Save Money By Warren / July 24, 2014 Share Tweet Pin Share Share During your childhood years, I’m sure you’ve heard the story about The Ant and the Grasshopper – an important moral reminder on working hard and planning for the future. The beauty about this story is that it’s applicable to any situation – just like when it comes to saving money. Most people don’t realize just how much money they are wasting, until they are deep in debt and are forced to start cutting back. You don’t have to wait until you face financial difficulties to start saving. Unfortunately, there are those who procrastinate and get into a bind because it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are five simple and practical ways on how to save money fast: 1. Check Your Tires Now what does your vehicle have anything to do with saving money? A lot. Gas isn’t cheap…which makes fuel efficiency a necessity – especially when you live in a place where driving is a way of life. California anyone? There are a number of reasons why you could be wasting fuel: you own a “gas guzzler”, have a dirty fuel system, or you “floor it” often. But one of the biggest culprits to fuel inefficiency is low pressure tires. Under-inflated tires require more rotations than normal, thus, requiring more engine power as well – and more engine power, means more fuel consumption. Therefore, inflate your tires properly to maximize fuel use and keep costs down, by filling-up less. Use a tire gauge to check your tires often and ensure it’s inflated to the right pressure. Check the alignment and rotate your tires periodically, since this can eat up a lot of fuel as well, if not done. 2. Be a Member of Your Local Library A library may seem like the last place to visit when you want to save money, but if you love to read, why spend money on them when you can borrow for free? You can also use the library card to borrow newspapers, magazines, and movies; allowing you to spend less on other forms of entertainment. Additionally, most libraries come with free Wi-Fi, so it can be an ideal place to cut back on internet costs – which can cost you from $20-$50 a month (or more) depending on your service and where you live. 3. Take Up Gardening Gardening is a relaxing hobby that can help you make significant savings. If you have a backyard, you can plant a variety of herbs and vegetables, instead of going to the grocery store. Gardening allows you to enjoy fresh produce as well. For instance, herbs like thyme, rosemary, and basil can cost you from $2 to $5 each, if you buy the dry versions – which most people buy, since they last longer – but are not as flavorful as the fresh ones either. If, however, you don’t have a lot of space or the means to garden, grow the plants in containers instead. Here’s a helpful resource to use this method: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/growing-vegetables-in-containers/ Don’t like putting forth the effort and being patient? No problem. Farmers markets have been known to offer cheaper produce and an opportunity to haggle a little bit. 4. Avoid Brand Names Most people choose to buy well-known brands when they go shopping, but you may be spending more money than necessary by doing so. Generic products usually cost less than the brand names because they’re not manufactured by well-known companies. Yes, you’re buying recognition and trust; but not all brand names are necessarily better either. There are certain items that are essentially the same product – just in a different name. For instance, buy generic cleaning products and toiletries to save money. Since it’s something you’ll discard anyway, there’s no need to buy a brand name item because of its “softer” or “durable” features. Most cleaning products and toiletries today can match-up with other popular brands. To save even more, purchase these items in bulk. That’s why places like Costco and Sam’s Club are always busy. Customers buy enough to feed them for the rest of the week or month. No need to make multiple trips to the store. If you can, it’s also a good idea to shop with your friends and divide the products among yourselves, for even more savings. Most people assume that they spend less when they take advantage of supermarket deals. Unfortunately, some of those deals do not save you much. Most of the time, it’s just another ploy for you to come back and buy more products. Sure, it’s a discount next time around; but you can save more by minimizing your number of transactions – and not necessarily on discounts. Don’t have a Costco or Sam’s Club where you live? You can also identify wholesale stores that are used by restaurants and other establishments. Speak to the restaurant manager or owner and find out where they buy their inventory. Being wholesale, these types of stores are typically cheaper than in supermarkets. 5. Unplug Appliances You can also save $100’s by simply unplugging appliances. According to the U. S. Department of Energy between 5% and 10% of residential electricity is used by devices that remain plugged in continuously. Electric appliances continue to consume power, even when they are not in use, if they are plugged in. Therefore, unplug your computer, hair dryer, coffee maker, toaster, and TV when you’re not using them. This also minimizes the risk of electrical fires. Appliances that are in standby mode can cost you at least $100 every year (depending on how many you own) to do nothing! That’s like giving money away for no reason. That’s money you can use elsewhere. Final Thoughts You’re probably thinking that I’m asking you to be cheap or neglect the finer things in life. That’s far from it. I just want you to make smarter decisions when it comes to your finances and to see a lot of the things we do in life aren’t really necessary. It’s easy to overlook some of the simple things that can help you save money. Think about your spending habits and identify the specific areas that you can cut down on, if you’re wondering how to save money fast. Try to spend your hard earned money on items that are true necessities. The savings you make may seem minor at first, but they also make a significant impact in the long run. Every little bit counts and they do add up. Plan ahead, so you don’t regret it later.