The Only 9 Tips You Need to Save Money on Everything

Ramit Sethi said that there’s only so much you can save, but you have an unlimited earnings potential.

Dave Ramsey is all about using what you have to save and become debt free. Make the most out of your future.

The Minimalists talk about minimalism and essentially treating your real world like an editor is supposed to treat an unruly manuscript: take out everything unnecessary so you can appreciate what’s important.

What happens when you take it all and smoosh it together?

The beginning of a game plan.

This blog has gone through some changes. In the beginning, I wanted to list every way you could save money on whatever thing that you wanted to save money on. Want to save money on games? Here’s a post. Want to save money on washers and dryers? Here’s another post. Want to save money on video games? Yeah, that too.

I realized that the solutions were pretty pedestrian and repetitive.

1. If it’s a *thing* that you won’t need more than once, check with your friends.
For instance, we need to clean our gutters and to do that we need an extension ladder. Instead of running to Home Depot to pick up a $200 extension ladder, we’re hitting up a friend who will most likely loan one to us. The same works for video games, appliances, and other things. A whole LOT of saving money relies on groups getting together and pooling their resources.

2. In most cases, food stuff is always going to be cheaper if you shop at the grocery store.
Restaurants are cool. Restaurants are neat. Fast food is cool and neat as well. And, you can get baby hamburgers and tacos and stuff for $1.50 per, but you’re going to win out with volume if you go to the store and spend the cash. You can spend $20 at the grocery store and get a whole lot of tasty, tasty tacos.

2a. If it’s not cheaper, you’ll have a better idea of what’s in it from the grocery store.
You have a magical trade-off when you buy all of the ingredients and make your own food. You know what’s in a dish, which means that you can add things and erase them at your leisure. With that kind of control, you can make them healthy or not healthy. Making it at home is going to be the most cost effective option in most cases.

3. MOST things are just as functional used as new.
For realz. Video games. Tires. Computers. Appliances. Cars. Clothes. If you need these things to survive, you’re probably going to be better off getting them used. If you’re hard core, you can make your own clothes (which sometimes costs a LOT more than simply buying at Goodwill), but it usually doesn’t come to that. If you want something which will get you by, used is the way to go.

4. If you have to have new, save up for quality.
Darn Tough socks cost between $15-20 a pair. You can get 6-packs of socks for a LOT cheaper, they’re not going to feel as good or be as effective as regular socks. they are darn tough and they are incredibly comfortable. Their guarantee says that if they are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you should return them for another pair. Forever. There are things in every imaginable category that represent long-lasting quality.

5. If you’re not using it, minimize its impact. If you are, maximize its use.
We live in 2 rooms of the house. Only one room of those two have air conditioning. The rest is a sauna in the summer and an ice box in the winter. If you have 2 cars and use only one car, If you’re running the dishwasher, washer, dryer, or other random appliance … try not to use it for less than a full load or run. That way, you’ll get the most out of it.

6. For goods and services, always do your research.
Research it. Look around. Comparison shop. See who offers the best value and go with that one. If you’re unsure about it, ask your friends. This works for anything – the universal truth of saving money and making the most of what you’ve got. If you need insurance, check around and find the best one for you. If you need phone service? Same thing. Different strokes for different folks, and remember to shop on value, not price.

7. If you’re not using it, get rid of it or profit from it (or both).
Remember that profiting from it doesn’t necessarily mean making money from it – you could give it to friends who need it, get the warm fuzzy of giving it to Goodwill, etc. If you’ve got a spare bedroom in your house, get a porch troll. If you’ve got lots of books you don’t need, turn them in for credit. If you’ve got video games you don’t want, get store credit or sell them off. Get rid of it, profit from it, or both.

8. Make sure you need it
I have a bad habit. When I get an idea for a business, I want to buy the domain, start creating tons of content, come up with a marketing plan, and go full steam ahead. Two weeks later, my drive for the site has evaporated and I’m stuck with this domain that I own that I don’t know what to use it for. Something always happened and the drive went away. Fast forward to now… and I’ve got a lot of domains that are collecting dust.

It’s called a two-week obsession. I’d spend upwards of $200 on something and do all the things, then have it peter out just as quickly as it came on, leaving me out $200 with a ton of product on my hands. Some things I come back to (canvases and paint don’t go bad, for instance). Some things I don’t. But I’ll spend the money for it in the blink of an eye and the urge vanishes.

So, if you want to try something out but you don’t know if it’s the thing, find someone you know who does the thing and see if you can borrow their old stuff. That way, you can find out if it’s the thing for you. Use your current resources to do the thing – like, if you have a website laying around and gathering dust, use that to work your new idea. It doesn’t really matter what the domain name is right NOW. And, stuff’s easy to transfer over. If you want to try mixing teas, see if your circle of friends has any spare herbs that you can play with. It will save you a ton of money in the long run.

9. If you need it, have the space for it, and it doesn’t go bad, buy it in bulk.
Bulk will almost always get you a better deal than buying it individually in the grocery store. If you spend $20 at Costco on the super mega jumbo toilet paper hoard that will last you 6 months as opposed to the once in a while thing that costs $20 for infinitely less rolls, go for the mountain of TP. You know you use it. It might not be NOW, but you know you do.

Don’t go crazy with this, though. If the space that it takes up interferes with your daily life, then don’t get it. Yes, you might consider yourself cool having a Kinko’s worth of paper in your closet, but if you’re NOT going to use it and it’s taking up too much of your space, then don’t get it.

Buying toiletries in bulk will most likely save you a lot of money in the long run.

When I discovered these ideas, I realized that the rest of the blog became a moot point. Each of the posts that I made was just piling on and piling on, so it became boring to me. Boring and predictable. And while boring and predictable is great in some cases, I wanted a little more.

I made another realization, too. Spending money… the choice to use the money you earn whether as an investment in futureYou (savings) or nowYou (giving your money to others) is made in the blink of an eye. It’s like a light switch: it takes no time or effort to spend money. There may be mental gymnastics to justify what you’re spending it on, but the actual act should be painless.

Sometimes, the decision is actually made on autopilot.

Your brain chunks events together really easily. If you do something at a specific time and place for more than a few times in a row, it becomes easier and easier to do it. So, if you stop at BoJangles on the way to work every time for a big ol’ picnic size order of Borounds and a large tea for four days in a row, that fifth day you’ll have to truly think about it to NOT do it.

The same works if you stop by QT to pick up coffee, or always go to the grocery store on Wednesdays, or what have you. This is where mindfulness comes in. It takes *effort* to break the habits that you have because the brain is super lazy. If you’re mindful, you’re aware of what’s going on and aware of the patterns that you’ve created at any given point in time.

Breaking of those patterns, breaking of those cycles… that’s actually more fascinating to me than the ways to save, because psychological stuff and cycle breaking is generally more fascinating. Break the cycle with money, and you can break the cycle with a whole LOT of things. You can literally develop a personal system of bad habit and bad cycle breaking.

Money management programs are nice for the aftermath, but what’s there when you’re in the trenches and fighting your own brain?