You don’t need to be a financial genius or fiscally sound in order to save money. In fact, anyone can save! Anyone with the ability and willingness to save can be a master saver. Taking a few simple ideas and applying them to everyday life can really make a difference over time. A life saver, if you will.
First things first, a sure fire way to save money is to know how much money you have. This sounds obvious, yes, but to some, this can be a challenging task. I check my bank account balances every day, sometimes multiple times throughout the day, to see how much I have in there.
I don’t know about you but my biggest monetary slip-ups occur when I’m not keeping track of my money. I have, in the past (and by in the past I mean last weekend), put off checking my account balance to keep track of my “weekend play money” when a friend was in town. Come Monday I found myself in a pickle; I’d spent too much money, way over my “weekend play money budget” and had to cut corners elsewhere in my budget to make ends meet. Side note: saltine crackers for dinner is so not worth the extra two drinks I bought over the weekend.
If your bank offers an online account option I strongly recommend taking advantage of this service and keep up with your balance each day. There have been days I’ve planned an activity only to be reminded by my online bank account that a direct debit was coming out soon. Had I not been reminded this activity could have sent me over the edge and sent me into overdraft limbo. Overdraft limbo is not a happy place and no limbo is actually played. If it is, you will be the one to fall on your back.
With the technology boom it’s so easy for someone to access their bank account information online. Even more so, with the rise of smartphones, users can even view or access accounts through an application. I personally use my bank’s app, a budget app that keeps my bill dates in line and Pageonce. Pageonce is an app that displays all of your linked accounts on one screen. This makes staying up to date a breeze (although I’ve noticed accounts do not keep up-to-date throughout the day) with a quick check in the morning. You can even set up alerts to go off when a bill is due or your available cash drops below a certain point. I use the free version of this app but I know with the paid version you can even pay linked accounts/bills without ever leaving the app.
Alright, so you wake up, check your account balances and head off to work! If you’re like millions of others you face some sort of commute to work each day. If less expensive transportation (busses/trains/bicycles) isn’t available to you then you’ll most likely face a drive to and from your place of business.
Let’s say you work 10 miles from home. You’ll be driving 20 miles a day or 100 miles a week. Using the latest data from the IRS and their Standard Mileage Rates of $0.55 cents per mile you’ll likely be spending $55 a week or $236.5 a month (using the average of 4.3 week a month) or $2,860 a year just on gas alone. Remember, that amount is strictly driving to work and back. To read more about the IRS’ mileage rate click here.
Since the weekend of my big spending splurge I’ve been trying to stretch a dollar anyway possible. Here are some helpful and handy tips I’ve found in saving gas when driving:
- Don’t drive like an a$$hole. This is probably the hardest feat for me. You see I’m an inconsiderate driver. I know, I accept it, and embrace it. To me, being hell on wheels and knowing it is ten times better than being a nightmare on wheels and being COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS. Since I’m conscious of being a bear behind the wheel I can easily turn this off. For instance, when there is a small child or pet in my car or when money is so tight I’m trying to stretch my tank until pay day. This being said, I’ve slowed my driving to stick to the speed limit. (Please note: I’m not really hell on wheels but I will usually drive 5 – 8 over the speed limit without hesitation) Just by reducing my driving speeds by 5 mph I’ve seen a reduction in my fuel consumption. If you have a cruise control feature in your car I strongly suggest utilizes this on long stretches of roads.
- Be the Tortoise.You remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, or you know, saves the most gas. In my car I have a feature that shows me how many miles per gallon I’m getting when driving a certain speed or a certain way. I’ve noticed that when I take off at a green light like a bat out of hell I’m getting very, very, VERY low milage per gallon, whereas, if I take my time and gingerly ease into an accelerated speed my milage per gallon increases and I’m saving gas in the long run. I read somewhere once that you could save up close $0.70 center per gallon just by easing into acceleration.
- Take it easy on the brakes.I never fully understood this, because I don’t know anything about how a car works, but if you ease up on the brakes you’ll save gas. It was always a crazy concept to me that braking used gas but according to every man I’ve ever known, it does, so don’t drive with your foot on the brake pedal (unless obviously you need to stop). This past week I’ve found myself coasting to a stop and saving gas in the long run.
- Windows UP at fast speeds.One of my favorite pastimes is driving around with my windows down. BUT, did you know that if you’re going over 50 mph you’re actually slowing your car down with the drag from the wind? Oh yes! My friendly and helpful Mythbusters taught me this lesson! If you’re driving less than 50 mph keep your windows down and save on using the air conditioning on warmer days (since using your AC sucks up gas consumption) but if you’re on the highway roll them windows up unless you want to pay more in gas!
Huzzah! You’ve finally made it to work. What’s the first thing workers usually want first thing in the morning to start their day? All Together: COFFEE! Very good students, very good. For this next money saving tip please sub in your work drink of choice (coffee, tea, soda, etc, — if your favorite work drink is tap water, good for you, you’re perfect. Move on to the next paragraph).
Let’s take the USA’s country-wide coffee phenomenon Starbucks (please do not write in with your opinions about Starbucks coffee, I don’t care) as an example. A medium size of black coffee will set you back around $2. For a designer froo-froo drink (like a vanilla latte) you’re looking to pay somewhere around $5. Don’t even get me started on the addictive holiday drinks they put out.
on way to work: gas
at work: coffee
at work: lunch
dinner: cheap meals