Thursday, April 14, 2011

Think of the Savings - Part 2

To continue with my unofficial St. Louis-themed week, I thought I'd share some money saving tips I picked up in college. The ideas weren't particularly obvious at the time and come from likely and unlikely sources.

Rethink gifts
My college swim coach was full of entertaining stories. He is a former American record holder and apparently beat Ms. Pac-Man. He also really enjoying saving money. This included driving across the country well below the speed limit to maximize the miles per gallon on his car. As a younger coach, his club swimmers would give him gifts for Christmas and his birthday. Instead of cookies or mugs, he asked for practical things. This may have been laundry detergent, socks, or whatever he needed. Since someone else was picking up the tab, he could save the money he would have spent on socks.

My version:
There have been times that I can't think of anything I really want for Christmas or my birthday. Maybe clothing styles didn't seem very exciting, but I knew there were things I need or would have to purchase in the future. I asked for those items as presents. For example, I buy running shoes approximately twice a year. So I asked for a gift card to a running store. That meant I could free up a little extra money for the down payment. And the gift giver knew the gift was appreciated and wouldn't be returned.

From Etsy seller cj prints

Lay off the spending
This tip is getting a little more publicity these days, but it didn't occur to me a few years back. The former dean of the business school didn't buy anything (except for necessities) for a year. No new jeans unless they were beyond repair. No frivolous trips to the mall. No new electronics. He learned that excessive material possessions don't make you happier. And his life was less cluttered.

My version:
This tip could go many ways, and it doesn't have to go to the extreme of one year of no spending. You could cut out shopping for a month. Perhaps abstain from meat once or twice a week. PBJ sandwiches are even cheaper than a brown bagged turkey sandwich. Not counting the STL race shirt that came with my race entry, the last item of clothing I bought was a pair of shoes from Nordstom Rack, using a Groupon, in December. And of course the money I would have spent is now sitting in savings.

Who taught you an unexpected money tip?

(PS - Have you voted yet?)
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