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A Penny saved....

Benjamin Franklin: “A penny saved, is a penny earned.”

Many of us live just within our means or even beyond. Once we are on this track, it’s hard to get off,

especially this time of year with winter just around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I find January one the most financially challenging months of the year. There is the Christmas credit card bill to pay as well as the increased energy costs that come with ice and snow.

Unless you can talk your employer into a raise or overtime, the only other logical alternative is to reduce expenses.

The very first thing you must do is change your mindset. If cost cutting measures make you ‘feel poor’, then they will lead to frustration and impulse spending in other areas. However, if you feel proud of your cost saving ingenuity and use the resulting cash flow to pay down debt or grow your money, then you can start ‘feeling rich’. This is very important. I started down this path a few years back, and I am saving hundreds of dollars a month.

Here are some tips that work for me:

  • Carry Cash: Figure out your weekly grocery budget and carry this amount in cash. When it’s gone, it’s gone. This forces you to buy only what you need and cuts down on impulse shopping.

  • Brown bag it: Bring your lunch to work. This is a biggie. Yes, you spend a little more in groceries, but you eat healthier and save yourself hundreds of dollars. Let’s say you spend between $5 and $10 a day on meals. If you bring it from home, you can most likely cut that figure in half. Let’s say $5 x 5 days x 4 weeks – There is an extra $100!

  • Ditch Cable: The cost of basic Cable runs about $40/month depending on where you live…. Enough said. In rural areas where internet is still on dial up, you can probably use antenna. If you are blessed with high speed internet, you can treat yourself to Netflix for $7.95/month. Congratulations, you just saved another $30 a month.

  • Phone or cell, but not both: Once every family member in the household possessed their own cell phone, it occurred to me that I should cancel my landline. Kaching… I saved another $50 per month. Review your cell phone plan. Do you really need data when so many places now offer free WiFi?

  • Conserve Energy: I live in an area where electricity costs less after 7pm and on weekends. I save a lot of money by running appliances during off peak hours.

  • Conserve Water: If you are not on a well and septic system, you are paying a lot of money for water and sewage. Consider hand washing your pots and pans, and only using your dishwasher for dishes. You’ll run it less often. Be mindful when you shower or water your garden and lawn.

  • Turn down the heat: If you live in Canada (eh?) or any other land of ice and snow, put on a sweater, socks, and slippers. I was able to switch my oil furnace to gas and reduced my heating bill from $200 per month to less than $50. I’ll recoup the cost of the furnace installation within a couple of years and have increased the value of my home.

  • Turn off the lights: I once read that Arnold Schwarzenegger (the light bulb terminator) used to ‘punish’ his children for forgetting to turn off the lights by unscrewing and taking away their light bulbs! Consider switching out your old light bulbs for the newer energy saving type. Personally, I love candle light dinners.

Individually, these little savings here and there are a drop on a hot stone, but if you combine just a few of these cost cutting measures, you suddenly have a substantial river. Since I started with Benjamin Franklin, I might as well finish with him:

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”


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