BOSTON, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Economists are looking to 2010 to be a better year financially, but just because Wall Street is improving, that doesn't mean things are better on Main Street. Most Americans are still looking for ways to live more on less money.
Author Leah Ingram's new book, Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less offers 10 ways consumers can save $10,000 or more in 2010.
1. Change your thinking about buying a car. In the market for a new car? Buy used instead of buying new or even leasing. Sure, Cash for Clunkers incentives are long gone, but consider this: according to Edmunds.com, the first-year cost of owning a used car is nearly $5,000 cheaper than owning a new car -- and this isn't even taking sticker price into consideration. Keep that used car for five years or more, and savings jump to a whopping $14,000.
2. Find cheaper ways to be beautiful. A recent New York Times articles said that home hair-coloring kit sales were up 20 percent in 2009 -- no surprise since more people are pampering at home. But consumers who like using a salon for their hair services might not have considered visiting a local beauty school instead. There, consumers can get their hair cut, colored and styled for less than $20. While students are doing all the work, their supervisors are always standing nearby to inspect.
3. Rethink your phone plan. Many people pay their monthly phone bill without giving much thought to how much they're spending. Ingram used to, until she discovered that if her family bundled their phone with their cable and Internet service, they would save $600 a year.
4. Look for "found" money. According to Coinstar the average American home has $90 of spare change in it. That's enough to buy a decent amount of groceries, if shoppers take the time to collect it and cash it in. Speaking of groceries, many supermarkets offer a bag credit when consumers take a reusable bag. That savings may only add up to five cents a bag, but like the old saying goes, you have to count your pennies before you can count your dollars.
5. Create a gift card wallet. The National Retail Federation says Americans spent almost $24 billion on gift cards this past holiday season, and chances are consumers received quite a few as gifts themselves. But will they actually get around to spending them? That's why Ingram suggests creating a gift card wallet that consumers can bring with them whenever they go shopping.
6. Rethink how you do laundry. The average family spends up to $600 annually just to heat their water. By switching to cold-water only washes, consumers can save on their energy bills big time. Here's another money saver: consumers can make their own laundry detergent. Don't worry -- it doesn't require a degree in chemistry! With just three ingredients found in the supermarket laundry aisle, this DIY laundry soap lets the cost of doing laundry drop to pennies, and considering most moms do about 400 loads of laundry a year, that can add up to big-time savings.
7. Get cash for your old electronics. While it's great to recycle electronics and keep them out of landfills, it's even better to recycle them and get cash back. When consumers need a new printer, computer or even a TV, they should wait for when stores will give $20 cash back or even $200 towards the purchase of a new piece of equipment. Additionally, consumers can send their old cell phones, PDAs and MP3 players to Gazelle.com to earn free store gift cards.
8. Grow a garden. Consumers don't need a huge tract of land to start a vegetable garden. Even tomatoes can grow on a terrace. Some surveys suggest that growing vegetables at home can save a family $2,000 a year in grocery spending.
9. Start drinking tap water. Believe it or not, Americans spends between $500 and $3,000 a year on bottled water -- water that they could get for free from the tap. With a couple of stainless-steel or BPA-free plastic water bottles, consumers can quench their thirst for years to come without spending a dime.
10. Work backwards when you shop for groceries. It's one thing for shoppers to say, "I won't spend more than $100 on groceries this week," only to discover at the checkout counter that they've spent way more than that. That's why Ingram grocery shops with a calculator. She starts at the number she wants to spend, and then subtracts backwards as she places things in her shopping cart. When she reaches zero, she's done. This saves Ingram from being embarrassed in the checkout line when she needs to put things back to stay on budget, but more importantly it saves her money.
For more ideas on how to save money, check out Leah Ingram's new book Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less (Adams Media, 2010).
SOURCE Adams Media