Trying to cut back on expenses and save some money? Fortunately, you can stick to a budget and still have plenty of fun. With a little research and imagination, you can find plenty of things to see and do that cost very little, if anything. Check out these ideas to get you started!
- Some of the best sights around may be free or close to it. Visit low-cost or free area parks, museums, galleries, memorials, zoos, aquariums, libraries, waterfronts, etc.
- When contemplating a meal out, remember that lunch is usually less expensive than dinner. Also, make two meals out of one by eating half your portion at the restaurant and taking the rest home for later. Or, ask if the restaurant can serve half portions or if you can split an entree with someone else. Even if there is a small charge, it's still cheaper than buying two entrees.
- Vacation rule #1: Go off-season and save.
- Traveling with a group on vacation can save you a lot of money. If that's not an option, take a tour. You might meet interesting people and save money in the process.
- Want a cheap, fun family vacation? Try camping. It's catching on, so make your campground reservations well in advance, especially over main holidays.
- Make money-doing work you love. Try marketing any skills you have that grew from hobbies like sewing or furniture refinishing or repair.
- Want to give a dinner party? Make it "pot luck" and ask every guest to bring a dish. It's often more fun and always less expensive.
- Kids in tow when you're on the road? Always be sure to stay in hotels that allow you to keep the kids in your room at no extra charge.
- Use the local library. If you find a book you really love, you can always buy it later. Keep in mind also that much of the information to be found in books is readily available online.
- For huge discounts on everything from hotel accommodations and flowers to restaurant meals and spa treatments, check out websites that let you buy limited-time "electronic coupons" or vouchers, often at about 50 percent off regular rates or prices. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of spending money solely for the big discount.
- Buy online. Online shopping and auction sites offer you a million ways to save tons of money on new or used books, puzzles, board games, DVDs and other amusements for the whole family. Just be sure to be careful about online scams. Check out these podcasts to avoid Internet scams: Avoiding Online Scams and Avoiding Online Auction Scams.
As a smart consumer, you should get what you paid for. If you have experienced an unresolved issue with a company about a financial product or service, submit a complaint on the Consumer Complaint Database at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And visit Military OneSource for more money-saving tips!