Thursday, December 16, 2010

100 Great Tips For Saving Money For Those Just Getting Started Part 4 of 4 - 12/16/10

76. Find daily inspiration for making intelligent moves.I’m usually inspired by my children. Perhaps you’re inspired to make changes by your spouse – or even by someone in the community you respect. Maybe it’s just a personal goal, like an early retirement. Find something that makes you want to make positive changes, then use that person or thing as a constant reminder. Keep a picture of it in your wallet, in your vehicle, and on your bathroom mirror. Keep it in your mind as much as you possibly can.
77. Find out about all of the benefits of your job. Most people aren’t even aware of all of the benefits available to them. Spend some time with an HR person finding out about all the benefits of your job – you might be surprised at what you might find. I found free tickets to sporting events, free personal improvement opportunities, and an optional employee match on some retirement funds that maximized the money I was socking away. This not only cut down on my own spending on things like sporting and community events and educational classes, but also improved my retirement plan.
78. Make your own items instead of buying them. I like to make my own laundry detergent and my own Goo-Gone, for starters. I also like making Glade, Windex, and Soft Scrub. In both cases, it’s way cheaper than buying the commercial version. Hunt around for recipes – it’s amazing how many things you can make at home in just a few minutes that saves a ton of money compared to the commercial version.
79. Encourage your friends to do less expensive activities. This is often a tricky thing to do, but there are a number of techniques you can try. My favorite one is to be the first one to suggest something – that often gives you the power to steer the group towards things that are cheaper. If you can convince your friends to go to the park and shoot hoops instead of going golfing, those green fees are going to stay in your pocket.
80. Don’t speed. Not only is it inefficient in terms of gasoline usage, it also can get you pulled over and cost you a bundle, as I discovered a while back. It’s highly cost-efficient to just drive the speed limit, keep that gas in the tank, and keep the cops off your tail.
81. Read more. Reading is one of the cheapest – and most beneficial – hobbies around. Most towns have a library available to the public – just go there and check out some books that interest you. Then, spend some of your free time in a cozy place in your house, just reading away. You’ll learn something new, improve your reading ability, enjoy yourself, and not have to spend a dime. Here are some more techniques for getting into the reading flow.
82. Buy a smaller house. I currently live in a 2,000 square foot house with my wife and two kids. Frankly, it’s just the right size for us – if anything, it’s a little big. We often find ourselves in the same room in the house, just surrounded by empty space. You don’t need a giant place to live. Instead, buy something more modest and you’ll find yourself with plenty of room – and still plenty of cash in your pocket.
83. Drive a different route to work. This is an especially powerful tip if you find yourself “automatically” stopping for something on the way into work or the way home. Get rid of that constant drain by selecting a different route that doesn’t go by the temptation, even if the new route is a bit longer. You’ll still be time ahead (because you’re not stopping) and you’ll definitely be money ahead.
84. Always ask for fees to be waived. Any time you sign up for a service of any kind and there are sign-up fees, ask for them to be waived. Sometimes (but not always), they will be – and you save money just by being forthright about not wanting to pay excessive fees. I did this with my last cell phone sign-up and got part of my fees waived, cutting down significantly on the bill.
85. Don’t overspend on hygiene products. For most people, inexpensive hygiene products do the trick – for example, I just buy whichever toothpaste is the cheapest, and the same goes with deodorant and the like. The key is to use this stuff regularly and consistently – bathe daily, keep yourself clean, and you’ll be just fine. No need to buy a $40 facial scrub if you actually scrub your face properly.
86. Eat less meat. For the nutritional value, meat is very expensive, especially as compared to vegetables and fruits. Simply change around your regular meal proportions to include more fruits and vegetables and less meats – eat a smaller steak and a bigger helping of green beans, for example. Not only is this a healthier way to eat (saving on health costs), it’s also less expensive.
87. Use a brutally effective coupon strategy. Here’s the trick: wait a month before using the coupons. Save your coupon flyer out of your Sunday paper for a month, then bust it out and start cutting anything that might be of interest. For a bonus kicker, use the coupons in comparison with your grocery store flyer that week to find out ways you can use a coupon to reduce the cost of an item already on sale – you can wind up paying pennies for some things and, on occasion, actually get food for free (I’ve came home with a ton of free yogurt containers before, for example).
