Cut Spending Tips that Work

August 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Spending

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.

I do pay attention when I come across some frugal ideas that make sense, have general application, and are not over-the-top extreme like this one. Today I found a collection of 50 money saving ideas that promise to knock $500 from your monthly spending. Upon further review, I think that most of them could work for many people.

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.

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9 Responses to “Cut Spending Tips that Work”
  1. MasterPo says:

    I agree about the ink refills. I’ve been using refills from Cartridge World (a franchise in the area) and they are a about 60% cheaper than new catridges. I can get at least 2 refills out of each cartridge.

    But I disagree about the bottled water. Unless you have a filter on your tap then you aren’t getting the benefit of bottled H2O. Most of the major brands are reverse-osmosis filtered which is better than any straight tap. ALso there is the issue of bacterial growing in the bottle from being refilled. Lots of articles about that.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, will check it out.
    As for twitter, I think it could be useful in finding deals-but maybe more so coupons on something you were going to buy anyway– but I generally agree that the time spent may not be worth the return- especially if you buy something on impulse.

  3. Rick Beagle says:

    You know, you talk about saving money and then you insert the Obamacare slur. If the country went to a single payer system, we would get better coverage at a substantial savings to everyone (most peg the cost reduction around 30%). If you are interested in saving money, and you have no delusions about our healthcare system, then why the slur?

    Three links (two are repeats):

    Here is healthcare in our country.

    This article gives a glimpse into how we have been manipulated.

    This article provides those pesky fiscal details that the progressives have been trying to get you folks to read.

    I have a question for you, what logical reason do you have for opposing health care reform? Please, if you are trying to save money, help reduce our long term deficit, why then are you opposing reform?

    We now have people showing off their guns at these rallies in an attempt to silence discussion at the mere threat of violence (publicity stunt or demonstrationo of their rights my butt). What in God’s name are you folks doing?!

    Rick Beagle

  4. Tap water tastes varies all over the map. The Las Vegas area has horribly hard water and tastes terrible. Living out in the country usually means well water – no filters whatsoever. Many public places, such as airports and parks, have water that smells like rotten eggs (i.e. no charcoal filter). That said, we get filtered drinking water by the gallon or five gallon at a fill-your-own place. Also wash the bottles out every so often and disinfect them.

  5. Ashley says:

    I don’t consider myself to be a frugalista but as you said of lot of these items are no-brainers. However I have actually found value in scrolling Twitter for deals. I’m also a new big fan of groupon (! I allow myself to spend a certain amount each month on dining out. Through participating in some of their deals, I’ve tried a lot of new awesome places while pre-planning and staying well below my budget.

  6. MasterPo says:

    An online video magazine, the Clinton News Network, and a blog – responsible and reliable paragons of journalism virtue. (not!)

    I think Mr. TML’s point about Obamacare was that some people (and a growing number unfortunately IMO) are soooooo lazy and weak minded that if someone from the gov doesn’t tell them to put on pants they’ll go naked all day!

    The guy with a gun (I saw the video, did you?) never touched it, never brandished it, and didn’t threaten anyone.

    Meanwhile, a member of the SEIU *did* hit a protestor.

    Now tell me who is doing the violence.

    ps- Can you show me how national health care has helped Canada, England, France, Sweeden, et al reduce their national deficits?

  7. Rick Beagle says:

    “The guy with a gun (I saw the video, did you?) never touched it, never brandished it, and didn’t threaten anyone.

    Meanwhile, a member of the SEIU *did* hit a protestor.”

    You are kidding me right? You are insinuating that the left is more violent than the right at these protests? MasterPo, would you go to a passion filled debate if you knew liberals were openly brandishing loaded guns? This is a blatant attempt to intimidate the opposition, and you standing up for them is downright DISGUSTING.

    “ps- Can you show me how national health care has helped Canada, England, France, Sweeden, et al reduce their national deficits?”

    They live longer, are generally healthier, and are therefore more productive citizents – meaning more taxes – meaning more cash to pay off deficits. This isn’t a hard concept to get, and it is the least complicated of the thousands of published paper that show a direct correlation between our financial future, deficit spending and our current health care system.
    Which brings me back to my question, the FACTS clearly support and suggest that we make a change, what exactly is your issue was the question posed. An opportunity for you to be involved: in the process, in the discussion, to tell your side of the debate – and all you can muster up is THAT post? Barney Frank was right, it really is like talking to a dining room table.

    And I ignored your stupid comment about us needing the government to dress(use a road much? park? Medicare? Police? Fire? etc) as the comment was insipid and not reflective of anyone’s reality. Maybe you live on the same planet as that women in the Barney video.

    Rick Beagle

  8. MasterPo says:

    If a conservative has hurt someone at one of these town hall meetings it would be front page news. I haven’t seen it. But the SEIU attack is well documented.

    A bigger question to you is:

    Why do YOU (and other liberals) so adamantly support THIS SPECIFIC legislation? (HR3200)

    Why do YOU so strongly hold on to this one single piece of legislation as the #1 and only possible way to improve healthcare in America?

    Why do YOU condem anyone who has concerns about what HR3200 implies or can lead to?

    Why do YOU feel this problem, that has been brewing for years and years and years, must be solved right this very second by HR3200 without any comittee review, studies, panels, etc.?

  9. Terry Pratt says:

    Calculating my net worth is definitely NOT uplifting – it’s depressing!

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