Our Crown Financial Ministries staff has compiled a list to assist you in changing some spending habits, and I'm sure you can add many more ideas with a little thought and planning.
1. Save on your energy bill. Turn it off: turn off lights, TVs, computers and other appliances when you exit a room. If you aren't using an appliance, unplug it. Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. Use a timer for your thermostat to keep the house warmer or cooler when no one is home. Set it to change to a more comfortable temperature an hour before you return home. Do the same for your water heater.
2. Save on gas. Think before you drive. Make numerous errands in one trip vs. many short trips. Carpool to work, or talk to your boss about telecommuting one or two days per week. Keep your car in good shape. Check tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can cause the car to run less efficiently. Have the oil, oil filters and air filters changed frequently. If you change your own oil, check with your local garbage dump or recycling center to see if they recycle used motor oil. Watch your driving habits. Be careful of rapid starts and stops. Accelerate slowly and don't go above the speed limit.
3. Be your own handyman. For minor repairs around the house, try doing it yourself. You can check out books from the library on basic home repairs and learn to fix things on your own. Or attend a free class at your local home improvement store. You save money, gain new skills and bask in your own accomplishments.
4. Be creative. Make homemade gifts for your family and friends. Use a skill you already have, such as painting or drawing or even cooking to create thoughtful and memorable gifts for birthdays or Christmas.
5. Save at the grocery store. Make out a weekly menu and shop for only those ingredients. Plan meals around store specials and coupons. Look for coupons online. Stock up on nonperishable foods when they are on sale. Try going "meatless" a couple of days a week. Learn to cook at home from scratch and save money on fewer prepackaged foods and eating out less often.
6. Be a savvy shopper. For clothing needs, shop thrift or consignment stores or discount department stores. You can often find new or barely used clothing at these stores for 50 percent or more off retail price. Buy basics, such as socks, underwear and T-shirts at discount stores. Think twice before buying an item that can only be dry cleaned. Look for home washable fabrics instead. Buy items that can be worn with more than one outfit.
Also, check yard/garage sales for barely worn baby and children's clothes. Many times children outgrow the clothing before it shows any wear. Look online for used books, furniture, toys and other items. Just do your homework to make sure you are getting a good deal and that the item is in good condition.
7. Look for alternatives for entertainment. Consider dropping the cable TV and film rentals, or dining out less often. Your local library is a good place to read the latest newspapers or issues of your favorite magazine instead of paying for a subscription. The library is also a good source for movies or audio books, and many offer free classes or children's story hours. Check your local community centers for other free or low-cost class offerings.
Although the economic conditions of today's world are unpredictable, living a "saving" lifestyle will maximize your available resources for those things that really matter.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and author of "The Root of Riches: What If Everything You Think About Money Is Wrong?" To sign up for his free weekly e-newsletter, "Handwriting on the Wall," visit Crown.org/handwriting or call 1-800-722-1976. Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry dedicated to equipping people with biblically based financial tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching. Based in Georgia, the ministry has offices in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Africa, Europe, India, Asia and Australia.
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