How to D-I-Y and S-A-V-E

When you take a good look at your finances, chances are you’ll start to see exactly how much you’re paying for everyday conveniences.

From ordering take-out a few times a week to paying a cleaning service or pet sitter, making things easier on your schedule often makes them a lot harder on your finances.

couple laundry

Pauline Pisciotta, Supervisor and Assistant Vice President of Loan Documentation at Popular Community Bank, has a few tips on how to save more money by doing more things yourself.

Get cooking (literally)

There’s nothing wrong with going to your favorite restaurant or picking up a pizza on a busy weeknight every so often. But, if dining out is part of your weekly routine, consider cutting back and saving cash by cooking more at home.

“Making a meal at home can cost less than getting the same meal at a restaurant,” says Pisciotta. Using coupons and being a smart shopper at the grocery store can help your savings add up. “Try using an inexpensive version of your go-to salad dressing or bagged cereal to save money.”

New to home cooking? Pisciotta suggests investing in a community cooking class or spending some time with your relatives who know their way around the kitchen to learn recipes and techniques. And, there’s one more thing you should get to know. “Leftovers are delicious. My family has made an effort to eat leftover food or make a new dish from leftover ingredients,” Pisciotta says. It saves money and reduces waste.

Fix it yourself

Learning to tackle some home improvement projects can keep you on budget and give you a new sense of empowerment. “Most of us can handle painting projects or other simple repairs ourselves,” says Pisciotta. But why not liven things up – and finish faster – by getting help from friends?

“Ask a friend to trade skills. If you’re a great baker and her hobby is woodworking, see if you can help each other out,” Pisciotta suggests. Polish your skills by checking out local hardware stores for community classes. Some offer a variety of workshops for free or low cost on everything from building birdhouses to tiling your bathroom.

For big or complex jobs, Pisciotta says you shouldn’t hesitate to call in the pros. “Electricity or plumbing problems should be handled by professionals. Your family’s safety is worth the cost,” she says.

Make saving social

You aren’t alone in wanting to save more, so why try to stick to your budget all by yourself? “We have a coupon exchange at work,” Pisciotta says. “If I see a coupon for something I know a co-worker likes, I’ll bring it in and they do the same for me.” You can make it a social activity by bringing in circulars and sitting down together over lunch.

You can also pool your resources to buy in bulk from members-only warehouse shops. “If someone in your family or circle of friends has a membership see if they would be willing to split the cost of some staples like paper towels,” says Pisciotta.

Kids can help families save, too. “My kids are in charge of the family’s recycling,” Pisciotta says. “They take the bottles and cans to the recycling center and put the money they get into their savings.”

Make the most of the money you’ve saved

Sticking to your budget by doing more things yourself can be a lot of fun. And, watching your savings grow is pretty satisfying, too. Talk with your bank to learn about savings options like automatic transfers or other tools that can help you do more with the money you’re putting away.

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