OK, we're going to guess that at least 30% of this list will solicit a "duh!" from just about anyone reading it. But, we guarantee that you will find something in here that you never thought of. Here goes:
Become a Bargain Warrior.
These days, it's almost downright chic to hunt for bargains. At the supermarket, in the mall and online – here are some ways for you to beat the system.
- Buy the basics first! When shopping, shop with a list and put all of the essentials at the top of the list. Then, if you have extra to spend, start moving down the list from "needs" to "wants."
- When in the store, look high and low for deals, literally. The highest margin products are always placed right at eye-level. Better deals are usually found on higher and lower shelves.
- Go shopping without children. Cha-ching!
- Compare prices online, but buy in person. Savvy shoppers find great deals, but loyalty saves in the long run.
- Clean up with "all-in-one" products. No reason to buy six specialty cleaners when two or three all-purpose cleaners will do the same job.
- Think big at breakfast. Buy cereal in bulk and separate into air-tight plastic containers.
- Make one, freeze one. A third of what's in our supermarket carts goes to waste. Make sure that you make the most to protect and prolong the life of your purchases.
- Go for cheaper butchers' cuts. We're downgrading to cheaper cuts of meat, but without scrimping on taste.
- Bye-bye big brands. Unless you can get it with a good coupon or sale price, avoid name brands – generics can save you big money.
- Shop hand-to-mouth. Buy what you need and when you need it.
- Buy "forever" fashion. Choose wardrobe items that are timeless or mix-and-match well to make multiple outfits.
- Buy on Craigslist, eBay and even Proxibid.com. For some items, these sites can really save you money.
- Consolidate errands into one trip. Save time, save gas, save money and save the headache!
Learn How to Deliver Real Value.
Be more valuable. Be a rainmaker. Are you indispensible in your job? If you're self-employed, do you offer something unique and special to your customers? You should.
- Cross train at work to make yourself more valuable. Be the last person they would ever think of firing. Job security is key to making most of these tips work!
- Take a class! Education can only help you get ahead. Take the time to do it now.
- Read more literature about your business. Success doesn't clock out at 5. When you're home, read business journals and trade magazines about your industry and your NEXT job.
- Find out what your customers REALLY want. Tomorrow, get started on HOW you can deliver that to them so they'll find YOU valuable. That's the way to do business today.
- Offer something that your competitors aren't offering.
Save Energy (for All the Right Reasons).
Soon, you're going to have to change to those funny looking light bulbs. But today there are lots of ways that you can save real money by saving energy.
- Halve the number of days your lawn is being watered. Easy way to save.
- D-I-Y. Reduce home improvement costs by tackling jobs yourself.
- Insulate your House. You'll see energy savings immediately.
- Lower your thermostat. A couple of degrees makes a big difference over time.
- Borrow tools. Your neighbor probably has just what you need for that fix-it project.
- Use a power strip to power down unused electronics. Simple trick.
- Carpool a few times a week. That lane is there for a reason on the 5, 101, 110, 405 and many others.
Manage Your Money Like a Pro.
The last few years have taught us that we need to have a good handle on our financial literacy. If you don't, you might be missing a great opportunity.
- Don't live beyond your means. Pretty simple, huh? But it's amazing how few of us actually put this little adage into practice – until we're forced to do it!
- Budget. Ha! Bet you never saw that coming. If you don't already do this, start tomorrow.
- Bank "found" money in a separate account. That way, you can keep track of it's value and you won't spend it needlessly.
- Use a computer program to track your finances, some of them like Wave are FREE!
- Get 5% on APY balances up to $500 when you open a First500 Savings Account.
- Make sure your checking account is truly FREE, like our Value Checking Account.
- Use online resources like PlanIt, MoneyMix, Googolplex and ThrivebyFive to help you plan and set priorities.
- Use an auto buying resource like AutoLand.
Create New Income.
You know that part-time business you keep talking about? Well, kick it into gear! Now's the perfect time to get it started – you need it more than ever!
- Turn your "hobbies" into income. Make it and sell it.
- Clean house. Sell other stuff you don't need.
- Sell your knowledge. If you're really, really good at something chances are that someone else would pay you for your expertise. This is a potential avenue for a part-time, supplemental income.
- Shop auctions. These are great places to buy low, if you do your homework and understand the potential market for the product you're interested in. If you win the item for a decent price, you can re-sell the product(s) with a markup.
- Read this publication to help improve your FICO Score and SAVE MONEY on your next loan.
Trim the fat. Get up earlier. Start that carpool. Make a budget. Quit smoking. And on, and on. Recessions have a way of inspiring us to be better.
- Read happy fiction. A positive outlook can benefit you in many ways.
- "Stay-cation." It makes sense to take smaller, more frequent time-outs and stay closer to home. Southern California offers many ways to relax and recharge without going far.
- Spend more time at home with family. This is one way to trim your entertainment budget.
- Rediscover a local library. They're out there for a reason.
- Lunchboxes are back. Take your lunch a few days a week and save!
- Make do and mend it. If you can fix it, rather than re-purchase, do it.
- Eat what you sow. If you can, find a way to grow some of your own food.
- Drop the bottled water habit. Use refillable, BPA-free, stainless steel bottles.
And #47: If, for some reason, you're reading this and haven't already joined a credit union … do it NOW! The benefits are virtually endless and it's one of the smartest financial moves you can make. You can start the process with First Entertainment here.