A LOT of sites will tell you what you “should do” or “could do” to save money. Here are some things that I actually did (and do) to save money. (If you want to get out of debt, there are two ways to have more money for debt reduction. You can earn more money, or you can save more of the money that you already earn. I try to do BOTH!)
1. I live on a budget.
2. I use online bill pay to pay my bills. This decreases paperwork AND it saves me postage.
3. My wife LOVES to talk on the phone, so I have an unlimited calls package with my long distance company.
4. I call my cell phone, long distance, and satellite television providers every quarter and request discounted rates.
5. Speaking of satellite television, I have the most basic package plus local stations.
6. I pay for text messages on a per message basis.
7. I buy mostly “generic” food at the super market. After a year of using coupons, I found that I could get better deals (80% of the time) by simply purchasing “generic” brand foods. Plus, now that I’m focusing more on my health, I’m buying fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
8. I use “standard” octane gas. My cars are designed to run on the “cheap stuff” so that’s what I put in them. I also buy most of my gas a Kroger (where I receive a discount for using their loyalty card).
9. I eat MOST of my meals at home. I have dramatically decreased the number of meals that I eat away from home. I used to eat at LEAST one fast food meal a day, and now I eat away from home two or three times per week.
10. I turn off lights. My wife calls me “the vampire…”
11. I have replaced 80% of our traditional bulbs with compact florescent bulbs. Frankly, this has more to do with laziness than it does with economizing. (I HATE changing light bulbs!)
12. I talk with my wife about our monthly (or weekly) expenses. Seriously, if you will talk with your spouse about money BEFORE you make a purchase, instead of arguing about money AFTER a purchase is made, your life will be so much better.
13. I try to balance “convenience vs expense”. I like to have my clothes dry cleaned and I hate to wash my car. But, I also hate to pay for these services. So, I force myself to wash my own cars, but I still have my clothing dry cleaned.
14. I keep my tires rotated, balanced, and properly inflated.
15. I have a unique “oil change” routine. I change my oil every other time. Why? I’m pretty much a car repair idiot. So, I take a chance and change my own oil once in a while, but I like to take it to my local guy often enough to maintain a good business relationship. (If I get a coupon for an oil change, I’ll use one of those “jiffy” services. $15 for an oil change isn’t bad.)
16. I think RATIONALLY about electronics purchases. I have FOUR mp3 players, for which I’ve paid a total of $50. I have an iPod that I received for Christmas, an iRiver I purhcased on eBay, a first gen shuffle that I got for free (sign-up bonus), and a generic 512mb player that I purchased for $10. I have a Toshiba laptop that I purchased for $400. I use it to record my podcast, update the NCN Network, and type my blog entries. If you think that you “have” to have an item, take a cold shower, take a nap, take a walk. In other words, be different. It is cool to own stuff, but don’t let your stuff OWN you!
17. I borrow stuff from my friends and I loan stuff to my friends. I have great friends who have been super cool about loaning me tools, trailers, books, dvds, etc. As for me, I’m kinda strange. I actually LIKE to let people borrow my stuff.
18. I do my own yard work.
19. I try to keep 3 or 4 quarters in my pocket at all times. Why? My kids always want to “buy” something and I don’t mind “buying” them something. It is so much easier to give them a quarter for one of those little machines at the front of the store than it is to buy them some silly toy for $10. Call is a “sanity” trade-off.
20. I write down my purchases! I keep a spending log! It helps me to “see” where my money is actually going.
Do you have some things that you actually do to save money? Leave a comment!