Entertain Kids</a>)</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>80. Plant Perennials</h2> <p>Invest in perennials that keep blooming year after year instead of burning money on annuals that get you through only one season.</p> <h2>81. Tune up Your HVAC regularly</h2> <p>In addition to changing filters, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and help your equipment last longer.</p> <h2>82. Donate Gently Used Stuff</h2> <p>Don't be lazy and throw it away when someone in need could really use your item. Besides, you can get a tax deduction from reputable organizations.</p> <h2>83. Eat Leftovers</h2> <p>Don't let leftovers sit in the fridge only to hit the trash. Learn to <a href="">spruce up leftovers</a> to stretch your dollar and make your weekly cooking even easier.</p> <h2>84. Be Smart About Organic</h2> <p>Prioritize your organic food shopping and limit pricey organic buys to those of the &quot;<a href="">Dirty Dozen</a>,&quot; which are the produce most prone to contamination and worth buying organic.</p> <h2>85. Keep a Good Closet</h2> <p>Invest in clothes you will actually wear often and keep them organized. This will help you feel less like you have nothing to wear when you discover new combos or an old item you forgot you had.</p> <h2>86. Warehouse Club Hidden Benefits</h2> <p>Besides some of well-known savings available at warehouse clubs, don't forget to use some of their other benefits, such as deeply discounted gas, tires, discounts on car rentals and travel, and other less-obvious benefits. (See also: <a href="">10 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco</a>)</p> <h2>87. Bundle Your Communications</h2> <p>Check out the many triple play offers for your home internet, phone, and cable services. You can often save a good amount by bundling such items, and many providers will reward your customer loyalty with a further good bundle deal.</p> <h2>88. Do Your Own Painting</h2> <p>If you have some walls to paint, skip the professional and DIY the job to save. You can also have a painting party if there are lots of rooms to paint. There are plenty of tutorials about how to properly paint, or go to a local paint store for advice.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>89. Monitor Splurges</h2> <p>We all need a treat here and there, but keeping a close eye on how many splurge buys you make is critical to saving money. Set an allowance for yourself or keep a reward goal in mind, rather than making unplanned splurges.</p> <h2>90. Use Free Apps</h2> <p>Limit pricey apps and use only the essentials. Make sure your kids' games are the free kinds too as they can really add up.</p> <h2>91. Strategically Shop Sale and Clearance Sections</h2> <p>Head to the sale and clearance section first, before you even begin your regular shopping to see if you can snag what you are looking for at a discount. Don't forget to do the same when online shopping.</p> <h2>92. Do Certain Repairs Yourself</h2> <p>Learn how to do basic maintenance around the house, so you don't have to always call a plumber or handyman to get the job done. However, be sure to leave any potentially dangerous or important items to an experienced professional. (See also: <a href="">Easy DIY Plumbing Repairs</a>)</p> <h2>93. Cut Down on Designer Kids Clothes</h2> <p>While it's tempting to buy all those super cute designer baby clothes, keep in mind that babies and toddlers outgrow their clothes in a matter of months. And, young kids tend to get holes, stains, and wear clothes down easily. Skip the pricey brands and opt for more economical, but still cute, options.</p> <h2>94. Stock Up on Cheap Gifts</h2> <p>Birthdays, holidays, housewarmings, new babies, and the list goes on. Don't purchase last minute convenience gifts. When you find a great buy, stock up on a few so you are prepared for the future and save.</p> <h2>95. Use Air Purifying House Plants</h2> <p>Buy an affordable <a href="">air purifying houseplant</a> and skip the need for an expensive air purifier.</p> <h2>96. Skip Designer Decor</h2> <p>You can often find great deals on Etsy or at local craft shows for one-of-a-kind art pieces and unique decor. Such buys will save you big time over expensive designer items and boutique stores.</p> <h2>97. Cheap Flowers</h2> <p>Use your own fresh cut flowers from the garden, or buy nice bouquets in supermarket floral areas instead of purchasing stems from pricey florists.</p> <p><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></p> <h2>98. Rent a Dress</h2> <p>For the ladies attending big fancy events, think about renting your dress instead of buying an expensive option that you might only wear once or twice. Check out sites like <a href="">Rent the Runway</a> to find some great options.</p> <h2>99. Contribute Monthly to Your Savings Account</h2> <p>Make it a point to add a dedicated amount to your savings at the end of each month. Even if it's just a few dollars, the savings can add up and it will keep you from spending it frivolously.</p> <h2>100. Make Your Own Flavored Beverages</h2> <p>Save money on expensive bottled drinks and use a pitcher of regular water or basic seltzer and flavor with slices of lemons, oranges, cucumbers, or berries. (See also: <a href="">Natural Ways to Flavor Water</a>)</p> <h2>101. Don't Keep Up With the Joneses</h2> <p>Don't just spend because you want to be the one with the best gadget or are trying to outdo the neighborhood. Make sure your spending is not just for the sake of appearance, but instead is for things that truly matter.</p> <p><em>Whew! Anything I've missed? Please share your best household money-saving tips in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="101 Ways to Save Money Around the House" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living cost cutting household costs saving at home Mon, 24 Feb 2014 10:49:07 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1127300 at 5 Expensive Products That Will Actually Save You Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-expensive-products-that-will-actually-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="coin bulb" title="coin bulb" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The old saying &quot;you have to speculate to accumulate&quot; does not just apply to those in the investment industries. If you&#39;re spending a little more to get a return on your initial outlay, that works in all aspects of life; and the purchases you make are equally applicable. (See also: <a href="">15 Items to Pay More For</a>)</p> <p>Now, the word expensive is relative. What&#39;s costly for one person is peanuts to another. So in this article, expensive refers to the competitive products in the marketplace. Why should you shell out your hard earned money on a brand or product that has a much higher price tag than those in the same category?