The news is filled with an endless stream of stories about the faltering US economy. From my perspective, it's a fact, and I have not been immune from both a personal and national economic downturn. But I have found some cost-saving tips I thought I'd share:
1) In Chicago, a salon haircut can cost upwards of $50. The discount places are around $10. While the quality of cut is more variable at the discount shops, I've not found it to be $40 worse. In fact, I just got a great cut from a young woman well versed in fashionable styles for $13 (tip included). I love my old stylist, but I like saving money more. So checkout the discount haircutteries, go when more experienced or knowledgeable stylists work and get a great haircut at a big savings.
2) Highlights in my hair used to cost $150+. But you know what, for $12 and careful attention, I can do it myself and get some nice highlights for $12. I won't begin to say mine are as good as the higher-priced stylists, but I can say that it's the difference is not worth $150 or more. My advice, take your time and highlight SMALL segments of hair at a time. That's what the pros do. And you know what? I've gotten more compliments on doing it myself than I did with the expensive highlights!
3) If you want some gradual, subtle lightening of your hair, good old hydrogen peroxide works just fine. Pour or comb on dry hair until well saturated. Dry. Sit in the sun or use a hair dryer near the end to enhance the process. It's gradual and subtle, but a few repeated rinses will bring out natural highlights or reduce the contrast between roots and the chemical highlights mentioned above. Lemon juice works well too but is even more subtle. Use juice of real lemons - not concentrate. When your hair is dry, wash well.
4) I've also heard you can get great deals at beauty schools and that the students are really careful and take their time to do a good job.
5) Eat at home. Eating out is nice, relaxing, and a great treat. But the dollars and pounds add up. Save on both and fix a healthy delicious meal at home.
6) If you work, bring your lunch. See #5 for more details.
7) Use coupons and store programs. I struggle a bit with this because it requires time and coordination, but I've read how people can save huge amounts using coupons, store loyalty programs and online coupon sites. And did you know, if your coupon is one per purchase, you can split up your items into multiple purchases? Yep, you can. Just ignore the sighs and dirty looks from the people in line behind you that are paying too much.
8) Search for coupon codes online before making an Internet purchase. Sometimes you can get dollars off, free shipping or more. It's worth the 5 - 10 minutes to search.
9) Shop the discount grocery stores. Ultra Foods is big near me. Its a bit of a drive, but I routinely save about 20% over the large chains.
10) Be smart about big box stores. I love Costco. Some things are truly great bargains, even when you have to buy in bulk. But somethings aren't. Be aware when you make your purchases. If buying in bulk is going to give you a six month or more supply, you will likely be better off buying a smaller quantity at a slightly higher per unit amount at a regular store because you're investing money now that you may need for something else later. (It's the concept of the time value of money, where money you have now is worth more than money you get in the future - the same works for savings.) You can easily make up the difference by buying store brands or watching for sales. I have read that Costco has great prices in their pharmacy. You'll just need to balance the membership fee you pay for how much you buy there. I have been in their highest tier because I shopped frequently and bought good volume, but as I've gotten more prudent this year, my spending at Costco has declined, so I'm only going to do the basic level when it's time to renew. Remember you have to judge your membership fees against your savings.
11) Use a programmable thermostat. Bring down the heat/air conditioning during the times you are away from home or asleep. (I'm dressing a bit warmer for bed and turning the heat way down at night.) I have it start about an hour before I get up to avoid shivering on my way to the shower. It's a great way to save energy and money.
12) Use Compact florescent bulbs. There are options for better light quality, and the energy savings can add up to $40 per light per year! Just remember, they contain mercury so in a few years when they burn out, you must dispose of them in hazardous waste - not the regular garbage. See my earlier post here.
Of course, there are other easy savings ideas that just involve doing it yourself - whether it's home repairs, washing the car, and more - that can save you money too.
What have you done to save money? Add your tips in the comments