Yeah, I know – everyone hates those words – save money. It’s kind of like writing – I hate writing but love having written. You hate saving money but love having saved. In other words, I don’t want to go without my morning latte even though I know I can save a few bucks so don’t make me do it. I’m warning you – hands off my latte! Don’t worry – I love my morning latte too.
These however are 10 fairy painless ways to save some money:
Go Energy Efficient
I wrote in the past about my friend Bruce, who was complaining about my owning an Amazon Echo that it was a waste of money. But you know what? Suck it Bruce – I love gadgets and many of my gadgets actually save me a ton of money. Take for example the Nest thermostat. Sure it costs something initially, but in the long run, it saves a ton of money because it makes the apartment energy efficient.
If you own your own appliances (i.e. if you’re not a New Yorker in a shoebox apartment like me) then you could easily save a ton of money by making sure to upgrade old clunkers to more energy efficient models. Refrigerators are on all the time and newer models sip energy instead of slurping it like a kid whose about to get brain freeze at 7-11.
Got a desktop computer running at home? Con Ed is crying right now because one of their best customers slashed his electric bill in half by replacing a desktop HTPC which sucked in 500 watts of power with a Fire TV box which sips around 30 watts. I also relegated my old desktop in my study to the storage locker and replaced it with a laptop which takes just 60 watts of power.
No impact on my lifestyle and I even look cool for having all kinds of gadgets but I save a ton of money.
Make the Latte at Home
Another one of those spend money to make money deals. I used to go out and spend five bucks every day to buy myself a latte. I love my morning latte and couldn’t live without it. But you know what? I invested in a really good latte machine (I’m talking high end, made in Italy and which does everything but drink the coffee for you) and now make it at home.
You don’t have to spend as much as I did but for a few hundred bucks, you can whip up something at home which is probably better than the stuff Starbucks sells.
Extend this concept to other stuff – go out to eat a lot do ya? I know, I know – you just don’t have time to cook at home or you don’t know how to cook at home. I’ve got two words for you my friend: Crock and Pot. Slow cookers are simply amazing.
Unlike traditional cooking where you have to spend time nursing the food over the stove, slow cookers really are set and forget. Plus, most slow cooker recipes are super simple. Take five minutes in the morning to throw some stuff in, set it on low, come home to amazing smells and food which is better than the crap in Styrofoam.
There are lots of ways you can do this by the way – maybe try the brown bag approach a couple of days a week instead of going out with Joe from accounting every day for a high priced lunch. You’ve heard all his stories already – they’re boring and they’re all about numbers. Get over yourself Joe.
Take the Road Less Traveled
I mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating. Stop running off to the high priced destination that everyone else is going to. Don’t be a lemming. Go somewhere just as fun but maybe a little less popular. Or go to the popular places during the off season.
Trust me – it’s going to be great and you’ll have unique stories to tell Joe from accounting about. Not to mention that you can avoid the insane crowds.
Look into traveling with friends as well. You can then rent out a big AirBnB and save a ton of cash. You guys can even cook there sometimes so that you don’t have to waste money on fancy restaurants every single night. If you insist on staying in a hotel, at least look for one that serves free breakfast. It’s one of the few perks that really is worth looking for at a hotel.
Finally, make sure that you’re getting the best deal available. There are any number of websites available today which let you know when particular fare sales come up and they are great ways to snag a vacation for a cheap price which your friends would be envious of (unless you invite them along so you can both save money tell Joe from accounting to go suck it).
Try the 30 Day Rule
Okay, this one is a little tough. I’m just as much an American as the next guy and I admit it, as a society we love instant gratification. That’s why the Powerball jackpot had to get so high to generate real excitement – people want to know now if they won not in a few days. But hey, for a billion bucks, yeah, I can wait a bit…
Anyway, the 30 day rule (not something I came up with myself but something I like a lot) states that before making a major purchase you should wait 30 days. Like I said, it sucks because it means that you have to engage in self-discipline. But you know what else? You’ll save a truck load of money.
The thing is, after 30 days if you still need it, you’ll buy it. But most big purchases tend to be impulse purchases. We just whip out the credit card and buy it. Put the credit card down and back away people.
