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    How Are You Saving Money?
    • How Are You Saving Money?
      I've been doing some budgeting this week and found some areas I could cut costs in my week to week activities. One reason for doing this, is if you can cut out things you do not really use or need, then you can spend that money on other lovely items you don't need :yeppers: Or, it can just give you some breathing room where you aren't stressing over bills.

      So what do you do to save money and cut costs? Share your tips on living a financially healthy lifestyle.

      My big ones this week:

      -Further optimized by lighting schedule. Most of my heavily used lights are Phillips Hue bulbs and are automated to a schedule of when to turn on and off. This is to prevent accidentally leaving a light on when I leave, or just being lazy and refusing to turn them off when I'm on the couch.

      -Optimizing outlets: Same thing as with lights, this is to prevent some phantom drains when I go to bed and such. I can cut power to them from my phone through Wemo. I could do the same by manually turning off my power strips, but this lets me do it when I go out of town and forget, as well as seeing a visual representation of what is still on.

      -Cut some unnecessary items I was buying on my grocery bill.

      -Going forward, I'll be eating out less. I've been abusing this one too much recently and it's added a couple hundred dollars in expenses lol.

      -I also cut Netflix and Hulu as I haven't really been using them, but I wouldn't really say I saved money since I added Cable for Football Season. My TV expenses actually increased by about $20 after that change.
      "Constantly talking about what you've done is a long winded way of saying you don't do s*** anymore." - Ross Enamait


      The post was edited 2 times, last by Rambo ().

    • I have a few strategies for saving money but I'm always looking for more. Here are a few things that help me save:

      • I don't buy my coffee at coffee shops, I make it at home
      • I meal prep on Sundays for the week and bring my lunch to work almost every day. And if I don't bring my lunch I get soup that's about $2.50
      • I almost never buy bottled water, soda, etc. Even though I always have a case of bottled water on hand for emergencies besides that I drink tap water. I do buy milk and orange juice too, but you aren't going to see me spending money on soda or getting something out of the vending machine.
      • I do a lot of free activities instead of activities you have to pay for. So hiking with my dog instead of going to the movies, going to free museums instead of bowling, you name it. Of course now and then I'll go to the movies or bowling or whatever, but usually my weekends involve free/outdoorsy things not just because it's cheap, but because I like it better.
      • Paying off high-interest debt. Granted--you may not view paying something as akin to saving, BUT over time prioritizing paying off high interest debt will save me money over time. So for example if I have a savings account earning 1.75% interest, but a student loan with 6.8% interest, to what extent am I saving money in the long run by delaying paying off the loan.
      • Kids, being smart with your credit when you're young will save you a ton of money later on, because you'll get lower interest rates on things like car loans, mortgages, etc.
      • I get my books at the library, usually using the e-library instead of buying them.
      • I don't spend a lot on material goods, but when I do I prioritize, make sure they are high quality, and that they will last a long time.
        • I may not purchase clothing for months, but when I do it might be on a $150 dress from White House Black Market, in a classic design that I don't have to worry about going out of style. Generally if I can get things at cheaper prices at high quality, great. BUT, sometimes you have to weigh the opportunity costs. I also don't buy clothes that have to be dry-cleaned except suit coats.
        • I try to get the most out of what I do spend money on. So videogames will take me WAY longer to play than other people, meaning I actually usually only end up buying 2-3 a year, sometimes more it just depends. I want to explore everything, so for example me taking 70+ hours on Hollow Knight (shut it JP) which cost me $15--to me that means I got more out of the game than someone who just wants to run through it and then move on to the next game.
      • I prioritize and keep my financial goals in line with my personal goals. Again I'm not going to be spending $5 on coffee every day. If I were someone who did that, it would equate to about $1800/year. BUT instead I might take $500 of that to go on a Groupon trip to Portugal. Overall by making small changes in expenditures I can save a little money each day, and then spend it on something I actually want--but even when I'm doing something I really want to do, overall I'm still saving money by making sure I get a good deal.
      • I don't need "the best" of everything. I have a subcompact vehicle, it's practical, gets the job done, and I absolutely love it. I also love not having a $500/month car payment like a lot of people, lower insurance rates, and not spending a lot on gas.
    • A "financially stable lifestyle" isn't exactly what I'm living, I like to call it "struggling until I die."

