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Money Saving Tips and Ideas

By Edited Jan 30, 2016 0 0

Saving Money Tips

Techniques for saving money for your future

This article is primarily about money-saving tips and ideas: about the practical side of how to save money. I have written elsewhere about the mindset, here: http://www.infobarrel.com/Saving_Money_The_Mindset

That article is about how to think in a way that will help you to save money. The current article adds some practical ideas about how to actually get yourself to save in day-to-day life. Without further ado, let’s begin:

  • Don’t buy things just because they’re a bargain! Yes, there may be 50% off today only, but if you don’t need it - if you won’t die if you don’t buy it - then leave it. Nineteen times out of twenty, you do not need that new iPhone, dress, gadget, wotsit or thingamajig. No matter how big the discount, you are wasting money. If you buy it, money has left you. Forever.
  • The same goes for buying expensive brands. Dump them. Nobody is impressed. Really.
  • Do buy your regular purchases at a discount whenever you can. Take advantage of offers for things you buy anyway, such as 2 for 1 offers in the supermarket, but don’t be misled into buying things you normally do without just because they are on offer. And check that the offer is actually as good as it seems: often we just assume that the bigger item or special offer item is cheaper per kilo or per pound, when in fact, if you do the math, it isn’t at all. Check, check, check! Practice your mental arithmetic or take a calculator so you can make the calculations on the spot.
  • Get your wages paid straight into a high interest, easy access savings account. Transfer only the amount you need each week into your current account to cover the bills in the coming week. This way, you don’t have to make the effort to transfer money into your savings account! Instead, it is already there and it is an effort to remove it.
  • Don’t save in order to buy things (holidays, cars, etc.). That is not the point of saving. Saving is to a) increase your financial security by building up at least a few months’ worth of emergency funds; and b) produce financial freedom: it may be possible over time to live on the interest your savings generate: this is financial freedom, and this is what pension schemes are supposed to do, when they work properly. These days, there is a lot to be said for investing yourself as well as investing in a pension scheme - just in case.
  • Do save for the deposit on a house if you want one. Once paid for, real estate is an asset.
  • Save to build up your ‘Net Worth.’ This is the sum of all your valuable assets like property and savings, minus all your liabilities such as credit card debts, mortgages and so on.
  • Don’t think you’re well off just because you may have a good income: your net worth is the true measure of your wealth.
  • When you save, don’t touch that money except to move it into better or more appropriate savings or investments, or as a last resort in an emergency only. Otherwise, keep it invested for the rest of your life. That is what it is for: financial security and financial freedom for your life.
  • When you have enough put away, don’t just save: invest. It has its risks but over the long run, done carefully, it makes more money than simple savings accounts. Unless you are at the stage of retiring, invest for growth and not for income: income is taxable and you will lose some of your gains. Always set your investments to automatically reinvest any dividends or other income back into the investment so it doesn’t get taxed and you get the maximum benefit of any compound interest or growth.
  • Take advantage of tax-free savings schemes.
  • Is an expensive college education worth it these days? This is becoming increasingly debatable. The average college student loses several years of earning wages, and gains a debt that will take them maybe 20 to 30 years to pay and that will probably prevent them saving, investing, and even buying a house for much of that time. Maybe they will earn more in the long run, but this is not guaranteed, and someone who starts saving early can gain a substantial head start in building up their net worth. Most of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs are college dropouts, or never went to college at all. On the other hand, if there is something you really want to study, or something you really have an unusual talent for, then this is what college is all about. Also consider working for a few years to gain some savings and some life experience before going to college. After a few years you may know more about what you would really like to do, and whether college might be good for you, or not.
  • Consider whether you need to go to the ultra-expensive Ivy-League top colleges, or whether a much cheaper unknown local college would be just as good. In most cases, the education gained at the cheaper colleges is just as good! Do a little research and find out: it could save you tens of thousands. You might also save money by living at home, if you can stand it... In any case, unless you really need to work with the most famous professors in your field, maybe give the Ivy League a miss. Prestige really probably isn’t worth 20 years of painful and difficult debt repayments.
  • Don’t update your car unless it sucks like a lemon. You might kid yourself that you’re saving maintenance costs, but you’re losing because of depreciation: the value of a car continually falls, and especially so when they are new. You are paying for the privilege of losing money! Just don’t do it. Better still, walk, ride a bike, or take public transport.
  • Don’t use credit cards. Don’t borrow money except for a mortgage (perhaps, if property prices can be relied upon). Pay down all interest-bearing debts as fast as you can. Don’t save while paying interest on any debt other than a mortgage. Get rid of the debt first. Always pay more than the minimum payment amount.
  • Remember that debt costs you double. When you buy something on credit card, or on a mortgage, or on a loan, the interest means you actually buy it twice over, at least. In the case of credit cards on minimum payments, it can be closer to three times over that you’re paying for those needless widgets. No wonder you haven’t any money!
  • Take pride in saving money! Enjoy watching your balances rise instead of falling or bumping along the bottom.
  • Work to save, don’t work to spend. Think about how many hours of your hard work it would take to buy that fancy doodad and stop yourself losing your money.
