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10 Easy Ways To Save Money
One thing everyone can agree on is that we all would like to pay less and receive more on goods and services. It always makes great economic sense to practice efficiency in our spending habits; never more-so than in the current recessionary climate that we find ourselves in. A little here and a little there can add up to significant savings. With that in mind, I would like to share with you 10 Easy Ways To Save Money. Let's go put some cash back in our pockets!
Fuel Economy Record-Great Video!
1. Drive Slowly
One of the easiest and most direct things you can do is to simply reduce your speed on the road. Actually driving the speed limit will dramatically increase your fuel efficiency and how many miles to the gallon you get! The faster you go the more wind resistance there is and when resistance go's up your mileage go's down and you may as well just take a match to those dollar bills. (For my friends in Europe and Canada you'll have to imagine throwing those loonies, toonies and euros right out the window since they won't burn.) What is important to realize is that your loss in efficiency grows exponentially the faster you go. That means LOTS of burning bills and discarded coins at high speeds!
My personal car is a 2008 Honda Fit Sport and I have actually tested my mileage at different speeds. It turns out that 55 mph is my most efficient road speed and I have seen just over 38 mpg using that speed. Conversely, when I speed up to 75 mph the mileage gos down to 25 mpg. Thats a loss of 35%! Speaking in the green language of "dollar" and assuming $2.00/gallon, a trip of 200 miles would cost you $16 in the fast lane but only $10.40 if you slow down.
"But Scott!" you say, "time is money and it's going to take me an extra hour to take that 200 mile trip!" And in a perfect world you would be correct. But the world is rarely perfect and you didn't know about the construction 120 miles down the road that slowed you down anyway! The point is that you can save substantial money by just slowing down.
Keeping your tires inflated, driving as your car warms up, taking unnecessary weight out of the trunk ( or for some folks the front and back seats ) and doing regular maintenance will also put money in your pocket in the long run.
You might be interested to know that the same concept applies to airplanes. I fly jets for a living and my company flight plans via computer at speeds that are the most efficient. As we progress in-flight we monitor our fuel burn closely and compare what we are supposed to be burning to what we actually burn. Just as my Honda Fit uses more gas when I drive faster so does my DC10 except now we are talking thousands of gallons! It really does make a difference. Speed is a critical factor if you want your wallet or purse to be a little "greener".
If you are brand loyalist please move along to the next section. There's no room for you here! There are a number of easy ways to save money at the grocery store and one of the best is to break that brand loyalty habit. Brand names will cost you more-potentially a LOT more! And brand loyalty doesn't just apply to the product, it applies to the store itself.
Here are just a few examples for your consideration. A box of brand name macaroni and cheese at a big brand name store costs $1.25 while a half-mile down the road at Aldi's an off-brand costs just $.39. You save almost a dollar on a single box! If the kids like mac and cheese Aldi's is almost a legitimate "get-rich-quick" scheme.
Now let's go buy a cannister of Pringle's chips at the brand name store. When I wrote this article said product cost $1.39 but back at Aldi's the exact same cannister of Pringle's only cost $.99. Another massive savings.
Cat litter isn't food. Everybody does know this right? This is my legal disclaimer in case someone decides that since this example is in the "groceries" section it must mean that it is food......these days you never know. Back at the brand name store a jug of brand name cat litter costs $7. Buying an off-brand at Aldi's the same size jug only costs $3.49. Depending on how many cats you have and how much you feed them ( if you know what I mean ) this savings is really going to add up.
As you can tell, I am a fan of Aldi's. Yes their stores are small and the selection may not be as great but you can save some serious money by shopping here and as long as you are not shopping for the finest beluga caviar the quality is just fine! Mac and cheese is Mac and cheese. The kids won't know the difference and neither will the cats. The only difference is the amount of money left in your pocket when you get home. Did you know that you can go to Aldi's in Germany? You can. Which brings me to the next point.
During my travels around the globe I have discovered that you can save money by grocery shopping on other countries-believe it or not! Granted, my job allows me to readily make use of this easy way to save money but I wanted to share it with you just the same. If you know your prices at home well and you find yourself on a trip to another countrys somewhere, poke your head in a grocery store and see what you can find.
I'll use another cat example. A single package of name brand cat treats costs $1.89 here in Chicagoland. When I go to Canada, the exact same package can be had for $.89. Another massive savings and when I go I stock up. You can do the same when you know what you are buying.
Of course this technique can only be used on certain types of packaged food items because of customs regulations ,and in many places its much more expensive as in Japan, but in Europe and Canada you just might be surprised!
Aldi StoreClick thumbnail to view full-size
3. The Library
I am a voracious reader and am constantly looking for the next book. One day while wandering the aisles at Border's I found my next read and was about to go checkout when out of the blue I thought "I wonder if I could get this same book at the library for free?" The book in question was Rick Atkinson's "An Army At Dawn" about the United States entry into world war two and it was tagged with Border's little yellow and white sticker at $35.00. At that time it was a new release.
