Tuesday, September 19, 2006
10 Fast Ways To Save Money
2. Always, always, always use a shopping list. Stick to it. This saves you from impulse buying and extra trips to the store for that forgotten item. If you're an impulse buyer, stop before you get to the cashier and look through your cart. Throw back anything you don't really need or can't afford.
3. Use cash. Credit cards, debit cards and check Visa cards make it easy to spend money you shouldn't. Dole out your grocery, gas, and discretionary money (ha!) in cash. When it's gone, it's gone, and you always know when it's getting tight.
4. Give up the soda and other pre-bottled drinks. Water from the tap, even if you're on a meter or filing a holding tank, is cheap or free. If you just can't drink only water, even coffee or tea are cheaper than soda. And unless your faucet water is undrinkable (this is quite possible in Alaska), bottled water is an unnecessary extravagance.
5. Drive smart. Plot your route so it minimalizes doubling back. The less you stop-and-go, the more fuel-economical you're being. Also, drive your car smarter: I stopped trying to get off the light really fast and increased my fuel economy by almost 3 mpg.
6. Turn off the lights. And the television, radio, vcr, and anything else in a room you're not using. Use cold water to wash clothes and energy-saving settings on your dryer. If you have a dishwasher, don't run it until it's full. Contact your electric company for money saving ideas. Many have a free or inexpensive energy audit program that can help make your house more efficient.
7. Stop smoking. I'm guilty of this one. "Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it a thousand times!" quoth Mark Twain. Even nicotine gum or patches, or the prescription quitting aid are cheaper than a one-pack-a-day habit. Yes, even if you're buying them on the PX or warehouse club. At $40 a carton (a very, very, very low-ball number), a pack a day costs you $120 a month. Why am I saying this is when I don't follow it? 'Cause I really need to quit, dammit.
8. Kill the cable. This is a toughie. Cable television and the internet are my personal lifelines to the rest of the world. We play high-end MMPORPG's online, and that's about my only extravagance. But we looked hard and decided that we were using our full cable tv package for about 5 channels, three of which were for Kiddo. We checked our cable company and changed plans, dumping the cable tv for the basic feed required to keep our cable modem and saved about $45 a month. I got a 10-pack of VHS tapes and taped hours and hours of Kiddo's favorite cable shows before I did it so he wouldn't have Blue's Clues withdrawals. Oh, did you know most stores have their weekly ads online? I'll bet your local newspaper is online too, so if you keep the internet, kill the newspaper.
9. Can the cappuccino. That take-out latte or cappuccino can cost you a bundle: $60-100 a month if you get one every day! If you can't afford a second-hand espresso machine, try this: Buy a milk steamer or just heat up milk for a creamier taste, and brew your coffee strong. You can get your favorite coffee syrup flavor cheaper at most warehouse club stores. Okay, Starbucks it ain't, but it'll save you a bundle.
10. Cook! Even if you don't eat fancy, making it yourself is almost always cheaper. Two boxes of Hamburger Helper prepared as directed with a veggie will cost around $10. I can make the same meal for around $5 from scratch... and it tastes better!