Living below your means is more a matter of self-discipline. A few adjustments here and there could be all it takes to have the necessary funds available for saving and investing.
Some mutual funds can be opened up for as little as $200 with minimum contributions around $50.
Here’s a list of ways to save money by spending less.
*Open up bank accounts that have little or no service fees. Keep a cushion to avoid accidental bounced checks. These can eat you alive. Be sure to maintain your minimum balance to avoid service charges.
*Try to avoid banks that charge you a transaction fee for using their debit cards. If you have no choice, plan how much money you will need in a given period and then withdraw it all at once to avoid too many transaction fees.
*Compare credit cards. Look for the ones that have little or no annual fees. It’s not too hard to find those with no annual fee.
*Avoid specialty store charge cards as they often have interest rates six or seven points higher than major credit cards.
*Never choose a card based solely on incentives or reward programs. These include auto reward points and air travel miles. These cards may lead you to spend more money over time than you can afford.
*Most importantly, avoid unnecessary interest charges by paying off the complete monthly balance. You can avoid hundreds of dollars in interest expenses on an annual basis.
*When you buy a car, consider buying one that is one to three years old. A one-year old car will be about 20% to 30% less than a new car. A three-year old car is a good buy because it could be around half the price of a new car. A car depreciates the most in its first three years. After that the depreciation levels off and it will lose less of its value.
*Another good saving when buying a used car is you will pay less for the insurance.
*When going on vacation, consider staying in your home state instead of long distance trips or even international travel. It’s often cheaper to travel within your own borders, that way, you avoid visa and passport costs, border hassles, currency exchanges, tropical shots, medication, and additional health insurance. Frequently, people travel thousands of miles to see sights not nearly as spectacular as what’s next door.
*You should consider off-season vacations. Travel at a time when everyone else is at work or school, and the staff will actually be glad to see you. You may also save 50% or more on the usual travel expenses.
*Avoid large cities and tourist traps; you’ll save a ton by avoiding these places, where you pay more to eat, drink, sleep, and travel. If you do decide to visit a big city, consider accommodations in a smaller town close by.
*If you have a lot of credit card debt at high rates, look into consolidating your debt at a lower rate.
*Refrain from making impulse purchases. Exercise self-discipline.
*Refinance your mortgage or debt at a lower rate.
*Refinance your car loan at a lower rate.
*Shop around for cheaper car insurance rates. There can be a big difference.
*Lower your phone bill by using self-control on long distance calling.
*Use a phone card for long distance or international calls.
*Use coupons when you shop.
*Don’t buy things just because they are on sale.
*Wait for things to go on sale before buying them. Keep a record of when things go on sale. Some items will seasonally go on sale. Ask stores when certain things will go on sale.
*Buy generic, or non-name brand merchandise. Most times the quality is just as good.
*Stop smoking. This habit is extremely expensive.
*Contribute the maximum each year to your 401K or to an IRA.
*Remember, paying down debt is also a way to save money. If you can make extra payments on your mortgage or go for a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year mortgage. The savings are enormous.
*Reduce the number of times you eat out. Oftentimes eating out at a restaurant involves paying a lot of money for over-priced and over-sized meals. For healthy meals and to save money, eat at home.
*Watch videos or DVDs at home instead of going to the movies. Pop your own popcorn instead of paying a lot for theater popcorn.
*Evaluate your entertainment and recreational activities. Many are very expensive to participate in. There are many others that are just as fun and entertaining that are at the fraction of the cost.
*Don’t try to compete with your friends and neighbors. Sometimes, an apparent prosperous lifestyle can be an illusion. Those illusions come with a lot of debt. It’s much better to have peace of mind.
Be alert. There are always ways to save money. Soon you will yourself with money you never knew you had. The key is to put that money to work for you instead of spending it.