Rekindle your love to save? How Romantic!

Just over half of U.S. consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day and will spend a record-breaking $19.6 BILLION on their gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. Yikes being debt sounds so unromantic. Good savers? Now there’s some sizzle.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a sweetheart or are unattached, it’s hard to escape the Valentine’s Day ads touting expensive baubles, roses, chocolates, and more.

“…Make a new plan, Stan. No need to be coy, Roy. Just set yourself free…” 

If you’ve heard Paul Simon’s song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” then consider this version for today’s economy: Instead of leaving your sweetie, make a plan to abandon your debts this month…“and set yourself free…”

“…Don’t need to discuss much….just hop on the bus, Gus…” 

But, if you just can’t pass by the coffee store, Gilmore, try these debt-busting tips…

 Save over and over again, Jen

  • Learn a new skill—handyman repairs, refinish furniture, haircuts for kids, sewing
  • Kick a habit—cigarettes, alcohol, Sunday doughnut stop, lottery tickets
  • Maintain your home—fix leaky faucets, winterize, change filters
  • Maintain yourself— Eat healthy, get regular checkups, brush teeth, stay lean, exercise
  • Do-It-Yourself—wash your own car, clean your own house, groom your pet
  • Barter or trade services with neighbors—gardening, window washing, babysitting
  • Lower dry cleaning costs—use a steam iron, hand wash when possible
  • Borrow books and movies from libraries or friends, recycle yours to used book store
  • Wait a week longer for haircuts, highlights, manicure (drop 2 haircuts/year=$50)
  • Claim bottle refunds, rebates, store discounts, price adjustments

Get a better buy, Guy

  • Stock up on supplies strategically—after holidays, after summer, after school starts
  • Check ads or online sales and ask for price match—
  • Watch sales tax and shipping on mail order—may be free shipping at certain times
  • Use something until it wears out or is used up
  • Look for some things at second-hand stores—sports or baby gear, books, movies
  • Lend tools among neighbors—not everyone needs to buy the tall ladder, rototiller, etc.
  • Hold a garage sale—get cash for slightly used clothes and goods
  • Save on generic brands of toiletries, paper goods, even prescriptions
  • Replace old appliances and light bulbs with energy saving ones
  • Read magazines at the library or wait for ultra-low subscription offers (publishers must maintain circulation #s for advertisers)

Reduce food costs, Josh

  • Plan meals—make meals ahead, make your own convenience foods
  • Take your lunch to work
  • Make your own snacks: granola, trail mix, bags of nuts for on-the-go eating
  • Eat out? Use coupons, watch for specials (early bird)
  • Drink water at restaurant meals instead of pricey beverages
  • Buy in-season foods (farmers’ markets are great)
  • Buy in bulk, such as canned goods when on sale or 1/4 side of beef for freezer
  • Instead of buying cookbooks, look for free recipes, particularly using seasonal food
  • Organize potlucks with neighbors or friends for “dining out” treat
  • Reduce number of trips to the store, avoid impulse purchases

Cut transportation & utility needs, Reid

  • Group your errands for efficient travel
  • Drive slower (lower mph), and no jackrabbit starts
  • Keep tires inflated and do regular maintenance too
  • Use toll-free phone numbers and free directory assistance numbers
  • Don’t pay for extras or services you don’t use on land lines or cell phones
  • Adjust thermostat when you aren’t home, boost up in summer and down in winter
  • Keep hot water heater at reasonable temp for sanitizing but not too hot
  • Turn off lights and unplug electronics not in use—tvs & chargers draw energy
  • Get an energy audit from your utility company and follow the recommendations
  • Consolidate cable, phone and internet services for reduced costs

Save on banking and financial biz, Liz  

  • Eliminate pesky fees: use your bank’s own ATMs, don’t overdraw, pay bills on time
  • Get financially organized, especially for tax time
  • Take the correct deductions on W4s, so you aren’t loaning money to the IRS
  • Group charitable contributions, medical expenses, misc. tax deductions for a year
  • Scrutinize insurance policies and eliminate unnecessary coverage
  • Pay bills on-line or by auto-pay and save the stamps
  • Shop for best interest rates on savings accounts, CDs, loans
  • Start a savings jar and collect pocket change every night
  • If you need a loan, boost your credit score to get a better rate
  • Make savings an automatic deduction—large or small-take it out of your paycheck before you see it

So, there you have it….50 ways to build a bigger nest egg, Greg.

What romantic tips do you have for saving?

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