Tuesday, October 7, 2014
9:31 AM No comments
Most important steps and before you know it, your financial life is getting better and better. What follow is top most great steps to take. Each of these tactics is simple little moves you can make to improve your financial situation. Some of them take just a few minutes, others might take an hour or two, some of them require a bit of regular effort, but they’re all incredibly simple – anyone can do them. Each of them also save significant money, especially over the long haul, and when combined together these tips can save you a lot of money now.
Obviously, not all of these tips will apply to everyone. Just go through the list and find ten or fifteen that do apply to you and use them in your life – you’ll quickly find yourself saving some serious scratch.
Check them to make sure there isn’t any dust clogging them and that they’re fairly clean. Look behind the appliances, and use your vacuum to gently clear away dust. Check all of the vents, especially on refrigerators, dryers, and heating and cooling units. The less dust you have blocking the mechanics of these devices, the more efficiently they’ll run (saving you on your energy bill) and the longer they’ll last (saving you on replacement costs).
Are you paying dues at a club that you never use? Like, for instance, a gym membership or a country club membership? Cancel these club memberships, even if you think you might use them again someday – you can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it.
Quite often, you can find the exact item you want with a bit of clever shopping at used equipment stores, used game stores, consignment shops, and so on. Just make these shops a part of your normal routine – go there first when looking for potential items and you will save money.
This one’s simple – just wash your hands thoroughly each time you use the bathroom or handle raw foods. You’ll keep yourself from acquiring all kinds of viruses and bacteria, saving you on medical bills and medicine costs and lost productivity. That’s not to say you shouldn’t explore the world and get your hands dirty sometimes – that’s good for you, too – but basic sanitation does help keep the medical bills away.
It’s easy to spend online when you have your card information stored in an account – just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the account. That way, when you’re tempted to spend, you’ll be forced to spend the time to dig out your card – and really think about why you’re spending this money.
For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Offer up some lawn care as a gift to a new homeowner. These are always spectacular gifts for anyone – I know that, as a parent of a toddler and an infant, I love receiving a babysitting gift, probably more than any “stuff” I might receive.
Most people use this technique for Christmas, but it works for every holiday. Wait until about two days after a holiday, then go out shopping for items you need that are themed for that day. Get a Mother’s Day card for next year the day after Mother’s Day. Get Easter egg decorating kits the day after Easter. Get wrapping paper and cards and such the day after Christmas. The discounts are tremendous, and you can just put this stuff in the closet until next year, saving you a bundle.
It’s a great way to meet new people, get some exercise, and involve yourself in a positive project that can lift your spirit. It also comes without a cost to you and can provide a lot of entertainment and a fulfilling day when you’re in the right mindset. I’ve come to spend more and more of my time volunteering, serving on various committees and groups in the community – and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Go into a room and go through every single item in it. Do you really need that item? Are you happy that it’s there, or would you be just fine if it were not? If you can find stuff to get rid of, get rid of it – it just creates clutter and it might have some value to others. You also improve the perceived value of your house – and you’re likely to get a lot of cleaning done in the process. It’s a frugal win-win-win.
Instead of just picking up the ordinary brand of an item you buy, try out the store brand or generic version of the item. Likely, you’ll save a few cents now, but you’ll also likely discover that the store brand is just as good as the name brand – the only difference between the two, often, is the marketing. Once you’re on board the generic train, you’ll find your regular grocery bill getting smaller and smaller.
Get an accessible and easy-to-use cookbook (my favorite “beginner” cookbook is Mark Bittman’s excellent How to Cook everything) and try making some of the dishes inside. You’ll find that cooking at home is much easier than you think – and way cheaper and healthier than take-out or dining out. Even better, you can easily prepare meals in advance – even handy fast food type meals.
Repeat after me: insurance is not an investment. Switch to cheap term insurance instead and use that difference in cost to get yourself out of debt and start building some wealth. Universal and whole policies are much more expensive and offer a sub par investment opportunity – you’re much better off getting yourself free of a debt burden than spending extra on such things.
A reliable and fuel efficient car will save you thousands over the long haul. Let’s say you drive a vehicle for 80,000 miles. If you choose a 25 miles per gallon car over a 15 miles per gallon car, you save 2,133 gallons of gas. At $3 a gallon, that’s $6,400 in savings right there. Reliability can pay the same dividends. Do the research – it will pay off for you.
