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Thursday, July 10, 2008

50 Ways to Save Money in Your 30’s | futuremoneymatters.com

As you leave the frivolities of youth behind, it becomes more important to save for the future. While you might be spending less at the nightclub on Friday night, there may well be more expenses in your life. Kids, mortgage payments, an extra vehicle, increased utilities bills. Building a nest egg or tucking something away for retirement is not always a welcome idea. But it is possible, even if it feels like you are living from one paycheck to the next.

  1. Forego the latte. I’m not talking to you, caffeine addicts. I’m referring to the four dollar a day habit of coffee shop regulars. Buy a hundred dollar espresso machine and make it at home. The machine will pay for itself in a couple of months (at home price is about $1 per latte), and then you can sock the extra “coffee money” away in a money market account (see below).
  2. Online banks, in their search for converts from their brick and mortar kin, are currently offering money market accounts with few restrictions and low minimum balances. A money market account is like a checking account, but earns interest like a savings account.
  3. Buy bulk. This could work for luxury items or necessities. Buying a case of non-perishable foods can save you 10%-20% over buying them by the package. Even buying wine by the box instead of the bottle can earn you those discounts.
  4. Get an IRA. You might have one from work, but you can also get one on your own. Not only will saving for retirement encourage you to sock away a few extra bucks, but there are tax benefits as well. A tax-deferred IRA allows you to save money tax-free and pay lighter taxes when you take it out during your golden years.
  5. Pay your credit cards off. If this is impossible, find the lowest APR you can and transfer all your balances to that card. People with decent credit are often offered introductory APRs of 0% for one year. Take advantage.
  6. Work on your house. Despite a down economy, real estate is still one of the best long-term investments. Making small fixes, like painting a room or even minor landscaping, can mean added value when its time to sell.
  7. Mutual Funds. As much as we’d like to think that we can be Wall Street Players, we’ll never be more than eTrade punks. Luckily, there are mutual funds: a collection of stocks that usually follow a certain theme (the Nasdaq, Emerging Markets, Precious Metals). These funds are managed by pros, so you just have to sit back and let someone else make the hard calls. Not a guaranteed success, but much better and less time consuming than taking on the market on your own.
  8. Drive your car into the ground. Don’t lease a car, because you’ll have to give it back. Find a set of wheels with a good reputation for longevity and drive it until it doesn’t go anymore. The idea: get as much use as you can without having to make monthly car payments. Ideally, a 5-6 year car loan will mean that you’ll have at least a year or two of payment free driving. During that year, you can use the extra cash to build a savings, an IRA, or pay off other debts.
  9. Find useful awards cards and use them. Whether you are a frequent flyer or a hardcore shopper, there is a credit card offering the rewards you want. Pay attention to annual fees, but don’t worry too much about interest rates. They are generally higher on rewards cards than other credit, but, if you pay the balance off monthly, you can reap the benefits at the end of the year without having to pay a cent of interest.
  10. Buy used when possible. This goes for vehicles, of course, but can also work with other stuff (like doing the garage sale or flea market circuit each weekend). It depends on how far you want to take it.
  11. Don’t go shopping unless there is something that you need to buy. This will, theoretically eliminate some, if not all, of your impulse purchases.
  12. If you eat out often, eat out less.
  13. Take your hobby to eBay. If you have knowledge of a certain niche, try to profit from it. Say you collect Sherlock Holmes bobble-heads. You probably know where to attain them cheaply and what constitutes a quality product. See if you can sell one for a profit on eBay. If it works, keep going.
  14. You don’t have to give up the luxuries, but see if you can find a way to get them cheaper. Renting a movie costs around $5 plus the gas to drive to the video store. If you are a movie buff, consider Netflix or Blockbuster’s online rental system. These average $15-$20 per month, so if you rent more than 4 movies in a thirty day period, it’s a better deal than the video store.
  15. Go public. Some people put a premium on the freedom allowed by a car. Riding the train or bus might hamper your style, but it is cheaper than driving no matter how you look at it.
  16. Clip coupons. I know that’s something that your grandma does. But she lived through the Great Depression, so she probably knows a few things about pinching pennies.
  17. CD. Not those things that were around before iPods, a Certificate of Deposit. Basically, you put money into an account, which you can’t touch for a certain amount of time. During that time you earn interest. It is kind of a forced savings plan; only the interest rates are higher than a conventional savings account.
  18. Free Wi-Fi. You can find it at the library, coffee shop, even at some McDonald’s. If you don’t need internet at home for work, consider relying solely on the these free connections rather than paying for an in-house connection.
  19. Get generic. Generic brands are usually the same as name brands, only cheaper. You can check labels to make sure the ingredients in the generic cereal are the same as the ones in the name brand. You can even ask for a generic version of you prescription medicine.
  20. If you have a high electricity bill consider switching to florescent lights. If you think you think it is worthwhile, consider switching to more energy efficient appliances.
