Save Money

In this article, I'll share with you some easy ways to save more of your money.  Some of the ways are obvious, some are not.  A few of my ways have payback down the road, while some offer immediate results.  The success of any of these ways rely on your ability to follow them consistently, as with so many things in life.

1. Groceries

Eat Smart & Save Cash Now, Reaps Health Rewards Later

Groceries (and food in general) are about the heaviest hitters to anyone's budget.  Over the years I've taken a hard look at the definition of food, and what I'll actually consume today.  What I've determined is that overall, quality food is cheaper.  

The typical grocery store layout always seemed to be just that to me:  typical.  But now when I visit the grocery store, and think about what is being sold there, the layout is rather shocking.  (Without getting into a GMO discussion), lets agree that generally what is sold in the meat, produce, and dairy departments can be considered quality food, and has a higher nutritional value.  At the same time, lets agree that anything sold on the shelves in the center of the grocery store, or in the frozen isle is not as much a quality product (yes, I'm sure there are exceptions).  

Why does this matter?

When I shop for groceries, I try to stick to the perimeter of the store.  I don't buy carbonated drinks, I rarely buy bottled juices of any kind, and I try to stay away from anything that comes in a box.

Have you ever read the list of ingredients on a box of 'food'?  How many of those ingredients really sound like a food to you?  How about soda?  Probably the most real ingredients are the water & the sugar.

If you learn to stick to the quality foods, and take a little time to prepare meals instead of realying on something 'ready-to-eat' from the store, (or worse, a fast-food restaurant), you'll start feeling better, and saving money.  The junk food costs more than the real food because you need more of it to feel full, and even then you aren't getting the nutrition your body needs to operate properly.  When your body doesn't get the nutrition it needs, it lets you know with a variety of symptoms, ranging from headaches to stomach aches, and from heart burn to indigestion.  And most people typically cope with the symptoms by going out to spend (more) money of over-the-counter drugs to make them selves feel better.  See how eating right ends up saving you money?

2. Gas

Going the Extra Mile

Gasoline is one of life's nessecary evils.  Government policy dictates how efficient car engines need to be, so car manufactures don't have to invest time & money in designing more efficient engines until the policies change.  Sure, there have been a few exceptions here and there (Prius, Tesla, etc), but the cost to get into those cars comes at a premium.

There are a few things you can do to help lower your gas expenses.  Here's a list:

  • Drive as fuel efficient a car as you can reasonably afford
  • Take it easy on the gas pedal
  • Keep tires inflated to the right pressure
  • Combine trips
  • Use cruise control on the highway
  • Use a fuel monitoring website to find the cheapest gas, and predict price changes
  • Carpool

3. Monthy Bills

-Bills.  Nobody wants them, and everyone gets them.

Credit Cards

I think credit cards are about the worst thing out there.  Even when used responsibly, are they even nessecary?  I mean, if you can afford to use the card, then why not just pay in full with cash?

For those who unfortunately are having a negative experience with credit cards, I recommend this book by Dave Ramsey, "The Total Money Makeover".  I'm not into using credit cards, but I applied his method to some medical bills that got the better of me, and the plan worked, and I was out of the red sooner than I thought.

Medical Bills

The best way to lower your medical bills is to think about historically what typically lands you in the doctor's office in the first place, and then think about what you can do to change that.  Then act on it.

Second thing to do is minimize the visits you make to the doctor.  Odds are, not all of them are really nessecary, and each time you go in, you make some sort of office visit payment.  Example:  "Doc, I think I have a cold"  Forty-five minutes later:  "Yes, you have a cold.  That'll be $35 please".  However, if you ever have any doubt about if you should see your doctor or not, it's better at that point to make an appointment.  Waiting too long can in some cases become a serious risk to your health, and also become expensive very quickly.

But for the bills you already have to deal with, read them over for errors.  Medical bills are not always written correctly.  And when they are wrong, its usually not in your favor.

Utility Bills

Gas, electricity, water, etc.  All are needed, but are you using your utilities as much as you really need to?

Here's some suggestions for ways to cut your utility bills:

  1. Natural Gas
    1. Shorter showers
    2. Heat home only when home, and only as much as needed
    3. Improve your homes R-value by sealing air leaks to the outside, and improving your home's insulation
    4. Check gas line for leaks (soapy water on the joints of the pipeline)
  2. Water
    1. Shorter showers
    2. Use dishwasher when completely full  (still more efficient than hand-washing)
    3. Water your lawn only enough to keep it green
    4. Install a rain sensor on your sprinkling system
  3. Electrical
    1. Shorter showers (detecting a trend with this one?)
    2. Lower temperature on water heater
    3. Install flourescent or LED lightbulbs
    4. Don't pre-heat your oven for hours on end
    5. Shut the fridgerator doors
    6. Watch an energy efficient television
    7. Install timers on lights
  4. Garbage
    1. See if you can get a discount for paying the upcoming year in full
    2. Spend less on garbage bags by either throwing away fewer things, or by re-using shopping bags (if permitted by your garbage service)
  5. Cable/Satellite/Phone
    1. Shop around, see if competitors can beat your current rates, then take those rates back to your current provider and see if they can beat them
    2. Get a no-contract cell phone
    3. See if combining services will save money
    4. How much is television programming worth to you?  (Will you look back on your life and feel good about how much television you watched?  Are you missing out on real life by watching television?)