It had been awhile since I had been to the library because I tend to read new books and I was under the impression that new books can't be found there. Well, I re-shelved Rick, fired up the blue Fit and drove slowly to the library. I located the history section and in ten seconds flat I found the book! With a smile on my face I gleefully checked out knowing I now had $35.00 to put towards my next rat-hockey pass. Newer books can be found at the library for the right price. Its worth a look before you patronize your local Border's more than you need to! Sorry Rick. Times are tough; but I love your book!
But it doesn't stop there! For those who haven't been to the library in a long time; their resources have grown. Instead of spending at the local video rental palace, try the library. Many DVD's now call your library home and are more than willing to spend a couple hours in yours au gratis!
The same go's for CD's. Libraries now have nice collections of your favorite music. Before you go to Best Buy and plunk down $15.00 for Trace Adkins latest, you might take a look at the library. You'll be able to listen first and buy later if you will. Call it a test drive. One of the best things from a consumer's point of view about computers and music is that you can now buy just the songs you like! There is no more buying the whole CD for that one catchy melody that speaks to your musical senses. With vendors like itunes you can buy individual tracks for $.99. Its a music lover's dream and it keeps more of the green stuff in your pocket!
And if you are a constant traveler like me your library probably has a used paperback sales section where you can buy cheap books to pass the time while you are in transit to your favorite far-off places. If you plan ahead before leaving for the airport you won't be tempted to pay full price for "Life of Pi" at the airport bookstore. And that means you can put that $7.00 you would have paid for "Pi" toward the early morning snorkeling trip to Molokini Island during your getaway to Maui.
The library is a great money-saving place! Use it!
Now I know you may not like this next suggestion as many of us "need" our sacred and beloved TV but saving money is the name of the game here. Please keep that in mind. In fact you may want to sit down before you continue reading.
My suggestion is to get rid of the cable or the satellite system or what ever you have in your home. Yes I know that's a tough one to swallow. It is for me too. But it is a real possibility and can obviously save you a lot of money. The nice part of this suggestion is that there are alternatives available. The best one that comes to mind is to avail yourself of websites like www.hulu.com and others. I stumbled upon hulu completely by accident one day while surfing the web in my hotel room in Tachikawa Japan during an 8 day layover. Hulu as tons of TV shows and movies and sports events archived for your viewing pleasure all for the right price of absolutely nothing! Simply plug your computer into your TV and watch to your heart's content.
For many I realize it's not the best of ideas but if you are serious about saving and are willing to consider a compromise, this is a reasonable thing to consider.
5. Printer Supplies
Nothing frustrates me more than running out of ink. Invariably, it happens right in the middle of a print job and most of the time it go's unnoticed until the last page is spit out looking like some type of modern art piece. We all know how the story go's from here. You drive slowly to the office supply store and decide whether or not to buy a new printer instead of a new cartridge as it's price is nearly that of the printer! Yes I am exaggerating but its not that far off when you throw in the new-printer rebate that is typically offered.
Fortunately, you have some options to consider. Probably the most popular option is to buy refilled cartridge's. They are much cheaper than new ones and you will realize substantial savings by doing this. I must admit that I was concerned that refilled cartridges wouldn't function well but I have been pleasantly surprised at the positive results!
The other option for cutting down on ink use and thus improving your "greenage" is not to print things in the first place. Several new products are out there to help you out. While the concept of an external hard drive is not new, the price has plummeted for large storage devices. These drives enable you to remotely store your data away from your computer and thus avoid using all that expensive ink by only printing the things you really need yet retaining the rest.
And if that is not secure enough for your liking, there are online storage services that will retain your data and files for a nominal fee. Carbonite.com is one that comes to mind and is worth exploring. The same thing applies here in that you get to retain data yet only print when you absolutely must.
Last but not least, remember that a piece of paper has 2 sides and it isn't necessary to throw out a piece just because its been used on one side. I recommend keeping 2 stacks of paper handy. One consisting of "one side already printed" for everyday jobs where presentation isn't critical and one clean stack for when look is important like when you need to send someone a page or two and you don't want them seeing the funny cartoon you printed out last week!
6. Sales Tax
Do you know your local sales tax rate? You should because that is an easy way to save money! This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to live near county or town borders. I only really discovered the impact of this money-saving technique because the county that I live in is now the highest taxed county in the nation at 10.25%! This represents a recent increase and for some reason the county is taking in less revenue. Of course, they are unable to explain the decrease because they were unable to read this article. The reason is because people like myself who are interested in saving money buy the same product in the next county and pay 3% less. It may only be pennies or a few dollars at each sale, but over time this will really add up! Do some investigating in your area and you may be able to take advantage of this as well.
7. Hot And Cold-Thermostat Control
This is the industry standard rule-of-thumb from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: for each degree reduction on the thermostat you will save 3% on your fuel bill! Turn it down 3 degrees and you are almost at a full 10%! That will definitely save you some money but then again you might have to spend what you saved on a new sweater. Don't worry though, at today's energy prices you'll pay for that sweater in no time. In fact you'll pay for many sweaters pretty fast.
