This is the seventeenth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?
Instead of focusing on each of the individual 101 ways to save money (and boring people to sleep), I thought I’d comment in general on the groupings of these (each seven or eight tips is under a subheading).
Interest Payments and Financial Charges
The biggest keys here are to keep your credit cards paid off (tip #1) and get your accounts at a bank that doesn’t treat you terribly (hinted at by the other tips). I split all my accounts (and my mortgage debt) between my local credit union and ING Direct (my primary bank, which I love). Both banks treat me quite well, with almost no fees, good interest rates on debts and on my deposits, and no problems with getting ahold of customer service when I need it. Compared to my fee-ridden experience with a large bank in the past, it has been a very satisfying and financially rewarding experience to get all my money into banks that respect me as a customer.
Most of these are pretty obvious (have the minimum number of cars you need, use public transportation, and so on), but a few really stick out. I’m a big believer in learning basic auto maintenance. It’s well worth your time and money to know how to air up your tires, change a flat tire, and change oil, and it’s even worth learning more than that if you’re willing to actually learn it. In fact, changing your own oil is a big one – most oil changing places do a very poor job of changing oil simply because they don’t let the oil drip out for an hour or two. This is because they’re trying to get it done in a “jiffy,” so they just let 99% of the oil flow out, cap it back up, then dump in new. The problem is that the remaining 1% is the nastiest oil, so your oil is already not the best the second you leave the shop. Do it yourself, and your car will actually run more efficiently than before because the oil will lubricate your engine much better.
Eat healthy and exercise. Let me repeat, eat healthy and exercise. There’s nothing else you can do that will help with medical costs better than that. How can you do that? Commit yourself to a bit of exercise each day, and then make your food at home. It’s also worthwhile to reduce your stress level, get some sleep, and cut unhealthy habits out of your life. If you do all of these things, you won’t need to worry as much about medical insurance because you won’t need to use it nearly as much.
Most of these tactics center on living in a cheaper neighborhood and in a smaller house, both of which save a tremendous amount of money, as well as renting out your unused space. We basically have an appropriate amount of space for our family, even figuring in a couple years’ worth of family growth (we’re ready for two more children, seriously), and we live in an inexpensive part of the country. Another key piece – do your own home repairs, something hinted at above with the auto repair concept. Basically, learn how to take care of your stuff and do it.
This section focuses on sharing, a tactic that not only can reap financial benefits, but sets a good example for children. I particularly like the concept of doing as much as you can on the barter system – trade stuff with neighbors, even including trading skills. My favorite? Trading clothes with yourself in the future. This is actually something I do – I’ll put a lot of my clothes in a box and wear the others exclusively for a while, then switch them. It suddenly looks like I have a new wardrobe, when I really don’t. Combine this with frugal tactics about clothes in general and you end up saving a lot of money.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue chapter six, “The American Dream – On A Shoestring,” focusing on the second half of the section “101 Sure Ways To Save Money.” This section appears on pages 197 through 212 in my paperback version of the book.