Play along with me for a moment and imagine that you just got a raise that tripled the amount of your disposable income. You can now afford 3 times more than you could before, congratulations. Well that’s exactly what it’s like once you are able to buy everything at 70% off. Actually, it’s even better than this. That theoretical raise we’re talking about would require you to always make that new income amount to enjoy the same quality of life and afford these experiences. In some capacity, you are now dependent of this new money. Just buying things for cheaper by using your frugality, allows you to keep saving even if your income drops. Economies contract, layoffs happen, wars occur about every 20 years, health(yours or someone you love) can put you out of action or shift priorities for extended periods, and life throws you curve balls that will affect your income.
A Man’s greatest resource is his labor. I know it’s been said many times before but that’s only because it applies to so many different places in anyone’s life. Anytime I don’t have money for something I want, I ask myself ‘Can’t I just build it myself?’ and over and over, I’m still surprised that I often can. I’m not some special kind of building wizard who’s been studying the ancient ways engineering under an ancient Shao Lin master on a mountain top. I’m a regular dude who just started trying to see what I could do. Each time I get better at it which is how I know you can too. Woodworking is much the same way.
“Anything you practice, you will get better at”-Denzel Washington. [Read more…] about 4 reasons why woodworking is a must for anyone on a budget.
The original post on DIY money saving tips should have already saved you about $2000/yr on your energy costs. If that wasn’t enough, here are 10 more ways to start putting a serious dent in some of life’s operational costs. With that in mind, here’s a list of things you can get crackin’ on today to realize some solid savings asap. Many of them won’t even cost you anything up front, others require a very small cost to begin to save on energy.
Without further delay lets save some money on energy costs now!
1) Switch to drip irrigation.
If you can put Legos together, you can install drip irrigation. It uses dramatically less water than traditional sprinkles and bubblers without wasting as much water to evaporation. Thy work using low water pressure to drip water onto the soil and wet it over time instead of trying to flood it. Because of this, less water is wasted to evaporation and run off, effectively getting the water right where you want it.
2) Clean the coils on your fridge.
Cost: $0.00. If you’re like most people, you’ve never ever cleaned the coils on your fridge, and chances are good that neither did the person before you. So what the hell are the “coils”I speak of? Anything that cools air, has coils, and they need to be cleaned, whether it’s your car, air conditioner, or fridge. The coils are usually located on the bottom or the back of your fridge. Over time, they get coated with dust, lint, and dirt. This lowers the efficiency because they don’t transfer heat to the outside air as well. For a fridge, I’d simply unplug it, roll it away from the wall, vacuum out the lint, and maybe wipe it down with a rag or paper towel. It doesn’t need to be clean enough to eat off of, just relatively gunk free.
3) Turn the temp on your fridge and freezer to the Min allowable amount.
Cost: $0.00. Have ever noticed that there is a temperature setting ranging from cold to colder for your fridge and freezer? Well you can adjust this to be just a little bit less cool. This makes your fridge work a little less hard and you save the extra energy that it no longer needs. If you can turn a knob, you can save some money here.
4) Make a rain water collection system to water your yard and garden.
Cost: $50-150. Awe the joy of growing things: Plants, lawns, trees, gardens; all ripe with green foliage, flowers, shade, and a pleasant habitat to boot. Like all life, they need water but that doesn’t mean I need to keep paying so much for it. After all, it literally falls from the sky when it rains. That’s when I figured, why not collect it from my gutter system and just save it for a sunny day when my plants need water. I found a few decorative rain collection barrels at a liquidation store and have been using them for this ever since. If you don’t care as much about the appearance, you can just use a couple of food grade 55 gallon plastic barrels, paint the outside of them and pat yourself on the back. I’ve found several of these on craigslist.
Pour in a bit of dish soap to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in them though.
5) Turn up you hot water heater as the weather outside begins to get warmer.
Cost: $0.00. Also, anytime, I’m going out of town, I’ll set this on the vacation setting. It’s typically labeled on the red dial. If not, I’ll just set it to low. No point in heating water if I’m not even going to be there.
6) Mulch anything that needs to be watered.
Cost: $0-$10. Spread mulch around anything you water, from garden plants, to trees, to flowers. This will not only give the soil, and thus the water, some insulation from the suns hydro evaporating rays, it will create a welcome habitat for beneficial soil organisms like worms. All this while lowering the frequency with which you need to water and saving you some water mullah on your next bill.
7) Electric Water heater timer.
If you live in a cold climate this applies especially to you. You may need to evaluate your hot water usage schedule, but if you’re like most people, you probably use hot water in the morning, and then not again until the evening. All this time in between, all day and all night, your water heater is still burning electricity to keep 40-50 gallons of water hot for you. With a hot water heater timer, you can have it turn off and then back on again, only just before you need it. These are about $40 buck on amazon and you may need to have someone install it if you’re not up to it. Better yet, find a friend who is up to it and help them with something they need in exchange for installing it. Even so, it should start recouping some savings within a year.