</p> <p>One word: savings. The products featured here will cost you more up front, but over time they will save you more money than their cheaper counterparts. It&#39;s called Return on Investment, or ROI, and you can see an impressive ROI on the following items.</p> <h2>1. Energy-Saving Light Bulbs</h2> <p>They&#39;re taking up more and more shelf space in the retail stores, but so many of us still go for the traditional incandescent bulbs. And we do it for one reason &mdash; cost. The initial outlay for an energy-saving light bulb is many times the cost of an incandescent. Sometimes, as much as ten times more. It&#39;s hard to plump for the pricey option when you can&#39;t see the long-term benefit. But Energy Star bulbs last between 10 and 25 times longer than the cheap bulbs, and <a href="">use 75% less energy</a>. Over the life of the bulb, that initial expense can be returned ten-fold, saving you up to $135. Think about it next time you&#39;re pondering in the light bulb aisle. (See also: <a href="">Best Energy Efficient Light Bulbs</a>)</p> <h2>2. Professional Power Tools</h2> <p>There are varying levels of power tools in the home improvement industry. They start with entry-level tools, priced low for the inexperienced and infrequent user. Then, the price goes up until you hit the level that professionals use. But here&#39;s the thing. Those cheap tools are not simply more basic models with fewer features. <a href="">Cheap tools are inferior</a> in so many ways. Build quality is far better in professional tools, with inferior materials used in the cheaper versions. Professional tools are designed to transfer power more efficiently, and will last much, much longer. The bottom line&hellip;if you plan on buying a power drill, sander, circular saw, or anything else in that vein, never go for the cheapest option; you&#39;ll be back to the store again and again. And over the course of your lifetime, you&#39;ll spend more on tools if you buy one just professional tool that will last you forever. (See also: <a href="">How to Stock Your First Toolbox</a>)</p> <h2>3. Cloth Diapers</h2> <p>Any parent that has looked into cloth diapers, or has actually used them, knows that the up front costs are a little scary. It can cost around $500&ndash;$600 to buy the cloth diapers, the plastic covers, and the additional inserts. Compare that to $40 for a box of diapers, and many parents get sticker shock and go for disposables. But cloth diapers pay for themselves many times over, <a href="">saving parents at least $1,000</a> over a two and a half year period. When you buy disposable diapers, you really are throwing money in the garbage. (See also: <a href="">Where to Get Cheaper Diapers</a>)</p> <h2>4. Hybrid Cars</h2> <p>The original hybrid cars were not that good to look at; let&#39;s be honest, they were boxy, clunky, and looked about as sexy as a concrete slab. But technology has improved vastly, and now hybrid vehicles are almost identical to their gas engine counterparts. However, there&#39;s usually a higher price associated with the hybrid model. Is it worth it? Well, that depends on the make and model of car, but in many cases, yes it&#39;s a money saver. For instance MSN Autos recently listed the top money-saving hybrid cars, and the <a href="">Lexus CT 200h came out on top</a>; its five-years savings over conventional models &mdash; $6,379!</p> <p>What about electric cars, you ask? The numbers <a href="">aren&#39;t quite as favorable</a>. In a state like California, with generous rebates for EV buyers, a Nissan Leaf buyer would have to wait six years before realizing any savings over a comparable gas powered vehicle.</p> <h2>5. Solar Power</h2> <p>Just like hybrid cars, solar power is becoming increasingly popular. But the big question many people have is, will I ever recoup the high initial cost of installing solar panels on my home? The answer, increasingly, is a big yes. A $20,000 system will instantly <a href="">get you back around $6,000</a> in tax credits. You could also get an additional $1,000 state grant, bringing the initial outlay to about $13,000. A system like this will save you over $1,000 in electricity, and you&#39;ll get extra $900 a year from Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). After seven years, the system has paid for itself. From then on, you&#39;re just pocketing the savings, with the average lifetime ROI coming in at almost 400%! (See also: <a href="">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a>)</p> <p>And if you&#39;re using your panels to charge up your electric car, you can push it to break even sooner, too.</p> <p><em>Any other expensive purchases that result in savings over the long term? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Expensive Products That Will Actually Save You Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living cost cutting investing saving Mon, 10 Feb 2014 11:36:32 +0000 Paul Michael 1123800 at Turn a Day Off Into Your Most Profitable Day of the Year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/turn-a-day-off-into-your-most-profitable-day-of-the-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man on phone" title="man on phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Keeping up can be hard. In order to cope, we only focus on what is most pressing &mdash; and our wallets suffer the consequences.</p> <p>Time management guru <a href="">Steven Covey</a> said that all our tasks fall into one of four quadrants:</p> <ol> <li>Quadrant One: Urgent and important</li> <li>Quadrant Two: Not urgent and important</li> <li>Quadrant Three: Urgent and not important</li> <li>Quadrant Four: Not urgent and not important&nbsp;</li> </ol> <p>Sometimes the unimportant activities trump important activities just because they are urgent. In our lives, one of the things we often neglect to do are the financial quadrant two activities. As a result, you could have one of your most profitable days by taking a day off and focusing on all the non-urgent yet important financial tasks you've been avoiding. (See also: <a href="">10 Monthly Bills You&nbsp;Can Slash</a>)</p> <h3>1. Shop Around for New Insurance</h3> <p>This includes all forms of insurance like house, <a href="">car</a>, <a href="">health</a>, <a href="">life</a>, <a href="">renters</a>, <a href="">disability</a>, and whatever other forms of insurance you have. After signing up for insurance and setting up your auto payments, you might rarely think about those expenses. However, spending an hour or two comparing rates could literally save you hundreds of dollars a year.