America’s “new normal” means we’re pinching pennies to make ends meet. The key to making those pinched pennies stretch even further is to stop throwing that money away doing five wasteful things most people do every day.
1. Making Left Turns
The rules of the road dictate that anyone turning left yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic unless at a protected signal. The seconds or minutes you’ll spend waiting to make a left turn add up over time, so plan your routes so you make primarily right-hand turns. Sound crazy? UPS drivers haven’t been turning left since 2004, and it’s saved the company 10 million gallons of gas and cut the time drivers spend delivering their routes.
2. Leaving Home Windows Unlocked
Homeowners have heard all the usual tips for saving on utility bills, but just half a second of work can save significantly on home cooling and heating costs. Locking windows seals up miniscule spaces between the sash gasket and the window frame, making those Low-E windows more effective and giving single-pane windows a boost in energy efficiency. Drafts that come in through unlocked, unsealed, and single-pane windows can account for 25 percent of a home’s heating and cooling bill, according to the government’s green energy gurus.
3. Letting Leftovers Go Bad
Financial pioneer Dave Ramsey estimates the average family of four spends nearly $1,000 per month on food. Shaving the grocery budget down to the recommended 12-15 percent of your monthly income is only the first step in trimming the fat. Committing to a no-waste food policy means leftovers have to be eaten, not forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. Save scraps by freezing, or reinvent leftovers in a brand-new meal the next night to cut down on waste.
4. Paying for a Gym Membership
The average gym membership costs $55 a month. While paying for a membership can be a motivator for some, it’s important to be realistic about how often you will go and how much you pay for each workout. A gym member who uses the facility daily is paying much less per workout than the average member who goes only twice a week. What may be more cost-effective is finding a free workout option (like running, walking, or a workout video) and paying the drop-in rate at a local gym when a normal workout isn’t an option.
5. Grocery Shopping Without Guidelines
The only way to know if you’re getting a good deal at the grocery store is to know how much you normally pay for something. Preparation for grocery shopping makes a wise shopper immune to the lure of “sales” that may or may not be a good deal. Instead, compare the sale price per ounce to the lowest price you’ve paid for the item—as outlined in your very organized price book—and you won’t waste money on gimmick sales.
Every household has its own budget challenges, but small changes can add up over time. When it comes to managing financial resources, it really is OK to sweat the small stuff.