      Haha. I have no secret tips. Even though I make more than minimum wage, I live way out in the boonies. I fear gas prices more than the power bill.

      Oh! Adopt a diet of rice and beans. They're super cheap, they'll keep you alive, and... don't buy alcohol a lot.
    • So another thing that's pretty big, and perhaps controversial, is: I don't spend money on things I don't want to or let myself get peer pressured into spending money on things I don't want--and most importantly I don't feel guilty about it.

      So for example, friends weddings. A friend got married in Jamaica... during Spring Break when prices were insane. I'm not spending $2000 to go to Jamaica, not when I can get all-inclusive trips with flights etc for $500. And I don't feel bad about it.

      Charities: I spend my money on charities I care about, I don't spend my money on charities other people care about. I like to save elephants and rhinos so they get my money. And as for helping people and saving lives, I donate blood not money.
    • Guinea wrote:

      A "financially stable lifestyle" isn't exactly what I'm living, I like to call it "struggling until I die."

      Haha. I have no secret tips. Even though I make more than minimum wage, I live way out in the boonies. I fear gas prices more than the power bill.

      Oh! Adopt a diet of rice and beans. They're super cheap, they'll keep you alive, and... don't buy alcohol a lot.
      You do what you have too. Nothing wrong with that. In the early college days, my buddies and I were cooking hotdogs with ramen noodles just to be fancy.

      Expanding on vehicles, modesty can save lots of money. I just bought a new truck this year, but I had my old truck since 2005. My new truck was fine structurally, but a small dent in the side let me get a few thousand dollars off. This can expand to clothes, decor, "Joneses" items, etc.

      Also, learn how to fix things yourself in this age of Youtube and this goes beyond vehicles. Doing maintenance on my old truck saved me plenty of money over the years.
      "Constantly talking about what you've done is a long winded way of saying you don't do s*** anymore." - Ross Enamait

    • We're actually in process of doing something big that's going to potentially save us a lot of money in the long run.

      My wife and I are planning on selling our house, her parents are going to sell their house and we're going to pile the money together to go in on a bigger house that will fit all of us. We're going to devide up a the bills so it's more even for everyone.

      Plus it will be much closer to work for both my wife and I so we'll save a ton on gas (gas is super expensive here) and we'll have no stata (or known as HOA) fees. That alone should save us $600 or more a month not even including having someone else cover a few bills for us.
    • Knowing how to perform automotive maintenance can be a huge one, same as cooking your own meals. I found a recipe for imitation tacobell filling (it's the same as cooking regular hamburger for tacos), for example. I took a pound of ground beef, a quarter cup of flour, half a cup of water, and my own seasongs and ingredients which are way fresher and tastier, and now I have enough meat to make a dozen tacos, or half a dozen burritos.

      That would have cost $20, and it would have been something kind of gross and mediocre. Instead I made my own delicious and satisfying meal for less than half the cost, while still satisfying that craving. And it's probably a bit more niche, but hobbies like woodworking can save you money in the long run, especially if you need to buy furniture for your home, or replace your bed frame, or something like that.

      Any of the tools you need to build something from scratch or refinish a piece of used furniture are tools you would have bought anyways to maintenance your home, give or take a few. And you're still spending less than you would have on furniture otherwise.