</p> <h3>2. Call Credit Card Companies, and Ask If They Can Reduce Your Rate</h3> <p>Especially if you've been making payments and the credit card company thinks you're going to transfer your balance, they'll be more likely to <a href="">reduce your interest rate</a>. In fact, the best approach is to watch your junk mail for a <a href="">0% balance transfer</a> promotion and call the credit card company equipped with some motivation for them to drop your interest rate.</p> <h3>3. Switch to a Savings Account With a Higher Interest Rate</h3> <p>Go ahead and take 30 minutes to transfer your funds over to an account with a higher interest rate or an account that has some type of sign up bonus or incentive.</p> <h3>4. Set Up a Budget</h3> <p>One of the biggest reasons why people don't budget is that they don't have the time. Budgeting does take some time to get started, but typically once the ball is rolling, a few minutes a day is all you need to keep up with your budget. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour to get your budget set up.</p> <h3>5. Do Some Investing Research</h3> <p>If you're investing, do you have the lowest online brokerage, or are you overpaying on trading fees? Have you rebalanced your portfolio lately? Take the time necessary to review your investments.</p> <h3>6. Get Your Couponing System Up and Running</h3> <p>One of the intimidating things about couponing is creating and implementing a good system for tracking your <a href="">coupons</a>.</p> <h3>7. Read Money-Saving Articles</h3> <p>Set aside a little bit of time to search for money saving articles in areas where you're overspending. Spending too much on food? Google how to save money on groceries or how to cut dining out expenses. There's a good chance that you'll be able to come up with some good ideas that will save you at least $100 per year.</p> <p>Moral of the story &mdash; turn your time into money.</p> <p>Saving money can be more profitable than earning money (because you don't pay taxes on money you save). As a result, you'll benefit tremendously by taking a day off work to catch up on all those financial tasks you've been neglecting for months. I bet you could easily find a way to save over $500 per year with just one day off.</p> <p><em>What other things do you think people could do to save money during a day off?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Turn a Day Off Into Your Most Profitable Day of the Year" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Craig Ford</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living cost cutting coupons interest rates time off Wed, 14 Nov 2012 10:36:43 +0000 Craig Ford 955320 at 5 Easy Ways to Add $50 to Your Pocket <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-ways-to-add-50-to-your-pocket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man checking wallet" title="man checking wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In terms of the economy, things seem a little better than a couple of years ago, but we are kidding ourselves if we think everything is hunky dory. The media outlets can talk all they want about a recovery, but chances are good that your family can still use some help. Here are five ways you can gain $50. You won't be rich overnight by doing any of what I've outlined below, but the money saved is nothing to sneeze at. (See also: <a href="">10 Monthly Bills You&nbsp;Can Slash</a>)</p> <h3>1. Pause Your Memberships for Part of the Year</h3> <p>Chances are good that you can live without some of your memberships and subscriptions. Even if you do utilize them, it's likely you don't need them all months of the year. Consider canceling them for part of the year and reactivating them during others. Take your gym membership, for instance. Do you really need a gym during the summer when it's more enjoyable to stay active outdoors? Can you cancel your membership before the Thanksgiving weekend and start it back up in January if you won't be thinking about losing weight during the holiday season?</p> <h3>2. Cut Your Home Services</h3> <p>You've likely heard of the suggestion to cut your cable TV and give the Netflix free trial coupon a go, but it's hard to give up the sports channels, isn't it?</p> <p>If so, why not cancel your subscription a few days before you go on that annual vacation? Since you will be gone for a week or maybe even two, you won't be needing the service anyway. When you come back, you'd likely take a few days to recuperate. Add another week or two to give Netflix a serious try, and you are looking at one less cable TV bill, even if you hated not being able to channel surf.</p> <h3>3. Start Using Your Credit Card to Pay for Everything</h3> <p>My friends used to make fun of me when I whipped out my credit card for tiny purchases, but it's a smart move as you are responsible with your spending. Using your credit card to pay is actually faster, and the rewards from just your small purchases can add up to big bucks after a few months.</p> <p>From bills to that candy bar purchase to lunches out, you should be thinking about how to put everything on your credit card. And always ask whether you can use your credit card, too. Last time I bought a car, the dealership allowed me to put $5,000 on the credit card while paying the rest with a check. Since my card offers 1% <a href="">cash back</a>, I got $50 just for asking.</p> <h3>4. Refinance</h3> <p>If you still haven't <a href="">refinanced</a> your 6% 30-year fixed-rate loan, you owe it to yourself to get this done. Work out the numbers, because this can be more complex than you might think. But you may come out ahead even if you borrow money to come up with the sum underwater borrowers need to refinance. A home equity line of credit, your savings, 0% balance transfer credit cards, and even family members could be potential sources of funds. Though this is more work than the other suggestions, the reward is potentially much greater than $50 too.