Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Tips to Save Money This Spring

The weather is warming up and tax season is coming to an end. Spring is here, and with summer just around the corner, now is a good time to start thinking about saving money.

1. Plan your Summer Vacation NOW

Summer may feel like it’s still a long way off, but if you are thinking about taking a vacation in July or August, you should think about finalizing your plans ASAP. Plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other travel expenses are usually cheaper when you book in advance.

2. Cut Bad Habits

Take a hard look at your bank and credit card statements and see if you can spot any bad financial habits. Eat a lot of fast food? Spend a lot of money on entertainment? Try cooking at home more or renting DVDs at Redbox machines instead of going to the movies.

3. Avoid ATM Fees

A few weeks ago I reported that some banks were testing $5 ATM fees; that means up to five bucks that you are essentially lighting on fire when you withdraw cash. To avoid these fees, all you need to do is make the extra effort to use your own bank’s ATM, or using withdrawal methods that don’t charge you, like getting cash back at grocery stores. It's also a good idea to keep an extra twenty in your wallet for emergencies.

4. Consider Buying Used

If you’re in the market for a lawn mower, a new desk or a bike, you might consider buying used. Warmer weather brings with it garage sales. And don’t forget about CraigsList or Oodle. Bargains abound and people are often willing to negotiate on price. Just remember to try before you buy!

5. Research Major Purchase Online

Thinking about buying a new computer or television? A little time spent researching your options can save you hundreds of dollars. Prices vary from retailer to retailer and from one manufacturer to the next. And don’t forget to look at online reviews. No matter how great the sale was, if your new computer or TV is a dud, you’ve wasted money. This tip goes way beyond electronics. If you’re looking for a new car, check out eBay motors. Ned a new cell phone, Amazon might have exactly what you are looking for at a fraction of the price. Get creative, and see how much money you can save!

6. Plant a Garden

Before it gets too hot out, plant a small garden in your back yard and in few weeks you can cut back on your weekly grocery bill. Consider vegetables such as radishes and arugula that grow quickly (an average of 30 and 35 days respectively). If you use fresh herbs in your cooking, you can grow almost everything you need in windowsill planter or on your kitchen counter. No more wasting store bought herbs that go bad before you can use them.

7. Programmable Thermostat

When the weather heats up the air conditioner starts working overtime. Now is the time to install a programmable thermostat. Running your air conditioning all day long can make for some shockingly high energy bills. By investing in a programmable thermostat you can set your air conditioning to only turn on before you get home from work.

8. Pay Bills Online

Saving 44 cents may not seem like much, but every little bit helps. Selecting paperless billing and paying your bills online saves you the cost of a postage stamp, and it also allows you to reduce the amount of unnecessary paper being wasted.

9. Cut Back Dryer Use

You can hang a clothesline in your backyard, or just lay a few items out over chairs inside your home. Dryers use a lot of electricity, and you can cut back your monthly bill significantly by letting a few garments air dry. Hang drying items indoors can even extend the life of your clothes.

10. Spring Cleaning Finance Style

Now is the time to get organized! Make sure you file all of your tax and financial documents from last year safely, and make a game plan for your bills and monthly budget. By staying on top of your finances, and expenses, you can avoid missing any payments or being hit with expensive late fees.

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