Spend Less with this Unique Money Advice

To save money, people usually get the ball rolling by creating budgets. It’s true that a budget is an indispensable part of being fiscally responsible, but it’s generally not enough. To spend less and save a lot more, it’s important to implement as many money-saving techniques into day-to-day life as possible. The good news is that those techniques are typically quite simple. A selection of especially unique tips for saving cash is highlighted below.

Unique Ways to Save Money

  • Pay Bills Online - Between online bank accounts and bill pay services, there’s no reason to mail a check again. Many major companies accept payments through their websites. That’s especially true about credit card companies. Even if a company doesn’t accept online payments through its website, most banks offer online bill paying services that can be used to sidestep the problem. Postage isn’t necessarily expensive, but it can add up over time. It’s also easier to pay bills on time through the Internet because the check doesn’t have to arrive in the mail.
  • Get Rid of the Land Line - It’s wasteful to pay for a cell phone and a land line. The majority of people have cell phones and smartphones these days, and most of them can do without traditional land lines. Even if a monthly land line bill is low, it’s still money that can be set aside for something else.
  • Spend Less on Kitty Litter

    img credit: deborahdegolyer on Flickr

    Stop Using Kitty Litter - Pet lovers can save huge amounts of money by potty training their cats. It sounds silly, but this trend is rapidly growing in popularity, and it’s a legitimate way to spend less on pet expenses. There are even products out there that make it easy to teach cats how to use regular toilets. The average cost to supply litter to one cat for one year is $100, so it’s possible to save a lot of cash by putting this tip to use.

  • Be Strict about Grocery Shopping - In addition to creating a strict grocery list and sticking to it, shoppers should give themselves specific time limits as well. When the clock is ticking, a shopper is less likely to dawdle around and be tempted to make random purchases. One good option is to set an alarm on a cell phone and to be in line by the time it rings. We go grocery shopping directly after Church while our oldest child is in Sunday school.  It gives us exactly 45 minutes to get all the shopping done and get back to pick him up.
  • Paint the Roof - Buying a new roof is a major expense, but painting one isn’t so costly. By painting a roof white, it’s possible to slash energy bills. Air conditioning results in extremely high electricity bills. White paint deflects the rays of the sun, which keeps a home much cooler. In turn, summer energy bills tend to be a lot lower.
  • Periodically Shop for New Vehicle Insurance - Instead of assuming that their vehicle insurance rates are fine, people should get into the habit of shopping around regularly for vehicle insurance. Rates often drop, but auto insurance companies don’t always pass those savings on to their customers voluntarily. It only takes a few minutes to get free online quotes for car insurance.
  • Turn Trash into Treasure - Garage sales are fine, but it’s possible to make even more money on used items by selling them online. Posting items for sale on auction sites like eBay is easy. They are exposed to a much larger audience, so it’s often possible to rake in a surprising amount of money. In some cases, this can even turn into a nice way to earn extra money on the side.
  • Get Discount Haircuts and Dental Work - While they are in training, fledgling dentists and hair stylists often provide their services for free or for drastically reduced prices. This is an excellent way to spend less on cleanings, haircuts and many other services.

To stay motivated about these unique money-saving tips, keep a running list of the amount that is saved every month. Then put that money towards your debt snowball, or split it between debt and a vacation fund! Most people are pleasantly surprised by how much less they spend after implementing just a few of these simple, offbeat techniques. Over the course of a year, these unusual tips can produce some truly incredible savings.

Frugality Will Change You

Ninja, over at Punch Debt in the Face, wrote an article last week about being addicted to savings that got me thinking. Or, thinking harder, I suppose.  The attitude that he talks about towards savings is one that I’ve noticed in myself and others who have gone the way of the Frugaler.  He calls it an addiction.  I think it’s something a little more sneaky.  Something that creeps up on you and then grabs hold and won’t let go.  Something many will call “Habit”.

Views vary on how we pick up habits, but, by definition, a habit is something that you do over and over without much thought.  An unconscious task that you repeat.  It’s no coincidence that many addictions are also referred to as habits.  Smoking is sometimes referred to as a bad habit.  A pot of coffee a day is sometimes referred to as a bad habit.  But, a savings habit is a good habit.  One that many will struggle to establish.  Drug habits, smoking habits, and coffee habits are all habits that are easy to pick up because they cause a pleasure response in you body.  A savings habit is a bit harder to pick up.  But, as Ninja will attest, it can be done.

