Some people have boundless energy for the pursuit of savings. It’s a passion (or obsession, depending on your point of view). They can’t stop thinking about ways to save money. The prospect of a good deal gives them the strength of Superman, the detective skills of Batman and the single-minded, robotic determination of The Terminator.
But that’s other people.
You and me? We haven’t got time for that! (Okay, in fairness, I do have time for that. I just don’t want to.)
Personally, I think that the big, sweeping, money-saving type of life changes are great and all, but the easy ones that hardly require me to do anything are the tops. Without question.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at five incredibly easy, hardly-have-to-do-anything-at-all ways to save you money immediately.
Like, today. Right after you’re done reading this.
Ready? Here we go.
1) Pull the plug
Your TV never sleeps. Neither does your microwave. Or your coffee maker, for that matter. By that I don’t mean that your appliances all spring to life at night after you go to bed and have sophisticated parties while they plot your demise. I just mean that if your electronics are still plugged in – even if they’re off – they’re using electricity and costing you money. It’s referred to as “standby energy” and it accounts for about 5% of all residential electricity consumed every year, which can add up to hundreds of dollars every year.
Thankfully the solution is terrifically easy – if you aren’t using it, unplug it. Alternately, you can use a power strip and close the circuit on the strip when you don’t need any of the attached appliances.
Also, I know it might seem like a pain, but if you aren’t using your computer, turn it all the way off. And if you still use a screensaver, consider just turning your monitor off instead. Both changes can save you a lot of money in the long run.
2) Say no to premium
Your car is one of the biggest investments you’ll make (behind your house, your children and all the repairs you’ll have to make to your house after you have your children). So it makes sense that you’d want to protect that investment with further investments. In that regard, buying the most expensive gasoline for your car seems like a good idea, because of all the emissions and deposits and octane…discharge…something.
The truth is, you should really only use the fuel grade recommended by the manufacturer (which is almost always regular). According to the FTC, higher octane fuels are really only useful for high compression engines (found in luxury and high end sports cars). Your car’s performance and lifespan will generally not be improved by buying more expensive gas.
You wallet, however, will be greatly impacted. So stick with regular and save some money.
3) Take a minute at the virtual checkout
Buying items online is kind of fun (except for the part where your money goes away and you don’t have anything to show for it yet). And a lot of times it can be cheaper than buying items in the store. However, it could always be even cheaper than that.
Before you buy anything online, make sure you take a brief moment to do two things: check competitors and look for coupon codes. Remember, one of the benefits of shopping online is the ability to comparison shop quickly and easily, so don’t give up that perk. Look around. You may be able to find what you want cheaper somewhere else.
And even if your chosen vendor already has the best deal, make sure you take a minute to see if there are any coupons out there that can save you even more money (Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.com are great places to start).
4) Never shop without a list
In an ideal world, your credit cards would live inside a high tech vault, guarded by robotic sentinels. Every time you wanted to use your credit cards the robot sentinels would demand to see your shopping list. After examining the list, they would politely suggest a few seasonal meals featuring lentils and/or garbanzo beans, then relinquish the desired card and send you on your way.
The point is simply this: one of the easiest things you can do to save yourself money is to never, ever leave the house in search of goods and services without a list in hand. It saves you money and it saves you time (which is worth money!).
5) Get a library card
First of all, the library is awesome. They have books and magazines and movies and CDs and pretty much everything you’d ever need to be entertained.
Do you buy a lot of books? Do you rent a lot of movies?
Don’t even worry about replacing your old entertainment habits. Just go get a library card and then once a week or once a month or however often you’d like go to the library. Take out some books. Take out some movies. And over time – without even meaning to – you’ll find yourself spending less money on entertainment. Guaranteed.
(I guess what I'm trying to get at is that we have LOTS of great ways to save. Look around - I bet you'll find something that suits you!)