Writing about saving money is a feel-good way for me to share my knowledge with all of you. Since I've started, I've covered a number of ways that you can cut your grocery bill, home energy costs, shopping expenses and many more areas where we regularly spend our money. Some are smaller ways, and others help you to save big money, like shopping around for car insurance. But I wanted to share some other ideas with you. Each of them is different and if you make them into regular habits, you can save a substantial amount.
Bold Ways to Save Big Money
1. Give Up Your Car
The cost of a car is way expensive. You may have monthly payments in the hundreds, car insurance costs through the roof (here in NJ, it's the highest in the country), maintenance and gasoline, plus license and registration fees. And that's if your car is in good condition and doesn't need regular repairs. Having a car is probably a huge chunk of your monthly budget. If you live in a city or major suburb, you probably have access to all kinds of public transportation like buses, trains, and even cabs and Uber. As long as you get to work or school, this is a viable option to save a bundle. We're so conditioned to think we must have our own car that we just don't think we're truly civilized without one. If you have a family, you may even have 2, 3 or 4 vehicles and giving up at least one is definitely possible. My wife and I each used to have our own cars, but we found sharing one to be quite reasonable.
If you think it will be too difficult, try not using one of your cars for a week or even a month as a trial. Try sharing, borrowing from each other, dropping the kids off, depending on your friends, or yes, even walking or riding your bike. This is all good for the wallet, your health, and the environment and you'll be shocked when you see how much you are saving!
2. Learn How to Do It Yourself
I wish I had done this years ago. I have spent a small fortune on having others fix things around my house like toilets and sinks, broken shelves, and laying tiles in my basement. Here in suburbia-land, it's the way it goes most of the time. I have learned that most of the home stores offer free seminars on basic repairs that will help you whether you reside in a McMansion or a small apartment. Even better, find a detailed video on YouTube and you don't even have to leave home. You can learn to fix, build, and alter almost anything and you don't always need a contractor and a large bank account. The one caveat to this is not to mess with certain elements if you don't feel you know what you're doing…this would include major renovations that involve the structure of the home, gas lines, and complex electrical work.
3. Learn to Just Say “No”
Ok, I'm not talking about drugs here (although if you're using recreational drugs, please consider giving them up for your health, wallet, and your freedom as well!). I am talking about the pressure you get from your friends, coworkers and peers to join them frequently in all kinds of costly entertainment like fancy restaurants, a few drinks at the bar after work, or movies and ball games on the weekends. Now I'm not telling you to give up all your socializing and live like a hermit. What I am saying is to learn the word “no” when you just don't have the money to do it without running up your credit cards and building a huge entertainment debt. Try an evening at home with some homemade snacks and a free DVD from your local library, or check out some other freebies like an outdoor concert or a nice walk in the park if you want to be friendly and are short on cash. No isn't a dirty word.
4. Avoid Extended Warranties When You Buy Things
Every time you make a purchase of a big ticket item, like cars, electronic, or furniture, you'll be offered the “opportunity” to buy an extended warranty. I'm begging you to walk away from the offer. It is a huge profit center for the seller and is something you'll almost never need. Just about everything you buy new will have a manufacturer's warranty already (and some credit cards extend the warranty as well). It may be 90 days or even a year or two, but whatever it is, you don't need to extend it and pay a small fortune for it. Most items that fail will do so right away. If you extend the warranty, you're not likely to need it during the period covered. Save that money and invest it instead.
5. Shop at a Thrift or Consignment Shop
Have you ever considered shopping at a cool, hip place for what is now known as “vintage clothing”? Truthfully, you can find some unreal bargains on gently worn or even never worn clothing or household goods that might just be perfect for you. Besides the adventure, it's kind to your wallet and really fun. Try shopping in a more affluent area for higher quality items and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the selection and condition. You can even have your unwanted items consigned there and sold to make it more like a tradeoff than an expenditure.
6. Make Money on Your Hobby
Do you play tennis? Like to craft? Have an affinity for history? Try using your skills to help others and make some extra money. Teach tennis at the local courts on the weekends, sell your wares on Etsy or at local markets, or tutor students in your favorite subject. It's a way to supplement your income doing something you really love, so don't think of it as a job. Online you can find opportunities right in your local community. See what you can do to earn some money, do a nice service, and have some fun.
7. Plan Ahead on Travel
Taking a vacation to Europe? Want to cruise the Caribbean? Whatever travel you desire, plan for it in advance, especially if you don't have a lot of flexibility in what you want. Waiting until the last minute usually costs more, puts pressure on you, and makes for possible screw-ups in your itinerary. Prices for travel in particular are better in advance and discounts are frequent when you plan way ahead. Even a year or 18 months ahead for a cruise isn't unusual and besides a price advantage, it gives you some time to actually save up some money for your trip.
8. Don't Buy Refreshments or Souvenirs at Events
Isn't it enough that you're paying those big bucks for tickets to your favorite performers or the home team you love so much? Buying $6 hot dogs, $9 beers and $4 bottles of water just adds too much insult to injury for me. I do like to go and see something spectacular in person occasionally, but the cost of eating there is ridiculous and frankly not very tasty. I always eat at home before the big event or bring my own snacks (if permitted) to save that extra $20-30 per person that it will cost. As for souvenirs, is it something you will really use or just another dust collector? Ask yourself whether you'd buy the item if you weren't at the event and you saw it in a store. The best souvenirs are the memories you make and the photos that you can take with your phone or camera.
A single one of these ideas probably won't make you wealthy, but the point is that by getting creative and making good habits, you can save substantially. This isn't using a coupon to save $0.20 on your purchase of iced tea, but rather a conscious decision to make a real dent in your spending habits. Of course, I recommend using coupons and all the other suggestions I've offered, but these changes will speed you along to savings that you can see right away.
What are some ways you like to save big?
Image courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net (with changes)