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Cut To The Chase Already
I’ll keep the intro short, but here are some tips and rules to live by that I have collected over a pretty tumultuous journey through life. All of this is what works for me and is intended as commentary. I am not legally responsible for you or anyone you know being a knucklehead, so do not sue me. Personal Responsibility is what its all about!
Now that that’s out of the way, here we are…
The Smart Ways
1. Craigslist Is Your New Best Friend!
I put this at the top of the list because I truly believe this is one of the most powerful ways to not only save money but to build extremely important skills, like interpersonal communication and negotiation. Craigslist gets a bad rep for scammers and low quality items, but you would be shocked at what you can get on there. I have bought $5000 tables for $800 that were under a year old. It may seem like a hassle to negotiate and it can be painful to be told no, but with a little time you can save thousands of dollars. But don’t get carried away buying silly things. I speak from experience as you can see below.
2. Time Is Money & Money Is Time
If you make $25 an hour and you buy a $19 meal you just exchanged one hour of your time(factoring in taxes) for some food. When you begin to look at your purchases like time traded, it becomes much harder to buy new things or things you don’t need. Which brings me to my next tip:
3. Buy In Cash
Not only do people on average spend 12-18% more when using a card compared to cash (according to the ever quoted study conducted by Dun & Bradstreet), it is also psychologically easier to spend when you do not feel the negative emotion of removing physical money from your wallet and not having the bill come due for another 30 days. Dave Ramsey has elaborated in depth on this so I am not going to spend too much time on it. Though if you want more info on responsible spending and saving money check out his website here. Although his investment advice works, it is pretty dummed down. If you have the time and inclination I would not take his investment advice as bond and instead would look more into other venues such as the ever popular Robert Kiyosaki from rich dad poor dad. Robert goes more into depth about assets and liabilities, what makes you money and loses you money. If you haven’t read it, you’ve definitely heard of his book Rich Dad Poor Dad, you can pick it up by clicking below.
4. Get A Rewards Card For Recurring Bills.
This is a dangerous one, especially as I just outlined what using a credit card can do. I Personally attach all my recurring bills to my rewards card, but only if they don’t charge a premium to use a card. You can also use the free travel protections when booking vacations. But make sure you start with a budget as to not out that vacation on the card and not have the money. Being careful, you can earn cash back paying for things you have to pay for.
5. Your Car Owns You!
I wrote an entire post on this (check it out here) because of how prevalent it is for people to finance a car they do not need and get absurd rates that end up doubling the price of the car. I personally only buy cheap cars in cash so I never have to pay interest on the car and can go with only liability if the car is cheap enough. Now that I’m done tooting my own horn (I hate that one too, sorry.), i should be said that If buying a cheap car in cash is not an option just get an inexpensive, reliable car at the best interest rate you can get and make sure you aren’t buying it to stroke your ego.
The average car payment for a new vehicle is $554, and the average for a used car is $391. According to Experian, So lets take an average and say your payment is 450. That’s a cost of 54000 over ten years. That same 450 dollars invested into a medium risk mutual fund yielding 12% on average would end up being 94,763. That is an added 40,763 assuming you were to save that 450 a month and buy a cheap car. Without getting into capitol gains and the ups and downs of the markets that is nearly a years pay earned and saved for most people. Which brings me to my next way to save more.
6. Make More Money By Paying Your Self First.
Paying yourself first is done by changing your mind set. The vast majority of employees buy what they want and if anything is left they invest. Instead pick a number you want to invest and model your life around whatever is left. Switching your thinking makes sure you pay yourself before you pay anyone else. In the business of your life you are the CEO, and the CEO always takes care of the company first and his vendors second. Their are so many ways to do this, from a simple retirement plan like a Roth IRA or 401K, to a planned investment strategy. How you invest depends on how much effort you want to put in. The only thing you have to do is something. There are so many important books on this topic, but none better on switching your mindset then the classic rich dad poor dad as I stated above)
7. Get On Your Bike And Ride
This is such a simple way to save some money that has so many added benefits. Not only can you save money-on average about .50 cents per mile at least-, It also can save you money on healthcare with the added benefit of being more active. Another plus is this can save you from having a gym membership if you go there just to do cardio. Although I personally believe you don’t skimp when it comes to health. Not only will you save more money and be in better shape, it also puts you in a better mood as we all know exercising releases endorphins. Biking also allows you to get a micro prospective of your community and see the day to day changes and people from up close. This has a psychological effect that can connect you to the people you live with and give one a better feeling of belonging. Also, who doesn’t love riding a bike and all the memories it brings back of those dog days of summer as a kid. You can also make every trip a blast by finding a few jumps, bike permitting of course.
