Money Saving Tips
The ways we spend money can be engrained in us so that we believe we cannot live without certain expenses. In this section, I outline some ways that Chris and I save money every day. I hope you’re able to use them to challenge what you’ve been spending money on and think of alternative ways to meet your needs without purchasing additional products and services.
Clothing, Shoes and Household Decor
We only purchase clothes, shoes, and household décor when absolutely needed and we limit the number of items we own.
Cars and Transportation
Most people purchase a car on a loan that they pay off within a few years. Instead of buying the car, then paying it off, I suggest the opposite. Save for the car, then buy it. So your first car should be inexpensive and be what you can currently afford. While you’re driving that car, start putting away money for your next car. This will save you money in the long-run.
Walk or use public transit whenever you can. These are generally cheaper than driving a car, and walking also gives you a chance to exercise.
Insurance is used to insure things you cannot afford to lose. This likely includes your health, home, and car. It does not include additional purchases such as a warranty on your TV or other electronics.
Food and Drink
Eating out is significantly more expensive than eating at home, and it’s not nearly as healthy. To save money, I highly recommend eating at home as much as you can.
Chris and I love travel and vacationing. However, we don’t believe travel needs to be overly expensive. In my experience, travelling is more fun when on a budget.
Manis and Pedis
Do these at home – it’s much cheaper and it’s easy to do once you get used to it.
Regular Household Expenses
I find that household expenses such as phone, cable, electricity, and internet can really add up if left unchecked. Most of us associate these expenses with necessities in life that little can be done about, but that’s not true. Here are a few things I’ve done:
- Land line: Chris and I each have a mobile phone, so we do not have a land line at all.
- Mobile phone: Over the years, mobile phone bills have gone from about $20/month to $100+/month to allow for gigabytes of data to be downloaded over the cellular network. I cut my mobile bill back down to $25/month by limiting all but about 100MB of data usage a month to be done via a wi-fi network. I also take advantage of internet-based calling so that I can limit my voice minutes to under 60 minutes/month
- Cable television: We’ve never had cable television. We’ve used Netflix since about 2002, which allows us to watch as much television as we like for a fraction of the cost of cable.
- Internet: We're lucky enough to live in an area with multiple internet providers. Chris selected a local provider that offers high quality uploads and downloads for less cost than the bigger companies
- Electricity:Our home runs solely on electricity (no gas heating options etc.). We keep our monthly costs low by reducing my energy expenditure. We make sure our washing machine is full before turning it on, and we try to wash larger dishes by hand to reduce dishwashing electricity costs. We also use heavy blankets while sitting at our desks, lounging on our sofa, or sleeping in our bed, during the winter to reduce the heating requirements.
Collections of any kind cost money. I don’t collect anything. It also means I have less items to dust.
Cleaning and household supplies
Speaking of dusting, I do all my own cleaning. To save money, I also try to use as many non-disposable products as possible
Here is a list of household items I do NOT buy and what I replace it with:
- Paper towels: I use old rags instead
- Disinfecting wipes: I use old rags and vinegar instead
- Flush-away toilet brushes: I use the old-fashioned kind
- Commercial cleaning products: I make my own with vinegar and baking soda, or lookup a recipe for something specific online
- Commercial self-care products: I make my own soap, deodorant, body lotion, and shampoo. (However I do buy regular toothpaste, nail polish, razors, and makeup – I tried to make my own makeup but it was a bit of a disaster)
- Kleenex: I use toilet paper instead. Toilet paper is cheaper as I can use one small square instead of a large Kleenex. I do buy Kleenex if Chris or I have a nasty cold though, as toilet paper can be harsh on your nose if used repeatedly over a short time
- Disposable dusters: I use old rags (micro-fiber works well here)
- Disposable mop clothes: I use old rags (micro-fiber also works well here)
- Vacuum filters: I bought a vacuum that does not require filters
- Fabric softener: Our clothes seem to be fine without it (I don’t use the liquid kind or the dryer sheets)
- Water: I drink straight from the tap (though I know I live in an area with great tap water, which is sadly getting less and less usual)
- Lunch baggies, cling wrap, aluminum foil: I keep these in the house for extreme circumstances, but mostly I try to keep my food in re-usable containers
- Garbage bags and compostable, compost containers: With few exceptions, I try to use the plastic bags I get from the grocery store to line my bins. I generally only use re-usable shopping bags when shopping, but I find I end up with enough plastic bags to use for garbage and compost bin liners
I believe it’s possible to use a credit card to your advantage but if you’re someone who finds it difficult to track spending, then I recommend avoiding credit cards. When using a credit card, pay it off in full every month.