  • If necessary, give yourself a cooling-off period when you find yourself irresistibly drawn towards purchasing some awesome piece of unnecessary junk. Go away from it and don’t come back for at least an hour. Ask yourself if you really need it: will I die? Can I afford it? What could I give up that would allow me to pay for it? How much of my hard work does it cost? Could I put that money into savings instead???
  • When you have successfully cooled-off and saved yourself some money, really save it! Put at least some of the money you didn’t spend into your savings right away. That is your reward for doing the best thing for your long-term wealth and happiness. You will probably end up feeling quite pleased with yourself when you start winning these little battles... and rightly so! You are on the long slow climb to financial security and financial freedom. Soon, you’ll be able to look at all those special offers, and laugh at them!
  • Have fun for free.
  • Always live within your means: do what you have to do to always spend less than you earn.
  • Save aggressively. Really work at it. Pennies really do add up. Especially with compounding interest.
  • Don’t buy lunch out every day at work. Take packed lunches and a flask. If you don’t believe me, add up the savings: you might be surprised at how much you could save over a year.
  • Buy items like books and DVD’s online or in charity shops. Why pay the full price when you don’t have to? And there’s nothing wrong with the second-hand used versions usually, either. Maybe don’t even buy them at all: just borrow them from friends or from the library.
  • Turn cinema-going into a special treat instead of going every week or two. You can get (online) a cheap TV/DVD recorder/player and watch them at home.
  • Socialize and build up your network. Opportunities come from people you know! You can get some favors and services done cheaply or for free, or in exchange for whatever you can do.
  • Compare the ingredients list on an expensive fashionable bottle of shampoo or gel with those on a cheap one. Surprise surprise! The main ingredients are... the same. Try out the cheaper ones and work your way up... at some point well below the top, the odds are  the quality will be just fine for you.
  • Learn to make your own natural cosmetics yourself. And maybe other things too. The Internet is overflowing with recipes.
  • Stop eating out. Cook at home, with fresh ingredients. Note that natural food is cheaper than processed food: you have to pay for all that processing and the carcinogenic half-untested junk they add to it. Even organic food (what our grandparents called “food”) is cheaper than processed meals.
  • Check out eBay and Amazon before buying any significant items elsewhere. With eBay be careful to only buy from people who have a significant level of good feedback for selling similar items, at least until you get the hang of spotting good and bad deals online. Compare prices and shop around generally.
  • Don’t punish yourself or become too much of a cheapskate: treat yourself occasionally.
  • Don’t rely on the advice of so-called experts and professionals such as financial advisors, lawyers, doctors, etc. Use your own head and remember that these people are being casual with your money, health, and so on. Listen to them, but remember that they won’t suffer the consequences of their advice. Get more than one opinion, especially if you disagree with what you’re hearing.
  • Learn to enjoy simple holidays. When choosing a hotel, think of how much time you will actually be spending there. Most likely you will only be sleeping and having breakfast there. Won’t you? Consider self-catering at least part of the time. It’s much, much cheaper and can be more fun too.
  • Look after your health so you minimize the amount you have to spend on medications when it is too late.
  • Check your utility and phone tariffs and switch to cheaper ones when possible. Check at least once a year. Make sure your providers have not quietly put you on a more expensive tariff when the old one became obsolete. The same goes for checking the interest rates on your savings accounts annually. They often have short-term promotional rates followed by derisory regular rates. Punish these deceptive practices by switching religiously as soon as the promotional rate expires.
  • Don’t throw things away when you can sell them on eBay or some similar site instead, or when they can be repaired with a little effort.
  • Remember that cheapest is not always best. You do have to consider quality too. Buying the cheapest can cost you more in the long run if the quality is poor and it doesn’t last or doesn’t work properly. Still, you don’t have to automatically assume that some overpriced designer brand is good and some other cheap brand is not. Check it yourself, using your own brain and experience. If it is rubbish, make sure you take it back quickly. Insist on your rights, and insist on good quality. The shops will continue offering you rubbish if you let them. Any decent company will give you a refund or a voucher of some sort. If they don’t, or they make it a bad experience, then tell your friends and Tweet and Facebook about it so everybody knows, and shop elsewhere. Always publicize bad service and crooked dealing.
  • Exercise at home or in the park.
  • Do your tax return meticulously. Read the instructions carefully and check the rules online too. There are things you can claim that the form doesn’t handle properly. For example, in the 2010-2011 UK self-assessment tax return, people renting out a room can claim ‘rent-a-room’ allowance of over £4,000 a year, but the form simply asks you to enter how much you received in rent. If you put it in there, it will be taxed in full whereas that rent-a-room allowance should be subtracted first. Maybe in a few years they’ll realize their mistakes. Maybe not. Keep your brain working while dealing with money.
  • Don’t get your pets hooked on commercial pet food. Prepare them simple healthy and nutritious meals based on what they would eat in Nature. Remember that their food requirements are different from ours: some things we can eat are poisonous to them (e.g., chocolate is poisonous to cats; cow’s milk gives most animals stomach upsets, including hedgehogs). Some things they need in different proportions to the way we eat them. Look it up online.
  • If making lists works for you, make lists of things you need, and look out for sales and offers.
  • If you must buy gadgets, do not buy them as soon as they come out. Wait until they’ve devalued a bit. Maybe ride a year or two behind the wave and save half the price.
  • Consider budgeting so you can see where your money goes. Review your income and expenditure every month to help you stay connected with what’s happening and whether your efforts are working.


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