In these turbulent economic times, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and save money. AARP can help. This worksheet offers 15 tips for cutting back on your monthly expenses right now. We've provided a rough estimate of what you might be able to save every month. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, so fill in the blank of "your actual savings" to keep track of how you're doing each month. Here are also some suggestions for tax savings and other longer-term ways to save money and several other resources and Web sites that you might find helpful.
1. Cut out one restaurant meal per week. Consider cooking one extra meal in per week rather than dining out, and you could save anywhere from $40.00 to $100.00 per month. You could even team up with friends to do a "meal swap." Estimated monthly savings: $40-100.$40.00-100.00.
2. Make your daily coffee at home. Specialty coffees can be delicious but pricey, running anywhere around $2-$5 per drink. You can save a bundle by replacing your weekday latte with home-made coffee. Estimated monthly savings: $20.00-50.00.
3. Use coupons at the grocery store. Do you wonder if clipping coupons is worth your time? Coupons can save you up to 10-20 percent off your grocery bill, so if you spend $200 - $400 per month, using coupons could save you as much as $20.00 to $40.00. It's best to only use coupons for items you normally use in order to maximize your savings. Consider signing up for a grocery store club card to save even more. Estimated monthly savings: $20.00-40.00.
4. Consider buying generic drugs. Did you know that generic drugs are sold at some retailers for as little as $4 per prescription? And the FDA requires generic drugs to have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs. Generic drugs account for about one-half of all prescription drug purchases in the U.S. If you take two prescriptions per month, you could save anywhere from $20 - $40 per month (or much more) by purchasing the generic form. Estimated monthly savings: $20.00-40.00.
5. Rent a DVD rather than going out. Renting DVDs a few times a month can help you save for other monthly expenses, and you have healthy snacks instead of overpriced popcorn. Estimated monthly savings: $10.00-20.00.
6. Downsize from premium to basic cable. Premium cable channels that can run over $80 per month. By scaling back to basic cable, you can still receive many channels, while saving $20 to $40 monthly. Estimated monthly savings: $10.00-40.00.
7. Switch from premium to lower octane gas. At up to $3 per gallon, gas continues to take a huge bite out of monthly budgets. Use the lowest grade gas required for your car (check your owner’s manual). Premium gas can cost 20-50 cents more per gallon than standard, so filling up with a standard grade can save you $5 (on average) per tankful, or $10 if you fill up twice a month. Visit www.fueleconomy.gov for price comparisons in your area. Estimated monthly savings: $5.00-10.00.
8. Use public transportation or carpool to save on gas. By relying on public transportation rather than your car or carpooling, you might save a tank of gas per month (approximately $40), and help the environment at the same time! Estimated monthly savings: $40.00-60.00.
9. Keep your tires inflated and your engine tuned. Studies show that simply keeping your tires properly inflated and your engine tuned can save you over $100 per year in fuel. Estimated monthly savings: $5.00-10.00.