There are some frightening statistics floating around in the media cloud about America’s dropping standard of living (for example, incomes have remained almost flat for the last twenty years, while expenses have sharply increased), and these fears coupled with the weak economy means more people are asking “how can I be smarter with my money?” Here are five tips to help you do exactly that, without sacrificing your quality of life.
1. Beauty Maintenance at Home For the men out there, let’s face it: 99% of you have haircuts that your golden retriever could perform. Buy an electric clipper and guard set, and have your girlfriend or wife give you your haircuts, to save a solid $15/month.
Ladies, those trips to the salon are killing your budget, and after your excuses are exhausted, you know it. Buy the supplies you need to give yourself a manicure or pedicure or Epsom salt bath, and set aside a little self-pampering time with your favorite TV show or CD.
2. Lease Agreement or Deed? I would never encourage anyone to pass up on owning their own home – if it were the right financial decision. For some people, buying a home makes sense: they’re newly married, financially stable, and plan to remain in the same neighborhood for at least ten years. The fact is, however, that most of us can’t count on being in the same place for seven years or longer (the average length of time it takes to recover all the expenses associated with buying a piece of real estate), whether because they need to take a job elsewhere, get divorced, or simply want to live somewhere else.
Consider that the extra money you’d be spending on that mortgage payment (and closing costs, and down payment), might be better invested elsewhere: a stock pick you like, a conservative bond, or if you’re really feeling adventuresome, an investment property you can find a tenant to sign a lease agreement for, and pay of your mortgage for you.
3. Shop Online First of all, for most purchases more than $50 you can get free shipping. Second, you can save on gasoline (if you’re really serious about saving money, you’ll skip buying or signing a lease agreement on a car at all), and third, you can almost always find a better deal by shopping around online.
4. Grow It Yourself Sick of having to always run to the grocery store for fresh vegetables? Grow your own! Granted, you’ll need a home with yard room for a garden (that urban lease agreement with the courtyard won’t help here), but keeping a vegetable garden can be fun, rewarding, and can help save money. If you’re really serious, consider keeping bees for your own honey, or even keeping chickens for fresh eggs.
5. Bike or Walk to Work Not only will you save on gas, but you may also be able to skip the gym membership because you’re getting such a good workout on your commute. This will, of course, require that you buy or lease a home that’s within ten miles or so of your work.
Saving money doesn’t have to mean scrimping on the things you love, it could simply mean reorganizing how you do certain activities. Besides, imagine how much better you’ll feel about yourself when you get in great shape by walking or biking to work!