Doing so is just an encouragement to spend money you don’t really have on stuff you don’t really need. Instead, find other places to entertain yourself – the park, the basketball court, a museum, a friend’s house, or even in your own home. Don’t substitute shopping for entertainment and you’ll be way better off.
Whenever you pick up an item in order to add it to your cart or to take it to the checkout, stop for ten seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it and whether you actually need it or not. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back. This keeps me from making impulse buys on a regular basis.
Do you have an extra bedroom that’s not being used? Rent it out. In our home, we could, if times were tough, rent out our entire basement – it has a “living room,” a bedroom, and a bathroom and has a stairwell right by the kitchen. If we found the right person, this would bring in a lot of extra money.
Basically, just make a giant progress bar that starts with the amount of debt you have and ends with zero. Each time you pay down a little bit, fill in a little more of that progress bar. Keep this reminder in a place where you’ll see it often, and keep filling it in regularly. It keeps your eyes on the prize and leads you straight to debt freedom.
Do you have a pile of unread magazines sitting around your house? Likely, it’s the result of a subscription that you’re not reading. Not only should you not renew that magazine, you should give their subscription department a call and try to cancel for a refund – sometimes, they’ll give you the prorated amount back. I’ve had to cull my subscriptions in the past, but I’ve never regretted it.
Eating a healthy breakfast fills you up with energy for the day and also decreases your desire to eat a big lunch in the middle of the day. Not only that, breakfast can be very healthy, quick, and inexpensive. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning is often the one thing that keeps me from running out to eat an expensive lunch later in the day – and it keeps me peppy and full of energy for the entire morning instead of in a coffee-laced daze.
We live in a neighborhood with an army of young children out and about. Because of that, there are a lot of parents out there who are quite willing to swap babysitting nights with us, saving you the money of hiring one for an evening out. A few families even take this to incredible extremes. Try to find another set of parents or two that you trust, and swap nights of babysitting with them. That way, you’ll get occasional evenings free without the cost of a babysitter, saving you some scratch.
Many people dread eating leftovers – they’re just inferior rehashes of regular meals, not exactly enjoyable to the discerning palate. However, there’s nothing cheaper than eating leftovers and with a few great techniques for making leftovers tasty, you can often end up with something surprising and quite delicious on the other end. My favorite technique? Chaining – using the leftovers as a basis for an all-new dish.
If you have a regular urge to buy clothes, go through everything that you have and see what you might find. Take the clothes at the back of the closet and bring them to the front and suddenly your wardrobe will feel completely different. Take the clothes buried in your dresser and pull them to the top. You’ll feel like a brand new person who doesn’t need to spend money on clothes right now.
Instead of going out to eat at work, take your own lunch. Lots of people think that this means “nasty lunch,” but it doesn’t. With some thoughtful preparation and just a few minutes of time, you can create something quite enjoyable for your brown bag lunch – and save a fistful of cash each day, too.
Buy clothes that mix and match well and you’ll not need nearly as many clothes. If you have five pants, seven shirts, and seven ties that all go together, you have almost an endless wardrobe right there just by mixing and matching. This is exactly what I do in order to minimize clothes buying and still look professional – I just mix and remix what I wear by using utilitarian clothes options to begin with.
Sit down and talk to the people you love and care about the most and ask them for help. Tell them that you’re trying to trim your spending and you’d love it if they offered any suggestions and support they might have – and pay attention to what they tell you. They might have some personal insights for your situation that will really help.
Get a handyman’s book or advice from the internet and give it a shot yourself. I’ve fixed clocks, air conditioners, and VCRs by doing this before, saving significant cash by saving on a replacement or on a repair person.
I’ve wasted countless amounts of time and money simply because I’ve forgotten things in my head. Instead of relying on my memory, I keep a small notebook with me to jot down ideas and things I need to remember, then I check it regularly throughout the day. This keeps me from forgetting to pick up milk and having to backtrack ten miles, for starters.
A deep freezer, after the initial investment, is a great bargain. You can use it to store all sorts of bulk foods, which enables you to pay less per pound of it at the market. Even better, you can store lots of meals prepared in advance, enabling you to just go home and pop something homemade (and cheap) in the oven.
The cost of living in Iowa is surprisingly low, enough so that I’m quite happy to give up the cultural opportunities of other places to enjoy Iowa all year around. When I want to enjoy the cultural opportunities of another place, I’ll travel there – after all, I can afford it. Take a serious look about moving to a less expensive area – if you can find work there, then a move can definitely put you in better financial shape.