If you’re like me, you probably wish you hadn’t wasted all that money all those years ago.  Fact is, it is never too late to learn from those mistakes and even make up for some of that lost cash by seeking innovative ways to live on the cheap.  That said, here are some ideas that can possibly end up saving you some money along the way and help assuage that guilty feeling from being so foolish in the past with your hard earned money.

Shop Online First

With more and more people plugged into the Internet, businesses are getting on board as well.  If you are thinking about a purchase, consider surfing the net first to educate yourself about the product, including the price spread.  You may be surprised at how competitive many businesses are to make the sale.  That can include anything from the cheapest price to free delivery.  In fact, once you have done this, you might just find yourself ordering it online and having it delivered right to your front door!

Christmas Shopping Year Around

So many fall into the trap of shopping for those holiday gifts at the last minute and end up paying a premium price because of their propensity to procrastinate.  Others only shop during the holiday season because they are either caught up in the spirit of the season or think that the sales are only on during that time of the year.  What others have begun to realize is: sales are year round.  This being the case, consider shopping for those gifts all through the year and tucking them away until Christmas comes once again.  Not only can you save some big bucks, you will be spreading your expenditures throughout the year and not be faced with a big bill to settle right after the holiday.  You also won’t get caught up in all that last minute shopping frenzy.  This can work for anniversaries, birthdays and other events as well.

Avoid The Impulse

Advertisers know what buttons to press and which switches to flip when it comes to getting you to turn loose of your money.  This being the case, there are many times when we fall for this rouse and end up wondering why we did that.  This is commonly referred to as buyer’s remorse and, unless you aren’t careful, the best case scenario you can expect when attempting to return your impulse purchase is to end up with a store credit instead of your money back.  If you find yourself being tempted, it is wise to step away from the sale and weigh out the pros and cons before making the purchase.  This can be applied to nearly everything we didn’t originally intend to buy, especially one of those big-ticket items such as a big screen TV or even a new car.  You need to be brutally honest with yourself and determine if you really need that new bauble.  Remind yourself: there will always be another sale just around the corner.

Keep Your Credit Rating High

Without exception, those who consistently find themselves in debt and are unable to pay even the monthly amounts, experience two things: they never seem able to get on top of their debt and their low credit rating keeps them from gaining a lower interest rate loan or zero percent credit card.  Both of these situations become self-defeating when it comes to saving money.

If at all possible, especially if your credit score is a good shape, do whatever you can to keep it there.  The results can be huge.  You will find over your lifetime that a great credit ranking enables you to access lower interest rates on all kinds of loans and credit cards.  You will find your mailbox full of 0% offers and low, low-interest rates attainable for everything from car purchases to home mortgage loans.  You can also negotiate better insurance quotes because they will view you as a better risk because you are financially responsible.  It is even known that, when looking to secure a better job, one of the things potential employers look at is your credit score before deciding whether to hire you or not.

When Possible, Pay With Cash

Even though this might not work when it comes to major chain stores, it can often save you some money when making purchases at your local retailer outlets.  As is often the case, the smaller businesses have to incur an interchange fee when you pay with a credit card, in addition to the extra paperwork that can come with it.  If you offer cash for a discount, they just might take it in order to avoid these inconveniences. And don’t forget that coupons still work!

Purchase A Slow Cooker And Save

This might sound counterproductive when looking for ways to save money but it is a way to do just that.  You will not only save time in the kitchen when using a slow cooker, freeing you up to do other things, you can save money by purchasing tougher cuts of meat.  These often require more attention when preparing them for a meal but, with a slow cooker, you can slowly tenderize them to where they will literally melt in your mouth.  Also, when preparing a meal in a slow cooker, it means you can start it first thing in the morning and you will have beef stew or chili or pulled pork waiting and ready for you in the evening, keeping you from stopping at the pizza store on the way home!

Asking Doesn’t Cost A Cent

Whether it be an upgrade, an exception to the policy, a discount, or even no-interest financing, by simply requesting these things won’t cost you a dime and just might save you some additional money as well.

Take A Time Out From Books

This is not a way to stop you from reading!  This is to stop you from buying all the new releases and then having them end up on the bookshelf unread.  Save yourself some money and first finish reading what you have started but have yet to finish.  Then, you might also consider swapping those books at the used bookstore for other titles or even begin purchasing your books in the ever-increasingly popular eBook format for a fraction of the cost of a paperbound version.  You might even consider getting some of your books at the local library if you’re not in a big hurry to read them hot off the presses!

