By Nick Clay
Sometimes it’s good to get back to the basics. If there were a Managing Finances 101, lesson number one would probably promote frugality. A quick Google search of “money saving tips” reveals a vast array of ideas, enough to send your head spinning. Some tips are easy to implement into daily living. But some, although technically beneficial, are less practical to do in the real world.
I come across money management tips sometimes such as “Move (or retire) to a different state to save on income taxes or the cost of living.” That’s a good thought as I think about it logically. But moving to another state isn’t practical for most people. Our Tennessee clients already benefit from one of the best states in the country from an income tax and cost of living perspective.
Then there are tips like “Sell your car and use public transport.” That’s another technically worthy idea in some metro areas. However, it’s not feasible for most of our clients living in this part of the country, and I bet none of us would want to forego our cars.
Therefore, I put together a list of 15 pragmatic, easy-to-do money saving tips. None of these tips alone will make us a millionaire. Individually, they are small suggestions in the grand scheme of things. But their benefit comes from helping us to be cognizant of our spending and to be better stewards of our finances across all dollar levels of spending. As the old saying goes, pennies turn into dimes which turn into dollars!
Listed in no particular order:
- If applicable, ask for a student, military, or senior discount.
- Take advantage of membership programs that offer discounts, such as AAA and AARP.
- Sign up for the free customer rewards programs, especially at grocery stores, etc. where a lower retail price is available.
- Use coupons, but do not justify spending more just because of the “savings.”
- Make a shopping list prior to setting foot in a store, and stick to the list.
- Have water instead of other drinks when dining out.
- Shop for next year’s holiday decorations when they are deeply discounted after this year’s holiday.
- Consider giving creative hand-made, low-cost gifts and hand-written notes instead of more expensive gifts.
- Review phone, TV, or internet plans periodically, downgrading to a lower service if it meets your needs and is less expensive.
- Take advantage of free entertainment and community events.
- Pursue low-cost hobbies like hiking, running, quilting, and reading instead of more expensive hobbies.
- Cancel club memberships and magazine subscriptions that you don’t use.
- Treat friends or family to a special dinner at home rather than an expensive restaurant.
- Buy staples in bulk.
- Pack your water, gum, snacks, etc. in advance of a road trip instead of buying them at the gas stations.
The underlying message is to be aware of our spending consistently. Good forward-thinking and self-control are at the root of these “everyday” suggestions. Forward-thinking and self-control are also the foundation for healthy personal finances and wealth creation over the long run.