So many articles talk about what to do to save money and the smart things to do to come out ahead. Though much of what I’m going to tell you today could be the same as what others have said, I want to approach it differently. I want to look at what NOT to do in order to save a few bucks. Sometimes just stopping an act you are already doing might be easier than starting something new that you have to add in to your daily schedule. Usually you are shocked that you never thought of it before.
Here are my top 10 things to STOP doing in order for your pocket book to multiple:
1. Extensive cable/cell phone packages — Believe it or not you probably have a premium cable/cell phone package that is costing you a mint. Do you really use that call forwarding enough to justify the extra $ it is costing you? Do you watch all of those extra channels that you probably don’t even know what they show on a regular basis? When you first upgraded, you probably reasoned that it is just an extra $10 a month. You can easily afford a lousy $10. But when you add that $10 to the other $5 on the other bill and the extra $15 on the other monthly items, you start to add up. Before long all those little extras can cost hundreds of dollars. Take another look at your monthly bill for both your cable and cell phone. You’ll be surprised at what you can “live” without and not rush the end of the world.
2. Too much insurance — Insurance is one of those things you start off thinking that you cannot have too much of. Well, that is a myth that has been passed down for years. You actually can have too much of a good thing. So many times we buy all the insurance that we can get without really thinking. When getting insurance for a car, do you really need all the categories? Take charge and talk to your insurance agent. If they really want to look out for your best interests, they will sit down and go over your current needs. This is important, too, since your life can change day after day and so does your insurance needs. Make an appointment with your agent today and make sure that what you are paying for reflects your current needs. You could save yourself hundreds of dollars a year.
3. Name brand groceries — This is another myth that you probably have been telling yourself for years. You feel like you have to have only the name brand. To be honest, so many of the “off-brands” taste just as good as the more expense name-brands. Now, I’m not saying that this is true all the time. I’ll be honest that there are times when the name-brand is worth all the extra dough that you put out for it. But how much extra $ are you spending needlessly and you don’t even realize it? This week, be more intentional in your grocery shopping. Since you already know what the name brand tastes like, choose the store-brand and compare. It might not be exactly the same in taste and quality, but can you survive and not gag as you try to swallow? If so, look at how much you save each grocery run if you start to buy just the store-brands. Your grocery bill could lower a hundred or more dollars each week (especially if you have a large family). It won’t kill you. I promise. (Another note along the same line would be to shop at the discount stores such as Aldi and Sav-a-Lot. You can really rack up the saving and many of the foods are just as good as name brand.)
4. Going out to eat — I love to go out to eat. I feel special to be waited on and I don’t have to clean up afterwards. I win every which way except in the pocket book. Eating out can be fun and convenient, but not always the smartest thing to do. Try to eat at home more or bring your meals from home more often. A sandwich that you make at home could cost you less than a $1.00. Going out to eat at my local diner costs me around $8.00 after tip. Multiple that times each meal x each day x each week and you are spending loads of money to have someone else do your cooking. Usually when one does that a lot they are a member of the rich and famous. Keep it up and you won’t be for long.
5. Club fees — Are you a member of a fitness club or social club? It could be the YMCA, Bali, Bridge club, or whatever else is your interest. In many cases we don’t even use these memberships. We might have signed up for a New Year’s Resolution and didn’t make it past the first three weeks before caving in. It might have been a peer pressure or status decision. But do you really use that membership? Do you use $200 a month worth of exercise? Couldn’t you go in with a few friends, buy some equipment, transform a garage into a gym, and get the same thing cheaper? Did you know that cleaning house is a great, cheap form of exercise? Stop and re-think your membership fees. If you look around you can also find where some school rent out their equipment for really reasonable rates.
6. Unnecessary sale prices — It was on sale so you just had to buy it, right? How many of us buy things just because they were on sale though we don’t need them? I would say that most of us do. Stop! Don’t buy something just because the price was slashed. Before putting it in the cart and heading toward the checkout, stop and think of what you are really buying. Do you need it today? I mean really need it. Do you need it this week? Will you use it up before the next comet? Don’t answer that you might need it one day. That day may never come and you just spent $10 on a $100 item that you never would have bought at $100 anyway and now will never use the $10 worth that you did buy. So did you really save $90 or give away $10 for a dust collector?
7. Buying in Bulk — To save money stop buying in bulk! To save money start buying in bulk! Have I confused you yet? We tend to think that if we buy in bulk we are saving money. Well that is true and yet can be entirely incorrect. When you buy in bulk, you are only saving money when you actually use all of the product that you are buying. If you buy a 50 pound bag of flour and only use 5 pounds before having to throw it out, then you did not save a penny. More than likely you wasted the 45 pounds thrown out and the value of it on top of it. Before buying in bulk because the per pound or per piece cost is so wonderful that you can’t pass it up, think if you will really use or it if you will be wasting the product and your hard earned money. If you can, talk to family and friends and go in on the bulk purchases. That way you are all saving money and helping each other out.
8. Fancy coffees — I’m guilty of this. I love my lattes and mochas. But do I really need to spend $3.50 a day per coffee? Probably not. If you do some research you can find ways of making similar drinks at home for a fraction of the cost. Even investing in some of the tools to make the great drinks might be cheaper in the long run than buying a drink every day, or two a day, or maybe even a third. Not like I’m talking about me or anything……
9. Latest gadgets — Do you have the latest thing that comes onto the market? The latest DVD player and all the gadgets though your current one was purchased 6 months ago and works just fine? The latest cell phone with the really cool keypad and ring tones though you just took out a loan for the last one 2 months ago? Think before you rush out and buy the latest think advertised on TV. Do you really need it today when in just a few weeks it will be old news itself? Use what you have till it doesn’t work anymore. You’ll have hundreds and thousands of dollars a year and sometimes a month.
10. Replacements — What do you do when something doesn’t work right or seems to have broken? Rush out and get a new one while tossing the old one in the trash? Did you know that you could be throwing hundreds of dollars in for the garbage man? So many things can be easily and cheaply fixed if you just spend a few minutes looking into and tinkering. You might even know someone with the gift to fix all things broken. Don’t let that talent go to waste. Our television was on the fritz. My husband tinkered a little and it lasted another 9 months before we had to go spend money. That is a lot of time to save some money and not have to put on a credit card and pay interest.
Stop and think before buying. Really consider your needs and what will really happen to what you purchase. If you really have trouble doing this, please enlist a financial accountability partner to review your books and your spending habits. They might even be there for you to call BEFORE making a purchase that you will regret.
Remember that sometimes to do the right thing it is all in stop doing the wrong thing.