I must have read “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach at least two times. He has some pretty good money saving tips like foregoing that “Grande, Non-fat Cinnamon Latte with Soy Milk and a Caramel Drizzle” from Starbucks or having an automatic withdrawal from your bank account directly to your retirement savings plan so you pay yourself first. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy. It is worth your while to read it.
Once my family started on the road of saving money, it was hard to stop. We became mindful of our spending habits and it made us realize that we can save money and in some circumstances, help in our global fight to save the environment.
Here are just 4 money saving tips that just blows me away.
1. My “Latte” Factor
I love reading. That is my “latte” factor….books made with real pages, made with real paper that makes a sound when you turn the page, and pages you can write on or highlight with a pen when you come across a “eureka moment”.
Unfortunately, brand new books are expensive. So, to save money, I got myself a library card. It’s FREE. I am lucky that my local library carries books from a whole array of disciplines and new books are ordered regularly.
Unfortunately, you cannot write on the pages. So, to further save money, I go to the local goodwill store. In Canada, we have a local non-for profit thrift store called “Value Village”. They accept donations including gently used clothing, furniture, electronics and previously enjoyed books. A portion of the sales is donated to a local charity.
A book that is $30 brand new at the bookstore only generally costs me $7. That is almost 75% off the cover price and it is almost always in mint condition! It also helps that these books are diverted from the landfill and helps our local charity. Win-win, don’t you agree?
2. My love affair with credit
Wait, what? Yeah, you read right. If you use credit the right way, it actually pays off for you…and not for the bank.
I got my first credit card when I was in university. That was almost 20 years ago. I was given $500 as my spending limit and I thought that was a lot! Of course, I did not know how to use it properly (perhaps a Credit Card 101 course would have helped). I blew the limit almost immediately and incurred hefty interest charges. For an accounting student, very disappointing indeed. But, on the other hand, having a credit card also allowed me to rent my very own place close to campus. Fast forward to today–you really cannot live without some form of credit in this day and age but you have to be mindful of what and how you use it.
First of all, make sure you pay the FULL balance on your credit card. If you miss the payment date even for one day, you have to pay interest for the whole month. Banks love it when people just pay the minimum $10 and carry the balance forward…you pay more interest which translates to more profits for them. Feeling cheated, yet?
If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card , use a line of credit to pay it off. Generally, lines of credit (whether secured or unsecured) would have interest way below the average 20-25% interest rate that credit card companies charge.
It does bring a good question to mind “ARE YOU SPENDING MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE?”. I’ll give you a moment to think about that.
Another way of using credit to your advantage is if you have a mortgage (which is a good type of credit!) that has an interest rate that is higher than your line of credit rate. Talk to your banker for options and perhaps you can save a little bit of interest by prepaying your mortgage through your credit line. While you’re at it, ask your banker to waive any credit card fees, you might get lucky and save $100 annually.
Last but not least, always ask yourself before you whip out your credit card to make that next purchase–“do I have the money to buy this right now?” If not, I would return that pretty little top back in the rack and come back when you can actually afford it.
Yeah, tough love.
3. Grocery shopping–there’s an app for that!
It is a well known fact that when going to the grocery store, always shop in the outside aisles which are the produce, meat, eggs and dairy sections. Wholesome food, as my husband calls it. There will always be sales going on for those perishable items. But of course, sometimes, you do have to venture into the middle aisles for items that are not so perishable. For example, we have to have detergent, toilet paper, or shampoo.
Most of the grocery stores I go to have a “price match” policy and this is where an app called “Flipp” is awesome at saving money. Search for what you are looking for, say, Pampers diapers, and it will check all the big stores that have Pampers diapers that are on sale. From there you can compare prices and save! No more clipping coupons–I just show my phone. It is as simple as that. As an added bonus, you also help the environment since you wouldn’t need to jump in your car to go to the other store!
4. My love affair with wine
I must admit, I love winding down with a good glass of wine at the end of the day. In Canada, a good bottle of wine is not cheap. A good bottle of Italian wine, say an Amarone, a lovely Italian red wine, would fetch about an average of $40-$50 per bottle. That is a pretty steep price to pay for something that will be gone in an hour if paired with a good friend and a bowlful of chips on a Friday night.
So, this tip is going to be a shocker. You can get a good bottle of Amarone wine for $8. The drawback is that you have to buy a batch (30 bottles–although, it makes for great Christmas presents!) and you have to wait to age it. It’s called “craft winemaking”. I found a great winemaking place close to my house and is run by two ladies who definitely know their wine. So, with a little patience, I am supporting a local business while enjoying inexpensive but very good wine. I also get to reuse old wine bottles when bottling! Win-win!
Oh, and for an Amarone, I would suggest you age it for six months at the very least before you pop it open…
Do you have other tips that save you money and good for the environment? If so, let me know!