Saving Money at Home

If you’re feeling a bit uneasy when you read the financial news, you’re not alone. Financial observers and regular American families aren’t liking what they’re seeing. The market is down, tech stocks are getting hammered, and plenty of people think that we’re witnessing the end of what has been the longest bull market in history. We’re overdue for a bear market, and it looks like that might be what we’re getting right now.

Tough financial times shouldn’t mean panic — unless you just retired or are about to, you shouldn’t sell off your investments — but they can mean a bit of belt-tightening. Job security and consumer spending may be about to take a hit, so you’ll want to make sure that your personal finances are as secure as possible by balancing your budget and saving money. And in order to tuck more into savings, you’ll need to save some money at home. Here are a few ways to do that.

Invest in a reliable car at the dealership and at the mechanic

Most of us don’t think “buy a car” when we think “recession,” but if you have an unreliable ride, you’ll end up costing yourself quite a bit of cash in the form of mechanic’s bills and other expenses. If you’re already planning to get a new car, go for it. Keep fuel efficiency and reliability in mind as you shop, and get a long-term solution. This doesn’t mean that you have to get a hybrid of a compact car— shopping for the best SUV for you means looking at modern models that are surprisingly fuel-efficient, particularly relative to their gas-guzzling forebears.

And whether your car is new or old, make sure that you give it the care that it needs. A well-maintained car is a more reliable and efficient one, and therefore a less costly one. If you wait until something is wrong with your vehicle to go to the mechanic, you’ll pay more for a costlier fix — and, in between visits, you’ll find that your fuel mileage is slipping. This is one of those situations where cheaping out in the short term leads to higher bills in the long term, so be smart!

Buy it for life

Buying a quality vehicle and maintaining it carefully is a smart financial move. And, as it turns out, this is a great financial formula for a lot of other things, too.

If you want to save on energy and enjoy a cost-effective and functional home, you’ll want to get great appliances and will want to repair and maintain them. Want to stop spending so much on clothes? Then you’ll want to buy quality brands with lasting products, and you might even consider learning to patch and stitch a bit yourself — no more fast fashion! From luggage to musical instruments, buying quality tends to pay off in the long run.

The ultimate version of buying for quality is “buying for life” — the cost-saving practice of buying the ultimate version of a given product and then never having to buy it again. Now, not everything is buy-it-for-life worthy: kids clothes that will be outgrown or tech charging cables that will be incompatible with the good stuff in a few years are not good places to plunk down extra change. But leather boots, wood furniture, suitcases, or the perfect winter coat? Yeah, those are things that you can — and should — buy for life.

Do it yourself

Repairs and maintenance to things like your home, your appliances, and your vehicle are key to saving money because they make your space more reliable, more functional, and more energy-efficient. Generally, you’ll want to call in the pros for tough jobs, as a job done wrong can cost you big-time. But, for certain types of basic work, you can save even more money by becoming a DIYer.

There are some startup costs to becoming a DIY whiz — you’ll need some tools, and even the best DIYers have messed up an early project or two. But if you build your skills slowly and don’t bite off more than you can chew, you’ll be able to tackle bigger and bigger projects and save on the price of professionals while improving your space, your vehicle, and more.

We might not be staring down a recession just yet, but it’s never too early to start saving money. Master these sound cost-saving practices, and you’ll be ready to weather future economic storms.