More Ways to Spend Less Money
By Steve Gillman
In our continuing series on spending less, I wanted to include
some of the more creative ways. I hope there are a couple new
ideas for you in the short list below. These suggestions come
House - There are several large companies that sell
house kits. These come with the complete plans and materials
delivered to your site. You could build it yourself, but the
general idea is to be your own general contractor and hire others
to do the building. You might get a nice house for 30% less this
Business Labor Costs - At a restaurant where I worked
we sometimes didn't have enough employees on duty, and other
times had too many. By tracking the customer count over time,
and changing employee scheduling to match actual customer traffic
patterns I provided better customer service and saved the restaurant
$15,000 per year on labor. Savings like that go straight to the
Home Improvement and Repair - Have deadlines with penalties
for contractors. Have a deadline in the contract, and some penalty
if the job isn't completed by that date. Taking $50 per day off
the price, for each day past the deadline is called a "motivational
Hospital Charges - Watch for padding of time. Check
your anesthesia records to see how long your operation lasted.
Compare this to the time you were charged for the surgery. Hospitals
often charge for the time spent in the operating room ($20 to
$90 per minute), so watch for any overcharges here.
Life Insurance - Look for rebates. Some states allow
agents to rebate a portion of their commission to you. Check
online or by phone. You don't have to be from the state to buy
Appliances - Compare energy-use statistics. These are
listed on major appliances. If the difference is significant,
it may be worth paying a little more up front to save money long-term.
Gasoline - Know how to use cruise. The cruise control
on cars is great for long, relatively flat stretches. When it
is hilly, though, you will generally get better mileage on your
own. Cruise control will tend to accelerate to the top of the
hill if the speed is a bit too slow, while you can see the downhill
stretch coming and let off on the gas pedal. Cruise control,
also tends to accelerate too fast when you start up the next
Health Care - Participate in research. If your condition
is one of the hundreds being studied by the National Institutes
of Health, you may qualify for free medical care. One catch:
you'll probably have to go to the NIH hospital in Maryland. For
more information, call 1-800-411-1222 or visit http://www.cc.nih.gov.
Get educated. There are often cheap alternatives that doctors
won't tell you about. I removed a skin growth that had been on
my neck for years with a $6 bottle of tea tree oil. The doctor
could only recommend hundreds of dollars of additional tests
to determine what expensive treatment it would need.
Computers - Buy in January, when they often go on sale.
Stores often over-stock for Christmas and in January they need
to make room for other products.
Rent - Buy out of leases. If you need to move, or you
find a cheaper nicer apartment, ask your landlord if you can
"buy out" of your lease. If it is an easy to rent apartment,
or if rents have gone up while you were there, he might allow
this for say $500. If you had nine months to go, and will pay
$75 less at the new place, you get a net savings of $400 ($900
Swimming Pools - Use public pools. Private swimming
pools would rarely seem worth it if the owners added up all the
true costs and looked at how often they use the pool. Some owners
are probably paying as much as $100 per hour to swim in their
own pools. Consider using a nice public pool.
Capital Gains Taxes on Stocks - Time your sale. Time
your sale. Put off selling into the following year, and you'll
pay the tax a year later. With stocks that may go down, you can
buy put options to protect yourself while you wait. Of course,
this can backfire if you are in a higher tax bracket the following
Wedding Rings - Have it made. Often it is cheaper (and
more romantic) to buy a diamond or gemstone and then have it
set in a ring by a jeweler, rather than buy a ring that is already
made. You can honestly say you had it specially made for her.
Banking - Use "mental accounting." If your
account minimum is $100, just consider that to be the bottom
of your account. It is well worth a $100 to save $100 or more
in fees every year.
Hotels - Watch out for extras. Some hotels are sneaking
in extra charges, like a "porterage" charge for carrying
your bags to the room - even if you carry your own! Ask what
charges they have beyond the room rate and taxes.
Business Advertising - Save when mailing out advertising
by including it with other mailings, like your invoices or monthly
newsletters. Put coupons in with your products to encourage repeat
Bank Account Charges - To avoid going below minimums
and getting charged penalties, use "mental accounting."
If your account minimum is $100, just consider that to be the
bottom of your account. It is well worth a $100 to save $100
or more in fees every year.
Airfare - Use a drive/fly combo. It might take two
hours to drive to a larger airport, but it could save you hundreds
of dollars for the connecting flight.
All of the pages on ways to spend less are listed here: Ways to Save Money