Welcome to My Saving Place where you will find an abundance of tips, tricks and good advice on how to save money on just about everything.
The Saving Lady
In the beginning, it might seem like an overwhelming task to start cutting some of your favorite things from your budget. Take your Starbuck’s coffee, for instance. You’ve probably been enjoying that AM delicacy (and at the price they charge for coffee, it’s is a delicacy) for a good long while. It’s not so easy to give it up. That AM coffee may be more than just a cup of coffee; it may just be the experience that you would have to let go of as well.
So leave Starbuck’s for another day. Instead, begin with something that isn’t quite as important, something that you haven’t become addicted to — like laundry detergent. Do you really need to spend twice as much for Tide as you do for a less expensive product that does exactly the same thing? I personally use an off-brand concentrate that gets my clothes beautifully clean for 1/3 the price of Tide.
Look at this price comparison from Amazon:
All Mighty Pacs – free clear Laundry Detergent, 72 Count – $9.97 ($0.14/count)
Tide Pods Laundry Detergent Spring Meadow Scent 77 Count – $19.22 ($0.25/count)
That’s right. Tide costs nearly twice as much. The difference is even greater when compared to other brands that are less expensive than All. This one ought to be a no-brainer.
Now think about underwear and, in particular, underpants – either ladies or mens. Nobody sees your underwear, so as long as it’s comfortable, designer panties or briefs are a real waste of money. Target sells good quality underwear for all family members for so, so much less than Macy’s or Nordstrum’s. The only difference you’ll notice is the price.
Think about other things in your life that you do or buy out of habit. These are things that you don’t really think about so they may just be something that really shouldn’t matter. If that’s the case, try cutting it out completely or take a less expensive route.
Weekends: According to GasBuddy.com, the best days to buy gas are Saturday and Sunday when prices tend to be lower. The worst days are Tuesday and Wednesday when prices are the highest. Also look for discounted books on Saturday and major appliances on Sunday.
Mondays: According to MyDollarPlan.com, cars may be less expensive on Monday’s after less-than-impressive weekend sales, especially if you were one of those weekend shoppers that decided not to buy on Saturday or Sunday.
Tuesdays: If you’re anticipating travel, FareCompare.com suggest starting your search for airfare on Tuesday afternoon. Cheap seat prices hit the reservation systems at 3pm Eastern Time.
Wednesdays: Grocery shopping is a good bet for midweek. Wednesday is when new sales advertisements go out, but many grocers will still honor last weeks sale items.
Thursdays: Clothes tend to go on sale on Thursday when retailers start rolling out their weekend sales.
Fridays: For no apparent reason, clothing accessories (belts, jewelry, scarves, etc.) tend to be on sale on Friday’s.
Walmart has been a boon to rural America. When Walmart stores began popping up, they were usually in small communities within 30 miles of a major metropolitan area. They brougth discount prices to a lot of people that would otherwise have to drive many miles to not only save money, but also to find all the items that Walmart provided under one roof. Make no bones about it. Walmart prices were substantially lower than the local merchants which led to an outcry that Walmart would drive the “little guy” out of business. Sadly, many small merchants couldn’t compete with Walmart and they did go out of business. Others creatively reinvented themselves and prospered. So goes the world of commerce.
Times have changed. Walmart is now building stores, if not inside the city limits of big cities, then as close to them as they can get. Walmart has come to the masses, but what was good for rural America may not be good for urban and suburbanites. For example, prices at their new, free-standing grocery stores are not as low as you would be led to believe. The same is true of their general merchandise.
Walmart uses end-of-isle displays with incredibly reduced prices to entice shoppers to buy. And they have a lot of these displays. Once beyond them, however, prices tend to be not so competitive. In addition, the quality of some of their products, especially clothing and dry goods, is lacking which means you would be replacing these items more frequently than if you’d spent more for better quality products.
Walmart has done an outstanding job of building the “perception” that they are the low-price leader in their industry. Look beyond that facade and you might just find the Wizard of Oz.
On the other hand, there is a place where Walmart completes quite well — the Internet. Because Walmart is trying to compete with America’s larges online marketplace — Amazon.com — it is competitive. Also, they carry many more items online than they do in their stores. But do be careful. Here, too, you need to compare prices. In fact, in order to become a real frugal shopper, you should be price checking everything you buy. Check out the 10 most popular comparison shopping engines and use them to your financial advantage.
It’s easy to save money if you simply think small — or at least smaller. Try these simple ideas to help you keep more of what you make:
1. Stop collecting DVD’s and video games – With the likes of Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Red Box, this one is almost a no-brainer. After all, how many times do you really watch a movie (with the exception of Wizard of Oz or It’s A Wonderful Life). I’d venture to say those DVD’s are just sitting around collecting dust. Same goes for video games. Renting them is so much cheaper. And if you do have to buy one, at least get the best deal on them, even buying them used.
2. Upsize your cell phone usage while downsizing the cost – If you’re like a lot of people, you become accustomed to paying that cell phone bill every month, month after month, and forget that things do change. That includes cell phone plans. Case in point. I’ve been with AT&T for so long and just kept paying and paying. I had thought about changing carriers, but just never got around to it. Then I noticed an ad on TV for a new service from AT&T. It was perfect. Unlimited calls and texts plus more data for about two-thirds the cost of what I was paying for a limited-minute and pay-per-text plan. I guaranteed your cell phone carrier isn’t going to tell you about their new money-saving plans. So take the time to check out some less expensive plans that offer you greater service. They’re out there. You just have to find them.
