Saving the Easy Way During Crunch Time

It's time to make adjustments to your daily spending.

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said last weekend on ABC This Week that this is the worst economy he has ever seen and the decline "still has a way to go." Things will get worse before they get better, so make adjustments to your finances.

When it comes to saving money and getting your personal finances in order, it's often little changes that can add up to big savings. (However, you can also save a lot of money quickly the hard way.

Here are some simple daily changes that you can make right now:

Get up an hour earlier

Many costs you incur on a daily basis stem from disorganization. If you are rushing out the door, you're going to end up forgetting something that will cost you. Rising earlier in the morning will mean you have enough time to do everything that needs to be done properly.

Use less

Once you get up in the morning, you head to the bathroom to get ready for the day. You likely use a lot of health-care products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant, to name just a few. Chances are you use a lot more than you really need to. Commercials encourage consumption because companies make more money if you buy another bottle, tube or container of their product. Try using half (or less) and find the least amount that still gets the job done. If you pay half as much for all your products, you will save several hundred dollars a year at a minimum.

Time your shower

As the weather gets colder, it can be tempting to take longer showers to get warm. Set a timer just outside the shower to go off after 10 minutes. That saves energy and water.

Make your own breakfast

One of the reasons you should get up earlier is to make your own breakfast. Eating a healthy meal at home before you take off to work will be better for your energy level and stamina for the day and cost you a lot less than picking something up. Another alternative is to bring fruit and a breakfast bar with you, which will still be faster than buying something on the way to work, but also healthier and cheaper.

Brew your own coffee

Skip the Starbucks and make your own coffee at home. If you don't like to do a lot of things in the morning, it can be a wise investment to purchase a coffee maker with an automatic timer. You can set it the night before when you go to bed and enjoy your coffee as soon as you get up. Make extra and pour it into a thermos for work.

Turn off phantoms

One big energy drain many people still don't realize they pay for is phantom electricity. Most electronics use energy even when they are turned off so that the clock on the device still tells time and it can instantly turn on when you use the remote. Purchase power strips, plug all your appliances into them and switch them off when you leave the house for work. This will keep these appliances from costing you money when you aren't at home.

Change your commute

There are a number of ways you can save money on your commute to work. No matter what type of gas mileage your vehicle gets, you can save money by leaving earlier to miss rush-hour traffic and even improve career prospects. Work with your boss on when you can leave so you can also miss rush hour going home.

Keep a snack stash

If you frequent the vending machine at work, keep a snack stash in your desk. This will allow you to have healthier snacks and drinks. But you can also bring into work the same junk food that's in the vending machines and save money.

Prepare your own meals

While it may be tempting to eat out for lunch or pick up something on the way home from work, cooking your own meals at home will trim your food costs by a significant amount. Make sure to cook extra so you can take the leftovers to work the next day, meaning you won't have to prepare something in the morning. If you don't have enough leftovers for lunch, make your lunch in the evening.

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