It seems that every time I turn on the TV or pick up a magazine, someone is talking about “ways to save” or “to cut back”. Most of them are great advice – but, call me weird, I hate paying more for anything than I have to pay. So I’ve been doing it for quite awhile. It’s easy to trim our budget because it’s always been slim!
It’s also the way I run my business, I don’t invoice for anything unless I’d pay it myself, and I don’t want my clients to pay any more than they have to pay. It’s the way I sleep soundly at night.
So, how do I save money? Here’s some of the things that I do regularly and you can easily do. None are scary or “difficult” so get started!
- Mindset: A lot of these ideas start with “thinking differently”. Much like the discipline of losing weight; spending less starts with the dedication of “deciding” to spend less. Often, your budget helps with your resolve; much like health issues do for diet dedication.
- Telephone: We use Vonage. We pay only $24.99/month for unlimited calling, all the features and unlimited long distance. If you tell them I referred you (either me personally or PinPoint Creative Group — 336-765-3800) you’ll get 2 Months free (and I will too!). Contact me if you have any questions. We love it!
- Cable TV: This is a bit tricky. If you want sports continuously; perhaps this isn’t for you. But we pay about $8/month for basic cable. We watch TV shows on Hulu, iTunes or the network websites. The average U.S. cable bill is $60/month. Consider the $600 you’ll save by doing this, and what you’ll get done without TV on all the time. Or bundle your cable, internet and phone. At home we’re considering dropping phone service since we all have cell phones.
- Eating Out: Try to brown bag-it (but I do miserable with this). Instead, I live by 2 simple rules: A) Don’t order soda at lunch. Water helps with digestion better any way. B) I rarely pay more than $5 for a lunch meal (unless I’m entertaining). My favorite right now is the McDouble (I request no cheese) and a small salad for $2.00. Or the Hamburger happy meal with Apples instead of fries for around $3. Or a grocery store rotisserie chicken and it lasts for 3 days. I eat baked chips or a side salad with it. This is about $3/day too. Save $4/day (soda, and eating less) and in a year you save over $1000!
- Pay Cash: use this to negotiate a better rate. I just saved about half the cost of a doctor’s bill by doing this. It’s always worth asking. And stops my dependence on credit.
- Insurance: We have a $1000 emergency fund that allows us to reduce our monthly payments by raising our deductibles to $1000. I renegotiate insurance rates every year before they come due. Also, buy term insurance — it’s all you need and it costs less.
- Tithing: I throw this in, because when we decided to give 10% to our church, it was the way we started having more money. It sounds like an oxymoron, but God’s principles always work.
- Sell it: We all have things we stop using or wearing. The moment you realize it, get rid of it (its value drops everyday you wait)! You don’t need all your stuff — and there are lots of places to get an audience to buy it. Computers and electronics – Ebay or Craigslist; Seasonal Clothes – a local Consignment shop.
- Travel: There are lots of places to find the lowest price. I use Travelocity or Expedia (to find out what current prices are), then I switch over to Kayak. I check what the lowest prices for the trips are (ANYTIME in the next few months) and jump over to priceline or hotwire and bid the lower price that I know the airline takes at another time of the year. I usually get it. I also rarely ever stay at a conference hotel — if I walk an extra block I save enough to pay for my meals for the conference.
- Gas: We use Costco for gas. The savings aren’t huge but the savings pay for my oil changes.
When I started this, I wondered if I could come up with 10 ways and now I realize I have lots more… but I’ll save them for a future post. More importantly, what are the ways YOU save money?