I’ve gotten lots of money-saving questions over the past few weeks, probably because many people are looking for ways to save more and spend less at the start of another New Year.
As I mentioned last week, I don’t think spending money (or even occasional splurges) are bad or irresponsible. However, I do tend to focus on saving money more than spending money… and today, I thought I’d share a handful of relatively small and simple ways Dave and I save quite a bit every month and every year.
Most of these simple ways to save won’t instantly change your financial situation, but (as with most things in life) the changes will come about more slowly. However, by starting small and sticking with your savings goals, you will be on your way to create the very valuable habit of SAVING!
1. We don’t pay for cable.
Dave and I decided to nix cable TV last year, after several price increases (and realizing that the kids and I NEVER watched live TV anymore). Dave purchased a $25 antenna to get a handful of local news and sports channels and we’re saving about $45 a month (even after spending $9.99 for Netflix)!
2. We don’t pay for the newspaper or any magazine subscriptions.
Dave and I haven’t paid for magazine subscriptions in years… and although I do like the idea of supporting our local newspaper, it just didn’t make sense to spend the money anymore — so we canceled our newspaper a few years ago too. We now have less expense, less paper clutter, and A LOT less paper recycling.
Dave can get the newspaper online and I can browse any magazines I’m interested in at the library or online.
3. We don’t buy fancy drinks.
This might make us sound very boring, but we truly never pay for fancy drinks. We don’t go out for coffee, we don’t order drinks at restaurants, we don’t buy expensive alcohol to have at home, and we don’t pay for bottled water.
Dave does have several $5 gift cards to Starbucks and Biggby (gifts from students) that he will occasionally use or re-gift, and we will get pop when it comes with our meal at Culver’s, but that’s about it.
I should mention that if we are entertaining or having a party, we will buy alcohol if it’s the right group of people 🙂
4. We don’t buy extended warranties.
I honestly can’t think of one time when we’ve ever purchased an extended warranty on anything — and I have a feeling we’ve saved ourselves quite a bit of cash because of it.
I suppose this is partly because we often buy used items that don’t come with a warranty anyways, but when we do buy something new, we try to buy a quality item and then take care of it. So far, this hasn’t come back to bite us (knock on wood!)
5. We don’t shop at expensive places.
This one is much easier for me since I’m not a big shopper, but since we buy almost everything we can used (via Craigslist) I’m rarely tempted to splurge on cute things I see on store shelves or even online.
In general, I would even go one step further to say I simply DON’T SHOP… but since I know that’s not realistic for most people, I feel that staying away from stores that tend to be more expensive is a good place to start. Even if they have a fabulous sale, their prices are still most likely higher than a less expensive store.
6. We don’t pay banking fees.
None of our bank accounts, debit cards, or credit cards have ever charged any type of a fee. We’ve also never overdrawn our accounts, paid an ATM fee, or bounced a check. And speaking of checks, we always use the free checks provided by our bank.
7. We don’t pay interest.
I realize this might sound impossible, but the only thing we’ve ever paid any interest on in our entire married lives is our mortgage (at 2.49% for a 7-year mortgage).
We’ve never paid interest on a credit card bill, we paid off our student loans before they started accruing interest, and we’ve never taken out loans for anything else.
I honestly can’t even comprehend how many thousands and thousands of dollars we’ve saved on interest payments over the last 10 years — but I know it’s a lot!
As some of you know, we live in a low-cost-of-living area, so I know it’s not feasible for everyone to get through life without paying interest, BUT if there is any way you can get a lower interest rate or even just make a few small extra principal payments, you will save yourself SO much money on interest in the long run!
I’m sure I could continue to list more and more if I really thought for a while… but you get the idea. Obviously MY ways of saving might be some of your splurges — and that’s fine. I would guess Dave and I spend more money on home and garden projects than many of you 🙂
The point of this post is NOT to say “you shouldn’t ever buy fancy coffee or pay an ATM fee”, it’s simply to start thinking about where your money is going… and then consider if you can cut back or save more in a few different areas.
Maybe you can limit your coffee drive-thru purchase to once a week and buy more high-quality beans to make your own fancier coffee at home the other days. Or maybe you cancel all the subscriptions you don’t use right now and take a look at your bank account to see what (if any) fees you’ve been paying.
It’s usually pretty eye opening if you haven’t looked into this for a while — it’s amazing all the little fees and price increases that make their way into our budgets when we’re not paying close attention!