While some are declaring that the recession is over, the good news has not trickled down to my pocketbook. My husband and I are looking closely at all our expenses to cut our overhead. Our wages have decreased in the last year, mostly due to the slow down in my business, but costs have continued to rise. Utilities, gas, taxes, and food are taking more and more of our shrinking paychecks. We decided to take some action after looking at every expense in our budget. Maybe some of these tips can help you too:
Make coffee at home. Savings: $2,920 per year. I previously wrote about our addiction to Starbucks coffee, which was costing us about $8 per day. Since we already had a latte machine, it was an easy transition to make our morning drinks at home. We pack them in thermal mugs and take them to work.
Quit boring clubs. Savings: $385 per year. I have belonged to a local women’s group for the last 15 years. While initially it was fun to network at the events, I find that I have lost interest in the past couple of years, yet the luncheons and dinners are relatively expensive, $25 and $35 respectively. When you add that to the dues, I have been paying about $80 per meeting. I’m not renewing this year. I will see if I miss it.
Stop journals and magazines. Savings: $240 per year. For years we have been getting the local Business Journal and Newsweek magazine. Half the time, they just lie around the house because no one has time to read them.
Cancel the paper. Savings: $210 per year. We both read the paper online in the morning while we sip our fresh coffee. It is possible to find most of the papers and magazines online.
Turn the heat off. Savings: $350 per year. We live in Wisconsin, so we can’t turn it off completely. But with the gas fireplace in our family room and a space heater in my office, we have not turned on the furnaces yet. I have them on programmed timers so they won’t kick in until it is really cold.
Work at home one day per week. Savings: $480 per year. As my job is about 25 miles away, I can save close to a tank of gas per month by working at home. Eventually, I’d like to expand it to two or three days per week. Not only does it save in gas, but I can work in my pajamas.
Pack a lunch. Savings: $432 per year. I’m not talking peanut and butter sandwiches here (though that is an option). I run into my local Pick’n Save every morning and hit their fresh salad bar. With a large variety of fresh fruit, salads and soups, I can put together a great lunch for about $4, and it is a lot more exciting than last night’s meat loaf.
Dye your own hair. Savings: $300 per year. I have my hair dyed every month or so to the tune of $50. At least half the time, I could be doing this myself. (The other months, I will need a cut anyway). It is also a better use of my time. Instead of just sitting at the salon, I could be getting things done at home.
Dump the land line. Savings: $458 per year. Not sure why this one has taken so long. We rarely get a call that isn’t a marketer and the whole family has cell phones. I won’t miss the interruptions during dinner time.
Use coupons. Savings: $450 per year. We never buy clothes that aren’t on sale or where we can use coupons, but we have drifted away from using coupons at the store. By using an online coupon site like Coupons.com or SmartSource.com, you can print coupons for those things you buy all the time, such as paper products and soap.