3. Eat less; save more – Do you really need that one pound hamburger with bacon, avocado, cheese, and the kitchen sink? The answer is a definitive, NO! Eating out is not only expensive, it’s a danger to your health at many restaurants. Start to believe that smaller is better. There are so many restaurants out there that offer happy hours now, it is becoming a way of life for the savvy ones that value their money. Happy hour menus offer huge savings over a regular priced menu. Portions are usually smaller (so better for your diet), and prices are ridiculously low. Of course, you are expected to drink up the difference, but most places only require that you also order a “beverage.” It doesn’t specify that it has to be alcoholic. Changing out full meals for happy hours will give a big boost to your dining-out budget.
4. Stop beating a path to be the first in line for the newest movie – I love the movies, and I love to watch them on the big screen in a theater. But with tickets costing upwards of $9.00, going to a movie is no longer cheap entertainment. For a family of four, it’s downright expensive even without popcorn and soda. Check to see if there is a theater near you that offers discounts on certain days of the week. I have a cinema close by that has $5.00 Tuesdays. Wait awhile for movies you want to see to come to one of the older theaters that have much reduced ticket prices. And cheapest of all, wait for it to come out on DVD and rent it.
5. De-clutter to spend less – It’s a fact that clutter begets more clutter. The more you have, the more you buy. In some homes, the clutter is hidden behind closet doors, in pantries and refrigerators, in attics or basements, in garages or tool sheds, but it’s there nonetheless. Sometimes is sits in plain sight like all those magazine laying around the house. Unless you’ve gone over the edge and become a hoarder, there’s hope. How much of what you have stored away — or in sight — do you really need? Goodwill and the Salvation Army are always looking for donations. Garage sales are a great way to make a few dollars and clean up the clutter. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter, vow never to let it happen again. You’ll be amazed how much it will save.
They’re called BOGO’s — Buy One, Get One (free, 1/2 price, etc.). This is a sales gimmick that could be a trap. Let’s say that you can buy one sweater and get one for 1/2 price. The sweater in
question is $50 meaning that you can get two sweaters for $75. This could or could not save you money. First of all, do you really need two sweaters or is one sweater all that you have budgeted for. If you only need one and the other sweater is a budget buster, then it’s not a bargain. You’re much better off looking for a $-off or %-off coupon that you can apply to just one sweater. This is the difference between shopping prices and shopping sales.
On the other hand, if you’re shopping for kids’ back-to-school items in August, BOGO’s can be a real savings. For example, if you have two kids that both need new school shoes, a BOGO could save you money, unless you have to make a minimum purchase or your purchase is limited to only certain shoes. Again, you have to check prices to determine if you’re saving or not.
Stick to shopping prices and you will stick to your budget
I remember my first car — a 1963 Corvair Monza 4-door sedan. I loved my Corvair (regardless of what Ralph Nader says). It was fuel efficient and, with its engine in the rear, plowed through the snowdrifts of Chicago winters almost as high as the car itself. One thing it wasn’t was a speedster. The only ticket I ever got with that car was a parking ticket. I never got a ticket for speeding.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was driving a bright red Mercury Comet convertible with a big white racing stripe down the side and chrome air cleaner and valve covers. It was fast and a real head-turner — especially with the traffic police. The car looked like it was speeding even when it was standing still. Did I get speeding tickets with that car? You bet I did — and a couple of small fender benders to boot.
Was it the car or the driver that made the difference? Definitely the driver. A car is an inanimate object — like a gun — that is only benign or dangerous when a human is operating it. I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that cars have an effect on a person’s disposition and common sense, although I couldn’t tell you why. I think it’s all about power and control that otherwise one might not have in his/her life. It does, however, depend on the type of car one drives. Have you ever noticed most people that drive mini-vans are cautious, traffic-law-abiding drivers while those that drive Corvettes are always going faster than the posted speed limit? And I’ll wager that the mini-van drivers have clean driving records and some of the lowest car insurance premiums available while the Corvette drivers have a couple of moving violations to their name and some of the highest insurance premiums.
The cost of speeding tickets is relatively minor — although they, too, can be onerous depending on how fast you were driving — compared to the cost of insurance for a bad driver. I was fortunate enough to have learned a vary valuable lesson at an early age and many years ago when insurance companies were still operated by real people. With two speeding tickets and a minor accident on my record, my insurance carrier was ready to cancel my policy. My agent was able to convince the underwriter to give me a second chance, and I proceeded to clean up my record and become a “safer” driver.
Today, computers manage a persons insurance policy. A machine makes the decision whether to keep you or not. Three tickets and you’re out; two accidents and you’re out. There’s no intervention by your agent. For three years — and that’s only if you maintain a clean driving record — you’ll be paying insurance premiums that would make the price of a 60″ plasma TV look cheap.
There are many factors that affect the cost of auto insurance. Some of them you have control over:
1. The type of car you drive.
2. The way you drive that car.
3. How well you maintain your credit.
Yes, even a bad credit report can affect the cost of your insurance. Other factors, like an insurance company’s underwriting guidelines, are out of your control. But the ones you do have control over are the very ones that affect tha cost of your insurance.
Is it worth the effort to change your driving habits? Absolutely!! Paying more for car insurance than you have to is money down the drain — lots of money — money that you could put to much better use. The only thing standing between you and potentially many thousands of dollars is your attitude towards your automobile. Treat it as something that takes you from Point A to Point B and not as your alter ego — Superman, Wonder Woman or Bruce Willis — and you will be money ahead — lots of money.
By Candee Lynn Wilson
The Saving Lady
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