8. Be Self Sufficient… With YouTube’s Help
Learning to fix simple things on your vehicle and your equipment, like bikes and adventure tools, has never been easier then now with resources like YouTube and wiki-how. Not only do you get the money savings but you also get the indescribable satisfaction of doing a good job and the fulfillment that comes with that. You also get the added benefit of a better understanding of the systems in your vehicles and equipment so you can fix things on the fly and understand small problems before they become big ones. Examples of this would be with average cost savings.
- Changing your own oil-$15 savings
- taking care of your own yard-average $50 per month
- Fixing your bicycle- Average shop rates are $35 per hour plus the parts mark up.
- Fixing things around your house like simple plumbing and water heater repair-huge range
- Repairing your garments instead of buying new ones-$25-300
Those are a few examples but once you have the mindset of trying repair first, you will find yourself with much more money to have fun and explore!
Here is a very complete tool kit to repair just about anything.
9. Duh! De-Clutter
This is so easy to say but so hard to do. I found that when moving with my girlfriend we had emotional attachments to things that actually meant nothing to us. Letting those things go allow you to both simplify your life but also focus on what’s important. I have found that having a friend or another set of eyes when doing this keeps you objective and really helps. The biggest two items are clothing and furniture.
I go by the rule buy nice, not twice. Search for things that last a long time at a great price, and shop used whenever possible. The added savings of this is not having a storage container or needing a larger house then you do. Like goldfish we tend to fill whatever size container we are put in. This also helps you keep on eye on maintenance expenses from adding up and gives you a clearer financial picture, which is a great segue to my next point.
10. Envelopes Aren’t Just For Mail Anymore
This is a straight Dave Ramsey rip off. But budgeting all your money in cash in envelopes for even just a few months will give you the best picture of where you money is really going.
Once you get an idea of this you can decide what can give and what can not, and free up that ever needed more money for travel. I would be a real bad guy if I didn’t link to Dave Ramsey again, so check out his envelope method here.
11. Value Not Price
This is a more complicated concept to explain, but once you get it, you get it. I was lucky growing up that I had a dad who understood this. He always told me “Buy nice, not twice”, and I finally began to implement this philosophy into my life and it changed everything. An interesting quote often used to describe income inequality comes from Terry Pratchett and goes
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms: The Play
This is used to explain economic inequality here, but I believe it more describes the mindset of the rich vs. the poor.
The rich don’t have to save anymore, but they buy all unnecessary expenses in cash. When the poor want something they buy the cheapest version on a credit card. When it comes to necessary things like boots the argument is there. But when it comes to furniture, TV’s, and all other not necessary items, a wise person would save up and buy the item that will perform the best and last them the longest in the price range they can afford with cash.
This mindset also called the ‘gimme it now’ mindset comes from the inability for delayed gratification. A classic study is the Stanford marshmallow experiment, I am not going to go into the weeds on this one, but kids were given the choice to eat a marshmallow now or wait and not eat it and get two later. The children who were able to wait where followed into later life and tended to have better economic and social outcomes. If you are interested in more info read the wiki here
for example, I have a pair of speakers I saved up for and bought used for $180 that are 15 years old that have outlasted four pairs of cheap $80 speakers. When you do the math on that, I spent 320 dollars on those four pairs of speakers and $180 on the good pair that’s a $140 dollar SAVINGS by being able to wait and save. Not only did I save money but I received the added benefit of much higher quality audio over the life of the speaker.
12. Subscribe To My Blog Not Everything Else
A big way to save money is to buy your subscriptions one year at a time instead of by the month. Another great way is talk to all your friends and family and trade passwords for sites like Netflix and Hulu, (maybe amazon if you trust them) Though technically not allowed it’s hard to see this as unethical.
13. Grow Something!
An excellent way to save money is to grow your own fruits and veggies, not only will you save money but you can ensure your food is natural and of high quality. I work at a soil company and have always had excellent results with this seed pack.
If you do not have the space for a full garden, here is another excellent option!
14. Meal Prep!
Meal prepping can save you a fortune by buying your meats in bulk or on sale and making large amounts of it, you can save big bucks, the economy of scale is great isn’t it!
I have found that the worst part of meal prep is doing all the cleaning of Tupperware. I switched over to these and instead of three containers to clean, I have one!
There are also a few excellent benefits of doing this. Although it takes a longer time to cook many things it will save you time in the long run as you can get your cooking done at once. It will also save you money because there is no need to eat out at lunch when you are at work. It also allows you to control your caloric and nutritional inputs much better than just guessing at a restaurant.
15. Pack Your Lunch Foo!
My last point covered this in depth, but its so easy to just grab a few containers when you head out on an adventure and will save you a lot of money and headache over time.
16. Make More, Pay Less
This could be an entire post itself, but I will keep it simple by explaining what I do.
I sell bumper stickers online and make a few hundred bucks a month, that little bit of income helps a lot and it goes right into an adventure fund.