Never Buy Yourself A Meal Out

This is mainly for those with children.  If you are out and about with the little ones and you are stopping to get something to eat, consider not buying something for yourself.  It is likely that small children’s eyes are much bigger than their stomachs and, as a result, you can eat what they don’t!  This being said, always order their meals from the children’s menu and save even more.

Drive Your Car Into The Ground

Again, this is not to be taken in the literal sense.  However, if you want to save some real money, shop around, price compare, do a thorough research and then purchase a used vehicle that has a good track record.  It may not be a fancy one with all the bells and whistles, but it won’t cost you a lot of extra cash to get from point A to point B either!

Dollar Store Mentality

Even though there are many products available at the popular dollar stores that are not worth even a dollar, there are many more that are.  For example, batteries, reading glasses, aspirin products, party balloons and cards, and other consumable products like soda, candy and chips can be much less expensive than what chain brand stores charge.

Only Buy What You Will Use

From HBO charges in relation to the number of movies you really watch each month to that gym membership you rarely use, you can save a lot of money each and every month by cutting these out of your budget.  When on vacation, weigh out whether that room with a view is worth the extra money if you are only going to use it to sleep in.  Also, consider that bulk food purchase carefully and ask yourself if you will only end up throwing half of it away.  There are many other ways that you can save money by first thinking it through whether you will fully benefit from the purchase or not.  You will be amazed at how much fat can be trimmed from your budget with this approach.

Pack A Lunch

Instead of eating lunch out each day and spending money at your local fast food outlet, consider preparing a lunch out of your evening meals the night before.  In addition to the money you will save, you will also find yourself eating healthier as well.

Renegotiate Your Services

Just prior to current contracts expiring or before making a payment, consider contacting your cable service, phone company, magazine or newspaper subscription to ask for any discounts or in-house specials that might be available.  If not, tell them to cancel your service.  It can often prompt them to transfer you to someone higher up that is authorized to cut you a deal.

Lower Your Rent Or House Payments

When it comes to rental costs, there are ways to save some money.  For example, negotiate a better monthly payment by offering to put some sweat equity into the unit in exchange for a discounted rental amount.  You could also leverage a lower monthly rate by taking advantage of units that have been vacant for some time.  As is often the case, these units still cost the landlord money out of their own pocket and they may have some wiggle room to get the unit occupied at a lower cost to you.  You also need to avoid going through a rental agency, thus saving the fee they charge to do the looking for you.  With the Internet at your disposal, it is easier than ever to find just the right apartment for you at no additional out of pocket cost.

If you are looking to purchase a house, it might be a good time to take advantage of the down market to save some big bucks.  For example, if your credit rating is in good shape, shop around for the lowest interest rate available and lock it in.  You may also be able to get a lower fee charged by the real estate agent through a lower commission fee being charged.  If they’re current fee is 6% on a $300,000 home, they would be making $18,000.  If you can negotiate them down to 3%, you could save $9,000!

Buy Expensive Paint

I know, this sounds backward but think about it for a minute.  Cheap paint simply won’t last as long, requiring you to paint more often.  In addition to the extra cost involved in buying more paint, you also lose in the labor department.  And, after all: time is money!

Pay Me Now Or Pay Me Later

This saying is never truer than when going a little too much on the cheap.  From saving money on insurance and then finding out when it is time to collect that it doesn’t cover enough, to purchasing inferior products that don’t stand the test of time, you may not be saving any money over the long haul.  This can end up being a true waste of money because you truly did get what you paid for!

Weight It Out First

Before pulling the trigger and signing on the dotted line, step back for a moment and ask yourself one question: can I live without this item?  If you are honest with yourself, it could save you a lot of money.

Only Carry Cash When Possible

When your wallet or purse contains a credit card, the temptation to make impulse purchases goes way up.  Unless you know beforehand that you will need that credit card, consider calculating how much money you will need and carry cash only, especially when it comes to purchases such as that latte, lunches, tolls or bus fare.  If you exceed what you have allowed yourself cash-wise, discipline yourself to resist whipping out the card and recalculate what you will need next week.

Eat Before You Go To The Grocery Store

It is a proven fact that, if you walk into the grocery store or any other eating establishment on an empty stomach, you will overspend on food!  On the other hand, by first eating something before venturing out, you will be less tempted to overindulge in the food department.  It is also wise to have a shopping list in hand and stick to it.

Bottom line:  regardless of how you go about saving money, by applying these tips you will be guaranteed to save some major cash.  It is most certainly a virtue to get the best bang for your buck!