How?  Repetition.  Do something repeatedly, for a long enough time period, and it becomes a habit.  Being a successful Frugaler is a product of habit.  We start off forcing ourselves to turn off lights as we leave a room, shop for good deals before buying something, save a certain amount out of every paycheck, and set aside a certain amount each month for charitable giving.  And, before we know it, those things that we started off forcing ourselves to do become habits and we do them automatically, without having to think about doing them.  If there’s one thing anyone with a bad habit will tell you, habits are hard to break.

I know that I’ve felt it.  I often spend a month or more deciding on whether to buy something or not.  Especially if it’s on that fringe where it may or may not be necessary.  I’ve spent weeks bidding on items on eBay, determined to get an item at a specific price point.  Something that I could have paid a few dollars more for and had weeks earlier.  Like the junkie looking for his/her next fix, I’ve got a saving habit that I can’t quit.  The more I do it, the harder it is to spend any money at all.

Of course, like anything that’s good for you, there is a line where it becomes slightly less good for you, and then can become downright bad too.  Saving is good.  Pushing your savings to a point where you’re taking it to extremes is less good.  And becoming a downright miser is bad. Setting savings goals is a good way to limit the extremity of your saving.

A Frugality habit will change you.  As your savings tasks become habit, it becomes easier and easier, and eventually, you hardly notice it.  What are your savings habits?  How did you establish them?

photo credit: epSos.de

Easy Ways to Earn, Make, and Give Free or Cheap Gifts

With Christmas less than two weeks away, you may be feeling the crunch to get the perfect gift in time. Or perhaps, your gift budget is running low, yet you still have quite a few people on your list to give gifts to. Here are easy last minute solutions to earn free or cheap gifts for the season.

1. Swagbucks:

Many people have mentioned the fun and ease of Swagbucks. Have you signed up already? Are you participating every day to get bucks? Spending just a few minutes each day searching, doing the daily poll, and other small and fast tasks will add up quickly. You will easily receive more points for every person that signs up under you. Once you have someone sign up under you, every time they earn a Swagbuck, you earn one too. For easy earning, sign yourself up and then have your spouse or family member sign up under you. My husband and I spend minimal time on Swagbucks and earn at least a $5 Amazon gift card each month. I know you may be thinking, “What can $5 buy me on Amazon?” With no taxes (in most states) and a prime membership, $5 can choose from a lot of small and affordable gifts for kids and friends. Also, the Amazon gift card available on Swagbucks can be combined in your Amazon account to add up to a greater amount.

2. Coinstar:

While Coinstar does not exactly reward you with free cash, it can turn your huge coin collection into real hard gift cards. When you cash in your coins to Coinstar and redeem them for gift cards, including the Amazon e-gift certificate, you do not have to pay any extra fees that are usually associated with cashing in coins for cash. Coinstar recently added gift cards for Chili’s Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Papa John’s, and Toys”R”Us. You may be surprised by how many coins you have. Even cashing in enough to earn a $5 gift card puts you $5 ahead in your spending budget.

3. Homemade:

Homemade gifts can be wonderful gifts. They are thoughtful and usually cost more time than money. So if you have the time, try making things from scratch. Here are some ideas for fun gifts to make under $5:

  • layered cocoa in jarsMake homemade caramel sauce and pair it with homemade hot chocolate mix. Place them in small glass jars with a cute note saying, “Have a sweet Christmas”.
  • Pair a small bag of gummy worms with a notebook full of quotes from books, a pen, and perhaps a book (check the local thrift store for great deals). Attach a note saying, “To my favorite book worm”.
  • A bag of popcorn with a handmade ticket that says, “Admission to One Free Movie Date with me” (Of course, this may cost more than $5 when they do wish to see the movie, depending on what time you go).
  • Cover a wooden letter (check your local craft store) with yarn for a home decor gift great for the whole family.
  • Fill a tea cup with several bags of tea and pair with a side of homemade scones or tea cakes.
  • Bake bread from scratch and pair with homemade or store bought jelly.
  • Homemade play dough for children.
  • A big tin of homemade cookies or brownies.

Just because your Christmas budget may be tight this year, there is no reason to stress out over gift giving. Most people are appreciated at the thought behind the gift. Always pair the gift with a special card or note to really show the gift receiver how much you appreciate and care for them.

photo credit: shimelle