- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
Not so common ways to save a few bucks here and there
Easier than you might think
There are some simple things you can do to pinch pennies these days, without actually pinching pennies. Now, I'm no financial guru, nor do I liken myself with folks like Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet, or even Suze Orman. I'm simply trying to share a few practical ideas to save a dollar here, and a dollar there. I'm not trying to help create a residual income you can retire on. It's more like maybe getting a few more gallons of gas into the car (or out of it).
These are short term money saving ideas, not long term. I would like to note that there are such things, and that the differences are HUGE, and anyone interested in a more long term solution should definitely study up on those people listed above. Now then, for those of you content with surviving day to day and week to week, here are some ideas that may help.
Buying in bulk
Shopping at wholesale outlets like Costco or Smart & Final can be a good way to cut costs on groceries, but only if you actually need the bulk amount. Yes, buying two gallons of milk for $5.49 is pretty cheap, but if you don't consume that much milk, it's still cheaper to buy one gallon (on sale somewhere) for, let's say, $3.49, and not have to throw any out. (I think Food Maxx actually has the cheapest price for milk by the way)
Now toiletries are a different story. I tell everyone I know to buy all their bathroom/grooming items in bulk, which makes sense because these are the items that cause the most annoyance when you run out of them. Have you ever run out of lotion? Or deoderant? Exactly. It's not something you let happen twice. I can say in all honesty that my wife and I have not had to buy toothpaste, tooth brushes, deoderant, or floss, in a year. And it cost us less per item because we bought it in bulk.
In addition to the bulk savings, places like Costco also offer savings on eye care, photo developing, tires, and more importantly, gas. I think membership is still under $50, plus you get their newsletter, "The Costco Connection", which is chalk full of good information about business, finances, and other things you should know so you won't have to seek out hubs like this one.
If at all possible, eat at home. You didn't buy all those bulk groceries for nothing. If you absolutely must eat out (because all the "cool" people are doing it), look for the cheapest meal available. Food is food, and if you have to pay more because "chicken is healthier" remember you could have eaten at home. If you're eating at a restaurant (not fast food), chances are the portion size is way more than you need anyway, so look for the best deal. If you're with someone (NOT a first date!), share a meal and maybe an appetizer, and most importantly drink water. You can save hundreds of dollars a year buy ordering water instead of soda.
Now at a fast food joint, look for the dollar or 99¢ menu. You don't need that fancy burger with the special sauce and the onion ring or the sauteed mushrooms and bacon, you can order that burger when you're rich. Right now, we're trying to save money. Wendy's has the best value menu i've seen in a while. The other day when we were out running errands, I fed myself, my wife, and our twin daughters (16 mos. old) for only $6. Their crispy chicken sandwich for only 99¢ is the best! And again, drink water.
The very best deal that I know of, is, you guessed it, Costco. No, I don't work for Costco or have any kind of vested interest in their stock. I'm speaking purely from an economic standpoint. And you even get a soda! I think most people already know about the polish dog and a 20 oz. soda for $1.50, but for only $1.99 more, you can also get a large slice of pizza! This totals out at $3.75!! And if that doesn't fill you up, you've got a whole other issue that's eating away at your wallet (no pun intended).
This one is probably the most difficult. Being a native Californian, where the average speed is 10 miles above the posted speed limit, fast is kind of a way of life, and slowing down never seems like an option. But I have tried it. I think I was really wanting to hear an entire CD (it was a leadership CD from my leadership development system), so I was tinkering along in the slow lane, going between 50-60 miles an hour.
I remember getting all the way from Vallejo to San Jose, 70 miles, starting on a full tank of gas, without the guage going down by even one bar (in a 2000 Toyota Celica GTS with a digital fuel guage display). When I returned in the afternoon, driving the same relative speed, I had driven 145 miles and the guage only dropped by two bars! Each quarter tank has five bars, and I normally use a full quarter tank (sometimes more) on this trip. So at 70-75 miles an hour, I can make two trips back and forth (145 miles on average), and at 50-60 miles an hour, I can make three trips. That's an extra 145 miles per full tank!
So there you have it folks. I have just now solved all your fuel economy problems. All you have to do is drive ridiculously slow! Get up an hour earlier than you already do to get ready for work, thus allowing for you to just "cruise on in" to work. Besides, speeding, on average, only saves you maybe a couple of minutes at most. So unless you're trying to beat that annoying five minute red light, slow down, take your time, save some money.
Only buy things that you need. And only buy what you need when it's on sale. Remember, most grocery stores and some retail chains have sales that change out weekly, so watch for the ads. Pay attention to the dates also, so you don't miss the sale by a day or two.
Grocery stores like Safeway and Lucky's change their ads on Wednesdays, Target on Sundays, and for clothes, Old Navy (some of the best quality for the best price) has things go on sale every single Friday. Seriously. If you see something you want from Old Navy, and it's at full price, wait till Friday and come back. Keep checking, because everything at Old Navy goes on sale sooner or later.
Here's a little shopping tip for buying denim at Old Navy. The price of their jeans will keep going down as the season progresses, until it hits clearance prices right before their new stock comes in. The last pair of jeans I bought from them cost me $14.99, no joke.
It's easy to save a few bucks while shopping, you just have to pay attention. See, the problem is, your average consumer is an idiot. Myself included. When I'm in the store, it's like I have tunnel vision. My wife taught me to actually look at the price tags, the volume, the weight. Another tip: every end display in a grocery store (called the endcap), located at both ends of any given aisle, is all sale items. So stop and check them out next time, could save you a little money, and time.
Sell your stuff
I know. You couldn't possibly part ways with that CD collection... that you never listen to. The one taking up space, collecting dust because everything you could ever want musically is stored conveniently on a little rectangular box the size of a calculator, your iPod. I know you haven't watched any of the DVD's you own in like two years, because you have a subscription to Netflix AND Blockbuster online, but what if??
Let it go. My philosophy is, if you haven't used it or thought about it in six months, chances are you don't really need it. I sold my entire CD collection, over ten years worth, and I don't miss it at all. In fact, I had to get it out of storage so I could sell it. Got about $750 for it. Not bad for something sitting in storage that I hadn't used in about 4 years! We also had a TV, DVD player, and a stereo in our room that we hadn't used since we moved in. I sold all that and made around $300 on Craigslist. Easy money.
So stop hording all these things and get rid of them. If you don't use it, you don't need it, so sell it. Get rid of the TV and put some books there. You remember books, don't you?
Learn what to do with the money you save
Don't go on a shopping spree because you sold all your Cd's. That's just gonna put you right back where you were when you started reading this hub. You need to learn how to change the way you think about money. Money is just a tool, it's not good or bad. The first things I would recommend that you buy would be some books on finances, prefferably from the three people I mentioned in the first paragraph. Financial literacy is the key to your financial future and the start of a better life style. Lifestyle.
See, you can be rich like a doctor or a lawyer and have no time because you have to work 60-80 hours a week, or you can be wealthy like those people who golf all day, or go shopping or cruise around on their yacht. The choice is up to you. All you have to do is make the decision.
Never stop learning...