Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mr. Thrifty

That's actually the name of the model skeleton we have in our office...

But this post is actually about saving money.

Last week, I watched an episode of Oprah wherein she promised to show us how the thriftiest family in America could help a struggling family climb out of debt. Judging from blogs I've read, tons of people watched this episode (unsurprising.) I don't think that family offered anything too earth-shattering in terms of money-saving tips. For example, the mom talked about how she rarely ever uses her cell phone, so she managed to find some plan (probably pay-as-you-go where she only has to spend $5/month.) Fine for her, but I actually need my cell phone for more than emergencies. Another tip was to clip as many coupons as possible. Maybe it's just a problem with Canadian stores nowadays, but I find that coupon clipping is challenging. Either only brand-name products have coupons, or the coupons are instead tied to those annoying club cards they make you sign up for (so that they can spy on your shopping habits.)

So instead of rehashing those tips, here are MY money-saving tips, many of which I am still trying to put into practice.

1. Stock up on sale items that you'll need eventually. I am a bit of a hoarder of drugstore type items. Toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. There will always be TP at my house!

2. Break the Starbucks habit. This is a really obvious one that everyone and their dog mentions. Blah blah, if you get a latte a day you'll spend a gazillion dollars by the end of the year. I am not that much of an addict so my solution is to limit myself to one Starbucks visit a week; less if I can help it. In addition I am trying to bring my own cup to save on paper cups. Starbucks should really offer more than a 5 cent discount for this.

3. Force yourself to save money. We contribute to RRSPs on a monthly basis so that when the end of the year rolls around, it isn't all about scraping together a suitable lump sum for the year.

4. Always put God first. Not specifically a money-saving tip, but still important. My mom always taught me to put in my offering/tithes at the beginning of the month, not with the idea that God will bless you more if you are faithful with your offering, but in recognition of all He has done for you. In so doing, I have found that God always provides just what we need. And in times when I have forgotten, things just don't feel right. Hard to explain. But there you go.

5. Cell phones - look for retention plans if you want more minutes but don't want to spend more. I spent days researching better plans when I wanted to get out of my Bell plan and then poor hubby had to spend at least an hour or two on the phone negotiating new plans. But we came out of that with a great plan with a ridiculous amount of minutes and a low, low price. If you don't use your phone much, try a pay-as-you-go plan like 7-11's Speakout Wireless where your minutes last up to one year.

6. Borrow movies from the library instead of renting. Our library has lots of almost-new releases and older movies. Bonus - a cool DVD dispenser with a little man inside who shoves your DVD at you. No, not really.

7. Borrow books instead of buying. Okay, this is just me - I cannot stand to buy books because I find that I read them quickly and then I don't often read them again. (Exception: my Harry Potter books.) I much prefer borrowing books at the library, reading them, then ditching them. My only concern is that the books are probably covered in germs. Yuck. Wash your hands!

8. Wear more sweaters. Every year we hold out as long as we can before turning on the heat, preferring to keep the house at a cool 16 degrees. This year we have turned the heat on about three times, and then only to 18 degrees. Why would you turn on the heat when you can put on an extra sweatshirt and some warm slippers?

9. Change your lightbulbs to CFLs or LED bulbs. Actually I haven't seen many LED bulbs for sale but CFLs are plentiful. They are often on sale; we bought boxes of 6 for $9 at Canadian Tire in the summer. Saving energy is always a challenge, since it's so much more convenient not to!

10. Eat less. Heh.


ArC said...

the coupons are instead tied to those annoying club cards they make you sign up for (so that they can spy on your shopping habits.)

Get a new club card every month, then... But I suspect that won't matter if you tie the club cards to the same credit card, though. Better pay with cash all the time if you really value your privacy.

Jo said...

Mr.C and I do pretty much all of the above except #2 (our weakness). He needs his coffee to keep him awake and alive (may not be Starbucks... alot of times it's Bean around the world). I go for my starbucks 2-3x a week. I justify this by telling myself we save alot of money by not eating out (we pack breakfast and lunches all the time!) and I save money at Starbucks by using my card for free soy/syrups in my coffees! Wooo!

I also enjoy shopping for TP and drugstore type stuffs. And apparently laundry detergent as well (I have 3 huge jugs right now sitting in my house... when there was a buy 1 get 1 deal lol).