5 Tips for Stretching Your Dollar

Looking for a few simple ways to save money on everyday items and expenses? Here are a few tips that will stretch your dollar.

1. Save Money on Lunches

A simple and easy way to save money every day is to bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week. If you bring leftovers from last night's dinner, your savings are doubled, as you are salvaging food that probably would have been thrown out anyway. Even if you manage to bring your lunch only one day a week, you can save anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per year.

2. Buy Staple Items on Sale

Most of us stick to the same brands when we go shopping for groceries or toiletries. Instead of just buying one or two items at a time,stock up on your favorite brands the next time they are on sale. The added bonus is that you won't have to run out to the store every week because you've run out of soap or shampoo.

3. Snack Smart Do you find yourself running to the vending machine at work everyday for a soda or a small bag of chips? By cutting out such daily excursions, you'll save yourself a couple of pounds as well as a couple of dollars. Try snacking on saltine crackers, fruit, vegetables, plain popcorn, and water instead. Buy your snacks in bulk at the grocery store and bring them into work with you. If you must snack on something sweet, shop for low-fat, low-calorie snacks that are made for the health-conscious.

4. Save on Entertainment

The next time you make plans to meet your friends or to go out with your family, why not suggest something that costs a little bit less? For example, instead of meeting up at an expensive restaurant, choose a restaurant that suits your needs but is a bit cheaper. Better yet, have a potluck dinner at your place. It will probably be more fun for all involved, and everyone will save in the process.

5. Save on Utilities

A little thought and planning can save you a tidy sum of money every month when it comes to utilities. First, be frugal about your electricity use. Turn off the lights when you leave the room, and don't leave the T.V. running if you're not watching it. Second, be sure you're getting the most out of your phone company. There is simply too much competition in the telecommunications industry these days for you to be paying anything more than discount rates for your long distance phone calls. Either switch carriers, or call up your current long distance carrier and get the best deal they are offering. Finally, make sure you're getting the best rate from your cable company. If you don't need premium channels, don't pay for them. However, if you happen to be a movie junkie, you can save yourself a lot of money (and energy) that you would have spent going to the movie theater or renting movies by simply signing up for a movie channel. Check the TV listings for the upcoming weekend to see what your movie channel is showing -- they generally run blockbusters on weekend nights. Instead of running out every weekend to the movie theater or renting movies, you can stay home and enjoy first-rate movies for about $10 a month.