Simple Ways To Save Money

Date Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Here are 10 pain free ways to add a little “umph” to your lifetime net worth:

#1 Automate!
You can save a lot more than you think when you’re not thinking about it. Stowing away a few dollars every pay check can add up to ton over time, especially if this money goes into an interest bearing account, an investment account or an employer-matched retirement plan. Set up automatic deductions and transfers to painlessly and unconsciously pay yourself first.

#2 Stop the Bleeding.
Let’s face it. Nobody wants to pay fees and interest. They honestly do no one any good but your mean, evil debtor. Late fees, especially, make the angels cry. So put your bills on an automatic monthly payment system. Take cash back options at the grocery store instead of using ATMs. Have your bank email you overdraft warnings if you need them and use a snowball method to pay off high interest debt. Don’t fall for usurious scams like payday lending or tax refund advances. If you are extra ambitious and have the cash to spare, find out if your mortgage lender accepts pre-payments penalty free and consider making at least one extra payment a year. You may end up saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

#3 Stay Healthy.
Your health is both your most valuable assets and your most costly liability. Over the course of your lifetime, you may pay up to a quarter million or more in health care expenses or fees. Make brainless and automatic contributions to your health by not smoking, wearing appropriate safety equipment and seat belts when necessary, protecting your sexual health, choosing high fiber, whole grain cereals, washing your hands several times a day and taking the stairs when possible.

#4 Avoid Confusing Spending with Love.
Buying your family toys, expensive clothing and vacations does not mean that you love them any more than someone who doesn’t spend as much on their family. A person who loves their spouse and their children does not merely concern themselves with whatever momentary affection and happiness they can buy with material goods. Instead they concern themselves with their family’s long term cohesiveness, happiness and wellbeing. This typically means a stable family base, fostering constructive communication and quality time. Excessive spending can often negate this by causing tensions in trying to make ends meet. So make a conscious effort to change your mind about what love means and doesn’t mean. Your wallet will thank you.

#5 Stop Thinking Disposable.
Buy high quality things that can be used and used again for several years. Before you buy new, do the math. If you’ll spend more money replacing an inferior item than you will spend initially on a high quality item, opt for the high quality item. Some examples: food storage containers vs. plastic bags, the timeless wool business suits vs. polyester fad suit, hardwood furniture vs. wood pulp furniture.

#6 Buy and Sell Used.
If quality is out of your reach, consider buying used. Hand-me-down furniture is often better quality than particle board pieces from large warehouse stores. An eager HD DVD or BluRay buyer may be chafing to rid themselves of their enormous DVD collection. This could be a great opportunity to catch up on all the movies you wanted to see. Shopping for used books, collectibles and antiques at thrift stores and used bookstores is a great way to augment your collections, help worthy causes, and if you have a good eye, you may even be able to sell these things again at a higher price. Used baby clothing from garage sales is almost always in like-new condition because most very small children wear their clothing very little before they out grow them. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the stuff in your life, consider holding a garage sale yourself. The money you make is tax free.

#7 Buy in Bulk.
When you do your shopping, bring a calculator and a cell phone. If larger sizes are less expensive per ounce or milliliter than their smaller sized counterparts, call a friend or a family member and find out how they feel about splitting one of the larger sizes. If you do not feel like splitting a larger size with someone else, consider saving nice bottles and jars to repackage your excess as gifts or as part of larger gift baskets. This could save you a lot of money and hassle during the holidays. Also check your local bulk bins. They often sell fresh, high quality snacks and meal options at lower prices by weight. Some supermarket chains even offer discounts if you bring in your own containers to collect these bulk items. Bulk items can also make great additions to gift baskets.

#8 Turn Off The Tube.
Think about it. How is it that an average looking guy who hangs out on his living room couch all day making snide, immature remarks can afford to own a home that is larger than yours? For the same reason that his wife is a size two and his four year old son outsmarts him on a daily basis. He’s on television. Television characters do not live in a world of economic reality. If they have financial problems this week, you can rest assured that they will be resolved within thirty minutes. Climb into the real world; don’t make comparisons between yourself, your family and people you know with the people you see on TV. You’ll go broke. And remember that celebrities only become famous because people who are somewhat insane greatly amuse us. They don’t make the best standards of comparison either.

#9 Enjoy the Good, but Don’t Feel Entitled to It.
The five dollar coffee and the fifteen dollar beer sure are tasty. They are special treats that are meant to be enjoyed during breakfast meetings with clients, special dates and other unique occasions. These things are not meant for everyday consumption and should not become the basis for a daily or weekly routine or addiction. They will wreck havoc on both your waistline and your wallet. The same way the occasional burger, milkshake and fries will not hurt you, neither will these. But make a habit of them, and it may cost you your retirement.

#10 Use Your Community Resources Wisely.
The Library. Parks and Recreation. The Local Pool. Forest Preserves. Museums. College Campuses. Public Radio and Television. Community Gardens. What do all of these have in common? They offer you a world of culture, education and services in exchange for your tax dollars that go to support them. These places will enlighten you, entertain you and push you to new limits. Best of all, they are already paid for, so use them.

by J.T. Nowen

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