While you’re at it you could…….
8) Install a Water heater insulation blanket.
A hot water insulation blanket is simply an insulated blanket that helps hold heat into the water heater. The less heat that escapes, the less energy it takes to maintain the water temperature.
9) Check your attic insulation.
Some homes had more lax building codes for insulation. Others had none at all, as was the case with mine. If you see that the insulation has fallen away or looks a little thin, you may see an improvement from simply fixing it. Most of the improvements you’ll see here come from fixing insulation “failures” which can just kind of happen over time.
10) Replace old refrigerators and freezers with newer craigslist models.
I am not recommending that you run out any replace your fridge just to replace it, but if your fridge is one of the old 80’s or 90’s ones, you could see a big improvement in efficiency by upgrading to one newer than 2005. Again, if you just go to home depot and spend $1200 on a new fridge, it’ll be 20 years before you recoup your costs by saving on electricity. So what am I proposing? Go on craigslist and find a new-ish model that someone is upgrading. You should be able to do this for much less than 1/3 the cost of a new one. Some people will even deliver if you offer them an extra $20 or $30.
Hope you found something useful to get your energy save under way.
Intelligent shoppers buy value to save huge amounts of money. Less sophisticated shoppers buy based on price. Do you ever find it odd that once a new car’s tires hit the road outside the car lot that the value drops immediately? What changed? It’s the same car. The miles are the same. It doesn’t even need an oil change yet, but if you wanted to buy it used from a third party, it would be thousands cheaper. What happened to the value?
I’m proposing that the full value was never actually there, only the perception of value. Here’s another example:I went to buy a nail gun from a guy on craigslist. I showed up and he was a normal younger dude. The guy was selling it for $30. I looked at it, it was still in the box. He even had the receipt. It has just been bought it just 3 months earlier and said that he barely used it. He paid $120 (It was a cheaper model) but he was literally selling it to me for 75% off. A light bulb went on in my head as I suddenly learned the real resale value of most items is less than half of the new price.
Sine I’m not even a haggler so I don’t usually try to chip away at the price. Sometimes, I’ll simply submit an offer online and offer to pick it up at their convenience.
It’s really that simple, so why do people insist on driving to the store where they’ll pay the highest price, when they would literally have someone meet them in the parking lot of that same store for 75% off? It’s the perception of value, fear of uncertainty, comfort of a familiar system, and it’s the entire point of marketing-you create a perceived value that is 3-20 times higher than your cost to produce the item, and then simply tell people what the item is worth. For most items they’ll believe you simply because it’s weird to stop and say ‘Will this even be worth x in 1 year’? There’s nothing wrong with someone making a profit, but there’s also nothing wrong with someone getting a great deal!
Below is a list of 11 time tested ways to save your hard earned cash and still buy some things you want/need.
Before you read the list below, I should say that there are 2 basic strategies for getting the deal. You can either be fast, that is, try to be the first one to the deal, or you can be patient sometimes and play the waiting game.
Someone who wants $50 for an item will probably take an offer of $30 if it’s been a month and they haven’t been able to sell it. Especially if you make it easy for them-be polite, offer to pick up around their schedule, etc. This is the method I prefer because it’s more appropriate for most items. Hot deals on electronics, phones, cars, and such often times are better suited for the quick draw school of bargain hunting-Get there first as soon as the person will be available! Call them don’t email them if, and be polite and accommodating. If it’s the type of thing that sells everyday you’ll have a harder time getting it for less. If it’s a bed frame or armoire it’s probably going to be sitting a lot longer since the market is flooded with items like these.
Here are the best strategies I’ve used to save big on everyday items:
1) Thrift stores!
Before you turn your nose up, go to a few and check it out. It only takes one good store to save you hundreds of dollars in a single visit. Many thrift stores simply carry over priced junk but may others carry awesome gems that they are practically giving away. I’ve literally stuffed bags full of modern name brand shirts, pants, jackets, and shoes and walked out feeling like I robbed the place. Be patient and enjoy the process. Some days you won’t find anything; others you’ll find the cheapest deals around simply because there’s a class stigma attached to “Thrift stores”. Don’t get sucked into this mindset.
2) Craigslist and offerup.com
For most day to day items, there are not as many people looking for most things as you would think. Not even in a city of 5 million people where I live. I’ve responded to 30 day old ads only to find that, you guessed it, it’s still available and the seller just wants it gone.
3) Ebay (used, best offers).
You can filter results to show only listings that will accept a best offers. Ebay listings are often sitting on there for months and many sellers mentally lower the price they’re willing to accept on that jacked that they bought last winter. Submit an offer and see what they say.
