Top 5 Easy Ways To Save Money That Anyone Can Do
Published 12/10/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
I think you can ask anyone for advice about their personal top five ways to save money and you'll likely end up with a variety of suggestions. We all have different guilty pleasures and financial priorities so obviously the list would differ greatly from person to person. Some of these habits are hard to give up. For example earlier, I talked about the reasons why I chose to buck the conventional frugality wisdom of avoiding bottled water. For me, the health benefits and convenience outweighed the long terms costs.
Cutting back on purchases that you wouldn't miss or expenses that wouldn't cause too much discomfort or inconvenience are the easiest ways to save money. I'm offering a few suggestions that hopefully will get people thinking about some of the simple day to day expenses that we may have a tendency to overlook, but that may go a long way in helping us save money for the future:
1) Don't Pay Extra For Sodas During Lunch - Ask For a Free Cup Of Tap Water Instead.
This is probably one of the easiest habits to break. Did you know that most cafe lunch joints charge a premium for sodas and bottled drinks? These type of meal accessories are much easier to overcharge because lunch and meal patrons focus on the cost of the main dish, frequently overlooking the extra charges when they decide on where to eat out for lunch.
Besides, drinking water is much healthier than loading up on sugar-filled sodas or other bottled drinks. Even seemingly healthy drinks like bottled teas are frequently disproportionally filled with sugar. Too much sugar contributes to diabetic effects and offers nothing but empty calories that may cause unhealthy weight gain and sluggish bodily function. Next time you grab a sandwich at your lunch diner, be sure to ask for a free cup of water rather than a cup of pricey soda. If they offer you bottled water, ask for tap instead.
2) Reduce the Cost Of Your Cell Phone, Cable Television, and Internet Service By Asking For Discounts Or Threatening To Cancel.
Monthly recurring expenses such as cell phone service and utility bills are frequently overlooked because they happen so regularly and we often pay off the bill without much thought. Especially for people like me who use automatic debit payment, I often don't take a hard enough look at my actual monthly charges. For your cable or satellite television service, think about it. Do you really need all of those premium channels? Do you actually watch them all or even have the time to enjoy them? I used to have premium digital cable television service with Comcast but eventually downgraded to plain old analog. Yes I drastically reduced my channel lineup, but I didn't lose much because I still had my important and frequently watched channels like CNN, Discovery, History Channel, and ESPN.
If your cable television carrier refuses to offer discounts or price reductions, call back frequently and threaten to cancel. I had to call back numerous times and speak to different customer service representatives but eventually I found someone who was willing to offer me a significant discount. Just be persistent, even when the rep tells you further price reductions are not possible. As for your cell phone service, consider reducing the amount of minutes you have on your plan, particularly if you don't use it much. I reduced my Verizon Wireless plan to the cheapest one after I noticed that I was consistently underusing my minutes.
3) Cut Down On Gasoline Cost By Finding and Frequenting the Cheapest Gas Stations In Your Area.
I don't drive too much but for many it is a big money drain. My advice is to use a free online service like GasBuddy to plot a gas price map of your area showing you where the cheapest pumps are located. Gas prices are usually much more expensive in high end neighborhoods. I managed to locate significantly more affordable pumps only a mile or two away that I now frequently visit. Whenever you need gas, rather than pulling over at any gas pump you see, try to head to the cheap locations that you pinpointed earlier on the gas price maps.
4) Run Your Central Heater Less During the Winter And Compensate By Dressing In Layers and Using a Portable Heating Unit.
Why are you basically sleeping in the nude and walking around in your shorts when it is a freezing zero degrees outside? If that is what it's like in your home in the winter, your thermostat is turned way too high. I set mine at a reasonable 70 degrees during the winter and put on slippers and a sweater to keep warm. At night, I run a portable heater in my bedroom so central heat is not wasted on unoccupied rooms.
5) Take Advantage of Free Information Available On the Internet and the World Wide Web.
This one is more controversial. There are many people out there who love reading and buying books. I don't want to knock the hobby and educational benefits of book reading, but I personally obtain almost all of my information online through cost-free means. Why buy a self help book from the bookstore when the internet is filled with forums and bloggers espousing the same opinions and content that can be found in expensive paper books? If you really want to read a book, I recommend visiting a bookstore and reading it there for free, or borrowing it from the local library.
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