  21. If you have kids and you take them shopping, avoid the candy aisle at the grocery store.
  22. Medical Savings Account. People who buy their own health insurance might want to consider this one. A high deductible insurance policy is coupled with a savings account that you can contribute to as often as you want. There is a ceiling to your annual contributions, but the money you put into your account is not taxable.
  23. Business expenses. If you buy something for work or travel somewhere for work, keep your receipts. The money you spend may be tax deductible (see #24).
  24. Hire an accountant to do your taxes. Do this especially if you have multiple sources of income, including investments. If the accountant is good, they’ll be able to keep more of your money in your pocket and less in Uncle Sam’s.
  25. Pay as you go. Don’t get imprisoned by cell phone contracts. Pay as you go phones, like the ones from T-Mobile, are good alternatives to contract plans. You’ll pay about 10 cents a minute and there is no contract to sap you of your hard earned wealth.
  26. Invest in yourself. If you are able to stay healthy, you will cut down on medical expenses and decrease the amount of work you miss. So think of that yoga class or diet book as an investment.
  27. Sweat the details. Are you getting the best deal on all those little services that you never really think about? How much are you being charged for garbage pick-up? Take the time to call around and make sure you are getting the best deal.
  28. Re-gift. This is a controversial one, but in many societies, it is completely acceptable to keep an unused gift and then give it to someone else when the need arises. This works especially well with gift cards.
  29. Libraries. These are underutilized in more ways than one. Many provide free wi-fi access. A library might not have every book but if you known how to use the system, you can order pretty much any book that you want. If you don’t know how to use the system, ask a librarian, that’s what they are there for. You’ll never spend another cent at the overpriced bookstore again.
  30. If you must buy, buy cheap. Amazon.com usually has cheaper prices than your local brick and mortar bookstore. If you absolutely have to own a title, compare there before you buy. Amazon also offers used titles.
  31. Go back to cash. With debit cards and credit cards, it is easy to overspend. If you rely on cash, it’s easy to figure out how much you’ve got.
  32. Use an automated savings plan. Many banks offer to transfer a predetermined amount of money from your checking to your savings each month. This will keep your savings growing without you having to think about it.
  33. Plan for the unexpected. Your budget plan is guaranteed to get shot to hell. Illness, unplanned trips, car or house repairs are all a part of life. If you have a budget plan, be sure to add in a bit each month for these unfortunate events. Then, when they do occur, it won’t sting quite so bad.
  34. Learn to do it yourself. Can you change you car’s oil? What about putting up a new fence in the back yard? Labor is the most expensive part of any such project. If you can learn to do a few of these things yourself, you can save on the expense.
  35. Have a cut-off line. If you must play the stock game, be sure you don’t lose big. If a stock doesn’t do what you expect it to, be wary. If it drops below a predetermined price, abort immediately. Don’t keep saying, “it’ll rebound eventually.” One big loss can erase a year of gains in an instant. Be cautious.
  36. Shop the end of the season sales. When is the best time to buy next winter’s coat? Spring, of course. As long as you don’t need the latest fashion, shopping end of season sales can lead to discounts of 40% to 50% or more. So look for mittens in May and swimsuits in November.
  37. Take the kids to free activities. Parks are good bets during the summer, as are libraries (see #29). Many museums have free days once or twice a month. You don’t always have to pay to play.
  38. If you don’t have kids, apply #37 to yourself.
  39. Keep the change. You don’t need to piggy bank it. Maybe you could use a large jar or something else more adult. Saving your change is still a worthwhile endeavor, but only if you deposit it in an interest bearing account.
  40. Keep your sanity. Some people take saving money to the extreme. You can use money responsibly and still enjoy life. Small splurges are healthy. If you go too wild about pinching pennies, you’ll end up without friends or else binge on frivolous purchases.
  41. Take advantage of 0% introductory offers from credit cards. These are a special breed of plastic. Whether you transfer a balance (see #5) from a high APR card or simply make a large purchase that will take some time to pay off, these cards can be useful, as long as you can pay off the entire balance before the 0% rate expires.
  42. Tap water is perfectly safe in most places. Ask yourself if you really need to buy Evian.
  43. Take advantage of technology. Skype is cheaper than long distance phone calls. So is video chatting. You can even instant message. You don’t even have to know what OMG and LOL mean.
  44. Buy food on sale and save for later. If you have a freeze (and most of us do, these days) you can even do this with meat.
  45. Go out during happy hour. And choose a place that offers free appetizers with your drinks.
  46. Don’t join a health club if you don’t plan to use it frequently.
  47. Eat at ethnic restaurants. They are often quite cheap, and often rather trendy. You can have your cake and eat it too.
  48. Take advantage of package trips. If you can get a deal that combines airfare and hotel into a cheap little package, go for it.
  49. Don’t leave money sitting around. Put it into an interest bearing.
  50. Remember the latte (#1)? Go get one once in a while. It’ll be good for your state of mind.

Have anymore tips to save money? Please do share…

50 Ways to Save Money in Your 30’s | futuremoneymatters.com
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