Archive for January, 2013

Ways to Save Money in 2013

January 5, 2013

High on the list of many small businesses is saving on operational and other costs in 2013.

This objective was reported during surveys, focus groups and interviews conducted by our company,

Information Strategies, Inc.

Many of these respondents and participants also made common sense suggestions for limiting spending and to make the most with the money you have.

The first step is to Create, Monitor and Stick to a Budget.  Evaluate how and for what you are spending your money on.  Look for savings.  Here are some ideas.

Review your credit card terms. Check your annual fees and interest rates.  Change to credit cards with lower APR.  Try to pay your bill each month in full to avoid charges.   Use a credit card that gives back; many companies offer cards that give back 3% on purchases such as gas, restaurant meals, office supplies, etc.  Or, for frequent fliers, find a credit card that rewards mileage.

Evaluate terms of your large expenses.  If renting, talk to your landlord about a rate reduction; or if you have a mortgage look at refinancing at a lower rate.  If you have a loan, talk with your bank about refinancing at a lower rate.  Calculate if it is better to own or lease vehicles, often the latter is preferable. 

Reduce your energy usage: turn off the lights, turn down the air conditioner and use blinds and fans, and turn down the heat.  When you leave a room or the building turn off the lights.  In the cooler months, lower the heat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and wear layers for warmth.  In warmer months, set your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit; for every degree above 72 degrees Fahrenheit you save 3% off your energy bill.  Also, use fans, which are more energy efficient, to circulate the air.  Year round, window blinds are useful: in the summer they will block out the sun; and in the winter they will keep in the heat.  For other energy saving ideas, go to energy.gov.  While conserving energy you will be saving money as well.

Economize on beverages and food.  The average person consumes 167 bottles per year, many while at work.  Eliminate the bottles and get a water filter.  Get an office coffee machine such as TryTheScoop where you can use your own coffee in a reusable filter rather than the more expensive K-cups or pods ($.6 – $1 per coffee), or go out for an even pricier Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or other coffee ($3+ per coffee).  Use coffee mugs and wash in a dishwasher, which is more efficient and economical than washing by hand, plus a greener alternative to throw away cups.  If buying snacks or food for the office, shop at a membership club such as Costco or Sam’s Club to save money.

When dining out, do breakfast or lunch and look for deals.  Have breakfast and lunch meetings instead of dinner meetings, which often cost twice as much as the day time alternatives.  Utilize online savings websites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Bloomspot to save up to 80% off restaurant meals and other outings.

Buy your airline tickets early.  If you are going to conference, trade show or client meeting and can buy your airline ticket 1-3 months in advance, do so.  As the date draws near, fares go up more than down and often close out altogether.

Be a smart online purchaser.  Do research if you are looking to purchase a big-ticket item.  You can usually save up to 30% by comparing prices; and up to 50% on business books through Half.com.  Plus save on time and gas as well by shopping online.  Always look for free shipping on websites; usually you will find a coupon code (just Google the vendor’s name along with coupon or promo code) or wait to place your order after an email notifying you of free shipping pops up in your inbox.

Evaluate your cell phone needs.  If a cell phone is only used for emergencies, consider a prepaid mobile phone instead of a cell phone; this could save up to $600 per phone.  Look at your cell phone plan, eliminate unnecessary amenities. 

Be healthy and take care to lower your insurance rates.  Work out the old-fashion way (walking, swimming, running, cycling, calisthenics, etc.) in public places; you will be healthier and save on a gym membership.  Quit smoking and feel better.  Consider using a high deductible health plan; generally it savings off a traditional plan (PPO or HMO) are 17% for an individual and 31% for a family of two or more people.  Plan driving routes to avoid left turns.  Studies show that doing so reduces the potential for accidents as well as saves time, conserves fuel and lowers emissions.

Please share your savings suggestions with us.

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