</p> <h3>5. Get Rid of Redundancies</h3> <p>We don't often think about it, but we often pay for the same thing in different ways. Take internet access, for instance. You have it at work, there is free WiFi in many stores, everybody in your family has that data plan, and you have internet access at home. Sure, it's convenient, but do you really need to be paying for so many different types of access?</p> <p>An alternative way to think of spending is to ask what benefit you are actually getting out of an expense. You may not like mowing your lawn, and paying for someone to do what you hate is perfectly fine. But if you pay for a gardener just so you can go work out at the gym, then it seems like a waste of money.</p> <p>It's your money, but spending a bit of time to optimize how you spend it will let you live the life you want much more easily.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Easy Ways to Add $50 to Your Pocket" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">David Ning</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living cost cutting cutting cable monthly bills refinancing Thu, 01 Mar 2012 11:36:29 +0000 David Ning 909005 at Use a Business Budget Checklist to Capture Fleeing Cash <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/use-a-business-budget-checklist-to-capture-fleeing-cash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Hand catching falling change" title="Hand catching falling change" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Use a Business Budget Checklist to Capture Fleeing Cash" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Oh, money. We love it. We hate it. And when it runs low, we panic and scramble to find ways to get more of it.</p> <p>Since your business can&rsquo;t run effectively on a money roller coaster, it&rsquo;s a good idea to plump up your operating budget. <a href="" target="_blank">Overspending on business goods</a> and services can cut into your bottom line in a hurry. However, a few simple changes can help you pad your bank balances with more greenbacks. Consider this easy checklist to help cut costs and halt overspending.</p> <p><b>Advertising</b></p> <p>Take a look at all the advertising opportunities you&rsquo;re currently paying for. This might be a box ad on a blog or website or a listing in a business directory. Immediately stop any paid advertising that&rsquo;s not bringing a favorable return. Or simply don&rsquo;t renew the ad when your contract with the advertiser runs out. Instead, look for free advertising and marketing advertising to help save some cash.</p> <p><b>Business Supplies</b></p> <p>Shiny things are so pretty, aren&rsquo;t they? Often, pretty things come with a high price tag. If you&rsquo;re compelled to purchase those fancy office supplies with bright colors and pretty prints, resist! You don&rsquo;t need argyle print file boxes to run your business; save your cash by purchasing standard, economical office supplies. Have ink cartridges refilled instead of buying new. Buy economical supplies in bulk to help save money if you can.</p> <p><b>Services</b></p> <p>Business services are a broad area with huge potential for saving you money. Did you settle on any one or more service simply because checking around was too much work? If you didn&rsquo;t take the time to compare services before choosing one, you&rsquo;re probably paying too much for it. Cut back on services you don&rsquo;t use and shop around for a comparable service with cheaper fees. A service with the highest price tag doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s better&mdash;it was just better at snagging you into overspending! Services you may be able to save on includes:</p> <ul> <li>Internet and web hosting;</li> <li>Phone services;</li> <li>Printing services;</li> <li>Newsletter hosting.</li> </ul> <p>You can find many reduced-price services that offer a great product. For example, consider using Skype for conference or telephone calls with clients to help cut your phone bill. <a href="" target="_blank"></a> offers fax services and business phone line hosting for a very reasonable fee. Skip high printing fees by tackling business card printing yourself or price-comparing printing companies. You can also create business forms, like order forms, in Microsoft Word and email them to customers to help save on printing and postage fees. With a little creative brainstorming, you can effectively stop overspending on services without sacrificing quality.</p> <p><b>Equipment</b></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking to make new equipment purchases, like office furniture or electronics, be sure to be patient and shop around. Instead of overpaying on brand new office equipment, consider finding gently used items for a fraction of the cost. Watch your local newspaper for business liquidations or auctions to see if you can snag furniture, filing and storage units, and other business essentials for less than buying new. Also, don&rsquo;t discount purchasing off-brand products. You may be able to find new electronics at a reasonable cost vs. paying a much higher price for a comparable, name-brand product.</p> <p>Resist the urge to upgrade your electronics each time a newer model comes out. It may be tempting to show off the latest electronic gadget; however if it really doesn&rsquo;t add value to your business, you&rsquo;ve just overspent big time.</p> <p><b>Fees</b></p> <p>You could be overpaying for business fees without even realizing it. Common business fees include:</p> <ul> <li>Bank and financial fees;</li> <li>Business credit card fees;</li> <li>Organization fees;</li> <li>Subscription fees.</li> </ul> <p>These fees usually happen automatically, so you&rsquo;re less likely to give them a lot of thought. Consider meeting with your bank to see if there are options for lower fees on financial services, like your bank accounts, credit cards or line of credit. If not, shop around for a financial institution that offers better rates and fees.</p> <p>Organization and subscription fees usually happen yearly. Before you pay out again, consider if you even actively use these subscriptions, such as trade magazine or business periodical subscriptions. If you pay fees to belong to the Chamber of Commerce or small business groups, are you an active participant? Or did you join and forget about it?