      You'll be hearing my name someday, whenever people talk about heroes - Takua!
      • I have a separate bank account for savings and after each paycheck I transfer the amount I want to save there. Having the money separated really prevents me from spending it, as it's categorized differently in my mind!
      • Since I love shopping (browsing as well as swiping the credit card haha) I go on frequent grocery trips throughout the week. I get the thrill of shopping and I also have less food waste. (I am really bad at predicting on Monday what I'll want to eat on Friday.)
      • I sleep on impulse purchases, put items on hold, etc. to give me time to think about whether I really need that cool new item.
      • I buy in bulk or buy cheaper options where there's no significant difference in quality of goods. E.g., buying a large tub of Vaseline and dividing that into smaller lip balm containers (each lip balm sold separately is like the same price as the giant tub!), bulk nuts, seeds, pasta, etc.
      • For things that matter I will go for the higher quality item. What I mean by high quality varies but could do with, e.g., material/construction/fit of clothing, taste or ingredients in food, favorable reviews and estimated longevity when it comes to electronics. Though the up-front cost is higher for these items I find that I save money in the long run, e.g., by those items lasting a really long time (not being replaced frequently) or by being something I love so I will take the time to maintain and repair it. I also look for items that can be easily repaired -- e.g., my current boots use standard soles and the soles themselves can be replaced when they wear out for less than the cost of new boots. In general I find fewer but higher quality items to be the way to go to save in the long run.
      • I avoid poorly constructed items, uni-taskers, trendy items. I tend to wait to see if trends last before making purchases of trendy items.
      • I buy from a few trusted local businesses and talk to the business owners of places I frequent. When people really appreciate your business they often give you deals, special orders, etc.
      • I cook for myself and don't eat out that often.
      • I learn how to do/make/repair things and know other people who do/make/repair things so we can swap skills or services!
      • I do without unnecessary but ubiquitous services. E.g., expensive mobile phone packages, cable TV. I have cheaper alternatives, e.g., Netflix, crappy phone for emergencies, I cut my own hair, etc.
      • I take public transport or walk to work.
      [signature by RealmWings]

      The post was edited 1 time, last by boxes ().

    • I've started buying less coffee and just drinking coffee I make in the morning. I might buy an afternoon coffee on my lunchbreak if i absolutely need more caffeine to get me through my day. I'm also making more home made lunches rather than buying lunches. I'm close to many places I can buy food and coffee at work so I have to discipline myself to not go the convenient route all the time, lol
    • boxes wrote:

      I have a separate bank account for savings and after each paycheck I transfer the amount I want to save there. Having the money separated really prevents me from spending it, as it's categorized differently in my mind!
      This actually works best for me. I've been doing this for years now. I never touch my savings account unless I'm dying of hunger or if my car broke down and I need to shell out a thousand bux or more to get it to the dealership.

      -It's great having back ups for emergencies.
      -I also invest 7% of my salary on my 401K.
      -I cut off my shopping expenses and only shop on occasions (weddings, christmas shindig, new year events)
      -I cut my travel expenses (by cancelling all travel plans for the next two years) until I pay off my current car.
      -I cook and make my coffee at home
      -I'm a tea addict, so instead of ordering expensive teas online, i take trips to the local asian / japanese market and shop my heart out for high quality teas. (can you believe a 3 dollar box of authentic chinese oolong tea is like 15 bux in amazon?!)
      -I still buy my video games regularly. One game per month at least, so that's around (50-60 USD).
      -I use rebate apps on groceries, the points I get goes to my paypal account. My paypal mostly pays for the games I buy online. lol

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Chloroform ().

    • It's still a work in progress but this is what has been working for me so far:

      • I've changed how I think about objects. I used to buy new clothes pretty often just because I wanted them without realizing I didn't actually need them until after I got home. I was buying stuff for my bullet journal that I'm too busy to even use anymore. Just pointless stuff. Now I'm working on minimizing what I already have and really sitting on purchases before I make them.
      • I set up my direct deposit to automatically put 10% of my paycheck into my savings. I don't even consider that part of my check as my income anymore.
      • I downloaded Clarity Money. That app made me realize I've spent almost a whole paycheck this year just on Starbucks lmao. It also has a feature that automatically deposits money into a savings account with a specific goal. Like my direct deposit, I won't have to think about it and I won't consider the money spendable.
      • I stopped focusing on brand names. A few months ago, I decided to switch all of my skin/haircare to cruelty free brands. Now I pay attention to that rather than wanting to try the newest mascara or random face mask I see on the shelf.
    • I just moved out of my parents' place for the first time (and nearly 1,000 miles away from them) - so I've cut back on quite a few things, lol. However, the most notable things I can think of are:

      - Gas for my car. I found an app called GasBuddy that shows you the price of gas for each station in your area. It shows you the lowest and the highest - and then you can go from there. You can also get a free card that is linked to your bank account that allows you to get 10 to 15 cents off per gallon. I know this is probably just an American thing, but it is super helpful nonetheless.

