I am notorious for inadvertently wasting money. It is something that I am not proud of and I have to work very hard to change my bad habits. After learning some very hard lessons, here are some ways that I try not to piss away my money:
1. Do a “check up” twice a year of your services: comparison shop on your current services twice a year. Go through cable, cell phone, insurance and other services and see if you can get a better deal. Before you make the leap to the new provider, you should weigh what it will cost you if anything to jump ship. For example, if you can get a better deal on cell service but have a high termination fee, it may not be worth it to make the switch.
2. Clean your cupboards: I know this sounds kind of weird, but I have saved a lot of money doing this. When things are clean and organized, you tend to only buy what you need instead of buying duplicates of things you already have because you didn’t know you already had it.
3. Don’t buy things with a sensitive expiration date in bulk: I suffer tremendously during allergy season so it is very tempting to buy allergy meds in bulk. This is a bad idea with medications as they expire. It’s better to buy medication in normal quantities if they have a short shelf life. I ended up taking two year old Claritin the other day because I bought it in bulk, desperately needed it and didn’t want to waste it. Needless to say it didn’t work and left me feeling dizzy. I don’t recommend doing this!
4. If you have kids, skip the brand names: I have never understood why other parents buy their kids brand name clothes. Do you know what kids do to clothes? They destroy them! No matter their age, kids get into a lot of stuff and you are wasting your money. The only thing I would recommend coughing up the dough for is decent shoes and coats. T-shirts, jeans, etc. can come from major retailers. No one is checking your kids labels when they show up at school and as long as they look presentable, who the hell cares what designer they’re wearing?
5. Read your bills!: These seems obvious, but a lot of us don’t really do this. Scan your bills for unnecessary or erroneous charges. Particularly with the winter season upon us, double check your utility bills to make sure that you are getting “actual” instead of “estimated” meter reads. If a charge on a bill seems funky to you, call the company, you may save yourself a few bucks.
6. Keep a budget: Not only should your broke-ass keep a budget, but you need to go through it at the end of every month and plug in your actual spending numbers to see how you are doing. If you find yourself turning out your pockets at the end of the month wondering what happened to your money, a budget will fix that problem for you.
7. Avoid “convenience fees” like the plague: It may seem easier to pay a $2.00 surcharge to pay for something online, but if you do this often, those convenience fees add up. If you pay bills via phone, check to make sure that you are not being charged a fee to do so. Chances are that a postage stamp will cost you less than the banks convenience fee.
8. Check the fridge: I have a bad habit of putting things in the fridge and by the time I go back for it, it’s spoiled. Organize your refrigerator and freezer so that you know what is in there. If you are not going to eat something in a reasonable amount of time, freeze it. Be smart when you freeze your stuff, write down what it is and the date it goes in the freezer. This avoids cleaning out the freezer months later and not knowing what things are.
9. Take a cue from the tree-huggers: Go green! Unplug stuff when you aren’t using it, combine your errands, etc. is not only good for the environment, it’s great for your wallet. In many ways, being green and being cheap go hand in hand. Look up other environmentally friendly tips and chances are they will help you save a few bucks.
10. Be your own personal debt collector: If you have money out there that is owed to you by folks, go get it! If you loaned a pal money and curiously haven’t heard from them, go and start asking for your money back. Think about it, your friends took out a loan from you interest free which they wouldn’t be able to do with a bank. I’m not suggesting that you be a jerk, but go for what is rightfully yours. This money collected could help pay back any offline or on line loans you may have.