1. Cut back on disposable products. I know a lot of people that like to have fancy, scented hand soaps and lotions in the kitchen and every bathroom. Frankly, I have a problem spending $8 - $10 on something that’s going down the drain. Instead, I bought soap dispensers and buy the large $6 refill container. It’s the same with other things that are doing down the drain or in the trash can, like tissues, paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, dishwashing liquid soap, saline solution, laundry detergent, and garbage bags. Why spend a fortune on something that’s designed to clean or get thing out of your house? Unless you have allergy issues with certain products, don’t go big on disposable items.
2. Cut the land line. We got rid of ours two and a half years ago and never missed it. Why pay 2 phone bills? Plus, we each get a phone, so there’s no waiting for the other person to finish, or worrying about answering machines. Consider whether you really need that land line.
3. Cut back or cut out satellite and/or cable. This was a bigger moneysaver than losing the landline, and we’re surprised we don’t miss it either. The truth is that you can watch most things online or buy a season of a TV show for cheaper than a month’s satellite bill (you can buy seasons of TV shows in progress through iTunes and access the new episodes the next day). And for the few things we don’t get, friends have helped us with. Check your TV watching habits and consider if you watch enough to spend that kind of money on. And the time you gain from cutting the TV habit is incredible!
4. Consider services for hobbies you like. For $10, one person can go to the movies once, or your family can watch unlimited movies and TV shows through Netflix. I’ve heard there are similar services for video games and “checking out” ebooks. Look into these and see if they’re cheaper than buying.
5. Invest in your home. Sometimes, you do save money by spending money. Apple TV has been a great investment for us – it cost $100, but we can stream so much through our TV that it’s worth it. Entertaining at home is cheaper than going out, so consider cooking more meals at home on weekends, DVD or streaming video nights at home instead of the movies, or a game night on the game system or with a Board game instead of tickets or admission prices to venues. Go out less, and you may find that you can afford to do better things when you do decide to go out.
6. Consider your tech. I know it’s tempting to buy the latest and greatest gadgets when everybody’s flashing them all over the place, but consider whether you really need it. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are expensive, and unless you can trade in or trade up, that can really set you back. What do you really need to take care of your day to day tasks at home and work? Don’t give in to the temptation to buy the latest phone or tablet unless the one you have isn’t working and the “new thing” is something you feel would be a worthy investment in helping with your life. Believe me, a new version is just around the corner, and it will be outdated before you know it.
7. Streamline your “going.” Gas is expensive, so streamline your going out to make sure a tank gets you as far. Don’t go to 2 stores if there’s 1 that has all you need, and try to do all of your shopping and entertaining in the same area. Staying closer to home can save you big bucks at the pump, which seems to be where more and more of our money is going.
8. Set up auto payments on your bills. Whether it’s through your bank or directly with each vendor, set up as many of your bills as possible on regular auto payments. This is great for several reasons: you don’t have to worry about your bill or payment being delayed or tampered with in the mail, you have peace of mind knowing that they get paid on time, and you eliminate the possibility of late fees (because if they take it after the agreed upon date, it’s on them and they can’t penalize you for it). Set your reminder app on your phone to show when the payments come out so you can keep your checkbook balanced and your finances in order.
9. Capitalize on gift giving holidays. If there’s something that you know you want, ask for money or gift cards for gift giving holidays to buy it. Rick and I got a lot of things for our home this way that we otherwise couldn’t afford to splurge on for ourselves.
10. Check your debit and credit cards for rewards. The ones with cash back advantages are great, because you can use your points to get things you want, or “cash” them in for money put back in your account. They usually expire, so be sure to keep an eye on them so you don’t lose good money!
No doubt, there are many other (and better) tips for saving money, but this is a blog, not a dissertation. These are a few things we do that keep our account a little fatter and our lives a lot happier. I hope you find some inspiration and ideas in them.
I hope you’re enjoying this mini-blog series. The final entry in the Graduation 2014 series will be General Tips. Look for that next time.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.