Every Indian comes to the US with the hope of saving dollars and then returning to his homeland to live a luxurious life. With a little bit of saving and planning, this dream can become a reality. How much to spend and how much to save also depends on how long you will stay in US. If you are planning to settle here, then you don't need to be too conscious of your spending habits. But, if you want to return back to pay off your home loans, then saving is crucial. Here are five money management/saving tips:
- Deals: Websites offer deals on everything - travel, electronics, clothes, grocery. Keep looking for deals on websites such as Deals2buy. They come in handy if you have to buy electronic items for personal use or gift someone. For travel deals, Orbitz is the best website. It offers deals on airline tickets, car rentals, and hotel stays. Walgreens and similar shops have deals on grocery items. Once a week, they sell milk at a low price. Look out for such deals and inquire about them to your local friends.
- Coupons: Many people harp on benefits of using coupons, but being a vegetarian, I don't find them very useful. Websites such as Coolsavings offer grocery and restaurant coupons. Entertainment.com offers an extremely useful coupon book. They provide coupons for restaurants, movies, travel, and grocery too. Just enter your zip code and details and they ship you the book for around 25$. Coupons are also placed near discounted items in malls such as Kroger and Meijer. If you get a coupon, don't discard it. We have placed a box in the house where we keep all coupons. Whenever we feel like ordering pizza, we check the box:)
- Maintaining an Excel sheet of expenses: We maintain an Excel sheet of our monthly expenses and write down the details of every dollar we spend. This may seem nerdish or living in a meagre way, but it helps in knowing how much is going where. We create worksheets for each month and have columns such as Date, Where, and Amount. We enter common details such as Rent, Electricity and water bills, car insurance details and then keep adding as and when we spend. We have also fixed certain budget for eating out and movies. At the end of the month, we add up all expenses and highlight the figure in bold.
- Making conscious use of appliances: This is not only for saving money, but also for being aware of global warming. Don't keep the lights on when you are not in the room. Don't waste water - close the tap while brushing, applying soap to utensils, or when not in need. If you want to keep your electricity bill really low, use moving fans instead of AC. Keep your car windows open; don't use AC.
- Think before you spend: Do I need another ice-cream tub? Do I need so many vegetables? Ask yourself questions every time you feel you are buying something that is not required. Earlier, we used to buy loads of vegetables. They used to rot and end up in garbage. But now we have stopped doing that. Buy only what is required.
We don't think twice to go on a trip. We like to explore places. But, by keeping a few things in mind, we try to increase our savings. I am not saying our bank balance is impressive, but we sure don't spend frivolously.