Do you have several boxes of rice in your pantry because you inadvertently bought additional boxes? Maybe you bought Tylenol forgetting you already had an extra bottle stashed in the medicine cabinet. Maybe your spouse recently lost a job. Maybe you are simply looking to save money in the new year as inflation rates reach an all-time high level.Let’s talk about some everyday practical strategies to help you save money:Use items in your pantry first.Create an inventory list of freezer/household items.Store items in your pantry according to expiration dates, buy in bulk/check unit prices when shopping.Plan your meals, meal prep in batches if you have a family (e.g., consider buying meat from a local farmer and cooking 10 lbs. of meat and freezing it into 1 lb. increments to make busy weeknights easier)Shopping, eating out and entertainmentAsk for discounts (e.g., seniors who are 60 and older can save 10% at Weis Markets on Tuesdays. Some places offer discounts if you have an AAA membership or if you are a teacher, first responder or military personnel. Use sources such as RetailMeNot and Restaurant.com. Stack coupons if possible. Take advantage of early bird specials. Pick an establishment where you have a gift card. Sign up for local discounts and deals (e.g., earn points at Oyler’s Organic Market).Attend free events at local establishments (e.g., Free Y swim days and free museum entrance days).Consider a backyard staycation adventure or board game night with neighbors.Pack a picnic at the park using reusable sandwich boxes.Attend local music events such as concerts by the Apple Core Band.Participate in classes and events at the library (everything from Lego building, dance classes, knitting, Qigong, help with technology and more are available).DVDs, magazines, music, and book stacks for children and more are available from the library.Brew your coffee and exercise at home.Implement a capsule wardrobe system.Buy secondhand clothing, especially for children who grow so quickly.When you do purchase new clothing, buy timeless, high-quality pieces.Make your own clothing repairs by sewing on a button that has come off, mend clothing, etc.Line dry clothing outside or use a drying rack inside.Learn a skill and apply it (e.g., change your own oil, paint a room in your house yourself, garden, canning, and compost).Maintain your house (change filters when needed, close your blinds during the coldest part of the day during winter and close blinds during the hottest part of the day in the summerSeek out service professionals to repair something when it breaks if you cannot repair it yourself.Pay with cash; you will be less likely to impulse buy and small businesses will not incur any credit card costs.Consider using methods taught by Dave Ramsey (e.g., the envelope system).When buying gifts, consider purchasing a gift card from a local store or establishment or providing the gift of time or a fun experience.Space your medical bill payments, utilize 0% interest deals and pay off your credit card monthly.Barter and negotiate.Live below your means.Save for the future.If you’re given a pay increase, make sure to put those earnings into paying off debts.Put bills on autopay so that you don’t forget to pay them.If you don’t produce much trash, consider consolidating that bill and share with a neighbor.Consider prepaying for your funeral/burial and invest in a life insurance policy for your dependents.Be sure to donate to credible, worthy causes (investigate what percent actually goes toward to cause). Even giving a little bit can make a big difference.Make sure to live intentionally in the new year. Think before making a mindless purchase. End any unused subscriptions and memberships. You could use your time wisely by helping others instead of doing “retail therapy” (shopping in an attempt to feel better). If you smoke, consider smoking fewer cigarettes. If you have a skill, teach others. Don’t forget to clip your coupons because every dollar counts in this economy.
Amy Boyer Thomas works in healthcare and education.