10 Ways to Save Money

Thursday, 21 May 2009, 16:14 | Category : Money Matters
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The work place has been discussing potential cuts in pay for employees. When my wife and I caught wind of this we immediately said ok, let’s cut back 10% right now. So we looked at the following to reduce our output.

1) Try to be proactive

It is sometimes difficult to “catch wind of something” or be at the water-fountain rumor mill at the right time. So this first one can be hard to do. The key here is as soon as you hear that a reduction in your household income is going down or is threatened then start the cutting expenses immediately.

2) Cut Cable / Satellite / IPTV

Whichever entertainment drug lord medium supplies your boob tube with crack, consider cutting it off or reducing your channels. We currently have cable feeding our house and we have opted to use less channels and have the 800-number handy to phone the cable company for a complete disconnect of service. In the end you do not need cable. Besides, with all this conversion from Analog to Digital TV signals, the local channels have more than doubled their offerings of stations anyway. If you are like me, you will need to get a “tacky looking” antenna to get the new digital signals and in this instance I have to spend money to save money. Finally, for those of you that live in communities with deed restrictions on antennas. It is time to start a coup against the board to allow antennas. This touches on my dislike for community associations, sure they keep the neighbor from having  a car on blocks in the front yard but it costs you money either monthly, quarterly or yearly. Even if you have your house paid off you still have to pay the community in which you live to be there. Associations are not for me and I was lucky enough to find an older neighborhood with a newer house that did not have a home owners association. But, I digress…

3) Reduce phone bill

Cable companies and phone companies are businesses with the intention to make profit. Now that we have that obvious reminder, let’s move on to my point. The phone packages deemed all-in-one bundled services are crafted to extract as much money out of you while still sounding like a good deal as they can. I keep my phone line at the basic line, no caller id or call interrupt options. I keep long distance to a pay-per-use item to avoid the monthly reoccurring charge. Besides, why have a cell phone with long distance and a house phone with long distance. It is like you are paying for long distance twice. The only thing I currently splurge on is internet and that is with two reasons in mind. I am getting more entertainment out of my Home Theatre PC (www.hulu.com) now that my cable is reduced. Also, I am in the IT field and my connection back to work needs to be fast in times of server problems. In the end if times get hard enough my internet connection can and will be reduced to a lower speed.

4) Reduce carbon footprint

The term carbon footprint is yet another overused buzz word fad so to keep up with the times I will continue the fad. The term as it applies to your home expenses is simple. Look for ways to reduce your electricity and water expense. This topic can probably be the area where someone spends the most  money to save money. You could approach this as, let’s replace the water heater, the frig, the oven, the washing machine, the washer, the dryer and lets get solar panels on the roof, yikes! All of those ideas of replacement items can be considered and will save money in the long run. But, in my case we want to simply change our behavior in regards to how much we use our current electrical consuming and water excreting devices. So go to www.lowes.com and get a new shower-head that saves water and check all your faucets for leaks. I personally can not wait until new techniques for developing solar panels hits the market so the average house can finally afford the damn things.

5) Stop paying for garbage

I realize this option is very specific and more an option for folks in rural areas. We are lucky enough to live outside the city limits by about 3 miles so that we are not forced to pay for refuse pickup in our taxes every year. We pay quarterly to have a garbage can that is picked up weekly. We have the option to stop this practice and begin to take our garbage to the county dump not too far away.

6) Child recycling stores and garage sells (www.craigslist.com)

If you can bare the thought to not have the latest and greatest fashion on your child at all times then I recommend looking into companies that recycle baby and child clothing. They offer great prices on not too terribly used outfits that other babies wore for two seconds as they raced towards toddler-hood. If you do not have a company like we do (www.weecycle.com) then the weekend garage sells are your best bet for used, cheap child items.

7) Do not eat out

So the fine art of making a meal at home has been lost forever with our baby booming parents. Their parents taught them about how to ration in times of war. Those days are over! I would love to see Americans try and go back to the days of sacrificing for the greater good of the country. We are a country that loves fast meals and fast food. It is much easier to just eat out. But wait, the boss just called and your pay is reduced by 20% and you can only work 4 eight-hour days. It is time to consider the 6lb bag of chicken breasts from SAM’s Club with rice and beans as a daily meal. While we are at it let’s take out those eggs and grits and do a dinner breakfast. Now we are talking and we are saving money!

8) Pizza, Mexican and Chinese food is your friend

OK, so in the previous recommendation I said stop eating out but let’s say the boss is only reducing your pay by 2%. Now eating out is still on the table and let’s consider the places we frequented as college students. Authentic Mexican joints are some of the cheapest food I know. It is usually great tasting and who does not like queso dip! Chinese food is also in the category of cheap food, mmm… beef and broccoli. Yes I will take a number 25 with an egg roll. Finally, pizza is another great cheap food. Try to stick to the one topping options and not the supreme line.

9) Snowball your debt payments

This is probably a well passed around recommendation but after talking to some friends, they recommended the idea of snowballing your debt payments. In other words, work on your small debts with as much extra income as possible until it is paid off then move to the next debt payment and tack on the previous bill’s payment to that as well. After some great patience you will get your debt paid down.

10) Cut retirement but be very specific about it

I am sure someone reading this will consider this the worst advice I could possibly give and there is a reason why this is the last recommendation in my list. But keep an open mind about it. The money that we have been putting towards retirement is taking a diversion at this point. We did the paperwork to stop retirement contributions to 401k’s and the Roth IRA when we heard the potential of salary cuts. In the mean-time we have been putting the same amount that would have gone to retirement into our savings account instead. As soon as we see the outcome of all our companies budget reductions then we will decide to either put all the retirement money in savings back into our retirement funds or utilize the retirement assets to bridge the 10% cut in household income. This situation will also force us to completely cut cable, cut back on internet speed service and cell phones.

Conclusions

I know everything that I mentioned here is not going to work for everyone. This has been my family’s view on what we need to do to take care of ourselves and raise a happy healthy baby. I hope some of you can get something from my thoughts presented here. My final thought is that when our country gets out of this slump it would be a good idea to not go and bring back all your past monthly expenses right away.  I mean who does not like High Definition stations! Instead, use the savings to pay off debt. The only way I think I am going to stick with the debt payoff plan is to keep telling myself, once all the debt is gone I can buy as many gadgets as I want to. In irony all my tactics here are very non-consumerism but I am just as gadget nut at heart.

~Life as Dad

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One Comment for “10 Ways to Save Money”

  1. 1Eric Lee

    I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.