Where’s Your Money Hiding?10.05.11
Looking to save a few dollars? Instead of searching in the couch for loose change, we’ve got some ideas that will help you find money in all the right places. And with just a little added effort, you may uncover some extra cash. Cotton Candy contributor and stock market analyst Erin Swenlin-Heim identifies six ways you may be wasting money without even knowing it.
Clipping coupons. It’s true that using coupons can save money, however if you pull your coupons before you make your shopping list, you are probably buying items you might not have bought without a coupon. Is it really worth saving $.30 on a $4.10 item that wouldn’t have been on your shopping list in the first place?
Swiping department store or gasoline credit cards. If you are going to use a credit card, be smart about it. Department store and gasoline credit cards have the highest interest rates around, generally more than 21 percent, and most don’t offer rewards for using them, such as cash back. Of course, the best way to avoid wasting money is to pay them off at the end of the month. It’s not uncommon that a $50 department store dress could cost you $85 after three months of interest and rollover.
Buying food exclusively at a grocery chain. Shopping at your local grocery store usually costs significantly more than a trip to the local farmer’s market, warehouse or discount store. Shopping at your local farmer’s market will not only provide you with the freshest produce, but you will almost always save money in comparison to your grocery store. Buying in bulk at a warehouse store will allow you to buy name brands at a deep discount. If you don’t have the storage for bulk shopping, simply co-op with a friend to split items up. Also, find the local dollar store near you. You will pay less oftentimes for the same name brand product.
Lacking a meal plan. At the beginning of the week check your pantry or freezer and make a meal plan. A meal plan helps you avoid buying impulse items and inevitably will save you time, money, and not to mention save you from a headache. Plan ahead even further by making two casseroles or lasagnas. Serve one and then freeze one to use next time. Here’s an added bonus: you don’t have to struggle with the daily question, “What’s for dinner tonight?”
Keeping a home phone. The best choice is to get rid of your home phone altogether and use a cell phone exclusively. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, at least avoid using it to make long-distance calls. More than likely, you have free minutes available on your cell phone plan.
Using vending machines. You pay a huge – and we stress huge – premium on vending items. Buy them in bulk at a warehouse or grocery store and pop them in your purse, briefcase or desk drawer. Now when you get the munchies or need an energy drink, those snacks are within easy reach.
Written By: Erin Swenlin-Heim
Erin is a stock market analyst and blogger with DecisionPoint.com. She has a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Southern California and an MS in Information Resource Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology.