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-   -   Cutting expenses—your best money saving tips? (https://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f28/cutting-expenses-your-best-money-saving-tips-109288.html)

ER2B 05-16-2021 02:45 PM

I go to barber school for a $5 haircut. $7 if you add tip.

daylatedollarshort 05-16-2021 02:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SecondCor521 (Post 2607625)
It's a bit dated now and so it probably leaves out a lot of the ways to save money with tech or on tech, but The Tightwad Gazette by Amy D. has pretty much every single money saving household trick out there. The magazine was compiled into a series of books which sort of serve as a frugal encyclopedia.

I find that in retirement I've been able to save a lot of money on taxes through study of the tax code and applying it to my situation. Similarly college financial aid is a subject which, if studied, can pay off well.

I have the Tightwad Gazette, too. She helped me save a lot on groceries. Did the same with tax and financial aid books.

The number one college saver for us was having our kids study the Payscale reports on salaries by major and by college. (Now there is College Scorecard). Every time they would bring up a more expensive school, we would say if you can make an economic case for the more expensive school, we will consider it. But tuition was free for them at in state public schools with grants, and most of the expensive private, out of state or international schools they brought up had lower starting salaries and much lower payback periods.

Getting their kids into elite colleges in our area seemed to be like an arms race among many of the parents, but not on picking a self supporting major or payback period for their investment. I never really understood that. Why pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a college with low starting salaries when there are great public options here in state? San Jose State costs less than $8K per year in tuition and is in the top 10 schools in terms of alumni hires at the big tech companies here.

Bamaman 05-16-2021 03:05 PM

We have found shopping at Aldi's to be the absolutely cheapest place to buy groceries.

At the more expensive grocery store chains, we buy sale items and house brands.

We watch the grocery ads on Tuesdays to decide what sale items to buy that day and what sale items will be coming on Wednesday.

And we're very thankful to live where grocery items are very low cost--versus other parts of the U.S.

Ncc1701 05-16-2021 03:10 PM

1. Don't just shop for cheap auto insurance, I actually chose an insurance Co. that charged me MORE for car insurance BUT charged me less for my Home and Umbrella coverage resulting in net savings of $800/yr. Always shop for all three at the same time.

2. Hotel credit cards often give me a rate of return greater than the 2% cash back you could earn with other cards and you aren't limited to a few rooms like you are with frequent flyer award seats on a flight. I use the Hilton Amex.

3. Always drive with Waze and a radar detector on. They have saved me from many a ticket. And when you use Waze, please be sure to CONTRIBUTE by reporting police when you see them.

4. A 20% tip just for eating in a restaurant? No thanks, I'll order take out and if the weather is nice, eat in a park. The mall food court is also a good alternative.

tb001 05-16-2021 03:29 PM

I’m loving these! I should have added ebooks from the library to my list as well. It’s completely changed my reading habits. I’ve shared my kindle account with my mom and now we can share library books too, so she’s saving money as well

Taxes is a good one. DH usually handles the taxes so I do as much as I can on my end in terms of getting everything ready and he works with the attorney. But now that we’re drawing down our accounts we need to be more strategic, especially re long term tax implications.

I’m curious about the college financial aid. Our kids are still young, so we’re not there yet, but will have to start thinking about this in the next 5-10 yrs.

On debt, we use debt strategically. So refinancing at historic lows, no CC debt at all, but we will take advantage of 0% interest for budgeted items, as it saves on taxes and in theory is better than immediately paying out of pocket.

We pay a huge premium right now for health insurance. That’s the biggest item I’d like to focus on, but we have good insurance so waiting until we’re off cobra to do that.

I’ve read through the tightwad gazette issues, with lots of great advice there.

Regarding energy use, we have solar and hybrid electric vehicles, so we plan our trips carefully to try to maximize battery. Most of my trips are done completely off the battery, which is free to charge. We’ve converted all of our lighting to LED have put in fairly extensive automation to conserve energy. My big project this summer will be to minimize AC usage.

I’ve tried to focus on the larger recurring expenses first, but need to be more strategic now, as we’re targeting lower spend areas.

teetee 05-16-2021 03:40 PM

Most of my reasoning for cutting expenses is that if I let someone do it I will simply waste my time away doing something else that's not helpful, so something like oil change for my car, minor plumbing for the house, and keep the doctors away are all on my to-do list.

The rest is just to visit the deal websites to get coupons and discounts on daily necessities. And never ever borrow money because debt and loan interest are the major source in the way between me and my wealth.

For communications: I currently spend about $50 total for 3 cellphone lines for my elder relatives a year. My own cell and the internet are paid by the company I work for. No cable or any subscriptions.

Mr. Tightwad 05-16-2021 03:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ER2B (Post 2607637)
I go to barber school for a $5 haircut. $7 if you add tip.

I used to do the same. Now I just cut my own. 48 hours later nobody can tell the difference.

Palmtree 05-16-2021 03:49 PM

Do the small repairs around your house instead of hiring someone. From simple plumbing leaks or running toilets to replacing a light switch or installing landscape lighting, there are so many simple repairs you can do by simply watching a couple of YouTube videos.

RetiredAndLovingIt 05-16-2021 04:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tb001 (Post 2607658)
I’m loving these! I should have added ebooks from the library to my list as well. It’s completely changed my reading habits. I’ve shared my kindle account with my mom and now we can share library books too, so she’s saving money as well

Taxes is a good one. DH usually handles the taxes so I do as much as I can on my end in terms of getting everything ready and he works with the attorney. But now that we’re drawing down our accounts we need to be more strategic, especially re long term tax implications.

I’m curious about the college financial aid. Our kids are still young, so we’re not there yet, but will have to start thinking about this in the next 5-10 yrs.

On debt, we use debt strategically. So refinancing at historic lows, no CC debt at all, but we will take advantage of 0% interest for budgeted items, as it saves on taxes and in theory is better than immediately paying out of pocket.

We pay a huge premium right now for health insurance. That’s the biggest item I’d like to focus on, but we have good insurance so waiting until we’re off cobra to do that.

I’ve read through the tightwad gazette issues, with lots of great advice there.

Regarding energy use, we have solar and hybrid electric vehicles, so we plan our trips carefully to try to maximize battery. Most of my trips are done completely off the battery, which is free to charge. We’ve converted all of our lighting to LED have put in fairly extensive automation to conserve energy. My big project this summer will be to minimize AC usage.

I’ve tried to focus on the larger recurring expenses first, but need to be more strategic now, as we’re targeting lower spend areas.

Due to our dry climate, Swamp coolers work well extremely well in the western states especially California. They actually work better that a/c units and cost pennies to run, I only turn on my a/c a couple of days in August when it gets humid. My bills are always less than $100 in the summer and my house is freezing.

teetee 05-16-2021 04:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort (Post 2607589)
I keep a spreadsheet of frugal hacks with amount of time each one would take to complete and the twenty year savings, and then calculate an hourly rate on my time. I try to focus on the ones with the highest payback, which as Rodi says are usually recurring costs.

We were probably wasteful spenders before we retired, so we had a lot of fat we could cut that improved, or at least didn't negatively impact, our lifestyle. We have hundreds of hacks, so I'll just list some entertainment ones in this post.

We make good use of community services like the library, local senior clubs, parks, beaches, college events and community sponsored events. In non-pandemic times, all the suburbs in spring to fall in our area have free outdoor concerts at parks, usually in nice picnic locations, with some very good bands. They seem to stagger them on different nights of the week to not compete with each other, so it is pretty easy to go out almost every night.

I follow on Facebook all the local park districts, state parks, college theater and music departments, local theater companies, tourist boards, favorite bands, etc. to see what activities they have planned for the week. Often there will be unadvertised specials, like free preview tickets. Once I bought tickets for a preview play / symphony performance at U.C. Berkeley with over 100 actors and musicians for $10 a ticket. Some of the members of famous bands that are locals will sometimes play small venues and dive bars with their friends just for fun, so I follow them if they have public social media accounts. The local tourist areas often have many events to attract visitors, like Napa usually has all sorts of musics crawls, outdoor concerts and festivals, many of which are free. In Napa we also usually have some kind of winery passport and a state parks pass we can use as well. For seat filler tickets, we've seen symphonies, ballets, lots of touring Broadway plays and been to foodie events with Michelin rated restaurants and at the CIA (the culinary one, not the spy agency) all just with last minute ticket deals.

Every year I buy an assortment of annual passes / memberships for gardens, zoos, museums, seat filler memberships, winery passes, parks, and theater memberships. I spend $500 - $1K every year in annual passes, and then a lot of what we do is free or cheap, plus the membership fees help support local parks and arts and culture. Like our local Costco one year had a pass for 36 wineries for $100 per person. Most of the gardens, zoos, and museums and other cultural attractions are in reciprocal programs like NARM, ROAM, AHS or ASTC, so buying one pass will get you free admission into hundreds of other similar institutions throughout the state / U.S.. Our local library has free and discount passes to around 70 cultural attractions. If you are a vet, Vet Tix has free unsold Ticketmaster and other event type tickets. The parks districts often have free or inexpensive events, like mine tours, boat tours with a naturalist, llama trips (haven't done that one yet) and hikes. Most here probably know this but lifetime National Parks passes for seniors are $80.

For dining out I like restaurant.com coupons for half off. Or we take advantage of happy hours and early bird specials. We like to go out for ethnic food like Indian or Thai, the kind of food Berkeley calls its Gourmet Ghetto. Some local restaurants have specials like 1/2 off pizza or burger on a certain week day. For movies we go on $5 Tuesdays.

If buying membership is a way to save money, I totally agree with your assessment on the wasteful level before you retired. I have no clue about half of the stuff you wish to be exposed to via the various membership.

An asian proverb says it is easy to get from being frugal to being wasteful (you just need the yolo mentality) but it is difficult to go the opposite direction. I am glad you found the compremise.

RetireeRobert 05-16-2021 04:16 PM

Cut insurance policies. Auto is mandated by government, but others are not.

tb001 05-16-2021 04:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by teetee (Post 2607677)
If buying membership is a way to save money, I totally agree with your assessment on the wasteful level before you retired. I have no clue about half of the stuff you wish to be exposed to via the various membership.

An asian proverb says it is easy to get from being frugal to being wasteful (you just need the yolo mentality) but it is difficult to go the opposite direction. I am glad you found the compremise.

We’ve found some memberships to be a great value for us. We are lucky to live in an area with a great zoo 20 min from our house. With young kids, we go at least once a month. We pack a picnic lunch and take refillable cups in for drinks. Had a great day with the kids for under $5. DH and I sometimes go there during the week as a date.

Others have been hit or miss. You just have to know how much you’re going to use it vs an alternative less expensive option.

For me, it’s not necessarily about living as cheaply as possible, but getting the most enjoyment for your dollar and not being wasteful. Food is a great example. We used to spend a LOT on food. I’ve cut probably 20-25% of our spend at least. But we’re eating better than ever. Fewer take out meals, home cooked turkey for deli meat, etc... The frugal thing is often better for us and the environment!

tb001 05-16-2021 04:45 PM

I’ll add, in addition to the DIY jobs that palm tree mentioned, we’re making an effort to repair vs replace when it makes sense.

bada bing 05-16-2021 06:19 PM

My 2004 Camry was going to be traded in for new or a low mile lease turn-in. The combination of rising car prices, especially late model used prices and my boredom over Covid lockdown had me take on a project. I changed out brakes, struts, cv joints, tires, engine mounts, flushed coolant and transmission and recharged air conditioning. Full engine tune up. I may drive it another 5 years now. I dumped just over $1000 in parts and maybe 50 hours of my time I'm a slow mechanic and I have a truck to dive while the car is down. 145,000 miles on it now, seems like 200K is reasonable considering it's running like new now. I imagine my next new car will be my last, especially if I can squeeze out another 5 years on what I have.

l8_apex 05-16-2021 06:58 PM

Lawn mowing service would be minimum $80 for my yard now, most likely $100 for cut and edging (so $400/mo in the summer). I do it myself - seems to be my largest expense that I can keep to a minimum as I have never eaten out very often.

Sanstar 05-16-2021 07:28 PM

Eliminating meat and dairy cut the grocery bill and intermittent fasting cut it even more. Cutting out ultra processed foods and eating one meal a day, lots of water has not only cut grocery expense way down but cut out 1 of 3 prescription meds and reduced the other two. Hoping to be drug free in a few months.

Housing costs reduced by selling paid off house, renting an apartment. No property taxes, upgrades, repairs and need for all the yard tools, lawn mower and their maintenance. Utilities are a fraction. For us, in our area renting vs heating, cooling,maintaining a paid off house on an acre was better than budget neutral. Gym and pool are free vs what I was paying when we were in the house. Earnings from house sale are invested.

Some of COVID activities will continue, such as diy haircuts and dog grooming.

daylatedollarshort 05-16-2021 08:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sanstar (Post 2607749)
Some of COVID activities will continue, such as diy haircuts and dog grooming.


I bought a hair cutting guide on Amazon similar to the Crea Clip and learned to cut my own hair during the pandemic, too. It seems to look the same as the salon cut. I least I tell myself it does. Crea Clip has videos online that show users how to cut all different kinds of styles and even add in layers. I can even cut the back of my hair by brushing it forward and using the guide to trim the ends.

The Cosmic Avenger 05-16-2021 09:09 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort (Post 2607765)
I bought a hair cutting guide on Amazon similar to the Crea Clip and learned to cut my own hair during the pandemic, too,. It seems to look the same as the salon cut. I least I tell myself it does. Crea Clip has videos online that show users how to cut all different kinds of styles and even add in layers. I can even cut the back of my hair by brushing it forward and using the guide to trim the ends.

I didn't even need to watch a video to cut my hair with these! :coolsmiley:

DayDreaming 05-17-2021 05:59 AM

Upgraded appliances. It's a big up-front expense but saves money in the long run.

- replaced a very old refrigerator which was larger than I needed with a smaller one: saves me about $13/month in electric costs
- replace a very old oil fired boiler: too soon to tell but seems this will cut my fuel oil bills in half.

NameTaken2 05-17-2021 08:12 AM

Little stuff adds up-
Last year started buying a 15K sqft bag of ACE HW fertilizer for my 5K sqft lawn, to use for 3 applications. Cost: $30 on sale. The 5K 4-step bags are $70.

Obviously, no fertilizer is an option for optimum savings. Also, many want the seasonal weed/feed, etc blends.


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