</p> <p>It is not always easy to take an honest look at our business spending practices. But, to avoid a death spiral of financial fall-out, being honest and proactive can keep your business afloat and thriving, even in hard times.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Justine Grey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center business expenses cost cutting cost savings costs fees small business Mon, 02 Jan 2012 18:59:55 +0000 Justine Grey 844416 at 10 Small Business Money Myths to Reconsider <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/10-small-business-money-myths-to-reconsider" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Small Business Money Myths to Reconsider" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Money is obviously something a <a href="" target="_blank">small business owner thinks about often</a>. How much money do you have? How much money will it cost? How much money can you make?</p> <p>While money itself may not be your sole aim in building a successful business, money-making is a necessary component of business success. Maybe your motive in business is to help people, or be creative, or change an industry. Or, perhaps, your aim is to make money. It doesn't really matter, because any business, no matter its purpose, must make money in order to sustain itself.</p> <p><b>The Plunging-Profit Pattern</b></p> <p>Unfortunately, what often happens at this point is a pattern that leads to less profit, not more.</p> <p>The pattern starts with some long-held belief about money, and about how making money happens. You pull it out, eyeball it, and decide to try it out again. Or, more likely, you don't even consciously note it; you just allow it to control your decisions.</p> <p>Maybe it's your Granddaddy's voice in your ear, saying that slashing prices is the only way to boost sales. Or maybe it's your old business mentor, giving you his tips on how to cut corner after corner, because that's his version of bootstrapping. Maybe it's your accounting professor, your tax guy, your lawyer, your spouse, your best friend, your own fears.</p> <p>Whatever old hat it is you're waving around, it doesn't fit on your new business head. It doesn't work, and your profits plunge.</p> <p><b>The Problem with Money Myths</b></p> <p>Money myths aren't always incorrect. That's the trick, and that's why you keep believing them. Sometimes they do work, so their power over you remains. In fact, money myths <i>are</i> accurate in certain situations, but are not universally true. Applying a limited or faulty money belief as if it is universal or flawless is how small businesses wind up in trouble.</p> <p><b>Ten Common Money Myths</b></p> <p>Do any of these statements sound familiar? Have you heard yourself saying them or heard something similar echoing through your brain?</p> <p>Myth #1: &quot;Lowering my overhead (spending less) is the only/best way to increase my profits.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #2: &quot;Debt is the devil.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #3: &quot;Payroll is my biggest expense.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #4: &quot;I can't afford to __________ .&quot;</p> <p>Myth #5: &quot;I have to offer the lowest prices to beat my competitors.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #6: &quot;Lack of money is my biggest business problem.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #7: &quot;Dumping money into XYZ area of my business would solve my problems.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #8: &quot;I'm doing the best I can with the money I have.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #9: &quot;Cutting jobs/cutting costs/cutting corners is my only option.&quot;</p> <p>Myth #10: &quot;Lack of profit is justifiable because it's a down economy.&quot;</p> <p><b>Busting the Money Myths</b></p> <p>Your job is to see the myths for what they are and are not. They are not universally true, unerringly accurate statements. They are limited. All you have to do is figure out their limitations. In other words, when should you keep the faith, and when should you stop believing?</p> <p>Use these myth-busting questions to figure out if your money belief works for your current situation.</p> <ul> <li>Why do I think this is true?</li> <li>Where did I learn this?</li> <li>What policies do successful businesses have about this money issue?</li> <li>Is this the only option?</li> <li>Is this the best option?</li> <li>What are the alternatives? (There are always alternatives.)</li> <li>What's the opposite?</li> <li>What's the long-term outcome of applying this option?</li> <li>If this were the only thing people would know about my business, would I do it?</li> <li>What possible positive effects could this have?</li> <li>What possible negative effects could this have?</li> <li>What effect am I looking for?</li> </ul> <p>Like it or not, part of your job is dealing with the money and being smart about the money. If the nuts and bolts of money-making don't appeal to you, you'll be tempted to divert to the easiest plan. The easiest plan will be the method that's most comfortable, and that's where the danger lies. Pay attention to your own money beliefs and make sure they're accurate for your actual situation before you act.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Annie Mueller</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center business investment cash cost cutting finance money money myths small business Fri, 23 Dec 2011 22:42:09 +0000 Annie Mueller 835747 at 5 Daily Deal Sites for Small Business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-daily-deal-sites-for-small-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Daily Deal Sites for Small Business" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>If you thought the daily deals sites were only for those interested in restaurants, gifts, or spa services, you may be surprised and delighted to learn that small business owners <a href="" target="_blank">can also find applicable discounts</a> through these types of retailers. Here is a list of sites that offer exclusive bargains perfect for your home office or entrepreneurial dream.