4) Used building supply stores.
Did I mention that I once remodeled my kitchen cabinets for $24? That’s not a typo. I dug through a selection of high quality cabinet doors until I found some that matched my measurements. They were $1 each. The hinges were included. I took my time and painted them to match the color I wanted. The spray paint and primer was an additional $12. All in all it was a huge improvement, especially when you consider the price.
5) Liquidation stores.
Have you ever returned an item that you opened or took out of the box? Ever wonder where stuff like that goes? Well often times stores will simply put it on a pallet along with 300 other returned items and sell it to a liquidation store. The liquidation store them sells it to you for 50-70% off. Just take an extra minute to inspect the thing you’re buying. Most places will let you test electronic items before buying.
6) Amazon (Look under the used section as well).
Occasionally on amazon, the buy button price is not the lowest especially if you’re ok with having a used version. Select “all offers” and see if there is a hefty chunk of cash you can save.
7) Yard sales.
I’m convinced that a lot of the time, people’s primary motivation for having a yard sale, is not to make money, but to get stuff they no longer want out of their garage. Some of the best deals you’ll ever get are the ones with the least amount of advertising and a yard sale is no exception. Find one where the person selling isn’t emotionally attached to letting go of their items, offer them a bulk price on several items and try to ignore the guilt that sometimes accompanies a deal so good it feels like stealing.
8) Helping friends move.
I’m not saying this should be your primary motivation for helping out a friend, but there are usually a few items that they want gone and are happy to give the person who helped them move all day. It’s a win/win situation.
9) Rent one time use tools instead of buying them.
Your local home store (Home depot) rents things you may have thought you had to buy, from nail guns, to chainsaws. If you’re only going to use it once, see if it doesn’t make sense to just rent it once (or borrow it from a friend).
10) Ebay coupons.
This might not be the first place you think of when you search for coupons, but eBay is definitely one of the easiest places to find coupons for just about everything. On your next big purchase, consider taking 5 minutes to search eBay to see if you can save some money.
11) Buy discounted gift cards to your store on craigslist.
A few years ago, I needed to buy an expensive plane ticket. I found a guy on craigslist who had won an airline gift card worth $1000. He had agreed to sell it to me for $650. Then I realized that I could get the same type of deal like this on Home Depot Cards, Target cards, or whatever. One word of caution on deals like this. There are scammers out there, so verify the amount on the card first by calling it into the company, or just meet at the parking lot of the store the card is issued by and go in together to verify the amount. Do that and you can easily save 25% on top of any discounts the store is already offering.
Why it makes sense to sometimes pay a little more for quality.
I love do it yourself projects. I love creating new things in the physical world. It feels like a primal hardwiring into my DNA. They say your passion finds you as much as you find it, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been excited about crafting new projects, creating, modifying, or otherwise building things. One inevitable necessity of this type of work is tools.
At some point you’re going to need tools to work on projects, whether they be woodworking, ceramics, glass, concrete, roofing or just crafts and clean up items. Being that I don’t have bottomless financial pockets, I have to be selective about which tools I choose and how much I pay for them. In the past, I would just buy the cheapest tools available, usually used, because I couldn’t afford much more, and this worked fabulous most of the time, but with a few big ticket items, I noticed that I just kept wearing them out or they kept failing pre-maturely. My attempts to keep my costs down were ironically costing me more than if I had bought a more expensive model. Specifically, drills, whether they be harbor freight, or the bottom of the line Walmart brand.
While they worked fine for light duty work, I couldn’t seem to get much long term use out of them. Furthermore, they couldn’t handle tougher jobs. I’m not talking industrial level, just a notch up from casual home use. The batteries would fail, the housings would crack, the reverse switches would fail, the clutches would begin to slip, and the generic Philips head bits I was buying would wear out. I estimated that with my moderate amount of DIY projects, I was going through roughly 2 $30 drills a year (Some stuff you shouldn’t buy at Harbor Freight).
Just about the time I was wondering what was so great about those more expensive drills, my neighbor showed up to help me with a project and brought his Dewalt with him. Without even intending to be a salesman, he was unintentionally convincing me of how much better a drill could be. For example, over the course of a few weekends, I saw him mix concrete with it, bore holes for electrical lines, sink hundreds of sheetrock screws using only the clutch to throttle down the appropriate about of power, drop it a time or two, and all this with huge intervals between charging the batteries. I was sold.
From that day, I began saving my dollars, and searching for ways to find a Dewalt 20v cordless drill at a discount. I checked ebay, amazon, craigslist, and offerup.com. It took me a good 3 months of stalking discounts and sales but finally I found one for just under the $150 mark. I told myself that I could easily use this for 5 years if not 10, and 5 years of buying crappy drills at $30 each comes out to $300. This was 4 years ago meaning I’ve actually been saving some money by paying a little extra for quality.
