How would you like to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars every year?
Me too. Here's what we've done to save at least a couple thousand dollars or more a year.
1. Get rid of cable TV. You don't really need cable TV. I can hear you saying you do. Trust me, you don't. Get rid of cable and get an antenna for local stations. Believe it or not digital TV has revolutionized local television for the better. We got rid of cable and actually got a much better picture with HD than what we were getting with basic cable. And if you're paying for HD you'll save even more by getting rid of your cable service and going with an antenna. We're saving at least $60 a month by ditching the cable. That's over $700 a year. And as an added bonus we have more time to talk and enjoy each other's company as a family, more time to read and generally don't spend anywhere near as much time watching TV as we used to.
Bonus tip: For those who just have to have their TV fix you can get it online if you have high speed internet. And this is one area where we've chosen not to cut back. We've decided to keep the high speed internet. We use it to stream some of our favorite TV shows and such from sites like Hulu. We also have an Amazon Prime subscription and get lots of TV shows and movies included with that and use that some as well. (More on how actually having an Amazon Prime subscription saves us money later.) We also feel it's worth keeping high speed internet because we learn a lot online. We don't subscribe to magazines or newspapers but we do find lots of free ebooks and articles and educational materials online. We see that connection to the web as a worthwhile investment. I also make a good share of my living online so a fast internet connection is a must.
2. Move your cell service to an MVNO. Get out of those expensive cell phone contracts and move your cell phone service to one of the many MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). If you've never heard of them they're companies that buy service from a major wireless provider, repackage it and sell it to consumers. The MVNO we use actually uses the Verizon network and we get great coverage and customer service. And we're saving over $80 a month using an MVNO and we aren't even missing any features. That's almost $1000 a year saved right there.
3. Go cell phone only -- no land line. While moving to a cheaper cell service is a start, an even better move is to get rid of your landline phone service. We've done without a landline for years now and have saved hundreds of dollars.
4. Use an internet phone for long distance. If you make lots of long distance calls use one of the many online phone services over your high speed internet when you're at home to make long distance calls for free or dirt cheap. There's Google+ Hangouts, Skype, Google voice and lots of other options to choose from.
5. Find cheaper car insurance. This could take a little work and time to shop this around but it saved us almost thousand dollars a year by shopping for cheaper auto insurance. I've been kicking myself for not switching sooner.
6. Drive less. You don't need to go to town or the store or out to eat or out to the movies as often as you think you do. Stay home. You'll be glad you did. Want to go out? Go for a walk. You'll feel better, be happier, improve your health and save money. And you can't beat that. We've convinced ourselves that we need to be able to go, go, go and that when we're not doing anything we should be going somewhere. Instead stay home, enjoy your family, play with the kids, get to know the neighbors and you will also be saving money.
8. Sell that expensive car. Again, many families have cars that are far more expensive than what's needed. You only think you need a new car every few years. Some people say they want something dependable. But I've known lots of families with new cars and those cars break down too.
The difference, more often than not, between their cars and mine? Mine are paid for. So sell that high end, expensive to insure newer car, get rid of that monthly payment and pay cash for your next car. Certainly you may need to save up for a bit before doing this but you'd be surprised how good a car you can get for three or four thousand dollars. Ask me how I know. Besides, cars today are lasting longer than ever. In the past 15 years almost every car I've purchased has had at least one hundred thousand miles on the odometer. And yet these cars I've paid cash for often stay in our family for two or more years and serve us very well, often with very few repairs needed. And note that though you occasionally have to make a repair it's often far cheaper than a monthly car payment. And get this, in the last few years, when I've gone to sell those used cars I paid cash for and have had for a couple of years, I've been able to sell them for more or almost as much as I originally paid for them.
Here's a bonus tip. Once you've sold that high end car, replace it with something more economical. And note that I did not say get something smaller. Everyone assumes that the most economical cars are the smaller ones, but that very often is not the case. A couple of years ago while researching cars I found several larger cars that were rated at close to 30 MPG highway or better. And these aren't stuff-yourself-in-the-backseat kind of cars either. Wouldn't you rather ride in a Chevy Impala or Buick Regal instead of a Honda Civic? Believe it or not those two cars get great gas mileage and have plenty of power and room for your passengers. Go to fueleconomy.gov and do some comparing of cars and their respective fuel economy.
Bonus tip number 2: Remember when I said we have an Amazon Prime membership? We didn't actually get it for the TV and Movies, we got it for the free two day shipping. We live out in the country and I work from home. And we try hard not to go to town unless we've planned to -- like when my wife goes grocery shopping once a week. But there are times we need something or I need something for my business and it just can't wait for the next trip to town. If Amazon has what we need we often just get it there and the UPS guys brings it to our door in two days. And if we really need it quick we'll spring for overnight shipping. It's worth it not having to run to town all the time. And we figure that not only do we save hundreds on gas every year by having an Amazon Prime account we also save time, lots of time. And the movies and TV we get with Amazon Prime are just and added bonus.
9. Buy less stuff. Now I've just told you how we use Amazon Prime to save gas. Now I'm going to tell you that we still have to discipline ourselves not to go nuts buying stuff online. Same goes for you if you live in town or drive to work and pass all those stores both ways. We live in an age when we can buy, and justify buying, almost anything we want. But when you really look closely at your life and what you need, you don't really need as much stuff as you have. So quit buying so much stuff. One way to help slow yourself down when making purchasing decisions is to commit to thinking about something for a least a weak before making a purchase beyond your normal every day needs. Do you really need another shirt, pair of shoes, coat, purse, book, gadget, movie, whatever?
Bonus tip: Another way to make sure you buy less stuff is deciding that for every new thing you buy you will sell, give away or get rid of two things you already have. And that will make you stop and think about what you'r interested in buying.
10. Sell some stuff. Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, your local paper. All those places are a good start for getting rid of your unused stuff. We even have a local radio station that lets you call in and list things on the air you want to sell. Get creative. Have a garage sale. Plan a neighborhood garage sale. Or put a list of things you're selling and their prices on Facebook for your friends to buy from you. But most important these last two tips go well together -- buy less stuff and get rid of stuff you don't need. You'll not only save money, you'll also have less to take care of which means fewer frustrations for you and more time for you and your family.
That's it. Those are my top ten ways to save a thousand or two every year. You may think some of this is crazy but what's crazy is looking back over ten years and thinking about all the money you've spent on things that didn't really amount to that much after all.
On the other hand, if you change your thinking now, and cut costs, and stash some of that saved money away for future urgent needs or retirement you'll be happier now and later.
What are your favorite ways to save money?