How to Save Thousands of Dollars Per YearSunday, September 13, 2015
If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that life is too expensive. There are lots of reasons for this. The cost of goods has risen at a rate that far outpaces the current standard for a living wage, products aren’t made to last and need to be replaced more often and at ever increasing rates and, if you’re feeling particularly cynical: corporate greed.
But what if life didn’t have to cost so much? What if there were things that you could do to reduce the amount of money you spend on, well, just about everything? Here are some tips for how to do just that.
Wait, what? Aren’t utility prices fixed? Yes and no. In some states, the energy market is very highly regulated and there isn’t much choice at all when it comes to energy providers. In some areas though, like Texas and Illinois, the market has been deregulated and you are absolutely allowed to shop around for the best rates on the types of energy you want. This is also true for our friends north of the border. In Alberta, Canada for example, residents can search sites like AlbertaEnergyProviders.com to find the best deals in their towns.
If you aren’t lucky enough to live in a deregulated market, you might still have some wiggle room with your bills. Scour your utility bills and make sure that every tax and fee that you are charged is legitimate. Many utility companies will artificially inflate these numbers. Make sure it isn’t happening to you! Even if your bill only drops by a few dollars, that’s better than nothing!
Produce that you grow yourself is cheaper and tastes better than the produce you get from the store. Even better, you can often start your own gardens for very little cost. You sometimes don’t even need to pay for seeds; just use the seeds you find in the produce you’ve already purchased!
For dry goods, as you probably already know, your best option is to buy in bulk. Sign up for a Costco or Sam's Club card and just stock up. You won’t have to buy rice again for a year! The primary issue with this is that most of us don’t have the space to store all of those non-perishable goods or the resources to buy the proper storage containers to hold all of it safely.
To get around this, get a joint membership with a friend (which handily cuts the membership price in half). Then go shopping together (or with a group; only one of you needs to have a card), and split up your haul when you get home. Everyone saves money and you get a fun friend outing at the same time!
We all need stuff. We need clothes and we like books and going to the movies, etc. The problem is that buying these things new is expensive. Here are a couple of ways to save on the stuff we need and the stuff we want.
Thrift Shopping: seriously. If you take your time to search, you can find great stuff in great condition for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay for it new. To save even more money, learn how the sales and discounts work at your favorite shop. Most have frequent buyer and loyalty programs that you can use to your advantage.
The Library: it’s true; you don’t get to keep the books and movies you borrow from the library. But you still get to be entertained by them! Libraries also often have community programming and bring in guest speakers, show movies, etc. Libraries are a great place for all sorts of entertainment.
The Internet: there are lots of great sites and services online that can help you get the things you need for very low costs. Everybody knows about Craigslist, obviously. You’ve probably also heard of Freecycle. There is also a new service called Rooster that facilitates giving. People can ask for what they need and people can give it to them. People who have things they don’t need anymore or things they want to share can post them and the people who need them can claim them. The only caveat is that no money ever changes hands. Everything is given and shared for free. Pretty cool, huh?
There are so many ways to save money: riding a bike instead of driving saves on car costs and allows you to cancel your gym membership. Learning to sew lets you repurpose your old clothes into new clothes. If you’re willing to get creative, we bet you could go a whole year without spending any money and still get all of the things and services you need!