How to Lower Your Cost of Living

Debt is a fact of life. No matter what day of the week it is, chances are that you owe money to somebody somewhere in the world. In fact, chances are that you owe a lot of money to a lot of people at any given time.

Think about it for a minute. How many checks do you write out each month to pay your bills? How many times do you whip out that tiny rectangle of plastic known as a credit card? How many trips do you make to the supermarket, the coffee shop, the dentist, the doctor, and more? Okay, you have the picture now. Let’s see if you can get to the savings.

Reducing your cost of living is not going to be an easy task. Chances are that you already practice a few of these tips, find some of them totally against your liking, or simply do not think that it will be worth it.

The trick is to find a few that you can incorporate into your lifestyle without too much difficulty on a regular basis. Don’t worry about whether the savings will amount to a great deal. The important thing is to actually lower your expenses and reap whatever benefits that you can.

Of course, it’s important to consider the fact that some methods will be short term and some will be long term. For the best results, incorporate some of each into your lifestyle and see which ones become habits that last the test of time.

Short term or one time tips

• Write a letter through postal mail or the Internet instead of making that long-distance phone call on prime time. Better yet, if you have free minutes on your cell phone service, make all of your phone calls during that time.
• Coordinate all of your small errands in order to save on fuel as well as time.
• Rent or borrow videos, books, DVDs, and CDs from the library at no charge before purchasing them. This way, if you don’t like them, you don’t buy them and you save money.
• Rent from the dollar rack at the video store occasionally to save a few dollars.
• Do not prop the exterior door open when carrying in items from a shopping excursion during the winter months simply because it’s easier. Think about all of the cold air that now has to be reheated.
• Purchase your personal checks through a mail in or discount service company rather than at the bank. Be sure to check the number of checks that you will be getting as well as for shipping and handling charges that some companies offer at a discounted price. In fact, some styles of checks will be considerably cheaper than more trendy styles.
• Recycle used items that you no longer want to a consignment shop rather than throwing them away. You won’t get a large amount of money from this venture, but it will be something.
• Donate used items that you no longer want and use it for a tax write off.
• Be patient and wait until something that you want goes on sale before you purchase it. In fact, manufacturers often offer sales during particular times of the year. For example, January is often a good time of the year to purchase linens and the end of the month is a good time to purchase a car.
• Share a babysitter with a neighbor and split the cost.
• Swap or share certain tools with a neighbor or family member such as air compressors, power tools, snow blowers, deck washers, paint sprayers, etc.
• Ask for fee reductions or waivers whenever possible. Asking costs nothing.
• If you can’t pay cash and you don’t need it, consider not buying it. Wait until you need it, it goes on sale, or you have enough cash saved to buy it.
• Raise the deductibles on your homeowner’s and car insurance policies.
• Shop around for better rates on your insurance premiums. Compare packages before you make a switch to guarantee that the options are the same.
• Review your insurance policy to check that you are receiving the proper discounts for safety devices, multiple policies, age, or good records.
• Avoid shopping temptations unless you know that you can afford it. Take the children to free events instead of to paid events. Check the local newspaper listings to find ones that are close to your location or that meet your interests.

Long term or repetitive tips

• Since you probably don’t use all of them on a daily basis, remove the extra features on your telephone service. This strategy works exceptionally well for individuals with multiple phone services.
• Purchase the Sunday paper and clip coupons on a regular basis and use them at the supermarket.
• Shop sales at the supermarket and stock up on good deals for nonperishable items.
• Try no frills brands for different products. If you like them, continue to purchase them. If not, then don’t make the switch.
• Purchase your produce seasonally. Also, purchase from a local farmer’s market instead of the supermarket.
• Brown bag your lunch. Figure out how much money you spend on lunches in a week and then figure out what tangible item you could have purchased with the money. If brown bagging it is too difficult to wrap your mind around, consider doing it on Fridays only.
• Avoid expensive lattes on a daily basis. You’ll probably save a few calories as well.
• Investigate the local supermarkets in your area. Not all supermarkets are alike in pricing. Consider alternating between two or more stores if the price differences merit it.
• Change to fluorescent light bulbs instead of replacing your incandescent light bulbs.
• Rent or borrow books, videos, DVDs, and CDs from the library at no charge and save a bundle of money.
• Check at your bank for setting up automatic payments from your checking account for utilities, services, cable television, rental payments on band instruments, and other monthly expenses to save on the cost of postage and checks.
• Before you sign on the dotted line, check into better interest rates at different banks. It isn’t necessary to use the one that you have always used or even to use the bank where you keep your accounts.
• Prepay on your loans in order to shorten the term and save interest charges. Check to make sure that you don’t have a prepayment penalty clause.
• Pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card bill to save on interest charges.
• File for financial aid if you or a child is attending college.
• Swap services or favors with neighbors. For example, you’ll change their oil in their car if they’ll use their chain saw to trim a tree.
• Learn to make minor repairs or maintenance procedures on your vehicles. Not only will you realize an immediate savings, but also you will be able to repeat this savings over and over again.
• Remove all unnecessary items from your car to lower your fuel costs. Drive the speed limit and avoid racing the engine.
• Always use the proper water temperature setting for your laundry needs.
• Always measure it out and use the proper amount of laundry detergent.
• Coordinate your ironing so that it can all be done at the same time to avoid wasted energy heating the iron up twenty-five different times in a week.
• Always coordinate dinner menus so that you can use the oven for multiple items rather than one item in the oven and three more on the stove burners.
• Turn off the lights in rooms that you are not using. If you truly are afraid of the dark, install low wattage night lights to light the way, but save on energy.
• Invest in zoned area heating devices rather than relying on a central heating system that does not allow for temperature fluctuations in different rooms or zones.
• During the colder months, lower the room temperature setting by 2 degrees while you are awake and five degrees during the night while you are sleeping. Any variation in the temperature setting will lead to savings, so make the adjustment that you are comfortable with while allowing for a safe temperature setting for everyone at home.
• If you find that you don’t have the time to read the daily newspaper, stop buying it. Get the news online or on the nightly television version of it for free.
• Itemize on your taxes if possible.
• Know the tax laws as they relate to your children and requests refunds on local taxes if they are entitled to them.
• Reduce the options on your television service if you aren’t actively taking advantage of it.

Now that you have incorporated some savings into your lifestyle, consider using it to lower your monthly debt obligation even more. Place the extra money on the lowest credit card or loan balance that you have. Once that is paid off, you will have one less monthly bill and a bit more disposable cash to use. Simply remember that saving money is something that you have to think about, look for ways to accomplish it, and work at. It doesn’t just happen like the sun rising every day or the rain falling from the sky.