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Saving: It’s a State of Mind

You probably hear a lot about saving. There’s saving for a first home, for college, for retirement and, of course, “saving for a rainy day.” All of that socking away of funds we’re being urged to do can seem daunting, especially when statistics show Americans are only putting aside about $3 out of every $100.
As with so many things in life, getting your spending and saving in order has a lot to do with attitude, with your mindset about money. One way to help take some of the worry out of it all is to take immediate action about the spending in your life you can control.
You’ve heard, of course, about the price difference between stopping for coffee on the way to work and making it at home. And you certainly don’t need us to tell you how much you’d save without a cable bill; if you have cable, you know the amount.
But there are other things you can do—little financial victories—that can, 1) make you feel like you’re actually accomplishing some saving, 2) help you adjust your perspective on spending and saving, in general.

Electronics and Technology

Thinking of buying a new TV? Do you really need a gargantuan screen? TV technology is great these days. You don’t have to spend into the stratosphere to a great picture at a great price. Shop around.
As we mentioned, you don’t NEED us to tell you this, but it really is important. Check how much you’re paying for cable. Are you on a package that gives you a ton of channels that you never watch? Give your provider a call and find out what your bill would look like with less channels. Also, see if you might save by getting rid of your cable box and investing in a device that brings in streaming channels.
Do you carry a mobile phone? There are still a few people out there who don’t … somewhere. If you haven’t taken a close look at your rate plan lately, peruse your next bill. Make sure you understand everything you’re being charged for; just as with cable, there may be some services you can drop because you simply haven’t been using them.

Entertainment and Recreation

Like movies? You don’t have to stop going out see them entirely, but if you spend a lot on movie tickets, consider going to an actual theater just once a month. Other times, invite a few friends over and catch a rental or a movie from the library. It’s a great way to spend time with people and you’ll all save a ton on snacks. If you’d rather combine movie-watching with some alone-time, consider starting up a DVD swapping group with your movie-minded friends.
Are you a restaurant person? Nothing inflates a restaurant bill like the mark-up on wine. Look for BYOB restaurants that allow you to bring a bottle of wine in with you. If you want to save even more money, drink water. It’s good for you, helps to fill you up so you don’t overeat AND—unless you order some fancy bottled water—it’s on the house (if they’re charging for the tap water, you may want to consider looking for another restaurant).
Are you a phantom club member? If you’re not making use of that gym membership, shooting range membership, country club membership, whatever-membership, do yourself a favor and cancel it. It’s nice of you to be making a monthly contribution to the welfare of the staff, but there are probably other things you could be putting that money aside for.

Home and Auto Costs

Know how to program your thermostat? If there’s no one in your home during the week, the temperature doesn’t have to stay the same 24/7. Save money by learning how to use the various time options your thermostat offers. If your thermostat is an older one without a good amount of flexibility, invest in a new programmable model.
Do you maintain your car? Getting regularly scheduled maintenance and oil changes is good for both extending the life of your car and making sure the engine stays fuel efficient.
Are you handy? If the answer is “no” but you aren’t absolutely afraid of tools, think about saving some money by making minor home repairs yourself. There’s an incredible amount of information online that will take you step-by-step through an incredible range of tasks. Next time your toilet is running, take a look online before calling a plumber.

And Let’s Not Forget …

We can’t leave you without mentioning one of the most useful tips of all: understanding how much money you have and where it all needs to go. Don’t let the word scare you: budgeting. It’s not just a way to curtail spending; it’s a way to boost savings.
The moral of today’s story? Take a good look around. Odds are you’ll find a surprising amount of money in your life you could be saving.
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