written by: sherisaid•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 8/23/2011
Budget blowouts are often the result of impulse spending, maintenance neglect and poor planning. Most people don't even realize what they're doing - or not doing. To find ways to save on everyday expenses, take a close look at where your money is really going, and then take responsibility.
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Feeding Bad Habits
Before you shell out $4 for a grande half-caf, consider that a pound of gourmet coffee beans costs $10 or less. The average pound of coffee yields 35 to 45 eight oz cups, depending on strength. Thirty-five cups times $4. Do the math and get a thermos.
Vending machines are pure evil. They rarely contain anything healthy and the cost may seem reasonable but can really add up. If you must have chips or cookies, buy in bulk or on sale and bag your own. This allows you to control the portion size along with the amount you spend.
Leftover lunches are great ways to save on everyday expenses. To avoid eating the same thing day after day, plan ahead. Baked chicken for dinner makes a tasty chicken salad wrap for a leftover lunch. Drain leftover shrimp scampi and sprinkle with seasonings for a spicy Cajun poboy on a crusty roll, and you won't even feel deprived.
Photo courtesy of Ahmed Rabea
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Everything plugged in at your home is an energy drain. Lower your electric bill by unplugging appliances, TVs and computers, turning off your water heater during times when no one is home, raising or lowering your heat or electric by just a couple of degrees, and reducing the number of hours your pool pump runs.
One of the most common unnecessary electric expenses is heating and cooling loss due to poor insulation and leaky windows, doors and ducts. Finding and fixing leaks can save hundreds of dollars a year in electric costs.
A running toilet or dripping faucet seems like a minor annoyance - until the bill comes. Small leaks that cost less than $10 for a DIY repair, replacing the stopper in a running toilet for example, can triple your water bill for the month. Keeping up on maintenance issues is a practical way to save on everyday expenses.
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Keeping your car in good running condition and your tires inflated properly improves your gas mileage and saves you money. Basic maintenance like regular oil changes and tire rotation also cuts down on repairs and extends the life of your car, so the small gas savings you enjoy every day could result in big savings over the life of your car.
Save gas by driving the speed limit and reducing unnecessary trips. Plan your route for efficiency and line up errands to complete in the same day on the same route. If possible, car pool with a friend or neighbor, take a bus or walk. Organization often offers ways to save on everyday expenses.
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Convenience stores prices are significantly higher than grocery stores, which in turn are higher than discount or bulk stores. This is another organization issue. Buy what you need and have it on hand at home for real convenience, and avoid convenience stores altogether.
Have you ever wondered why things like milk, eggs and meat are at the back of the grocery store? It's because you have to walk past candy, ice cream and gourmet items to find them. It's a marketing technique designed to tempt you into buying things you don't need - and it works. Don't go into a grocery store without a list and a budget. You'll come out with what you really need, and you won't end up wondering how you spent so much and still have no food.