Many hardworking men and women are finding that money is extremely tight in today’s economy. Even those people who have started working second or third jobs are frequently living from paycheck to paycheck. In many cases, there are not enough hours in the day to bring in additional money. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to maximize your income as is. The following are five somewhat surprising ways you can save your hard-earned money — and begin to experience financial freedom.
Make Charitable Donations
If you are trying to get your finances in order, it’s likely donating to charity isn’t the first thing on your mind. While it may seem counterintuitive, making charitable donations can actually save you money. Donations to charity are tax deductible, and by keeping track of each donation, you can receive a sizable tax refund at the year’s end. Additionally, donating to people in need is often a catalyst for financially responsible living, as it helps you to better assess your wants against your needs.
Donating your car to charity is one of the most financially rewarding donations you can make. This donation will qualify you for a major tax deduction, and will also eliminate the costs of driving and maintaining a vehicle. Once you find the best place to donate a car in New York or wherever you live, the process is simple. The donation center will handle the details, leaving you to enjoy a life free from the costs of gas, insurance, and car loans. Additionally, by donating your car and choosing to walk, bike to work or use mass transit, you can dramatically improve your health, reducing your health care costs over time.
Take Advantage of Deals
Keeping a sharp eye on sales, searching through the bargain bin and clipping coupons are simple ways to save in a dramatic way. Grocery expenses can add up quickly, so before heading to the store, gather all the coupons you can. Planning your meals around items on sale can prevent a shopping spree from leaving a hole in your wallet. Another way to save at the grocery store is to join a discount club that offers savings on bulk items.
You can also save money on your clothing purchases by paying attention to discounts and sales. One way to significantly cut back on clothing costs is to shop out of season. Look for a bathing suit in December or a winter coat in July, for instance. Once the appropriate season comes along, you’ll be glad you have weather-appropriate clothing that you were able to purchase at half the price.
Do It Yourself
If you are faced with household projects that will cost you a pretty penny, consider taking them on yourself. In many cases, tasks such as fixing a dishwasher or dryer are simply a matter of having the right tools and a little direction. Many home improvement stores offer weekly workshops on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. This is a great time of the year to jump on the DIY bandwagon, as projects to winterize your home can become costly when hiring professionals.
Environmentally conscious living is a terrific way to save both the planet and your finances. There are several ways you can go green to save money, not the least of which is cooking your own food. According to Forbes, Americans spend nearly a thousand dollars per year on dining out for lunch alone. Cooking at home lends itself to nutritious eating and will make you more aware of the food you are buying, how it was grown and its effect on the environment. Growing a vegetable and/or herb garden is another great way to help protect the earth while cutting down on food costs. As winter approaches, also consider turning your heat down before bed and using an extra blanket. When your electric bill arrives in the mail, you’ll be glad you took this small step.
Eliminate Clutter From Your Life
Decluttering your home and your life is one way to gain perspective on what you do, and do not, need. You can make decluttering financially beneficial by adding up the amount of money you spent on all of the items you are now throwing out. This is money you can save in the future by cutting down on unnecessary purchases. If you cannot donate the items you are looking to get rid of, sell them on eBay or Craigslist. Even if selling your belongings doesn’t make you a fortune, at the very least, it will provide you with a little extra money to put toward savings.
For many Americans, hard work and extra hours are not enough to get out of a financial rut. By implementing these five tips, however, you can turn your money troubles around. Start making these small but powerful changes, and begin your journey to a financially stable future today.
About the Author: Mary Goldman is a contributing writer and financial adviser.
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