I also have an LLC so I can write off expenses related to my travel blogging business like fuel, hotels, and other related expenses. This allows me to live a life I want without paying to much for it. Although make sure you are operating within the law as paying a few hundred bucks in taxes is better then being a big fellas prison wife.
Examples of simple llc’s or business ideas include
- Landscape around your neighborhood
- Snow removal
- Christmas light set up and removal
- Car detailing
- WordPress design
- Use Upwork or Fiverr
- Moving help
- Buy cars at auction
- Buy old furniture, refinish and paint it and sell it
Quick Tips Time
16. Compare And Shop Your Insurance And Bundle.
17. Buy In Bulk On Non Perishables (duh).
18. Reuse Old Furniture By Refreshing It With Paint And New Accessories
19. Track Spending With An App Like Mint
Strange Or Sometimes Frowned Upon Ways To Save Money
1. Throw Parties And Keep The Spoils
This is by far the stupidest suggestion on here, but I thought of it after the last party I had. It cost me nothing to throw, except my time to clean it up, and I ended up with $80 of alcohol and beer and some cool hydro flasks. This is more of a joke but still it worked.
2. Be A Cheap Date
This is another simple way to save money, you would be shocked if you went through and added up how much you spend on buying expensive beer, wine, and liquor. An added benefit is you will probably drink less of the bad stuff. If you find yourself drinking more, well I can’t help you there.
This is a college classic but works great still. If you are meeting your friends with the intention to get too wild at a bar, just start before and maybe bring a little with you. Of course you better be Ubering both ways or get a ride. Those clubs charge a fortune for drinks. Although I don’t find myself drinking too much anymore this is a good tip to save plenty on that bar tab. I do not want this to be an excuse to get hammered, but if you are craving a beer maybe have one at home instead of at the bar. and if you need help. Get help.
4. Use Your Network
This one is a fine line between begging and just asking, and be sure to never ruin a relationship or your name by being a beggar. But, ask your friends and family if they have any spare furniture or camping equipment before you go and buy anything. Using your network to save money is a huge resource, just make sure you arent being a mooch.
This is on the weird list because it’s not for everyone, but if you need some spare money you can always rent out a room in your house or apartment. One of my favorite stories on BiggerPockets that Brandon Turner always tells is that he slept on his own couch while he rented out the rest of his house! Air B and B is a huge resource for this, but this takes thought and work. Check out BiggerPockets.com for more info!
6. Be a Creative Traveler And Camp In The Woods… Not In Spots
This is a great way to save money while on an adventure, not only does it save money, it allows you to be more a part of nature and make as much noise as you want. Camping off the beaten path also Forces you to explore to find a spot. Just make sure to bring biodegradable T.P.!
7. Grey Area Rewards Card
I am not sure if this is even legal so please do your due diligence on this one but, theoretically you could use your rewards card for large business purchases where you work on accident and get the points then get reimbursed. make sure you have a very high limit so as to not effect your credit via credit utilization going up.
Again I do not do this, but thought it may work. If this is not legal let me know and I will remove it, I am 100% not recommending anyone do anything on this list.
8.Grow Your Network
Growing the amount of people you are connected to is huge, not only does it open up professional doors, it also opens up places to stay while exploring and other peoples point of view on life and situations. A great way to do this is to volunteer. I am not recommending volunteering strictly because it may benefit you, but of course if its a win for everyone then who cares!
9. Be Flexible W/ YOGA
Yoga kind of has a negative connotation as being soft and kind of for city folks. But it offers a ridiculous amount of benefit to an avid adventurers or really anyone’s life. Not only does being more physically flexible allow you to get hurt less often if you do action sports or hike often, It also allows for mental clarity and a time to meditate and bring prospective into your life.
I am not going to go into to much detail on this one. But, this is absolutely something to consider incorporating into your life. Focus is the key to success in any end endeavor whether it is saving money or succeeding in life.
10. Last And Certainly Not Least
Do favors for people. Be generous with your time, and when you have enough be generous with your resources as well. Doing this is not only the right thing to do, but it also tends to pay itself back tenfold. Do it for altruistic reasons but be amazed at how it opens up the entire world for you. When you see yourself as generous and having enough the world tends to find a way to make that happen.
As you can see most of these points involve physically changing, but most importantly, involve a psychological and emotional change to relieve yourself of the stress of deciding, and instead putting in place cut and dry systems and ideas that create a framework to live by. It may sound like a dichotomy that getting more organized will allow you to travel and explore and have fewer plans, but eliminating mundane decisions and stresses truly frees the mind up to explore and become more childlike. Maybe we were so free and happy as kids because of its simplicity, and maybe the adult and the child can live in our heads together as one complimenting each other. For, as the almighty Tom Petty said, if you never grow up you never grow old!
Money Is Freedom! What are your favorite money saving tips? Let me know below!