Here she is in all her glory
The hardest part of executing this concept is knowing what tools you can cheap out on and which ones make sense to pay more for. One resource I like to leverage for this is amazon. I can go there, and read the reviews for an item I’m thinking of buying or just scan an item using the amazon app in the store to see how many stars it has. I want every tool I buy to last almost my whole life. Reading the reviews and star ratings of a product is like having a 100 friends test it for you and tell you if they like it. So if you’re sure you need a higher quality piece of equipment, feel free to employ this strategy to save a good amount of money over the long haul. Just be careful not to convince yourself to buy something you truly don’t need just because you really want it.
Deferred gratification is a great sign of maturity and long term planning but every now and then it’s nice to find things you can go right out and put in action immediately while your long term plans mature into reality. With that in mind, here’s a list of things you can get crackin’ to on today to realize some solid savings asap. Now let’s save some money!
Estimated total annual savings for all items: $2054
That’s like getting a $2400 raise before taxes, and I didn’t even count 1 of the 10 items!
1) Internet (I saved $30 by downgrading and yes Netflix still works fine).
Did you know that every single cable company out there offers different levels of internet speed? I was paying for the top package at $73/month (50mbps). I downgraded to the lowest package for $39/month (5mbps) and have never looked back. I can still stream Netflix without any issues. If multiple people are on I do notice some lag time though. Do you want to save $408 a year or not ($34×12=$408)
2) Natural Gas (Turn you hot water heater down).
Have you ever jumped in the shower and realized the water was way to hot? The truth is most hot water heaters are turned up a little higher than most people can handle. If you have a gas water heater, you’re burning a lot of natural gas for this extra heat. Consider turning the temperature knob on the heater down a little and save an easy $5 or $10 a month or more if you’re in a really cold climate. That’s another $60-$120 a year.
3) Haircuts (Monthly 10% discount at several places such as sport cuts).
Some chains offer a discount if you return within 30 days for your next haircut. It’s $3 off $15 at sport clips where I get my hair cut. Little numbers add up so check it out. It’s $36 more a year.
4) Cell Phones (I saved $35 switching to boost mobile).
This is a big one for a lot of people. They get lured in by the big cell phone company providers to thinking that monthly cell phone service has to cost $80 a month. Did you know that you can get a pretty decent phone service plan from Walmart, usually for about $40 or so. I personally have been getting unlimited talk, text, and data (almost unlimited) for $44(after taxes) from Boost mobile for the last several years. Google Fi is another cheap but effective carrier. With the savings, I just do my own phone upgrades, usually 1 model behind the newest phones. I saved another $432/year by doing this ($36×12=$432)
5) Save on Cable.
Ok, this one is a bit misleading. I’ve led you here to trap you into cancelling your cable. After all can’t you watch most of your shows online these days. Even if you couldn’t, it’s a great way to save money and get time back in your already busy day. Let’s just say this saves $10 a month since you’ll have to pay $8 for Netflix. Side note if you have young kids. Did you know you can find cartoons on YouTube as well as old movies. Yearly savings: Another $120
6) Gym Memberships. “Exercise is free.”
That’s what a very fit friend of mine told me one day when we were talking about the gym. I rolled it around in my head one day and realized that she was right. I cancelled my gym membership, got some free weights, laced up my running shoes, and started saving $360 more bucks a year ($30×12…..You get the idea. I’ll tally it all at the end.)
7) Car Insurance.
Maybe you can save some money on car insurance and maybe you can’t but it’s definitely worth checking into. Maybe you can combine things such as home, additional drivers, and good driver discounts if your situation has changed since you last looked. You never know if you don’t ask.
8) Gasoline (Use cruise, tune up, inflate tires, etc.).
Some things in life are just fixed. The price of gas is one of these. After all it’s not like you can store a giant reservoir when the price drops. You pretty much have to pay what it costs, but that doesn’t mean you need to use so much of it. Here’s how I hack out some extra gas savings gaining me about an 11% increase in mileage on my high mileage car: Annual savings for me 11% of my budget ($120)= $158.40/yr
9) Food! Grow your own/combine amino acid sets to get a complete protein profile. Rice and beans.
This one blew my mind when I discovered it. I’ve been saying for years that meat is one of the hardest things to save money on. If this cuts down on just one less 10lb bag of chicken per month at $20 per bag, it would save you an additional $240/yr.
10) Keep back yard chickens.-Free eggs to make almost free food(Pasta, casserole, quiche, deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, hard boiled eggs) for years.
They eat weeds and bugs. They fertilize your garden. They don’t take as much space as you think. Let’s say that this saves you a very conservative $15/mo in eggs depending on the size of your family and the number of chickens. That’s another $180/yr in savings.