Sunday, March 24, 2013

Five 'Practical' Money-Saving Tips...That Aren't

Some things, you just shouldn't try to save money on.

Daily Money Shot has her own list, including 'sell your house when times get tough;' (where will you live then?) 'vampire electricity' and my favorite: 'don't buy daily coffee and/or lunch' ("Give up that morning coffee? Seriously?" she says. "I think the fines on the assault charges will cost more than the coffee...")

No doubt this has more to do both with your personality, as well as what you can finagle, than with real economy. For example, I wouldn't go without my morning coffee, either...but I also haven't paid for Starbucks for months, even my every-friday-at-the-crack-of-dawn meeting with friends. Why bother, when you can exchange an empty bag for a free cup? (One friend works for people who love the stuff...she just collects the bags they throw away.)
      All the same, most Starbucks just tastes burnt or weak. Now that our Panamanian coffee, sadly, is used up, we like Boyers' Rocky Mountain Thunder much better, brewed at home. (I just go to the shop to be with my friends.)

Other food items signal right away when you're skimping. Take chocolate, for example. The cheaper stuff really does yell out its lack of cocoa. Give me Ghirardelli any day, especially when Sam's Club stocks large bags of it for only a little more than the cheap stuff.
     Fresh fruit in season. (Buy extra then, and freeze it - it will taste so much better the rest of the year.)
     Cheap processed meat: hot dogs, bologna and such. I can tell Oscar Mayer from generic a mile away.
Other ways that are just plain foolish? 

*Stealing...then rationalizing that it's ok. After all, no one stopped you.  Secrets of A Stingy Scoundrel, a 'frugal' book that should really be subtitled "How I Get Away with Being Dishonest," is good at this. Condiments at a restaurant? Clear the table, and stuff handfuls in your pockets. Hey, bring a backpack! (I have an uncle who thinks nothing of doing this, rationalizing that after all, he's paying for it by ordering a meal. Sigh.)
    Some of his methods are borderline okay: fill up on samples at Sam's Club in lieu of lunch, or take advantage of discount rates to renew your cable or phone bill. Others are just plain nasty: dig out used cups from fast food places that offer free refills -- then waltz into the restaurant for more whenever you feel like it. I'd also enjoy seeing how his boss responds to SS after watching him lug out a briefcase filled with office supplies. (At least he won't need more pens for a while after he gets fired.)
     This really, really bugs me.

*Reusing things that just shouldn't be used again. Like not flushing. Or using cloth squares, instead of toilet paper. (I still shudder at the thought, though some greenie blogs are all for it.) Use a cloth hankie, people, if you're so interested in saving on paper -- but don't go washing your toilet squares around me!

*'Saving' by paying high prices for organic or specialty/health food store items...yet you don't have enough money for your other bills because of it. Why not bake your own bread, or cook at home, instead of going out to eat? Raise your own garden produce? (Yes, even in an apartment - that's what window gardens and balconies are for, or urban plots.) Why not buy direct from the farmer, at farmer's markets, or purchase organic food in bulk from a wholesaler, like Costco, or a discounter like Sprouts, if you insist that's important? . (By the way, you should be giving something else up -- like an IPhone, or cable -- so you can afford it.)

*Waiting until the last minute to pay -- or not paying bills at all. Yes, SS is all for this one too, particularly for friends and family who have loaned him money. He's really hoping that they forget all about it. (I'm betting they don't. They just think he's a cheap jerk, instead.)
     Or hold off on paying until the very last minute: then if your automatic bill-paying program is slow that month, you'll get to pay all sorts of fun penalties. (The Brick and I differ on this. He waits...I'd rather pay a few days ahead, just in case. Have we paid some late fees? Yup.)

*Being all high-and-mighty and righteous about it. Can you learn a great deal from posts at Money-Saving Mom and "Four Moms Look At...", as well as other frugal-family-living sites? Absolutely. Can you also get very tired of people who are flogging their own ideological horse in the process? I hear far more about home schooling, stay-at-home moms, large families (as in really large - 6, 7, 8, 12 or more) and gluten-free diets than I've ever needed to know. "God-fearing" suggestions take a close second -- items that are far more a wish to go back to the Good Ole Days (were they really that good??), than they are following the Bible's precepts. (This is coming from someone who was largely a stay-at-home mom, debated whether to home-school -- we didn't, though good friends did -- and is a Christian, by God's grace. Just thought I'd mention that.) money? You bet. Do it in ways that are healthier for you, and your environment? I'm all for it. But let's be practical, too.

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