NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Save Small - Save Big

Save Small – Save Big


The phrase, “the first step is the hardest” can certainly apply to saving money.  While we may know we should have an emergency savings account set up and save more dollars for retirement, saving can be difficult.  That first step though can be easier than we think.  Try some of the following relatively easy ways to save money.


1.     Cook at home often: Start out with the habit of cooking at home once a week and slowly increase the frequency until you find a balance between saving money and getting stressed out. When you do cook, make a double batch of your favorite and freeze to enjoy later!


2.     Make your own coffee:  A daily indulgence of $5 x 5 days a week x 50 working weeks in a year is $1,250!  More than enough to pay for a vacation for the other two weeks of the year.  


3.     Brown bag lunch at least a few days a week:  Remember leftovers?  Brown bag lunches are not only more economical, they are usually healthier!


4.     Make a list before going shopping: Without a list, almost all shoppers will give into impulse shopping. Even worse is when you forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place. Getting all that you need in one trip can help avoid another unnecessary trip and temptation.


5.     Buy generic products whenever possible: Does it really matter whether your cereal is made by a brand name or is the store brand? There may be a few items, you and your family prefer to be brand name products but for most canned, processed, frozen foods, you will find little difference.


6.     Consolidate and pay off debt as soon as possible: If you carry any debt, focus on consolidating it to a lower interest and pay it off as soon as possible. Money paid in interest is money you cannot recover.


7.     Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees:  Automate the payments to avoid late fees.  Many financial institutions offer free bill pay programs. If you do forget a bill, if you are a first time offender, call the company and request politely to waive the late fees, and more likely than not, they will cooperate with you.

8.     Be aware of your bank balance and avoid over draft fees: If you use your checking account often or have some bills that are paid automatically from your checking account, be aware of the balance and avoid overdraft fees.


9.     Avoid ATM fees: Be aware of the ATM withdrawal fees charged by your bank. While some banks waive fees for all ATM transactions on any ATM machine, most don’t. So be sure to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees, or withdraw directly at your bank.


10. Check three times before buying anything expensive: For any expensive item, compare prices for the same item from at least three different sources before making the purchase.  If at all possible, delay your purchase while you can track prices and then are able to grab a great deal when it comes along.


11. Skip vending machines: Almost everything that is sold via vending machines has a huge markup (and is rarely healthy). However, if you suffer from snack attacks at work, consider creating a secret stash of snacks.


12. Do regular scheduled maintenance on your vehicles: Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes. Remember to check the air in your tires often. And use the grade of fuel that the owner’s manual recommends. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use.


13. Regulate your electric use: When not in use, unplug electric appliances. When not in a room, switch off the lights and the fan. Use a programmable thermostat to control your A/C and heater usage.

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