Tag Archives: saving money

How to Save Money the Easy Way

With the economy still struggling and many people still in very difficult financial situations, everybody is looking for how to save money. Unfortunately, many people don’t quite know where to start, as it is very difficult for most of us to prioritize costs and know where to spend, where to save, and where to invest. The good news is that these problems do not arise due to any shortage of opportunity – people who carefully plan and keep their eyes open can find endless opportunities to save in their daily lives. Here are some excellent money-saving tips which will help you keep more money in the bank.

Ignore brand names

This tip can apply to everything from buying new clothes, new appliances, or groceries. Those store brand products are usually just as good as the ‘name’ brands, and often sell at a fraction of the price.

Minimize Your Transportation, Minimize Gas Costs

While the best money saving tip would be to leave the car behind and choose public transportation, this is obviously not a choice which can be made in most areas. When possible, try to use your bike or even your feet. Instead of making the special trip to the gym, take a walk around the neighborhood. Remember, you are trying to save money overall, and every little bit that you don’t spend, you can save for later.

Cut Back on Bad Habits

Bad habits are expensive, and you are spending large amounts of money to sustain those habits. The average price of a 2 liter bottle is $1.50. The average price of a pack of cigarettes is $5. The cost for good alcohol is enormous. Minimizing, or even cutting out altogether, these bad habits will both save money and reduce the instance of the bad habit.

Get Stable Investments

The stock market is a roller coaster. The real estate market is in shambles. Give some thought to investing in gold, a more appropriate and stable safe haven for your money.

Sell Your Stuff

Many people have attics, basements, and storage units that are positively crammed with goods that are just collecting dust. Have a good garage sale, look toward one of the selling sites, or simply sell some of this to friends. You’d be absolutely amazed with the amount of money that you can earn, and you’re clearing the way to a more minimalist, frugal household. If you clear out your storage unit to the point where you don’t have to have it anymore, that’s an additional savings per month.

Keep your eye out for coupons and deals

There is nothing so tasty as a meal which is bought with a coupon. There is nothing which reads better than a book bought at a significant amount off of the list price. Keeping those deals in mind is easier than ever these days – there are sites, apps, the tried and true local papers, and more which have the frugal person in mind. Before you purchase something at retail, think about the deals which you can get on those products.

Photo is courtesy of Epsos.de and is used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Saving Money the Zen Way

Saving money sometimes baffles me. There are at least a million ways to save money, and each one has their pros and cons (link goes to an MC Napkin video. That dude’s got FLOW). Which one is right? In reality, it doesn’t matter.

Thoughts About Saving Money

Well, it does matter and it doesn’t matter. First and foremost, the primary goal is to save money. You’ll save more money by getting a used car over a new one. You’ll save more money by paying a little extra on the credit card balance than by getting more goodies. What really matters is that your eye is turned toward saving the money in the first place.

I’m prone to think about it like a fat person losing weight. The basics for losing weight have the fat person moving more and eating a less. The ‘right’ exercise doesn’t have to be on the table for that fat person, they just have to move more. When starting out on a savings plan, the same principles apply. The right fat loss program and the right savings plan will develop over time.

The most effective savings plan happens through experimentation, research, and more. There are some things which work for the novice saver which don’t work for someone who’s just trying to pay off that last credit card bill. Achieving the goal, whether it’s financial freedom or losing a lot of weight, takes consistent attention. The details will work themselves out.

Do your research, push toward the goal, and do a little bit every single day. You will have your targets within your hands in no time.

Picture courtesy of epSos.de at Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Do you have a plan, or are you winging it like me?

How We Saved $600

After writing about The Best $500 I Ever Lost, I wanted to give you a success story.

The Unlikely Mage and I had been battling with our clothes washer for weeks. It was pooling water on the floor, not draining properly, and otherwise being a nuisance. Our emergency fund had taken a few hits, and it would be several months before there would be any kind of money available for having a professional fix it. Neither of us particularly enjoyed the prospect of taking our clothes to the laundromat (I’m not even sure where it is, actually), so we were weighing our options.

1. Go to the laundomat

This can cost up to $20 each time, not including the costs of detergent, travel, and time taken out of the day (not to mention having to find something to wear to go to the laundromat). Despite the comparatively low cost each time, those once a week trips add up in the budget and are highly inconvenient.

2. Get a New Washer

The washer and dryer are stacked, wedged perfectly into their space. If we were to get another washer, we would more than likely have to get another dryer as well. New setups can cost $600 on the low end, not including the delivery costs and other necessary accoutrements. It’s a serious hassle to get new things, sometimes.

3. Pick up a Used Washer and Dryer

The same concerns apply to this one as they did for picking up the new washer and dryer. The price would be less, but there would still be the matter of delivery and making it actually work within the tiny space that we had available. Used appliances are sometimes flaky and need research. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there’s no ‘washerfax’ like Carfax.

4. Wash Clothes By Hand

The jury’s still out on whether this is indeed cost effective. I’m prone to believe that it isn’t, because the dryer has to work harder to get the moisture out of the wrung but not spun clothing. The average bathtub can hold 42 gallons of water, and the average washer uses around 20. Besides, hand washing my clothing with a wringer and a LOT of elbow grease was not how I wanted to spend a Sunday.

5. Hire Someone to Fix It

Although we are not averse to hiring people to repair our stuff, we are leery of the costs which are involved. Between the two of us, we have very few friends who were likely not to fix it themselves and call one of the professionals. I assumed that the problem would take at least $100,, and that money could be spent more effectively somewhere else.

6. Trade Favors

We have friends who are rather handy, but getting them to come to our neck of the woods would have costed around $50. There would be gas, and feeding them, and the fact that we would be calling in favors. This particular crisis didn’t seem to be worthy of that type of attention.

7. Fix it Ourselves

This is where the rubber meets the road. Use all of the resources on the internet to discover the source of the problem, and eventually fix the problem. The best option, by far, as it required only a time investment, and the temptation of learning a new and improved skill. We ultimately chose this option.

Fixing the washer proved to be less hassle than originally planned. It took almost an hour to diagnose the problem of clogged hoses, clean out the lines, drain the lines and reattached. There were a couple of test runs made, and the washer was once again doing all of its washery things.

Ultimately, doing the research and doing it ourselves (actually, TUM did it) saved us $600 or more for an hour’s worth of work. This was absolutely incredible, and it came out of the necessity of being low on funds. You can save a ton of cash if you’re willing to do some research and experiment. We did!