IN THE HOME YOU'VE GOT > WAYS
TO SAVE >
haircuts/dying/perming, makeup/manicures/tanning/hair removal/etc., massage,
tobacco, new clothes/shoes/jewelry, monetary donations, expensive gifts,
frequent shopping trips (to distant stores?), health & life insurance premiums,
savings, investments, payment options:
Okay, you’re you, and these are personal – very personal
– decisions; but we’re looking for ways to save, so…
What personal expenditures could you curtail?
You could cut your own hair, or get a friend to do it (and you do his/hers?).
You could stop the dye jobs and continual root touch-ups (ask your friends if
they’d still love you with grey hair – I bet they’ll say yes!). Consider
an alternative to the perming (such as use of gel on wet hair and fluffing
shorter hair into waves as it dries). Um… I’m not going there about makeup
(your friends would still love you, though). No one needs a manicure or
pedicure, do they? – unless they’re too frail to do it themselves; and
though tanning can be healthy (vitamin D - and vitamin A, in some tanning
beds), are you overdoing it for the look? And you can remove your own body hair
at home, if that's important to you. (If the real "benefit" is someone
doing it for you - a treat - why not trade services with a friend?)
More of us probably need massages than get them! – though whether or not
you need a weekly massage, I couldn’t begin to know (but I do know they’re
costly, if you’re paying a professional)… Trade with a friend?
Other than being bad for you, and those around you (if we’re talking
smoke), tobacco is a huge money-drain – and it may be a lot cheaper to pay
"through the nose" for help to quit (certainly healthier).
This may not be palatable to those who aren't used to thinking this way (or are
used to thinking that "used = we're poor"), but no one actually needs much at all in the way
of new clothes (underwear excepted – possibly). It’s up to you, but
you can save a vast amount of money shopping in rummage stores and consignment
clothing shops. Ditto for shoes, believe it or not (because all those people –
women, mostly, but men’s shoes are available used too – are dumping
perfectly good shoes with their suddenly-out-of-fashion wardrobes).
About jewelry, there’s not much to say – other than developing a taste
for less, and/or less expensive examples of it. What about getting friends
together for a jewelry-trading party?
Perhaps you are one who makes a number of donations/tithes to non-profit
organizations… an undeniably worthy parting of your money. It’s possible
that we are so in the habit of giving in this way, though, that we don’t
notice when the size of out outlay has become a dilemma for us. Most of us would
love to give much, to many; but the practicalities make it imperative that we
choose from amongst a plethora of good causes. …And sometimes adjust the size
of our donations, as our financial resources fluctuate. I’m certainly not
going to suggest that you stop giving – it’s good for all of us to be
givers! I do suggest that an overview of your donations might be a useful
pursuit – if only to prove that giving is less of a factor in your
overall financial picture than you were thinking. (And if you feel a need to cut
back a little now, you can always re-adjust tithes at a later date, when
you’re out of a pinch.)
Gifts to important others are wonderful… but you don’t have to
spend a lot on them. (See my website the-special-gift.com
for ideas about gift-giving – and if you’re into it, gift-making.)
I live an hour away from "major stores"; I used to live in the
remote mountains, far from any shopping other than a tiny general store.
…But what with online options and produce distributors, we could (and
largely did) shop locally – though, yes, we paid a little more per item. But
we saved a ton on gas and wear and tear (on vehicles and on us)!
However, I know many people in both locales who make regular shopping trips so
as to "save" pennies on the dollar – i.e., not really! Sure, if you
have to go elsewhere anyway, make a shopping trip of it too; but if you have a
shopping "bug", you might like to consider other ways to entertain
yourself – if you want to save your money for more important things.
Of course, health insurance premiums – if you pay them (and most who work
do, even if only at a mandatory level) – can’t be said to be frivolous! (though
they can certainly be a hefty drain on the budget). If you’re a person of
healthy habits and unlikely to need doctors to the extent of your yearly
deductible (or you prefer to see alternative medical professionals not covered
under your plan anyway), you could perhaps "trade this in" for a plan
with a higher deductible and come out ahead on the monthly payments. In any
case, your savings in other areas of your life could make the personal
expenditure on health insurance
premiums that you deem necessary suddenly seem more affordable.
As to life insurance, that's a very personal decision (and usually depends on
the constitution of your household, among other variables). But here's an
important tip about life insurance: If you set up your policy some time
ago, review it - because I've read that the rates have dropped about in half
over the last ten years or so. In other words, you might be paying double what
you need to for the same coverage!
And speaking of savings… most people don’t save – do you? If
not, you’ll probably find listed here a number of ways to free up some money
so that you can begin.
I separate savings from investments, because some investments are
"iffier" than simply putting money in the bank (that habit that so
many Americans have forgotten about in their passions on consuming, upgrading,
and raking in dough from the stock market and other more volatile investments).
Of course, money in the bank might be subject to loss if the overall economy falls
dramatically; and there are many types of non-savings investments that could do
well or poorly (and I’m not a financial adviser – nor do I have much trust
in those who are) – but let’s just touch briefly on real estate investments
If we anticipate the prospect of a faltering real estate market
(and economy), this might suggest that now is the time to sell extraneous
property investments, such as vacant lots, investment homes, vacation/second
homes, and timeshares. It could well be that this is a good time to concentrate on
preserving and recapturing capital rather than betting the farm on continuing
prosperity in the housing market (or the stock market, for that matter). Yes,
you might "lose" in relation to the value you got in at, or expected
it to rise to... But if you need cash, that could take precedence (especially
considering any ongoing costs associated with the property investment). It can
be a hard call - but it can be more expensive not to even look at the
consequences on both sides of the question.
For the rest, I do advise that some attention to study of long-term
world trends can lead to better decision-making for other types of investments
than simply leaving it to a financial adviser (who stands to gain from selling
I included "payment options" in a
discussion on personal expenditures because there
are hidden money savings or drains here... It's now reported that banks make
over $10 billion a year on "so handy" debit card overdraft
fees (way more than on check overdraft charges). Of course, credit cards can
lead to wacko spending... but if you have self-control, and pay off your
card monthly, you can make money using Discover Card or other cards
that pay you a "bonus" (i.e., a dividend on purchases).
have ongoing credit card debt, shopping around for a lower interest rate can
save you a great deal in finance charges while you whittle away at the bill. (By the way, if you inherit
credit card debt, you can probably get away with negotiating a much-reduced
payment to satisfy the bill - or not have to pay at all, depending on
circumstances. After all, they probably made a killing in
finance charges over the years the debt accumulated!)