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Finding creative ways to save money has become a hot topic ever since the “Great Recession” struck the United States in 2008. There’s advice on how to scale back your personal finances on TV and on the web. However, much of the advice that’s given isn’t always 100% practical to the average American. That doesn’t mean you have to give up hope. Below I’ve listed five fairly simple options that can help save a surprising amount of money each year.
Almost every week in the Sunday newspaper there are coupons worth hundreds of dollars. The web can also be searched to find additional coupons. I’m not trying to suggest becoming an “extreme” coupon clipper, but spending about 15 minutes each week searching for coupons may lead to a surprising amount of savings.
Personally, I spend about 10 minutes a week printing out coupons I find online and going through the coupons in the Sunday paper. At a minimum I save $5.00 a week at the grocery store by using coupons. Even at only $5.00 per week that adds up to $260.00 per year.
Credit card debt can be a major burden on personal finances, especially when you’re carrying a high balance at a high interest rate. It can take hundreds of dollars each month just to keep up with the interest charges. Shopping around for low interest balance transfer option is one easy way to reduce the amount of interest paid each month.
For example, a credit card with a 19.5% interest rate and a $10,000.00 balance is going to accrue about $150.00 per month in interest. Finding a 0% interest balance transfer option can save over $1,000.00 per year. Beware of is the balance transfer fees, however. Most major credit card companies charge a fee of 3% to 5% of the balance transferred. On $10,000.00 this can be up to a $500.00 fee. However, if the balance transfer option is 0% interest for a full year, then that would save $1,800.00 in interest for the year. Even if with the $500.00 fee there would be $1,300.00 in savings for the year.
Using rewards credit cards responsibly is great way to save money. Almost every single credit card company offers some sort of rewards card these days. Some offer cash back, some offer instant savings, some allow you to accrue points for travel.
The Wal-Mart Discover card is an example of a good rewards card. Using this card at a Wal-Mart gas station saves up to five cents per gallon. It may not seem like a lot, but my family has a large SUV that has a 26 gallon fuel tank and my car has a 12 gallon fuel tank. If I use that card when I fill up each week I can save about $100.00 per year.
Online Discount sites
There are several online discount sites that offer daily deals on a variety of goods and services. The most popular of these sites is Groupon.com. The apparel store Old Navy recently ran a nationwide offer on Groupon. $10.00 would buy a voucher good for $20.00 worth of Old Navy merchandise. Catching one good deal per month can easily save over $120.00 per year on products and services I was going to buy anyway.
Bring your lunch to work
In the hectic rush of the morning it can be easy to forget to make a lunch to bring to work. It can also be just as easy to head out and grab lunch at a restaurant. But think about how much money is spent each week by eating out. On average I probably spend at least $10.00 a day eating out. If I bring a lunch from home it will probably cost about $3.00. Bringing my lunch from home once per week will save about $364.00 a year.
None of the changes suggested above will make me rich, but they show that there are a lot of simple ways to save a surprising amount of money throughout the year. The changes above could save me over $2,000.00 per year without changing my lifestyle.
More from this contributor:
Budget Your Way Out of Debt