In my financial planning and credit counseling businesses I get to see how people spend their hard earned money. It is always mystifying how so many will complain about there never being enough money to go around, yet to me they seem to be wasting money on stuff they don’t need.
This is not the first article ever published on money saving tips, but this one definitely has my biases built-in. Maybe as a personal finance writer, I find myself drawn to different things. My list focuses on every day items which touch our lives – but it’s not about squeezing the toothpaste tube properly, or saving up scraps of soap (you do all that right?)
Hopefully you will find several items from my list which you are already doing or can adopt into your day to day life.
- Consider eliminating your telephone land line – you probably don’t need one
- You don’t really need cable television with streaming so readily available. Just make sure you use an Ad Blocker. Of if you can’t give it up, eliminate the extra channels you really cannot justify
- Monitor data usage in your family phone plans – abusers should only have wi-fi access and no data plan. (In fact, if you want to save lots of money, use an off contract smartphone for phone and text and just use wi-fi when you need internet access. It’s way cheaper, and it’s practically everywhere these days.)
- Don’t forget books, audio books, DVD’s and CD’s all from the library
- Scan paper as much as possible to avoid using paper and ink
- Use rechargeable batteries
- Use credit cards vigorously for benefits and rewards. If a credit card’s rewards don’t outweigh the cost of the annual fee, then you shouldn’t have it. Many ‘experts’ say use cash only – that’s only if you cannot trust yourself with plastic
- Never incur overdraft fees – keep the account at $500 – consider that your zero balance. (Whatever amount is comfy for you)
- Never use another bank’s ATM, and never take cash advances from your credit cards. You will just be throwing money away if you do.
- Monitor your credit history to maintain an excellent rating so that your borrowing rates are always very low
- Pay your credit card balance two or three times a month – means you never pay interest and you always get balance transfer offers at zero percent interest
- Go paperless with bank, credit card and utility statements. You may even save $1 or $2 per month. It all adds up.
- Aggregate all your home and auto insurance into one insurer to get a 25% discount off already decent rates
- If you have life insurance, understand that term insurance is the cheapest, and usually gets the job done!
- Buy flights on points and look for last minute deals
- Look up discount sites but always book flights and hotels direct – avoids hassles if changes are required
- Buy subway tokens and stamps in quantities – their value always goes up
- Sell everything you will never need on Kijiji, and to avoid clutter give away stuff that does not sell
- Sell all used textbooks as soon as you understand you will never need them again
- Look for deals on second hand stuff at MaxSold, Kijiji, and Craigslist
- If you are single, suck it up and live with roommates. Make sure you will be compatible though!
- Look for ways to turn extra space into rental income
In the kitchen
- Buy non-perishables where the lowest prices are, and buy a lot when prices are great
- Buy spices, nuts, sugar, flour and stuff from the bulk store
- Buy the best coffee maker and teapot you can afford and stay away from coffee shops
- Take your lunch to work every day
- Take turns hosting dinners with your friends; it can be much cheaper than going out, and probably you’ll enjoy better food and a better atmosphere
In your car
- Drive at the speed limit and brake as little as possible
- Don’t pump premium gas every time you fill up into a leased car
- Empty your trunk – excess weight sucks up gasoline
I think most of these items are common sense and not too difficult to embrace. But collectively they add up. It’s being casually frugal; not obsessively so.
By the way, if you are parent of young children, you might begin dropping all your change in a glass jar each night and sharing the experience with your kids. Teach them about money and at the end of the year, maybe you can share the money among them so they can learn the spirit of holiday gift giving.