Wednesday, July 18

Bold Choices and Big Steps for Controlling Costs

Thanks for so many great comments on the car-free living topic yesterday! It really makes me think about what other choices we have that can have large financial impact. I think that to have big impact you need to make bold choices - often the ones that other people can't or won't make. Not every one will be an $8000 per year elephant like the car, but I would be willing to bet that most financially conscious people do a number of fairly significant things to save money.

Here is a sampling of things that are outside the normal way of doing things in North America and will have a substantial impact on your expenses:

  1. Pay less for housing. Rent and housing prices are basically determined by three things: how big the place is, how nice it is, and where it is. If you can avoid paying for any of these you will end up ahead. You can live in a smaller space, choose an ugly space and fix it up yourself, or live somewhere that works for you but may not be as desirable for others. The more you go against the crowd, the bigger the payoff.
  2. Give up your car. See yesterday's post for more details and great comments, but the short version is that this could save you many thousands every year. Huge impact from one decision!
  3. Live without television, cable, super cable, pay per view and similar services. Use cheap long distance or skype for free. Savings that happen every month are worth far more than one time savings, even if it's only a few dollars!
  4. Never buy what you can borrow or rent for cheap. This includes books (I love the public library!!!), movies, CD's and magazines. I also prefer to borrow tools and kitchen gadgets that I don't use very often.
  5. Shop second hand. Consignment stores often carry designer clothing, garage sales sell things for pennies on the dollar, and your local classifieds or craigslist is a treasure trove just waiting to be opened. You will received discounts of 30-90% and also find things that are more interesting and unique than the malls can ever offer.
  6. Volunteer. Instead of paying for your entertainment, be part of the action. You will get free tickets, food, t-shirts and many other perks. And of course, there are all the cool people that you will meet along the way...
  7. Have a garage sale. Not for the money but for the reality check about what your stuff is actually worth. I can guarantee that once you have received pennies on the dollar for your nearly new designer junque you will start to shop with very different eyes.
  8. Stay in touch with reality. Don't hang out with people who have money to burn, or act like they do. Even while you try not to, you will find they socialize your spending upward. Instead, spend time with people who have less than you do. Not only will they not tempt you to spend, you will also feel more grateful for what you do have.
  9. Stay out of the malls. It's a fact: people who visit the malls spend money there. So don't go if you're bored or to socialize or to window shop. Only go when you need something specific. And then only go to the store(s) that has that item. Temptation is easier to resist when it isn't there.

Any other bold moves that you can suggest? What have you done that has had large impact on your finances? Sissies need not apply - I want strategies that rock my world!


evannoble said...

I completely agree with #3, 4, 8.
However, your first point about trying to get the cheapest housing possible could have some drawbacks. Buying in a desireable location will always appreciate more (in an up market) or keep its value better (in a down market), as opposed to a less desireable area. It won't result in larger savings, but in the end when you do sell, you could be significantly ahead (or at the same level, while having been able to enjoy a nicer neighbourhood).

telly said...

I happen to agree with #1 and actually think it is probably the biggest savings potential of them all. The more and more I read from financially savy people, the more I realize, though better than a car, your home is NOT an investment. A lot of people never sell their home so they never gain from the (generally small over the long term) appreciation anyway.

What a difference saving $1000+ / mth for 20+ years will make!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree and live with all your points. Also, I would ad the Canadian used site as well as CraigsList. I know I was shocked to find this site last week, it is so much better than CraigsList in Canada.

Remember to negotiate all your set monthly bills, at least those which have competition. I know Shaw Cable gave me a six month deal when I mentioned Rogers Cable had a better deal on offer for an internet subscription. Play the "offer me a deal or I walk" card. Businesses need you more than you need them, in most cases we have options. I cancelled my local newspaper subscription, now I buy a copy on the weekend only and often it is a paper from out of town rather than the local options.

Cheers, Steve

Lise said...

One huge savings area is groceries and such. I'm always surprised by how much people waste when buying food. Bagged lettuce is more expensive than a head of lettuce, for example. Cooking rice is so easy. Why spend the extra $$$ on not-so-tasty prepared rice? Wipes? try rags and regular wash cloths!

LiseB said...

Consolidating with one service provider has worked for me. For example:
my cable, phone, long distance plan, internet access, etc. are all with rogers. That gives me an automatic 15% discount, plus free long distance. I just negotiated a free phone with them when I renewed my cell contract...and not the cheapy phone, a nice (normally expensive) one.

I'm doing the same with my bank. by consolidating, I've got preferred rates, waived fees, etc.

the only drawback is you have to have the personality to haggle. I wasn't so hot on this but my sister is, so she coached me and it's been paying off ever since!

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