Let’s save some money together

by Nick on September 2, 2010

I was looking through the library earlier in the week and saw a book by Jonathan D. Pond called 1001 Ways to Cut Your Expenses.  It’s a fairly old book (1992) but it looked like an easy read and, with 1001 ways, I figured at least one or two had to apply to me, right?  Plus, because I was at the library, the book was “free” to borrow and on a topic I enjoy, so I wasn’t very concerned about wasting time.  So I borrowed it.  If I had to buy it for $12 I probably would have flipped a few pages until I found at least $12 in savings for me and then bought it – or waited to go to the library the next day.

Anyhow, there are some pretty interesting suggestions in there.  Some of them are “old” like “keep an up-to-date address book with telephone numbers” so you don’t have to “pay for directory assistance calls” and “avoid making credit card telephone calls.”  Another one I like (“like,” as in, almost swallowed my tongue laughing at) is “pay your utility bills in person” to save the price of a stamp for each utility bill you pay in person.  So I guess I got some entertainment value out of the book, too!

There are some ones that are still useful.  I guess we can call those “classics.”  I’ve really only been randomly flipping through it, but I’ll probably read it cover to cover instead (just to be a little more organized and not read the same thing three times). 

So far here are the three useful ones I like (because they are recurring expenses that can be cut with little effort):

  • Buy energy-efficient light bulbs.  We haven’t done this.  Historically they were pretty expensive or weren’t very good at lighting a room (kind of defeats the purpose of having a light…).  But I’m learning that the price has come down and quality has come up.  And conserving energey is also good for the world, from what “they” tell me.  Win, win?  Maybe.  So we’re looking into this now.
  • Control air conditioning and use fans.  We have central air and got lazy with it.  For quite a while it ran at 72 degrees 24 hours a day (even when we were not home).  So for the past month or so we’ve been adjusting it up a few degrees and using a ceiling fan in our bedroom at night.  Last month our bill was about $25 lower.  Good stuff.  Found money.
  • Buy machine washable clothes and not dry-clean only whenever possible.  This one hit us hard.  My wife used to work in the corporate world and I still do.  When we both started we stocked up on “work clothes” based on price and look, but we didn’t think to look at the tag.  A lot of what we bought was dry clean only, which basically costs as much as the clothes did after a hand full of “washes.”  So we switched to machine washable work clothes and saved a ton of money. 

I got the most grief from friends on the last one.  They said you need nice clothes in the corporate world.  But the problem was the word “nice.”  Nice doesn’t mean dry clean only folks!  It just doesn’t.  I do just fine.  No one will mistake me for a GQ model, for sure, but no one puts change in my coffee cup in the morning either (unfortunately).  For those readers who work with me, feel free to put money in my coffee.  I won’t mind picking it out even if it is full (the coffee is free at work).  I realize I’m taking a chance that you’re all going to get rolls of pennies just to ruin my coffee, but I have a workaround for that, so feel free.  🙂

The bottom line is unless you have to wear a suit to work every day because of a dress code, you can probably find a decent wardrobe without sending your dry cleaner’s kids to college on your dime.  I like to keep my dimes in my coffee…

So attack your finances from all angles.  I think I’m going to like this book.  I’ll let you know what else I find that we’re going to use.  So until next time, put your credit card down and slowly step away from the mall!

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