      - Coffee. Like @Hoju said, I've made all of my morning coffee at home now. I'm not sure what I was spending ~exactly~ on coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin, but I do know that it was far too much. So now I make it at home.

      - I've cut down on how much I go out for meals - fast food or at restaurants. By 100%. I've just been EXTREME COUPONING and using apps like Ibotta to further extend the life of grocery store gift cards that everyone gave me before I made the big move. I've been in my new digs for nearly 1 month, and my girlfriend and I haven't ordered out/gone out to eat once. Which is REALLY difficult for me - trust me lol.
    • -The number one thing that I can save money on is from eating out. I'm on the road three quarters of the month overnighting in hotels, so I tend to eat out a lot. A lot of people carry lunchboxes with them and prepare meals for the trip. I've never worried about it before since I didn't have many expenses, but now with a house in the near future I'll have to start changing my habits. Plus being able to save the per diem is a nice chunk of cash on top of the normal paycheck.

      -If you can afford to overpay on a payment or pay it off entirely (within reason), do it. I've just paid off my vehicle recently, and once I did the math it came out to a a few thousand dollars that I saved, almost 7,000 I think. It's something that you don't immediately think of, but even if you don't having that extra money go into your pocket instead of the lender feels really good.

      -If you have a vehicle, learn to do some basic maintenance on them. Things like oil changes, tire rotations, changing brake pads/rotors are tasks that are fairly easy to perform and can save you $50-300+ depending on the task/vehicle/etc.

      -Right now I invest 3% in my 401k which my company matches. If your company does the same, take advantage of it.

      -When I was young, I started with a secured credit card to build credit. After that I opened a normal one that gives me 3% cash back. I use it like a debit card, paying it off at the end of each week. I owe them nothing, and in the end I get a little extra pocket cash.

      -Work towards getting good credit. I've done pretty good so far keeping the bills in check and paying things off, so now all of my interest rates are on the low end.

      -People have already mentioned this, but if you drink coffee brew your own or take advantage of free coffee when its available. Besides Starbucks coffee kinda sucks.

      -I try my best to be smart about the things I buy. Things that hold up and have good resale value. I'm going to drive my vehicle either until it dies or my needs change, my house I'm confident will sell very easily if I wanted to move, I'll usually spend extra on better hardware if it means they'll last longer than cheapo brands. When I want to buy anything expensive, I do my research.
      [insert clever title here]

      The post was edited 1 time, last by pj777 ().

    • boxes wrote:

      I do without unnecessary but ubiquitous services. E.g., expensive mobile phone packages, cable TV. I have cheaper alternatives, e.g., Netflix, crappy phone for emergencies, I cut my own hair, etc.
      Oh I should look into cutting my own hair! Always found it a bit of a waste to pay someone £15 to trim my sides/back & cut the top in 15-20min, every few weeks.
      Learning how to cut my own hair: added to the list of things I want to do :P

      Some things I do to save money:

      - Do research. This also includes checking the price/weight in supermarkets. Sometimes something looks cheap, but if you check the price/weight, it's not.
      Also, why shop at a mid-high end store when most products in cheaper stores are much better value.

      - Stop caring about the 'image' of things. If it gets the job done effectively and at a good price, that's what matters.
      Although longevity comes into play too. i.e. my big Timberland boots are still awesome after ~6 years of hiking and plowing through the snow, while cheaper boots have come and gone. #SponsorMeTimberland

      - Simply refrain from buying stuff you don't have to buy. Drink water, cook your own meals, cycle, etc. Often healthier too!