</p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p>If saving up to 90 percent on a hot web app is your thing, then <a href="" target="_blank"></a> may be for you. Each deal is tested prior to being advertised, and the offerings have quite a variety. Past deals include apps for gaining more Twitter followers, organizing tips for your cloud-based documentation, professional translating tools, and web-based hosting. offers a 30 day money back guarantee for all purchases, as well is a $10 refer-a-friend program.</p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p>For those looking for more tangible savings, <a href="" target="_blank"></a> can help you out. By using the power of group discounting, the site can offer significant savings on items like telephones, video cameras, and tradeshow printing services. The majority of the deals still seem to be service-based (web design, for example), but there but are definitely deals here that aren&rsquo;t posted elsewhere. [<i>Note: Like all deal sites, do some research before committing to a purchase. Some of the bargains we found here were widely available to anyone and weren&rsquo;t always the best price.</i>] There are usually no more than two deals running at a time on this site.</p> <p><strong>AppSumo</strong></p> <p>The new love of my life is <a href="" target="_blank">AppSumo</a>, a highly addictive shopping site with everything from e-books to virtual seminars to design services. Perhaps the most valuable deals listed here are those that promise to educate. Techies will love the tutorials designed to up your programming skills or social media strategy. You don&rsquo;t have to be a hard-core IT buff to enjoy the deals, however. Some of the most popular bargains would be useful to anyone; a recent deal involved a deep discount on test prep software for the SAT, ACT, GRE, and more! AppSumo has a 100 percent money back guarantee and gives $10 credit per each referred sale.</p> <p><strong>GroupPrice</strong></p> <p>When you&rsquo;ve found yourself with a shrinking budget, but need some of the more traditional marketing and promotional services to fulfill your business plan, <a href="" target="_blank">GroupPrice</a> may be able to help. This site offers quite a few deals at a time, and the offerings range wildly. Some of the more notable deals include items that mid-sized businesses would likely buy anyway: automated calling services, remote staffing, and even online video spokespeople! If you&rsquo;re still in the homegrown stages, however, you may find their venture capital pitch review or stock video footage services to be more your speed.</p> <p><strong>RapidBuyr</strong></p> <p>Looking for a decent price on a laptop, printer, or full-color ad in a major magazine? <a href="" target="_blank">RapidBuyr</a> strives to provide high-end goods and services to business owners with their competitive deals. Like more generalized deal sites, RapidBuyr offers a credit equal to the unused portion of a deal you purchase and are unable to redeem, and most deals run from 1-5 days (provided they don&rsquo;t sell out first!) One handy feature of the site is an embedded price comparison chart that shows major competitor&rsquo;s pricing and what they call &ldquo;street pricing.&rdquo; Our own searches found that they were, indeed, at least 10 percent lower than all outlets on the deals that were active at the time.</p> <p>Finding more deal sites can be dangerous (especially if you like to shop.) As a small business owner or purchasing manager, however, they can also provide the potential to stretch that buck in some hard economic times.</p> <p><em>Have you used a business deal site? Is there one you love that we missed?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center business costs cost cutting costs daily deals online discounts saving money small business Thu, 01 Dec 2011 00:43:09 +0000 Linsey Knerl 789073 at 7 Bootstrapping Principles Any Business Can Use <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/7-bootstrapping-principles-any-business-can-use" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Bootstrapping Principles Any Business Can Use" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>What do you get when you combine small business and an economy in recession? A very crunchy little budget for SMB owners to work with.</p> <p>First, do not view the tight budget or the lean economy as your enemy. Certainly we all enjoy times of prosperity more than times of recession, but it's often during tight periods that we learn to harness creativity, <a target="_blank" href="">drop the deadweight</a>, and get our businesses lean and ready for real growth. And real growth usually comes after tight times. So hang in there with your business and look for the positive side of a tighter budget.</p> <p>Also, do not pull back and hide in the business equivalent of the fetal position until &quot;things get better.&quot; Certainly, things will get better. But if your business is hiding out in the broom closet, things will not get better for you. Take the active approach. Drop excess costs. Tighten up. And work harder than you ever have, so when things do get better, you'll be ready to let your business grow.</p> <p>In these lean times, it's smart to turn to tactics that boostrapping entrepreneurs have always used to keep their business running without a lot of cash on hand.</p> <p><strong>Cut Optional Expenses</strong></p> <p>Maybe in years past recurring expenses were approved without much evaluation. Now is the time to evaluate and cut. Do not keep doing things that cost money just because you've always done things in that certain way. If it isn't making you money, or essential for the operation of your business, it's in the optional pile. <a target="_blank" href="">Reducing your expenses</a> is an important part of the bootstrapping philosophy.</p> <p><strong>Focus on Making Money, Not (Just) Saving Money</strong></p> <p>Saving money is important, but you have to do more than just cut corners and buy cheaper paper towels. You also have to focus on making money so that you have cash coming in, so that you can pay for what you need in order to keep your business operating. Don't make the mistake of saving yourself into business closure.</p> <p><strong>Be Smart, Not Cheap</strong></p> <p>Bootstrappers know that you still have to get work done, because getting the work done is how you make money. And getting work done will cost money. Be efficient, not cheap. Maintain the employees you need who produce quality work. Firing your staff so that you're overloaded with administrative details isn't a smart money-saving move; it's business suicide.