There are just a few days until St. Patrick’s Day, and while I don’t have a pot of gold for you, I do have a few suggestions on how to save some green.
Some tips will save you more money than others, but none of them require setting down your beer. Slainte!
• Buy generic. Except for a few notable exceptions (Jif peanut butter, Perry’s ice cream, Softlips lip balm) I buy store-brand everything. It saves me major moolah.
Another exception is when I have a steamy hot, super high-value coupon that can only be used on a name brand product. Even then, I won’t use it unless it brings the price lower than that of its generic counterpart.
• Party! Sort of. When your friends want to get together at a restaurant or bar, suggest hanging out at your place instead. Better yet, suggest going to someone else’s house. You can all chip in for pizza and wings, and just think how much cheaper the drinks will be! $7 for a beer? How about $7 for a six-pack.
And if you overindulge, you can just crash on the couch, like I do.
• Instead of shopping, try selling. It’s easier to do than ever with smartphone apps like Gone, LetGo and OfferUp. You can also sell things the old fashioned way, on eBay or Craigslist, or directly through Facebook and Instagram.
• Get rid of what you don’t use. Yes, you can do this by selling material things or donating them to charity. (Don’t forget to get a recipt!) But it also goes for things like unused gym memberships, cable subscriptions and home phone lines.
• Shop right. You know this already, but eat before you go grocery shopping, make a list (and stick to it), and only use coupons on items you were already planning to buy.
• Think of prices in terms of hours rather than dollars. If you’re longing for a $100 dress, and you make $10 an hour, think of it as costing 10 hours rather than $100. Is that dress worth doing – whatever it is you do – for 10 whole hours? Is it worth more than a day’s work?
• Shop around for car insurance and do it often. I was with my insurance company for years before I decided to see what kind of rate someone else might be able to offer. Turns out, other insurers (actual, real, reputable ones even) quoted me much, much less. I ended up saving $800 per year! A friend of mine did the same thing and saved $1,200. That’s no small potatoes. That’s giant potatoes. With gravy. And dollar bills.
• Air seal your house. Some simple caulking and weather stripping can save you a fortune. That’s especially the case in Buffalo, where it hurts your face just to be outside sometimes. The Environmental Protection Agency says it can chop 11 percent off your energy bills.
• Drive like less of a jerk. Pay attention to parking and traffic rules and don’t speed. In my lifetime, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on parking tickets, speeding tickets and elevated insurance costs. I actually used to have a folder in my filing cabinet labeled “tickets.” Learn from my mistakes.
• Travel during the off season. Hawaii is still Hawaii in April. Paris is still Paris in September. Disney is still Disney in January (unfortunately).
I have no qualms pulling my first grader out of school for vacation instead of going during spring or winter breaks. It saves me hundreds upon hundreds of dollars.
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