Thursday, December 16, 2010

100 Great Tips For Saving Money For Those Just Getting Started Part 3 of 4 - 12/16/10

51. Don’t fear leftovers – instead, jazz them up. 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.
52. Go through your clothes – all of them. 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.
53. Brown bag your lunch. 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.
54. Learn how to dress minimally. 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.
55. Ask for help and encouragement from your inner circle. 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.
56. If something’s broken, give a fair shot at repairing it yourself before replacing it or calling a repairman. 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.
57. Keep an idea notebook in your pocket. 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.
58. Invest in a deep freezer. 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.
59. Look for a cheaper place to live. 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.
60. Check out what your town’s parks and recreation board has to offer. My town has several wonderful parks, free basketball and tennis courts, free disc golf, trails, and lots of other stuff just there waiting to be used. You can go have fun for hours out in the wonderful outdoors, playing sports, hiking on trails, or trying other activities – and it’s all there for free. All you have to do is discover it.
61. Air up your tires. For every two PSI that all of your tires are below the recommended level, you lose 1% on your gas mileage. Most car tires are five to ten PSI below the normal level, so that means by just airing up your tires, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 5%. It’s easy, too. Just read your car’s manual to see what the recommended tire pressure is, then head to the gas station. Ask the attendant inside if they have a tire air gauge you can borrow (most of them do, both in urban and rural settings), then stop over by the air pump. Check your tires, then use the pump to fill them up to where they should be. It’s basically free gas!
62. Start a garden. Gardening is an inexpensive hobby if you have a yard. Just rent a tiller, till up a patch, plant some plants, keep it weeded, and you’ll have a very inexpensive hobby that produces a huge amount of vegetables for you to eat at the end of the season. I like planting a bunch of tomato plants, keeping them cared for, then enjoying a huge flood of tomatoes at the end of the summer. We like to eat them fresh, can them, and make tomato juice, sauce, paste, ketchup, pasta sauce, and pizza sauce. Delicious (and very inexpensive)!
63. Dig into your community calendar. There are often tons of free events going on in your town that you don’t even know about. Stop by the local library or by city hall and ask how you can get ahold of a listing of upcoming community events, and make an effort to hit the interesting ones. You can often get free meals, free entertainment, and free stuff just by paying attention – even better, you’ll get in touch with what’s going on around you.
64. Take public transportation. If the city’s transit system is available near you, take it to work (or to play) instead of driving your car. It’s far cheaper and you don’t have to worry about parking your vehicle. When I lived in a larger city, I bought an annual transit pass that actually paid for itself after less than two months of use compared to using an automobile – and after that, for ten months, I basically could ride to work (and to some events) for free. That’s money in the bank.
65. Cut your own hair. I can cut mine myself with a pair of clippers, for example. I just cut it really short every once in a while and don’t worry about it too much. Just put a garbage bag over the bathroom sink, bust out the clippers and scissors, and get it done. Two or three cuts will pay for the clippers, and then you’re basically getting free haircuts. With a bit of practice, you can make it look good, too.
66. Carpool. Is there anyone that lives near you who works at the same place (or near the same place) that you do? Why not ride together, alternating drivers each day? You can halve the wear and tear and gas costs for your car – and for your acquaintance as well.
67. Design your “debt snowball.” Everyone needs a plan to help them get out of debt, so sit down and plot out what debts you’re going to pay off and in what order. Simply having a plan goes a long way towards bringing that plan into action, and paying off debts early is one of the surest ways to put money in your pocket over the long run.
crock68. Get a crock pot. A crock pot is perhaps the best deal on earth for reducing cooking costs in a busy family. You can just dump in your ingredients before work, put it on simmer, and dinner is donewhen you get home. There are countless recipes out there for all variety of foods, and every time you cook this way, you’re saving money as compared to eating out.
69. Do some basic home and auto maintenance on a regular schedule. Instead of just waiting until something breaks to deal with it, develop a monthly maintenance schedule where you go around your home (and your car) and perform a bit of maintenance where it’s needed. This little activity, taking you just an hour or two a month, will keep things from breaking down and help you see problems before they become disasters.
70. Pack food before you go on a road trip. Have everyone pack a sack lunch for the trip. That way, instead of stopping in the middle of the trip, driving around looking for a place to eat, spending a bunch of time there, and then paying a hefty bill, you can just eat on the road or, better yet, stop at a nice park and stretch for a bit. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money and a fair amount of time this way.
71. Go through your cell phone bill, look for services you don’t use, and ditch them.Sit down and go through each item on your bill and see if there’s anything there that you don’t use, like a surfeit of text messages or web access or something to that effect. Then call your cell phone company and ask to have those services eliminated. Boom, you’re saving money.
72. Consolidate your student loans. Interest rates are quite low right now, so it might be worthwhile to consolidate your student loans into one low-rate package. Look into the various student loan consolidation packages – even a 1% reduction on a $10,000 loan saves you $100 a year – and your loan is probably bigger than that (and the rate cut you could get is probably bigger).
73. When buying a car, go for late model used. These are typically cars coming straight off of leases, meaning they were cared for by reliable owners. My truck was purchased with this criteria and has lasted me several years already with only one significant issue – and I saved a ton of money on the purchase price over buying new. Only now is it beginning to show significant signs of aging – and with the money I saved on that purchase, I was able to get out of debt that much quicker.
74. Hit the library – hard. Don’t look at a library as just a place to get old books. Look at it as a free place to do all sorts of things. I’ve used it to learn a foreign language, meet people, use the Internet anonymously, check out movies and CDs, grab local free newspapers, and keep up on community events. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
razor75. Use a simple razor to shave. I’ve been a big advocate of the basic safety razor for a long time, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. For “normal” shaves, I just shave in the shower and dry off the blade afterwards, using just soap for lather – incredibly cheap, since I only swap blades once every few weeks. The real moral of the story? Use a simple razor – not an expensive electric one that stops working in three years – and shave your face when it’s wet. You can get a very good shave with some practice and save a lot of money over the long haul.

Written by Trent @ The Simple Dollar!





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