Are you looking to save money or spend less this year? Here are five ideas I have implemented.
1. Ditch Cable
Last year my family cut the cord and ditched cable. We have no regrets. We purchased an HDTV antenna which hangs in an unnoticed place on a basement wall. We discovered we have access to many more free channels than we expected. (I can even watch re-runs of Gun Smoke, a favorite TV program from my childhood.) We supplement with an online streaming service. We have saved significant money each month by not paying for an expensive cable package with many channels we never watched.
2. Frequent the Library
My local library is an amazing place. I stopped purchasing most books, and instead patronize the library for books, movies, e-books, and audio books. Audio books are available both on disk and via free downloads. When I do want to purchase a book, I borrow it from the library first to determine whether I do, in fact, want spend the money.  At the library’s annual book sale, I can pick up books inexpensively for travel reading. If I finish the book on the road, I will leave it behind for another traveler.
3. Haul Your Own Trash
Many people prefer to have the local garbage company pick up their trash at the curb. In my area, most towns do not provide this service to its residents and homeowners have to pay private companies. By taking our trash and recyclables to the local transfer station ourselves, we pay about a sixth of what we would pay a trash hauling company each month.
As with every do-it-yourself task, you need to weigh the time spent doing the chore against the cost of paying for this service. For every person, the trade-off for each task is different. My family chose trash. You may find a different paid service you can drop and reap significant savings.
4. Join Rewards Programs
When you sign up for rewards with retailers, you earn free merchandise, money off purchases, and other perks. I focus on vendors I use on a regular basis.  (If an e-mail address is required, I give an email address I set up for this purpose to reduce the amount of junk in my main inbox.) I recently received $10 off my grocery bill for rewards earned from last quarter’s purchases. I fill my car with gas on the day my local station offers 5 cents off the posted price. Combined with the five cents per gallon rewards program, I get ten cents off per gallon when I fill up on sale days.
Some retailers and service providers have created rewards programs where rewards can be earned and used at any of the participating companies. In one such program, I can use points earned through my cell phone company to purchase items at my local pharmacy.
Where do you frequently shop? Do those vendors have rewards programs?
5. Choose a Rewards Credit Card that Matches Your Spending Patterns
My family recently took a trip to Vienna where we were able to use credit card rewards to pay for the hotel. Credit card reward programs have been around for many years. There are as many credit card rewards programs as there are credit cards.
To choose the best program for you, identify the spending categories for which you use your credit card (i.e. groceries, gas, restaurants, travel, etc.), and focus on cards that give rewards for your most used categories.
When selecting a credit card with rewards programs consider:

  • Interest rates. If you do not pay your balance in full each month, a high interest rate could negate any earned rewards.
  • Annual fees, if any. Will you earn more in rewards than the annual cost of the card?
  • Method of receiving your rewards. How do you want to receive your rewards? Will the company give you cash back? Are the rewards redeemed through gift cards, merchandise or travel?

These are just a few ideas to save money. How do you save? Do you use any particular apps? I’d like to hear about, and possibility share, your favorite methods.
This blog is published to provide you with general information only, and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice.  Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.