This topic brought to you by my brother in law who posted this David Ramsey article today as I was trying to decided what to write about today. The article was 10 things that Americans waste money on and they are 10 good things. Fortunately I’ve already taken care of all of them more or less. In brief his article said this is what you waste on;
1. Credit card interest – got it, I’m fortunate enough to be able to pay off my credit card every month so I avoid all fees.
– I add to this that if you are able to exercise control over your spending and use your card like cash (ie don’t over spend) you can get good deals and cash back from using the card well.
2. Deal websites – they say you never use them therefore they are a waste. I use them and love them and if I ever fail to use up one I call and ask if I still can and usually they still honor it. If they won’t you still get the face value so it is never ‘lost’. Make sure you buy carefully and things you need but I really like to use them more for experiences because it gets us out and about to something we might not use.
– I add to this that you should always look on the deal sites for something you were planning on doing anyway to see if there is a deal.
3. Appetizers – they say meals are big enough already – I agree, I seldom order one and if Lars does it is because he just loves that type of food.
– I add that going for appetizers and dessert to a fancy restaurant really cuts down on the price and you still get some of the best of what the place has to offer.
4. ATM fees – foreign machines charge! Agree, I avoid the ATM in general and use my credit card like cash. When I do go (or Lars does) we get out the max to avoid going again for a while.
5. Overdraft fees – be careful with money! I know I’m lucky to be able to not watch every penny, but, yes – just tell yourself you have $X.XX less then you really do to avoid it. I think I’ve avoided this all my life
7. Designer baby clothes – I got most of my things hand me down and they were fine. Other then that I try to not over spend on clothing for anyone – I don’t think anyone really notices what you are wearing.
8. Unused gym memberships – I use my membership to the best of my ability. 2x a week usually. The reason I use it so much is because it also offers a great pool and playground for kids as well as kid care for me to work out. You need to be realistic when you buy and look for the best value for the whole family and then you will use it.
9. Premium cable packages – we lived for years and years without and this year I called and got 2 premium channels for $14 a month. For us who can’t leave the house without a sitter it is worth it and I think saves us money because we canceled 1/2 our netflix.
10. Daily coffee trips – yes, I view them as treats and frequent them as such. Most of my coffee is from home.
Ok so here are a few of MY tips for not wasting money
1. Buy decent groceries – Don’t try and skimp by buying sub par quality (store brand for equal product is fine) Good bread is usually healthier and bigger and one sandwich really fills you up, far better then the bread that is a dollar less. (I like the double fiber or double protein bread). I think people waste money on food that is not satisfying, just pay the extra dollar for the better bread or cold cuts AND you might be more energized to cook if you have good ingredients.
2. Cut back on expensive play date locations. Find free things to do and bring a lunch. There are tons of parks to explore that are all free, and, if you bring snacks less temptation to eat out. If you make a mission of ‘how many parks’ etc it adds an element of fun
3. Ax souvenirs, take pictures. After the investment of a camera or a camera phone pictures are basically free and you get more memories then a t-shirt or toy or plate or whatever. If you watch the adds you can get very inexpensive prints or books you can make later for a physical reminder. I like to pack so tight that there is no room for anything to come back with us.
4. Rethink clipping coupons. I won’t say coupons are bad IF you are intending to buy that whatever anyway, but, they often get you to buy things you don’t need and then you have to find a place to store them and half the time you forget. Try using your Amazon prime to its fullest and set up a subscription – if there is something you know you need all the time go for the subscription. I find it cuts down on grocery trips, once we started a diaper subscription we didn’t have to go to costco as often AND often there is a discount on the subscription. This is the same theory as Melaleuca because I buy all my house cleaning and a few other categories of things I don’t have to go to the aisle in the store and impulse purchase.
5. Don’t pay over $20 for a kids fancy dress. Shop for dressy kids clothes in 2nd hand stores – you get more selection then the 5 things the store has and you know that the dress (or suit) was worn maybe twice. I’ve gotten plenty of things with tags even. The second best is to buy after a holiday season but don’t get sucked in by a sale if you don’t actually need it.
I think that being careful and thoughtful will usually save you money. Buy the things you need, plan ahead… I have participated in tons of discussions about the cycle of poverty and how much of a trap it really is so I am more aware of my situation and how to keep ahead. Hey, maybe these tips might help, Ramsey is doing well.