Cut Spending Tips that Work
Not being a frugalist by nature, I don’t spend a lot of my time searching for frugal ideas. Most of my recent cost-cutting efforts have been in reducing recurring monthly expenses. In the past few months, we have cut our landline telephone costs to the bone, killed the satellite radio, cancelled the daily newspaper (although they gave it back to us for free), and a few other things that I won’t further bore you with.
CNN Money has published a slide slow summarizing each of these tips. One of the most obvious of the quick-hitters is stop buying bottled water. What a waste of personal and industrial resources. Refill your bottles with tap water. That’s what we do. Can’t tell the difference. If you think you can, you’re probably making it up in your head.
Another obvious money saver is downscaling or shedding of one of your precious motor vehicles. There will be lots of consumer push back on that one. The government hates that idea. It would prefer that you turn in your older paid-for car for a brand new one. Go debt! Save GM!
The so-called frugal ideas that I dislike include that labeled in the CNN/Money list as “Twitter to save.” The suggestion is that you use your time and Twitter account to track money-saving deals tweeted by various “deal” Twitterers. My gut feeling is that this is counter-productive, for two reasons. First, from personal experience, Twitter can be a huge time-suck. It is a gigantic wasteland of mostly useless self-promotion, with a constant barrage of links to external sites. There are so many more productive things you could be doing with your Twitter time.
Second, too many people allow deal “news flashes” to convert them to impulse shoppers. They weren’t really thinking about buying that product – and they don’t actually need one – but that deal twittered to them is so good, what the heck – let’s buy two!
One money saving idea that I want to experiment with is printer ink refills. Being paper averse, I don’t print much but the cost of Canon ink cartridges is killing me. I need to try an after-market cartridge refill service.
Some not-so-obvious ideas that have worked for us include manipulating your prescription doses. Asking your physician to prescribe twice your pill dosage – which you will cut in half before taking it – can save a bunch of money. Or is that too hard for you? Maybe you need Obamacare to handle that.
Finally, I really appreciate that CNN/Money included some psychological spending tips in its collection, such as use a printed shopping list and “look but don’t touch” when clothes shopping. (The better idea is not to look at all. Mall crawling will kill any money savings plan in a single visit.)
Speaking of mall-crawling, a related mind-saving tip from the collection is not to shop when you are in a bad mood. Here’s why:
A study by Harvard management professor Jennifer Lerner has found that people who were feeling depressed when they shopped were willing to spend 30% more than consumers who were in a better frame of mind.
If you are in a bad mood and tempted to shop, first do something uplifting like calculating your net worth or balancing your checkbook. OK, those tasks may not actually be uplifting but the hard truth shock value of doing them may keep you out of the stores.
The CNN/Money slide show is one of the best compilations of practical money saving ideas Mr. ToughMoneyLove has seen. I think it’s worth your time and your money to study it.