Even a robust savings plan can be sidelined when times get tough. Often, a savings plan is the first thing to go when the economy tightens up. However, that is a big mistake because everyone needs a savings fund for short-term emergencies or long-term goals. Here are a few tips that can help to keep your savings account going strong.
Eliminate unnecessary purchases, like buying donuts for the office or impromptu shopping sprees. Plan each purchase that you need to make, but also allow for unexpected necessities, like a copay for a doctor visit or unplanned dinner guests. Periodically review your checkbook or debit card register to see where those unexpected purchases occur, and then look for ways to avoid them until your budget returns to normal. Shop for low-rate credit cards and introductory offers if you must use credit.
Reduce Regular Expenses
If you aren’t already doing it each year, contact your insurance company and your utility providers to see if discounts are available. Chances are you may be eligible for a reduced bill based on changes in your eligibility status or special rates that are being offered as a promotion. A good driving record and responsible utility use may lead to unexpected premium or Bill reductions that will help to ease your budget. Take a grocery list to the supermarket to avoid overspending. According to a May 21, 2015 Gallup survey reported in an article by John Fleming titled “Americans Still Spending More, Still Not on What they Want,” 55 percent of Americans claim they were spending more for groceries than on other major purchasing categories, including utilities and car fuel.
Watch for Sales
Take advantage of special monthly, semi-annual, or annual sale events at your favorite stores. For example, a popular supermarket chain in Northeast Ohio offers an annual three-day summer sale event in August just for meat. Buyers can stock up with meat in their freezers for months to come. Some store promotions provide fuel discounts or coupons on your next purchase. To add a little extra, browse online coupon sites like Groupon.
Share the Cost
The amount of food served to an average adult in a typical restaurant these days may be as much as 50% more than it was a generation ago. That means diners are taking home plenty of doggy bags and leftovers for the next day. However, we are also paying for that extra food. To cut costs when eating out, consider ordering a child’s portion if allowed to do so. You can also split a meal with a dining companion. Carpool with neighbors or kids’ friends’ parents to save driving costs to and from school. For summer camp, share the cost of a sleeping bag with your child’s classmate’s family, and then each child take the sleeping bag to camp on different weeks.
Consignment stores or thrift shops are excellent places to find great bargains on lightly used clothing, some of which can be brand-name, as well as seasonal items like a winter coat or summer T-shirts. You can also find garden supplies, quality furniture, and a host of other things that would cost far more if you paid full price and bought them new. In addition, many thrift stores offer reduced prices. For example Goodwill has a different color code reduction each week, which adds a 50 percent discount on all items purchased. Furthermore, a frequent shopper card, when full, provides another 35 percent discount. Senior citizen discounts may also apply at thrift stores, so take advantage of these ways to save money if you fall into this category.
Steps like these can help you to save hundreds of dollars a month with careful planning and controlled spending. Then continue to feed your savings account for peace of mind so that you will be prepared for the next opportunity or unexpected need.