For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a New Year’s goal to save a certain amount of money. Usually it was for a specific item like a car, vacation, or to pay off student loans. For some, their goal to save more money revolves around looming credit card debt, which is at an astounding $15,799 per family with outstanding credit card debt.
The fact is that people are always looking for ways to save money. But unless they change something in their spending habits, they probably won’t reach their goals…sorry for not sugar coating it!
So what kind of changes can people make in order to make saving money a little easier? Sometimes it involves very little action and sometimes it takes a complete 180 degree turnaround to implement these 7 suggestions, so approach these weird ways to save money with an open mind. I also strongly recommend that, as you save money, you apply these savings to a specific goal…doing so will keep you motivated to find even more ways to save.
1. Buy a Programmable Thermostat
For about $40-$60, you can find a programmable thermostat and start saving money while you’re not even home. That’s because you can program your thermostat to change a few degrees right before you get home. Think those few degrees don’t matter? Think again. Setting your thermostat back 5 degrees for 8 hours a day can save you 5% on your bill according to Madison Gas and Electric.
2. Compare Insurance Rates
Ok, this one isn’t that ‘weird’ but it’s important. How many times have you read this and said, “it’s just a hassle to change my insurance provider.” I don’t know what’s more of a annoying, making a 15 minute call to save money or to sit back and pay higher premiums each year. We saved over 20% by switching to another provider and got the same exact coverage.
3. Start Using Coupons
For some of you, the idea of using coupons is completely in left field. If you’re not sure how to coupon, don’t get discouraged. With a little research, you can cut your monthly expenditures on items like makeup, deodorant, and other toiletries by 50-80%. We started couponing over a year ago and put about 3-5 hours a week into it…but we save $100-$200 a month by doing it.
4. Save every $5 Bill
This was a cool idea that I heard about. Every time you get a $5 bill, put it in a jar. You can do it with any denomination of money, but $5 seems like a good starting place for most people.
5. Start Banking Online
If you’re sick of paying bank fees, try banking online. We recently opened a PerkStreet Financial account because they will actually pay you to bank with them. The average family gets over $600 in perks each year.
6. Automate Your Investments
If you’ve already read about my 2012 investing strategy, you know that automation is one of the keys to building wealth in your retirement plan. Our online account with Betterment is one of the cornerstones of our savings strategy this year.
7. Open a Credit Card
Well, not everyone should open a credit card. If you are a responsible credit card user and are looking for a way to build points, you can easily get free flights or hotel stays with a rewards credit card. We’ll enjoy two free flights and a dozen hotel stays this year for free because of rewards credit cards.
What are some ways that you plan on saving money in 2012?
Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.