My money saving tricks..
I'm not anywhere near dire straights, but I am trying to build a nest egg, buy furniture, attend conferences, and pay off debt... These are all no brainers, but it never hurts to repeat the winning strategies. Basically, this is how I addressed that trickle of pocket money that you can't quite account for... -buying cases of pop and packing one to take to work each day. 12/$3.99 vs. $1.25 ea I can't seem to give up my 3pm coke fix, but I can do it much cheaper. -Water: my co workers all got together last year and pooled funds to install a water cooler in our offices. Now I spend $20 a quarter for all the water I can drink at work. I drink 2-3 sports bottles of that water per day, which would be $1.50 each if I bought it at work, or 12/$4.50 if I bought it at the store. -Entertainment: I work on a university campus, which has free events and lectures that are open to the public, as well as film nights, children's activities, and other events. If you live near a campus, check out their events listing - quite a lot is free and open to the public (and it's educational). -Bus: my work offers a bus pass plan, wherein I don't pay tax on it if I have the money taken directly off my paycheque. Savings: $7.50/month, plus I don't have to go to the drugstore and wait in line (and subject myself to impulse purchasing). Not to mention that not maintaining a car saves me buckets of money, too. -Lunches: packed at home and carried to work whenever possible. Leftovers or a sandwhich made expressly for that purpose, whatever works. And if I'm running really late, I have frozen leftovers in single servings to utilize. Savings: $6.50 per day, at least. Lunchtime entertainment: walking with the secretaries and other interesting people who walk at lunch every day (exercise too!) -I also bring my own teabags to work, as one can get free hot water from the coin-op coffee machine in the staff lounge. I buy super good quality tea, but still save money by not buying it from the starbucks on campus. -Library - I can't stress this enough. Use your public library. Not only can you borrow DVDs, VHS, CDs, Books, Magazines, and educational materials, but you can attend lectures, book clubs, educational nights, film showings, author visits, and lots of free events. And most libraries fund-raise by selling off books that people have donated to them over the year - this means dirt cheap books for you to take home, usually unmarked and brand new. How people can spend $50 on a hardcover, read it once and throw it out I'll never know... -You have to spend money to make money? I do a lot of my shopping at a department store with a points reward system, and have gotten over $100 in gift cards from it over the past year. It's also quite a lot cheaper to buy things like pop and grocery staples there than at the grocery store - things like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, too. I buy a lot of gifts there, and basic wardrobe items like socks, so it adds up very quickly. (I do shop around though - i'm not all about the points.) -I take advantage of every possible training opportunity at work - they're usually sponsored, I learn things, and it builds my resume so that someday I can get an even better job, if I want. That's like free money, if your employer offers any. -I try to plan meals around what's on sale at the grocery store, but I find it really difficult to do that consistantly, so now what we do is have two 'nice' meals per week (more expensive groceries), two pantry meals per week (cheap) and one dinner out. (We used to have three or four dinners out!) And then we forage for leftovers on weekends, or we wind up so busy that we miss dinner anyway. The nice meal might be roast chicken or lasagne, and the pantry ones might be pasta and sauce or omelettes. You get the idea. -Laundry - I use my clothesline whenever possible. I use the dryer savings to pay to have shirts ironed, becuase I hate doing that and my time is worth more anyway. -Change: all loonies go to to the laundry coin jar. All twonies go to the parking change jar. All smaller change goes into my plastic frog piggie bank, to be saved for our honeymoon. We roll the change ever 3 or 4 months and it's always $80 - $100 each time. I have a set amount of spending money for the pay period (which includes groceries, entertainment, snacks, meals out, etc.) and I never spend change. I have saved SO much money by switching to cash only. -I save at least $80/year by using a no-fees virtual bank. Plus it has much higher interest on my meagre savings, which is lovely too. Free cheques, free chequing, and no service fees at all. I've also somehow managed to make friends with one bank teller, who always removes the fee for the money orders I have to get each month. ($19.50) I don't expect that, but she always sneaks it in - the first time she screwed them all up and i was really nice about it, that's all. -Coworkers donated all our furniture when I moved here with nothing but a backpack and suitcase. We're in the process of replacing it piece by piece, but for now we have functional used stuff. TELL people what you need, chances are someone has one in their basement or grandma's house. That's not much but it's really helped me to stop living paycheque to paycheque - not enough to pay off my student loans right away, but I can buy a new CD without bankrupting myself!