When I began doing this I admit that I was a little chilly with the first 3 degree increment I tried. But I acclimatized quickly and went for another 3 degrees! Once again I was a little cold at first but it didn't last and I am totally comfortable when the thermostat is around 63 degrees in the middle of a Chicago winter. Besides, when I am a little cool, I just pull out the gas bill and I get all toasty warm when I see the total! Try it out.
The same concept applies during summer. Running the air conditioner less will really cut down on the power bill as I think we all know. In fact I think we are addicted to the AC here in the United States! For those of you who haven't traveled to europe in the summer, let's just say that air conditioners are not plentiful. Most hotels will have electric fans available for the asking however.
Granted there are times when we need to run the AC-don't get me wrong! But the trick is to condition yourself early in the hot season so you don't develope a dependency on it. Open your windows and create a nice crossbreeze and think of all that green you'll be saving. It is significant! Hey, if the Europeans can do it we can too!
8. The Lawn and The Driveway
This suggestion will be short and sweet and I bet you knew exactly what I was going to say when you read the title! Cut your own grass, shovel your own snow and wash your own car. If you are able why pay someone else? You get to be outside and think of all the calories you'll burn. You'll feel great and it will help you combat the battle of the bulge. Seriously though, if you can do these things yourself and can make the time your checkbook is going to benefit and thats the whole purpose of considering these things in the first place.
Cleaning With Vinegar
Special vegetable and fruit washes are expensive aren't they? It seems like we are constantly hearing about contaminated food on the news so it makes good sense to ensure the food we consume is sanitary. Its necessary to buy those washes isn't it? No it isn't.
It turns out that a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water works just as well at a fraction of the cost and that means more money in your pocket. And vinegar can be used to clean a lot more than just vegetables too. It can be widely used as a degreaser and disinfector. Just think! No more expensive cleaners and you can help the environment. Whats not to like? And if you buy an off-brand of vinegar you win twice.
The energy cost of running the dishwasher and the dryer can be saved by handwashing the dishes in the sink with cheap off-brand soap instead of expensive dishwasher soap, and by hang drying your clothes. To eliminate some ironing just use the dryer for 5 minutes and it will make that chore easier if it's even necessary at all. You won't see the money saved by doing this in a tangible way but rest easy because you most assuredly are!
You can save on paper towels by purchasing those that have a half-sheet perforation. For many paper towel clean ups you just don't need that full sheet and you end up wasting much of a piece. The half-sheet paper towel fixes this problem and can potentially double how much cleaning you can get out of a roll. Paper towels are getting expensive; the savings you can realize are obvious.
More Credit Card Money Saving Tips
10. Credit Cards
Read this only if you are a responsible credit card user! If you pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest you should consider the cash back/gift card options many cards have. Find one that you like and buy everything on that card in order to get the biggest benefit. Discover has one of the best programs and we buy as much as we can using it. We regularly get restaurant cards for example. The caveat is that paying the bill in full each month is mandatory!
One last comment on credit cards. Before you travel overseas-if you don't know already-call your credit card company and find out exactly what the fees are for withdrawing cash from out-of-country ATMs and what their international fee is for purchases so you don't have a surprise when you open up the next month's bill. Also realize that using credit cards for cash and purchases will give you the best exchange rate as opposed to the loan-shark style percentage the hotel will take for buying Euros with your greenbacks!
In closing, to keep more of those hard earned dollars in your own pocket follow these suggestions:
- Drive slowly
- Shop off-brand
- Visit the library
- Cancel the cable
- Refill printer cartridges
- Know your sales tax
- Turn the heat and air conditioning down
- Cut your own lawn
- Hang dry your clothes
- Be smart with your credit cards
- List of Libraries State-by-State
List of all public libraries in the United States
- HowStuffWorks "How to Get Better Fuel Economy Overview"
Saving gas and money while driving is surprisingly easy. Find out how to get better fuel economy and keep more money in your pocket.
- 2009 Honda Fit - the Official Honda Web Site
See photos, features and videos of the all-new 2009 Honda Fit at the official Honda Web site. The 2009 Fit may look small on the outside but is incredibly big on the inside.
- ALDI - Home page
ALDI USA grocery store. Find stores near you.
- Fuel Economy
Gas Mileage, safety, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions for new and used cars and trucks. Improve the MPG of your vehicle with our gas mileage tips
- Hulu - Watch your favorites. Anytime. For free.
Hulu.com is a free online video service that offers hit TV shows including Family Guy, 30 Rock, NBA and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, etc. Our extensive library also includes blockbuster movies like Lost in Translation as wells as classics like Fi
- The Art of Travel
Suggestions and ideas for traveling as lite as possible from a professional airline pilot
- United States Sales Tax Site: Home Page
The United States Sales Tax Site Homepage. With Sections on Sales and Use Taxes in the US, Internet Sales in the US and The SSTP.
- Discover Card
The benefits of having a Discover card. Apply here.
- ACEEE - American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
Lots of information on efficiency and saving money.
One of my favorite World War 2 books.