</p> <p><strong>Use All Your Resources</strong></p> <p>Money is a nice resource. We all like it. It's also the easiest resource to use and, usually, the first resource to run out. Fortunately it's not your only resource as a business owner. You've also got intelligence, creativity, time, a network, your own education, and your team of workers and partners. You have other resources, too; look around and recognize your assets before you start counting your liabilities. How can you use those resources to get things done, get money moving in the door, and keep your business moving forward?</p> <p><strong>Do It In-House</strong></p> <p>Ideally, you'd be able to get a consultant or specialist or firm to do work you can't easily do yourself, such as create content or design business cards and flyers. When times are tight, however, look at those often neglected areas of your business called &quot;employee talents.&quot; Instead of paying a design firm thousands of dollars, host an in-house contest for best flyer design and reward the winning employee with a (good) prize or a nice wad of cash.</p> <p>Graphic designers everywhere are shuddering, I know. Writers like me will be, too, when I suggest the same methods for getting great blog content or marketing material written. Look within before you hire from without. Yes, professionals are generally worth the money. However, when you simply don't have the money, you can still get things done. You can also <a target="_blank" href="">consider hiring an intern</a> for a time to help with additional projects. Just don't neglect the important step of rewarding your employees and interns for any work that goes above and beyond their job description.</p> <p><strong>Barter or Trade</strong></p> <p>For those times when &quot;in-house&quot; really isn't an option, go back to the time-tested method of bartering. Offer product for product or service for service. Be straightforward with this: &quot;I really don't have the cash for this right now, but I do have XYZ. Can we work something out?&quot;</p> <p><strong>Always Negotiate</strong></p> <p>Finally, remember this: nothing is written in stone. You may be looking at a price list or contract terms that seem to be unalterable, but don't assume that is true. Always ask. Always bring an option to the table. Always ask for the best deal, or the greater value, or the extended terms, or the lower interest, or the reduced fees. Remember, you're not only a business; you're a customer, too. Go ahead and act like one when it comes to negotiating contracts, prices, and terms.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Annie Mueller</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center cost cutting costs expenses savings small business Thu, 06 Oct 2011 20:26:21 +0000 Annie Mueller 717235 at Save Like a Twentysomething Entrepreneur <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/save-like-a-twentysomething-entrepreneur" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Save Like a Twentysomething Entrepreneur" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>If you&rsquo;re searching for ideas about <a target="_blank" href="">how to cut costs</a> so you can weather the uncertain economy, maybe it&rsquo;s time to look to young entrepreneurs. Those who have started their businesses in the downturn are experts at running a lean operation. They never had a chance to get addicted to the perks and inefficiencies of the boom years that can become unduly costly when times get tough.</p> <p>Take Willie Morris, an owner of The Pancake Movement, a Ft. Lauderdale-based digital consulting and design firm that launched in January and recently teamed up with Kitche Branding, another local firm, on a project for RIM. Morris, 27, incorporates strategies that would work at many businesses or could easily be adapted.</p> <p><strong>Rely on Flexible Teams</strong></p> <p>Morris and his business partner, Andy Vitale, learned early not to lock themselves into the high overhead that comes with a large crew of permanent employees. Morris says it generally makes more sense for them to hire freelancers with the precise skills they need to execute their current projects, &ldquo;instead of having huge overhead on payroll and being forced to only find projects that cater to the skill sets of full-time employees.&rdquo; Currently, the duo relies on a core group of 10-12 people.</p> <p>How do they make sure talent is available when they need it? &ldquo;I made it a point to cultivate our network and find people we could trust,&rdquo; says Morris, who met many of his freelancers by becoming active in local events in the tech community.</p> <p><strong>Dive into the Weeds</strong></p> <p>The conventional wisdom is that entrepreneurs should stay focused on the big picture of running a business and delegate day-to-day projects to others. Morris, a self-taught techie, and Vitale are willing to break that rule sometimes. Recently, for instance, they handled a simple website launch themselves, instead of bringing in contractors to help. Not only does it help them to keep outsourcing costs down, but it also gives them valuable perspective on operations. &ldquo;You lose sight of the production side until you start doing it yourself,&rdquo; Morris says.</p> <p><strong>Share your office space</strong></p> <p>Through the site <a target="_blank" href="">Loosecubes</a>, The Pancake Movement rents out one or two unused desks in its offices by the day. Loosecubes offers the space to mobile types like freelancers and traveling business people who need a very short term place to work. &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t mind sharing your desks with people, it&rsquo;s a great way to bring in money, as well as utilizing space,&rdquo; says Morris. Side benefit: By welcoming others to their office, they&rsquo;ve met talent they have tapped later for projects. The system has worked so well for The Pancake Movement that the company is planning a move to new office, where they plan to lease out desk space by the month.