      I do spend a decent bit on going out/holidays with friends, but I see that as the area where it's okay to spend some cash. Doing fun & memorable stuff with your best friends while we're young is in a way priceless. I'm just back from Belgium and going to Sweden & Finland this weekend. Costs a bit, but I'm positive future me will be glad I did.
    • I always buy things on sale. According to CVS, I'm in the top 1% of savers in my state. Of course, since I'm doing most of my shopping at a convenience store (since it's right next door to my apartment building and I don't have a car), where things are more expensive, I kind of have to buy things on sale.
      O Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day
      From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
      New Gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;
      They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.
      But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
      Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.

      Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Hymn to Proserpine"
    • The biggest thing I look for when budgeting is whether or not a purchase will save me money in time. I just bought an electric bike for commuting about 4.5 mi / 7 km to work each way and I figure even though it was nearly $1400, I would be spending the equivalent of $1264 in vehicle costs per the IRS mileage rate of $0.54/mile if I stuck to driving a car to work every day. Assuming the bike isn't stolen or has mechanical problems in the meantime, it should pay for itself within 1-2 years - and even then I can use it as a way to get some exercise so there are health benefits too.

      Aside from that I try to find ways to cut down on my energy costs since I pay quite a bit in rent:
      • Invest in low-wattage LED bulbs to replace incandescents
      • Install flow reducers on the faucets and a low-flow showerhead to save water
      • Spend $15 on drying rack for clothes instead of using a dryer, and wash clothes with cold water only
      • Turn water temperature down on the water heater (but not too low that it's at risk for breeding pathogens)
      • Set thermostat to 77F / 25C in the summer (sometimes higher if I'm not at home) and use fans to cool off, in wintertime I'll usually set it to no lower than 64F / 18C
      • Close blinds during the day for summer, leave them open to let sun in during the winter
      If I owned a house I'd probably do these things too:
      • Install water heater timers
      • Place ceramic window tint on the windows to reflect solar heat and UV rays (I already have my car completely blacked out, I don't see why I shouldn't do the same with a house haha)
      other things I do to save money:
      • Cheap cell phone plan: I go with a $250 phone that works with Project Fi (google's wireless service) and since I seldom use mobile data I generally pay around $24/mo, it also gets very good international coverage that has no roaming charges for mobile data and texting for most of the world (the only exception are places like North Korea or Syria, afaik) which is really handy for me in particular
      • Cut cable TV and landline phone: landline phones seem redundant nowadays, and I just use one of those wall-mounted antennas to get 20+ channels for free
      • Use a money market account for my "emergency fund": money in this account is less liquid than my checking account but it gets 1.75%/yr
      • Use a robo-adviser for my retirement and investment accounts: if you have a 401k with an employer it's typically a good idea to at least contribute up to their match, but aside from that I use Betterment because the financial institutions who handle employer 401k accounts have atrocious fees. They handle dispersing my money into different ETFs and allocating the right mix of stocks and bonds for someone at my age, so I don't have to do anything.
      • Contribute the maximum to both an IRA and HSA: This isn't an option for most people, but if you can it's a great way to save on taxes (or at least defer them to a later date). This year I'm contributing the maximum to both accounts since I was between jobs until recently and receiving healthcare subsidies that I would have to pay back if I didn't reduce my taxable income by contributing a lot to a traditional IRA and HSA.
      • Buy by unit price at markets: similar to what john_marston said above, I pay attention to the unit price of what I'm buying very often. I usually only buy store brand items for the most part. This isn't always easy to do if the unit prices aren't consistent, which is common in the US (some items in the same category will be USD/oz while another is USD/mL - it's never uniform)
      • Limit dining out: I'm a lot more disciplined than I used to be, I limit myself to eating out about once every two weeks or so.
      • Use the gym at the apartment complex: if you have this then you can save on gym memberships, no need to effectively pay for something twice
      • Don't buy extended warranties: maybe with the exception of certain big ticket items, in general I won't buy "protection plans" for most of my electronics since all the money that I would spend on warranties would (at best) essentially pay for whatever I'd need to replace
      • Never go to the dealership unless you need warranty work done on a vehicle: I have no interest in spending $250 for an oil change when a local mechanic can do a full synthetic oil change for $50 easily lmao
      There are probably others things that I'll think of later to add to this

      The post was edited 3 times, last by Viajero de la Galaxia ().