I’m a semi-regular participant in The Finance Forums. There’s a thread on there giving several suggestions for saving or making money. You can read the whole thread here – How to either save or earn more money each month. My comments are below. I’ll skip commenting on any of the suggestions that I’ve already covered in other posts.
You do not need both a home phone and a cell phone. My advice is to get rid of the cell phone
I’d say that there are circumstances where getting rid of the land line and keeping the cell phone makes more sense. Regardless which one you keep, if you need to cut your expenses one of them should go.
Downgrade your internet back to the dark ages…go back to dial up.
Never going to happen in my house. Whether this one makes sense also depends on how you re-arrange your entertainment budget.
If you buy books, cds (or pay to download), or dvds, suspend all that. Go to your local library. Avoid using redbox or netflix if you can get dvds at your local library for free. PLUS: often local libraries will let you use their internet for free.
The library is great for books and okay for movies if you don’t want new releases. Not so hot for music. If you’re cutting out things like going out to movies and slashing your cable/satellite bill, I don’t see anything wrong with keeping your Netflix subscription or buying music from your favorite music site (though if you’re going to do those things you’ll probably want to make sure you have a broadband connection to the Internet.
If you regularly use a name brand item, go to the company website and see if they have coupons. If the product has an 800 number on it, call that number and see if they have any coupons to send out.
Prior to reading this I had never thought of calling the company’s 800 number to see if they have any coupons they can send out.
I rarely buy anything from stores now. Recently, I had to restock certain items. I found one I liked in the store, bought it for $30, plus tax and went home and googled the item. I was able to find the same item for $12, plus there wasn’t tax and the shipping was free. What would have cost me $161, only cost me $60. I did return the original only because I felt a 150% markup was a little much.
I still go shopping and everything, but more often than not I have pen and paper in my purse and I write down the item brand or stock number. It took a lot for me to get used to delaying gratification and waiting X number of days for the item to arrive, but in the end I was able to use the extra money for other things.
This can be tricky depending on what you’re buying and where you’re buying it. You need to compare the total cost of the purchase online with the total cost of buying at a local store. Shipping costs can turn a “bargain” into a more expensive purchase if you don’t pay attention to it. On the reverse an item that looks like it’s about the same price online as it is in the store can turn out to be cheaper if you can avoid sales tax and get free shipping.
(This one hurt a lot) Downgrade all hygiene/beauty products. I hated swapping out my skin care and my hair care for the generic stuff, but it did save money.
Many generic items are as good as their name brand counterparts. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Consider quitting drinking. IF you smoke, and your health plan lets you get chantix (or any smoking cessation program) at a decent cost, it may be time to give it up.
This makes a ton of sense financially, though it may be a tough one to swallow for those who don’t want to give those things up. I’d add sodas (regardless of brand) to that. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever in terms of nutrition so they’re pretty much money down the drain.
Cancel gym memberships, magazine subscriptions and cut your entertainment budget by half. However, make sure you buy the Sunday paper for coupons
This combines a few somewhat dissimilar expenses into one line item. Let me break it down:
Cancel gym memberships – you can exercise at home or at the park or whatever. You don’t really need to pay a monthly fee to a gym to get yourself into better shape.
Cancel magazine subscriptions – you can definitely do that. Many libraries have extensive periodicals sections. It’s likely that your favorite magazine is available there. If you’re going there for books and/or movies as already suggested, you might as well read your magazines there too. You may also be able to get a lot of the same information you’ve been getting from your magazine subscription online – either from the magazine publisher or from another source – for free.
Cut your entertainment budget by half – I give this one a big thumbs up. I’ve cut mine by more than half. The amount you cut is more important than what you cut. If you want to cut out things like movies out, premium cable channels and so on while keeping music downloads, DVD rentals or whatever else you like, and you can achieve a 50% reduction or better in your entertainment budget, that’s fine.
Are there some errands or activities where you could ride a bicycle to and from instead of using the car?
I’d also add walking if the distance isn’t too great. Either way, you’re getting exercise and saving gas. Saving gas is saving money – a lot of it.
Discontinue charitable contributions
This is only for a while. I did not tithe (10% or more of salary) to my church, but I was giving about $2000 a year. I felt terrible at the thought of not supporting my church and went to speak to the minister. He was very much against discountinuing my offering and really made me feel even worse (and that I was just a dollar amount rather than a member of a community). Then, the next day he called and said that he may have been overly harsh and that times were hard. He asked if I would consider volunteering for a couple of things (teaching Sunday school, driving the Church van to pick up people, etc.). Personally, I feel better about my donation of self rather than of $$.
I’m kind of on the fence about this one. It’s a very personal decision. I’ll just say that I would leave donations to my church in my budget if I can. If I were struggling just to cover basic expenses, then it would have to go. On the other hand if the only difference between continuing donations and stopping them is that it would take a few extra months to get out of debt, I’m okay with that.
Consider having a roommate. Hopefully, you can find someone who is remotely compatible with you and does not cost you more than they help you.
If you don’t have extra space in your house or apartment, getting a roommate won’t work for you.
Do not rule out doggy sitting, baby sitting or doing lawn care.
I know three teenage girls who are making $10 an hour for babysitting.
I prefer to dog sit and will have up to five dogs in my house at once. I charge $15 a day (which is still cheaper than most kennels). There was a five hour block one Friday night when I had five dogs and six kids in my house that was a bit of a nightmare, but I made $225 that day/night – tax free.
Yes, yes and yes
A couple of important points are made in a few of the posts in this thread that can’t be said often enough:
observe fiscal discipline and spend with in your limits
You can’t spend more than you make. I’ve covered this many times and it is the most important principal in personal finance.
Avoid buying things that your don’t need. Make few visits to the stores and only when needed.
When you’re strapped and you need to cut expenses this is the first step to take. Stop buying crap you don’t actually need.
When I was in trouble, a friend of mine knew a financial consultant. He met with me for free and told me that I should not be so focused on saving UNTIL I had some of the debt taken care of – he pointed out that it was silly to save and get 3-6% interest when the debt was charging 12% or more a month. His advice was to focus on getting out of debt.
While the arithmetic here is correct the principal may not be correct for everyone. It isn’t correct if you have no emergency fund. You don’t necessarily need to build it up to three months’ worth of expenses before you start eliminating debt. But you should have some sort of emergency fund. $500-$1000 in your emergency fund will get you through an emergency repair on your car or an appliance while you’re eliminating your debt. Having no emergency fund at all means you’d have to borrow to pay for the repair. That’s counter productive when you’re trying to get out of debt.
Increase insurance deductibles – $200 per year.
This is good to the degree that you have an emergency fund of sufficient size to absorb the deductible should you ever need to make a claim against your insurance policy.
Pay bills online/automatic bill pay – $15-20 per month postage.
Unfortunately with banks looking for more and more things to charge for so they can make up for the fees that were cut due to the CARD Act, they may decide this is a service they can make money on rather than include it for free with checking accounts. If that happens this one goes away as a savings.
Do you have any money saving tips you’d like to share?