</p> <p><strong>Replace your Land Line</strong></p> <p>In what might seem like a radical step to those who have spent decades working in offices with traditional phone systems, The Pancake Movement uses the free service <a target="_blank" href=";utm_medium=ha&amp;utm_term=google%20voice&amp;utm_campaign=en">Google Voice</a> instead. Calls that come into the office number&mdash;the one The Pancake Movement has gotten from Google Voice, that is&mdash;ring on staffers&rsquo; cell phones. &ldquo;We have cell phones, anyway,&rdquo; says Morris. Because the service notifies them that a Google Voice call is coming in, they can distinguish between business and personal calls before answering. And fortunately, they have unlimited calling plans.</p> <p><strong>Milk Google Apps</strong></p> <p>The company has used one free service to send and receive mail from its own custom <a target="_blank" href="">email domain</a>, instead of paying for a custom email address.</p> <p><strong>Keep Your Files in Dropbox</strong></p> <p>Morris and his team minimize data storage costs by keeping their files in the folders available from this <a target="_blank" href="">cloud-based service</a>. It&rsquo;s available for free in a basic form or in professional versions for $9.99 a month or $19.99 a month, depending on storage needs. Worried about accidentally losing documents? One of Morris&rsquo;s favorite features allows you to &ldquo;undelete&rdquo; a deleted file for up to 30 days.</p> <p><strong>Go Paperless</strong></p> <p>The Pancake Movement doesn&rsquo;t have a printer. Morris&rsquo;s team asks clients to sign and return contracts in pdf documents and scans the occasional paper document that arrives. Was it hard to break the paper habit? Apparently not. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even think about it anymore,&rdquo; says Morris.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Elaine Pofeldt</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center cost cutting costs efficiency expenses saving small business Tue, 04 Oct 2011 20:03:46 +0000 Elaine Pofeldt 717234 at 3 Costs Even the Lean Can Cut <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-costs-even-the-lean-can-cut" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="3 Costs Even the Lean Can Cut" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Small business may be in for a rough ride ahead, thanks to lots of insomnia-inducing financial news. Moody&rsquo;s Analytics just lowered the U.S. economic outlook through 2012, with chief economist Mark Zandi saying that the odds of a recession &ndash; already one in three &ndash; will rise if stock prices continue to drop.</p> <p>That doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s impossible to grow your company now. Even if you did a lot of budget trimming <a href="" target="_blank">during the Great Recession</a>, finding more ways to keep your overhead down can liberate some of the cash you need to reinvest in your business. At the very least, keeping a close eye on your spending will help you build a financial cushion in case a slow economy causes customers to start paying you late.</p> <p>Here are some ideas you may not have considered recently.</p> <p><b>1. Switch to a bank loan if you can.</b></p> <p>Credit card financing can be useful for short term purchases. However, if you&rsquo;re using it in lieu of a bank loan, you may be adding to your overhead unnecessarily.</p> <p>The National Small Business Association&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">Mid Year Economic Report</a> found that small business owners in established businesses are paying higher interest rates on credit card financing than six months ago. The number of entrepreneurs paying an interest rate that is 20 percent or higher jumped from 13 to 19 percent over the past six months. The good news: The number of small business owners using bank loans rose a bit, from 45 to 49 percent.</p> <p>If you haven&rsquo;t approached your banker lately because you thought there wasn&rsquo;t any shot of getting a loan, maybe it&rsquo;s time to schedule a sit-down.</p> <p><b>2. Make your overhead more flexible. </b></p> <p>Look at the fixed costs on your balance sheet and try to turn them into variable costs, whenever possible, advises John Torrens, an assistant professor of entrepreneurial practice at Syracuse University and owner of a company that provides early-childhood special education services. Just as in your household budget, bringing some flexibility to your monthly financial commitments can give you room to adjust to a fast-changing economy.</p> <p>For instance, at one point Torrens moved some of the well-established therapists on his staff from salaried positions to fee-for-service roles, where they got paid based on how much they worked.</p> <p>&ldquo;People didn&rsquo;t mind being paid a fee for service,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They had more motivation to work more.&rdquo;</p> <p>For newer members of his team, he stuck with a salaried model, so they had time to build up a steady client base before moving to the fee-for-service model. Worth noting: Workers who switched to the fee-for-service plan did not lose benefits at his firm; benefits were still available to those who worked a minimum of 30 hours a week.</p> <p><b>3. Choose projects that will help your marketing efforts. </b></p> <p>You can reduce what you spend on your promotional efforts if you focus on winning jobs that can help you pull in more customers. For instance, if your business is young, taking on an assignment from a big-name client that you can mention on your website&rsquo;s customer list or on your LinkedIn profile can go a long way toward bringing in new business &ndash; without any added spending on your part. That&rsquo;s a factor worth considering, even if the job itself is not the most profitable one available to you at the moment.</p> <p>If business is slow, consider doing volunteer work that will help you raise the profile of your company. You never know what potential clients you&rsquo;ll meet at a charitable event that&rsquo;s popular among business professionals in your area, whether it&rsquo;s a golf fundraiser or the science fair at the local public school. And once again, you won&rsquo;t have to spend any money on this type of informal self-marketing &ndash; reducing the need to buy costly advertising.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Elaine Pofeldt</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center borrowing cost cutting costs credit recession. small business Thu, 01 Sep 2011 21:59:30 +0000 Elaine Pofeldt 677373 at