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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saving Money

One of my former bosses liked to constantly remind me that in business there are two ways to “make money”. The first way is to increase sales (or in some cases to find alternative revenue streams). The second way is to cut costs and decrease expenses. With the job market the way it is and me not yet working, we are still a single income family. So without another “revenue stream”, the best way I can contribute to our household income is by cutting costs. Here are some of the things we’ve done lately:

1.) If your home is mortgaged, now is a good time to refinance. Interest rates are still low and there are lots of good options to consider. Just be careful about who you choose to broker the refinancing. We had to shop around for someone that really wanted to help us and was not just interested in making their company money!
2.) Write to your local/state tax review board and ask for a reduction in your property taxes. With property values at an all time low, many areas have also lowered property taxes.
3.) Switch to a prepaid phone plan rather than one with fixed monthly charges. Now we pay only for the minutes / services we actually use.
4.) Make competition work for you. In our case, we were offered a lower rate to switch our home security system to a competitor’s. When I brought it up with our current home security provider, they offered to match the competitor’s price.
5.) Being a good and loyal customer pays off. Since we’ve never missed a payment and have not been in any accidents, we have requested and gotten a discount from our car/home insurance company.
6.) Use coupons when buying groceries or things for the house. They may seem like a small savings but they really add up. Also, I plan our menus more carefully (it really helps to go the grocery when you are not hungry and when you have a shopping list on hand!).
7.) Avail of service promotions. For example, I have found that when you get your car’s oil changed on a Wednesday (instead of the weekend), you get 30% off.
8.) Surf the internet for savings. I’ve joined Restaurant.com and Groupon.com that sends me discounts for restaurants, shows, and other services around LA. For example at Restaurant.com, you can purchase a $25.00 certificate for $10.00, which you can use it at many local restaurants. There are some restrictions though (some places only allow certificates to be used for dinner from Sunday to Thursdays and with a minimum amount ordered), so read the fine print.
9.) Eat out less. Because we’ve been trying to eat healthier and since I have more time to cook these days, we’ve reduced eating out from 3-4 times a week to maybe once or twice a week. We’ve also cut down on take out from once a week to maybe once a month. It also helps that I have time to pack Jojo lunch every day.
10.) Shop smart. When making a large purchase (in our case we are on the lookout for some new appliances, vacation deals, and getting our kitchen renovated), it pays to take your time and look at all the possible options. Ask for quotations from different competitors to compare the pros and cons of each. Most of the time, we miss out on savings when we buy in haste.

Side note on "Shopping Smart": Buying at store sales and in bulk does not always equal saving money. Sometimes it is tempting to buy the 5 lb. box of multi-grain cereal, on sale at Costco, even if we don't really eat cereal all that much. It may be a great deal, but we need to keep in mind that 5 lbs is a lot of cereal and it ends up going stale after a while.

With the economy still in recession and while we wait for the light at the end of the tunnel to get brighter, all of us could stand to tighten our belts and be wiser with our money. By doing so, we can still lead very satisfying and quality lifestyles without giving too much up =)

3 comments:

Auntie Lillian said...

Michael is such a fan of restaurant.com coupons. He gets it even for vacation trips. I personally go for the prepaid phone - as I do not know how to use the high tech cell phones. You have some very good ideas.

Junarakasa said...

Hi Auntie Lillian, yes, Restaurant.com is great! You have so many places to choose from. You just need to be careful with the fine print cause different places have different rules =)

joyeee said...

hey, rstaurant.com sounds like a good idea and it seems like you can really get to save a lot from it:) I agree with all the points you've raised...and its good you can all these now. ( competitive shopping- look around and compare, cook more healthy stuff at home, surf the internet for good deals, change the car oil on wednesdays, etc) Maybe its a sign that you dont have a job yet cuz you do get so many things accomplished too:) look at the positive aspect!:) take care there sis!