Take a chill pill and you’ll find that you’re not spending nearly as much because you’re only buying the stuff you need. Not a bunch of crap which you’ll desperately be trying to sell on eBay later (yes, I think that the WiFi connected egg tray is exactly what I need – how ever did I survive before I knew from looking at an app how many eggs I have in the fridge?)
Shop with a List
This one is super simple and so true. How many times have you walked into a supermarket and came out feeling like you were in a daze? Supermarkets are out to get you – it’s true. Hey, they’ve got to make a living too, right? But too often, they do it on the backs of unsuspecting American consumers.
Believe it or not, some evil geniuses spend a lot of time figuring out exactly how to lay out a supermarket to maximize the amount of time you spend inside of one and how much you’ll buy. Those stands on the end of the aisle? They’re not really about sales. They’re product placement and they’re designed to make you buy, buy, buy.
Ever notice how there are all kinds of little goodies displayed next to the register? There’s a reason for that – they know that you’re likely to grab a candy bar or a magazine as an impulse purchase as you’re checking out even though you had no plans to do so.
You can fight back by going in with a list of the items you need. It’s not that you won’t see things that you want and pick up anyway. It’s that the list makes you focus. You go from aisle to aisle crossing things off instead of just meandering around grabbing whatever you see (hmm, mesquite potato chips – I wonder if they’re made out of mosquitoes).
Remember as well to look down. The best deals are almost always the stuff on the bottom shelf, away from eye level because the evil geniuses who design supermarkets know that you’re more likely to buy the stuff at eye level.
Find a Tailor
No, seriously – you want to save money then a good tailor is pure gold. A tailor means that if something rips, you bring it to them and they fix it for a fraction of what it would cost to buy new. I had some hand crocheted pillows I bought on a trip a few years ago which I ruined by tossing them into the washing machine (stupid, I know). I brought ‘em to my tailor and for ten bucks, he fixed them to look brand new.
Not to mention that a good tailor can take a garment which only sort of fits and make it fit you perfectly, making you feel like a million bucks.
Call the Bank
Got credit card loans? Asking for a better APR often means getting it. Got money in savings (good job by the way)? Ask how you can maximize your interest while keeping the money liquid (because when the sh*t hits the fan, you need to have an emergency stash available).
If the bank isn’t willing to play ball, do what every red-blooded American does and be a capitalist. Find yourself a different bank and move. Tell the bank you used to work with, see ya!
Cut the Cord
Look, I get it – I like Homeland too. But you know what? You don’t need to pay for a fat cable bill to watch it anymore. Amazon and Hulu both offer it as an add on to their subscription services. Not to mention that both of them along with Netflix offer thousands of movies and TV shows. You can even try Sling TV if you feel the need for live stuff.
Love sports? Almost every major league game is now available from an online service which lets you watch it live or later at your leisure. It’s just a matter of picking and choosing what you want.
And don’t forget that most of these services let you share a subscription. My sister and I share a Netflix subscription and we each pay half price. Not bad for watching House of Cards (now why the heck are they making me wait so long for the new season? Jeez…the White House in a shambles and oh, wait another year to see what happens).
Take Care of Your Body
This may sound obvious but some people still amaze me how they abuse themselves. It’s not just a matter of eating right (hey, I love a good steak and potatoes once in a while and just used a Groupon to go out for an amazing steak dinner with all the fixins’). It’s the whole package people.
If you always wash your hands when leaving the bathroom (and seriously, if you don’t, just gross, okay?) you’re less likely to end up picking up viruses which require visits to the doctor and sick leave (and I should know – I’m still recovering from a flu a week after spending a whole day waiting to see a doctor).
Get enough exercise (and you don’t have to go the gym – walking and running are both free) and not only will you feel better but you’ll also cut down on the expense of going to the doctor later on. It really makes a difference so get yourself in motion, ‘kay?
Seriously people, if you don’t go to the gym and you never read the magazines that come in the mail then why the heck would you pay for them? I get that you keep meaning to go the gym and you keep meaning to read the magazines (except for the subscription to Maxim, which we all know you really do look at for the articles, right?). But you know what? If you’re not going and you’re not reading them then maybe it’s time to let it go.
Saving money doesn’t have to be this evil thing that you have to deal with and be miserable about. A few quick changes can save you a whole lot of money and see you ending up being one of those people who can proudly say that you have money in the bank instead of just lots of stuff and a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke).