2009 Everyday Ways to Save Money on Tight Budgets

March 2009

Donna Corwin

When cash is tight, you might be tempted to look for “big” ways to start saving each month, but Lifestyle Expert, Donna Corwin has money saving tips that don’t mean drastic cutbacks. Here are tips to cut back in “little” ways so you can save several hundreds to thousands of dollars this year.


UNPLUG WHAT YOU’RE NOT USING: According to the government’s ENERGY STAR program, 40% of the electricity that home electronics use is consumed while the products are actually turned off. The impact of this on your energy bill will depend on your particular situation but a Berkeley study suggests that the savings could be six-to-26% off your total bill.  This means Tivo, cable boxes, DVD/VCR players, coffee makers with clocks, computers, computer printers and more.

LIGHTBULBS: If you replace your light bulbs with energy saving CFLs you’ll save about $30 bucks in electricity costs over its lifetime since CFLs use 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer.

ELIMINATE YOUR LANDLINE TELEPHONE: Eliminate your landline and rely exclusively on my mobile phone.  For many households this will save $1200 a year.  Check out mobile phone companies for the best value on your plan.  Sprint has these “Everything Family” plans that can save between $240 to  $1000 or more a year compared to many other plans.  $240 is a car payment or a week’s worth of groceries.  Go to Sprint.com for more info.

CREATIVE WAYS TO STRETCH DOLLARS YOU’RE ALREADY SPENDING: One of things a lot of people don’t think about is how to turn the money they’re already spending on things like groceries, household bills, and clothes into a way to pay for additional items they need without spending any extra money.  Credit card reward programs allow you to leverage your budget to get things for free that you normally have to pay for and many people have points they haven’t used so now is the time to use those points.  American Express has several new options in the Membership Rewards® program that offer VERY practical rewards for these tough economic times.

REPLACE BROKEN APPLIANCES FOR FREE: For example, if something breaks like a washing machine, you don’t have to use cash, but you can use points to get a new one.  You can also get household items like coffee makers, blenders and more.

DINE OUT FOR FREE: You don’t have to forgo dining out when you can treat the family to eating out at a wide variety of popular restaurants including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, P.F. Changs, California Pizza Kitchen and many more.

FILL YOUR GAS TANK FOR FREE: The Express Rewards SM Gas Card which allows you to use points to fill up your gas tank.  You can get them in $50 denominations for as little as 6,500 points  Find out more details at AmericanExpress.com.

LOOK FOR AFFORDABLE QUALITY ITEMS TO REPLACE LUXURY ITEMS: You don’t have to stop pampering yourself even on a budget, but skip pricey perfumes, which can cost between $25 to $125. Instead, look for affordable everyday luxury products for less.  Products like Dove’s Go Fresh Body Mists can replace expensive perfumes and it’s even small enough to fit in your purse or gym bag.  They’re actually in the deodorant aisle and are only $3.89 and have a great fragrance that can save you a lot of money.  Find out more at dove.com.

DON’T LET SICK DAYS DERAIL YOUR BUDGET: One half of all U.S. workers do NOT get paid sick days so now more than ever, you need to protect your health or it could cost your budget hundreds even thousands of dollars so prevention is key.  One of the most common ways we get sick is that we touch a surface with a virus and then we touch our face.  One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to prevent sickness is to simply wash your hands, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this and it can cost you several days of lost pay.  Also, keep surfaces in your home and office clean by wiping them down with cleaners that kill the cold & flu germs on doorknobs, phones, remotes, computer keyboards and everywhere germs may be shared.

WHAT TO TELL KIDS ABOUT THE RECESSION: The most important thing to let kids know is that you’re all in this together.  Focus on quality time with the family with activities that don’t cost a lot of money but are lot of fun, like board games and outdoor activities.  You also don’t want to hold back on information with older kids and use this as an opportunity to teach them about living on a budget and within your means.

Look for Donna’s new book coming later this spring!

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