7 Great Tips for Saving Money

When the economy is down and unemployment and foreclosures are up, business as usual is not a wise course. What is a cash-strapped consumer to do in such financially troubling times? The answer is to start cutting back. However, saving money does not have to be painful. In fact, all it takes are a few small changes, and consumers can realize significant savings. Here are seven ways to immediately begin saving money.

1) Host a huge garage sale. This should go well past selling off a few long-neglected items. Go through every nook and cranny in the house and take an inventory of everything that has not been used in the last six months. If it has not been used in that time, then chances are it will not be missed. Throwing a big garage sale can easily net many families $1000 or more for junk that is simply gathering dust and taking up space.

2) Quit smoking. A pack a day habit costs consumers about $5 a day and $1,800 over the course of a year. Ouch. That money should be going into savings. Aside from the instant savings, consumers will also save thousands in the long term thanks to reduced insurance and healthcare costs.

3) Stop driving. Many cities and towns offer public transportation in the form of buses, subways and light rail. Making use of these services can save consumers thousands each year on gas, insurance and maintenance. Carpooling or using a bicycle is also an excellent alternative to driving.

4) Buy used. According to recent studies, the average consumer spends over $1,750 a year on clothes and their upkeep. That number can be drastically reduced by half or more by shopping at second hand clothing stores or online. There are of course many other things that can be purchased used, especially when using the internet.

5) Stay in. When consumers leave their homes, they have a habit of spending money. In fact, consumers spend an average of $1,800 a year on entertainment, and over $2,276 a year on eating out. To cut back, consumers should stay in more often, cook their own meals and rent movies, books and music rather than buying them.

6) Rent out a room. Many consumers have more home than they actually use. If an extra bedroom goes unused for most of the year apart from when family is in town, consider renting the room out to someone else looking to save money. In many metropolitan areas such as Seattle, a room can easily rent out for $400 a month. After accounting for about $20 in utilities, that can result in savings of $4,000 a year.

7) Ditch the credit cards. Too many consumers find themselves buried under a mountain of debt because of poor spending habits involving credit cards. Cut them up and stop using them. Start using cash to pay for everything and build an emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenses.

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