If there’s anything positive to say about the recent recession, it’s that many of us have learned how to live on a limited budget in some way. I regularly write about ways to save money or this thing or that, but what are some of the things that I actually practice? Here are some of the ways I save money:
- I cut my hair at home. My wife helps too, but I can get 95% of it done myself. I bought the clippers at Sam’s Club for $25 and cut my hair every three weeks. I used to pay $20 for these haircuts, so I now save about $350 annually.
- I don’t drink. I used to enjoy a bottle of wine every now and then, or a few beers on a lazy Friday afternoon, but I’ve found that I don’t need or even like alcohol, and the cost is high.
- I buy few clothes. My annual wardrobe purchases include several shirts, a pair of shorts, a few work shirts and pants, and maybe a pair of work shoes or sneakers. I don’t recall the last time I paid any more than $30 for any single one of these, with the possible exception of work shoes.
- I bought a rental car. This saves me money every month on car payments that would be $150 higher or more if I bought new and insurance premiums that would surely be higher than what I pay now.
- I frequent the library. Every book I read (about 3 per month), I get from the library or borrow from a friend. It’s free and 95% of the books I want to read (even new ones) are easily available.
- I bring lunch to work. I pack my lunch every morning, usually consisting of a sandwich, salad, or yesterday’s leftovers. I don’t spend the $10 to get lunch outside the office, or the $2 in gas to get there and back, and I gain 30-45 minutes to do additional work or have some time to pursue personal projects.
- I don’t have a home phone. By eliminating a home phone line and going cell-only, we save about $30-$50 every month. Our non-smartphones are also very inexpensive, so it’s like an even trade between phone systems.
- We’re our own daycare. This is huge, since daycare programs can easily run $10,000 a year or more in tuition alone. By combining my wife’s family-business job with child care, we can put this money to better use.
- I buy in bulk whenever possible, including groceries, toiletries, paper goods, dog food, and even clothing. I’m an active member of at least one warehouse club at all times, and I reap the benefits of lower unit costs.
- I rarely use cash, which means that I avoid the “where-did-it-go” black hole, I don’t pay ATM fees, and I don’t have a problem with my money disappearing or getting lost. (All of these were issues in the days when I used cash).
- I research nearly everything I’m going to buy to make sure that I’m not only getting the best deal, but that I’m also getting the right item, that the item works as intended and past customers are happy, and that there’s a good probability I will be too.
What steps are you taking to control your outflows?