Saving money is smart in good times and bad. With a little effort and planning, you can cut your personal costs by following some of these handy hints:
• Unplug appliances. Don’t just turn your TV off—unplug it when you’re not watching anything. Even switched off, most appliances such as TVs and computers consume some electricity. Pulling the plug saves on money and energy-related resources.
• Drive less. Cutting your car use in half can save you more than $1,000 a year. Carpool, or use public transportation, to get to and from work. You’ll save on gas, maintenance, and insurance.
• Eat at home. The average person spends more than $2,200 a year eating at restaurants or fast-food establishments. Cook your own meals, and take your lunch to work instead of buying food every day.
• Take advantage of customer reward programs. Discount cards that save you a few dollars here and there can add up to major savings over time. For your convenience, set up an alternative e-mail account at Gmail or Yahoo and use it when you sign up for programs. You’ll be better able to manage the promotional e-mails you receive from joining companies’ mailing lists.
• Wait before buying. Implement a 24-hour rule before buying anything (and a 30-day rule for major purchases). Don’t buy anything on impulse: Wait the required amount of time, and then decide how much you really need or want the item. You may be surprised by what you can live without.