Monday, May 5, 2008

Saving Money - in Big Ways

Oh My Aching Debts had an interesting post on saving money on a miniscule budget:

http://achingdebts.com/8-ways-that-i-can-save-money/

She mentioned Frugal Upstate's list of 25 ways to save money:

http://frugalupstate.blogspot.com/2006/10/25-things-i-do-to-save-money.html

Which got me to thinking...what are some of the big things the Brick & I save? (I'll talk about the small items tomorrow.)

*We only have one car -- even though we could afford two. Which means that most days I stay home. At least once a week, I drop the Big Guy off at work, then do errands or take care of business needs. Most days, though, I stay here. Which means:
--fewer impulse buys. I'm not at the store to be tempted!
-- better use of our gas. I group a lot of errands into a little time.
--better use of my business time. I'm here, which means I often answer the business phone, and let my staffers take care of other stuff. For me, this works. The only bad part is if I'm writing on deadline -- then to be interrupted every 20 min. or so -- not fun.
I also make a fair amount of trips late at night to the grocery store, the post office, the bank. We have a 24-hour postage machine in the post office lobby, which helps -- when it's working. (snort) I take the dogs, who both love sniffing the night air out the open window, ears flapping in the wind. And I kind of enjoy the time to look around without getting the feeling of busy-ness. (It is CROWDED here in Castle Rock, compared to the farm and small town I grew up on.)
Besides, if I get lonely, I just call or e-mail a friend, or just putz around on the Internet. Works every time.

Speaking of that,

*We never buy our vehicles new. Let someone else eat the depreciation. But we are very careful that...

*We research any kind of purchases more than, say, $250. Intensively. We check and double-check Consumer Reports, the Blue Book, the Internet, catalogs and sales. Cases in point: for every house we've purchased, we've looked AT LEAST 70 other properties. Cars -- we've looked for at least 3-4 months, including multiple visits to various dealerships.
Dave loves doing this. It's kind of his hobby. So far, he has gotten us an incredible deal on our current vehicle: a Jeep Grand Cherokee. And this week, he saved us a handy $100 on buying a compressor and nail gun together. (Our job this summer: re-shingle the roof. And I have ALWAYS wanted a nail gun.)

*We also research any kind of vacation expenses. Hotels and plane tickets -- I love http://www.hotels.com , Hotwire ( http://www.hotwire.com ) and Kayak -- http://www.kayak.com . (The latter lets you simultaneously compare dozens of sites for plane ticket prices, INCLUDING fees. Wow.) The Brick, though, is the real master at this sort of thing: last year, he found us a 12-night Caribbean cruise for approx. $550, then scored on discount plane tickets to and from Fort Lauderdale, for our 25th anniversary.
Oh yes, and at least two discount tours during the cruise, one of which (in Grenada) was one of my most memorable experiences.
The man is incredible.

*We both contribute to an IRA. It may not always be as much as I want to put in...but it's something.

*We paid our house mortgage off. It was a wrench to do it -- and I skimped like crazy on some other things. But during short months -- and you get that, if you own your own business -- it has been an incredible relief NOT to have to worry about paying the mortgage. Companies will skin you alive very quickly if you don't cough up mortgage payments. The government will do it, too, if you don't ante up with the taxes, as well. No excuses are good enough.
Saving on that leads to extra money for finding deals -- see above.

*We pay our credit card bills in full. Every month. If you can't do this now, pay at least one card off as quickly as possible -- then pledge not to charge on it again until you can pay it off every month. Incredibly freeing.

*We donate money, materials and time. Suze Orman and many other financial advisors (including the Bible) advocate this. They postulate that if you're willing to help others, that money will come back to you in many ways. All I know is that it works -- and has been, for more than four decades.

Tomorrow -- the small ways.

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