88. Air seal your home. Most homes have some air leaks that make the job of keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter that much harder – and that much more costly for you. Spend an afternoon air sealing your home – the DoE has a great guide on basic airsealing.
89. Make your own beer or wine. If you enjoy an occasional drink, this is a great way to enjoy some of the beverages that you love at a very cheap price. You can easily make five gallons of beer or wine at once and it doesn’t take that long, either, once you have the basic ingredients. Even better, it’s a great activity to do with friends – you buy the equipment, they bring the juice and you both get a few bottles of delicious homemade wine out of the deal. A nice entertainment, plus some free beverages – that’s a great frugal deal.
90. Make sure all your electrical devices are on a surge protector. This is especially true of your entertainment center and your computer equipment. A power surge can damage these electronics very easily, so spend the money for a basic surge protector and keep your equipment plugged into such a device.
91. Get on an automatic debt repayment plan for any student loans you have. Many student loans offer a rate reduction if you sign up for their automatic debt repayment plan. This way, not only do you save a few bucks a month, you don’t have to go to the effort of actually paying the bill. Our automatic plan saved us about $60 a year.
92. Cut down on your vacation spending. Instead of going on a big, extravagant trip, pack up the car and see some of America some years for vacation. One of the best vacations I’ve ever taken was when my son was an infant – we just packed up the car and drove around Minnesota, eventually camping for a few days along the north shore of Lake Superior. For a week long relaxing vacation, it was incredibly cheap and quite memorable, too.
93. Cancel the cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Many people with cable services often are paying for a premium package but rarely watch those extra channels. For the longest time, my wife and I were subscribed to HBO, Starz, and Cinemax, yet we would only tune in once a month at best. We argued that it was worth it because we could watch a movie or a great drama whenever we wanted, but it would have been far cheaper just to rent a movie. Get rid of the excess channelsand put that cash back in your pocket.
94. Exercise more. Go for a walk or a jog each evening, and practice stretching and some light muscle exercise at home. These exercises can be done at home for very little, meaning you’ve got an activity without a lot of cost, and the health benefits are enormous. Just set aside some time each day to get some exercise, and your bodyand wallet will thank you.
95. Utilize online bill pay with your bank. This serves two purposes. First, it keeps you in much closer contact with your money, as you can keep a very close eye on your balance and be in much less danger of overdrafting. Second, it saves you money on stamps and paper checks by allowing you to just fill in an online form, click submit, and have your bill paid. Try it out – and take advantage of it if you’re not already.
96. Buy staples in bulk. We buy items we use a lot of in bulk, particularly items that don’t perish – trash bags, laundry detergent, diapers, and so on are purchased in the largest amounts possible. This cuts down on their cost per usage by quite a bit and, over the long haul, begins to add up to some serious money. Even better, we don’t have to shop for these items very often, saving time and a fraction of the cost of a trip to the grocery store.
97. Connect your entertainment center and/or computer setup to a true smart power strip. A device like the SmartStrip LCG4 basically cuts power to all devices on the strip depending on the status of the first item on the strip. So, if you have your workstation hooked up to this, every time you power down your workstation, your monitor powers down, your printer powers down, your scanner powers down, and so on. You can do the same thing with your entertainment console – when you turn off the television, the cable/satellite box also goes off, as does the video game console, the VCR, the DVD player, and so on. This can save you a lot of electricity and significantly trim your power bill.
98. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Even if you make ten good choices, it’s easy to beat yourself up and feel like a failure over one bad choice. If you make a big mistake and realize it, think about why you realized it now instead of then, and try to apply that later on. The memory of that mistake can end up being very valuable, indeed.
99. Always keep looking ahead. Don’t let the mistakes of your past drag you down into more mistakes. Look ahead to the future. The choices you make now won’t affect the past – but they definitely will affect the future. Think back, and remember how the bad choices you made earlier are costing you now, and constantly remember to not make those mistakes now so that they don’t cost your future self.
100. Never give up. Whenever the struggle against debt feels like it’s too much, go read a personal finance blog and remember that there are a lot of people out there fighting the same fight. Read around through the archives and learn some new things – and perhaps get inspired to keep going, no matter what.


Written by Trent @ The Simple Dollar!



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