We haven’t yet seen simple versions of that cool Dick Tracy watch phone or the Jetson’s TV phone, but the humble telephone has changed dramatically over the past few decades with the breakup of the telephone monopoly, mobile phones, smartphones, internet calling, and VOIP phones. T-Mobile and Sprint has injected some competition into the cost of smartphones, but they can still be expensive for both the phone and monthly plan. The best way to save is to skip the latest models and buy the prior model. Save even more with a refurbished phone. Speaking of mobile phones – it’s hard to use that phrase and “savings” in the same sentence, but here are a few more tips – don’t buy your accessories at your carrier’s store or even website, save at least half by going online and search “your phone model accessories”. Get free texting with services such as TEXTFREE for computers, Android, and iPhones (http://www.pinger.com/content/home.html ).
There are plenty of ways to avoid paying full price on entertainment, especially in big cities. It’s not hard to find local theater, concerts, and sports that are inexpensive – think local little theaters, colleges, high schools, and minor league sports. As always, big cities offer more options, but that doesn’t have to mean expensive. Here is how you can have fun on a budget.
I’m going to devote the next series of blog posts to getting certain types of items for less than full price. Let’s start with something that is great for gifts, growing families, or ourselves. Clothes are an example where it’s possible to get nice discounts even on high end items. Get huge discounts on high end clothes during short, flash sales at websites such as http://www.gilt.com/, http://www.ruelala.com/, and http://www.hautelook.com/. Try on discounted, name-brand clothes at several stores including Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and of course outlet malls.
What is even better than “saving money”; how about FREE? Let’s rephrase Gordon Gekko’s notion about “greed is good” to “free is good” – and possible. There is nothing like getting something for free, which is why advertisers know the power of the word “FREE!” It gets our attention and rightly so. Food tastes better when free, right? It is possible to get stuff for free when you belong to certain groups or know where to look. You may need to join a group or already belong to one. This category changes regularly so rather than provide you the usual web links, I’m going to give ideas to search for so you can get the latest treats.
Images of couponers can range from penny-pinching to extreme hoarders, but in reality, sensible couponing is one of the easiest ways to avoid paying full price. Your goal is not to see how low you can get your grocery cost or how many boxes or cans you stock in your closet, but to save money by avoiding paying full price. And now it is easier than ever because you find coupons in so many places. Coupons for groceries and personal care items are the most plentiful, but coupons for chain restaurants are easy to get and make dining out more enjoyable when you aren’t paying full price. Look for shopping “passes” for store discounts to make trips to the mall even better. Here are tips to make it easy.
While our frugal mind-set reminds us of the basic rule “avoid paying full price”, we need strategies to make it happen. Thankfully, there are plenty of them for nearly any occasion. Always look for savings opportunities and cheaper alternatives to full price products and services. Here is a summary of key strategies which we will explore more fully in the future.
One of the key goals of this blog will be to help you save money by spending wisely. Spending wisely starts with the basic rule, “Avoid paying full price.” Following this rule makes nearly any other financial situation easier. The more money you save when spending, the more you have for other purposes whether saving, spending, giving, or investing. It is both a mindset and an endeavor. Whenever you think about spending, this should be one of the first things that comes to mind and then guides you towards your goal. Yes, there are plenty of times when we have to pay full price, but that should be a last resort – not routine. To follow this rule, we need three things: a frugal mind-set, spending strategies, and practical tips for everyday things.
You may have a choice of which energy company supplies your electricity and if so, you know that comparison shopping pays you in savings. Many electricity companies have split distribution of electricity from supplying it. Check your energy bill to see if you have a choice. If yes, start your comparison shopping at your company’s website and search for the page that discusses your supplier options. It should lead you to a webpage that lists all the energy suppliers that supply electricity to your area. Continue reading
Simplifying your finances is often one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Here are some suggestions.
- Pay as many of your bills as possible with autopay on your credit card to get rewards, thru the biller’s website, or with your bank’s online bill service.
- Put as many of your savings goals as possible on autopay with direct routing of savings amounts to relevant savings and investment accounts.
- Consolidate multiple retirement, banking, and brokerage accounts. You may want to keep multiple savings accounts for multiple savings goals.
- Develop a plan to get out of debt.
- Put all tax records into an accordion folder as you receive them.
- Review your budget for needs, savings, debt pay offs, and wants. Put your leftover disposable income on a pre-paid debit card. When the card is empty, your discretionary spending is done for the month.
- Diversify your investments, but also keep them simple by avoiding having too many to manage and rebalance. The simplest investments are index ETFs, balanced funds, and target date funds.
When you get your first full-time job, you are earning more money than ever before, but there are more demands on your money, too. In addition to enjoying yourself now that you got away from parents and school, you may have rent, auto payments, student loans, a credit card balance, and a wide assortment of monthly bills. If may come as a shock, but you should also start your savings. You may plan to start saving for something like a wedding, car, home, or travel, but you should also start saving for an emergency fund of 3-6 months’ worth of expenses, plus your retirement. No I’m not joking about saving for retirement when you first start working, because the earlier you start, the less likely that a future you will come back to the past and thrash you for financial incompetence. We’ll discuss this more thoroughly later.
How can you have peace of mind when you have to pay debts, start several savings plans, pay bills, and still live your life? You can’t buy peace of mind, but you sure can get your finances to help achieve it. Peace of mind comes from having control of your finances rather than worrying from pay check to pay check. It will probably be difficult for your paycheck to meet all your needs and wants, so it’s critical to establish priorities. Use these tips as a guide. Continue reading