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We've all heard of the most common ways to save money: Clip coupons, adjust your thermostat, and don't overspend. While those tips are helpful, for many households these days they simply aren't enough. In trying economic times, you might need to employ a little creativity to solidify your budget or free up cash for long-term savings goals. Here's a look at eight creative ways to save money in your everyday life.
1. Use Deal of the Day Websites
Deal of the day websites like Groupon and Living Social offer ways to save money on things you do everyday. Simply input your zip code to see offers available in your area for restaurants, entertainment, and even household products. Deals often come at 50% or more off the retail price. Who knows? By looking for a deal at a lesser-known establishment, you might uncover a hidden gem to return to again and again.
2. Unplug Rarely Used Appliances
If you have a spare bedroom that doesn't get much use, unplug the alarm clock, television, and any other appliances like a radio or lamp. These items consume energy even when they aren't turned on. Take a look around your house for other rarely used electronics like a food processor or gaming system. While this won't reduce your home energy bills tremendously, every little bit helps.
3. Rotate Ceiling Fans Properly
If you have ceiling fans, make sure you use them - and more importantly, make sure they're rotating in the proper direction. In the summer, they should spin counter-clockwise, and in the winter they should rotate clockwise. There's normally a switch on the side of the fan that allows you to adjust the direction. Creating a slight breeze in the warmer months means you won't have to set your thermostat so low, and rotating the warm air near the ceiling back down toward the floor keeps costs down in the winter.
4. Try Deal Sharing Websites
For any online purchase you're considering, check out a website like FatWallet, which posts a multitude of offers and money-saving opportunities on virtually every purchase you can imagine. Once you sign up for an account, you can opt to get email alerts for deals every week, every day, or every hour. You may want to be quick when pulling the trigger, as some sell out in short order.
5. Pay Your Mortgage Every Two Weeks
Ever gotten something in the mail offering to set up a bi-weekly mortgage payment program for a fee? Guess what - you can do this on your own for free. When you do, the end result is an extra payment on your mortgage annually, as there are 52 weeks in the year. This can shave thousands of dollars off the interest paid over the life of the loan, and cuts down the time you spend paying off your mortgage, too.
6. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Instead of purchasing 10 different products for all your cleaning needs, get yourself a bottle of pure castile soap and create recipes for the various cleaning jobs in your home. It can be used for window cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, or a solution with which to wash wood or tile floors. A quick Google search reveals all kinds of "recipes" for mixing the perfect solution.
7. Drop Your Gym Membership
If you're spending $40 per month on a gym membership, that's $500 per year to work out. Instead, initiate your own workout program and get your health fix for free. You might do sit-ups and push-ups a few days per week, jog around the block in your neighborhood after work each day, or find a public swimming pool where you can swim for just a few dollars. You may end up enjoying this even more than the gym.
8. Switch to CFL Light Bulbs
If you still have conventional light bulbs in your home, you're missing out on a money-saving opportunity. According to Consumer Reports, you can conserve as much at $57 over the life of each bulb by switching to CFLs, which are now priced around $3. Even if you have 20 bulbs to change in your home, that's only a $60 investment.
Before you pull out your wallet for a significant purchase, do some research online or ask friends and family if they know of any ways you can save. You never know when a quick Internet search might reveal a coupon code or a 50% off deal from Groupon. The ways to conserve money in your everyday life are virtually endless, and by objectively taking a look at all your spending habits, there's no limit to how much you can save.
Do you know of any other creative tips to save money in your everyday life?
James Horn is always thinking of new ways to earn and save more money. He lives a frugal lifestyle and enjoys sharing his thoughts and ideas for others to benefit.