I am not a big fan of moving. Sure, it’s nice to get a new place, start fresh, and get the chance to sift through some of your junk drawers, but the whole ordeal of packing things into boxes, loading and unloading the truck, and then unpacking and organizing is just such a tiring experience.
I recently went through my third move in the last five years, and I ended up throwing many things away because there just wasn’t room in my new place. But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized there are tons of things that you and I can live without. If you sit down and truly think about these things, and trust me there are more than I have listed and discussed here, you might be able to save some space, some money, and some sanity.
Cellular Phone Bells & Whistles
This might not be the best one for me to start with as I spend over $120 a month for my cell phone, but think about it. If you carry a typical cell phone plan, I bet you are reaching close to $100 a month for your services, fees, and taxes. I am paying for 900 minutes (with rollover), unlimited text messaging (which I need), unlimited data (which is not an option with the iPhone), and a couple of other added features. Could I live without 900 monthly minutes? Of course. Could I text less? Of course I could. But I choose not to. But if you are carrying around a boring old flip phone, while paying as much as smartphone owners, it might be worth dropping a few of those added features to save a few bucks.
The last time you were out at the mall, I bet you walked by a store and said to yourself, “Oh my goodness, I have to have that!” Window-shopping is a store’s way of drawing the customers in. You will see the latest products being featured, the hottest fashions, and the coolest gadgets. These items are never on sale, are hot off the press as they say, and will draw you into the store to hopefully not only purchase what you saw in the window but also a matching pair of shoes, a belt, hat, or whatever else you can get your hands on.
But is window-shopping really that smart of an idea for us as consumers? I mean, if you realize when you see these displays that all the retailer is trying to do is pull you in, you might be able to hang onto more will power when walking around the mall. Have some consideration when shopping, and learn to say no. Learn to walk away and either wait until items are on sale, or you can find something similar for less elsewhere. A good friend of mine recently told me about his mentality when shopping. When he sees something he asks himself, “Do I actually need this?”
When was the last time you watched television? Unless you are watching something on HBO or some other premium channel, cable television is an absolute waste of money. Comcast, the cable provider for my area, charges over $50 a month for just basic television. By the time you add in the channels you actually want, the Internet service that you have to have, and all of the extra fees they charge for HD equipment, you are looking at over $100 a month just for your entertainment.
Now, I mentioned the Internet that you have to have these days. Why would you pay for cable television and the Internet? With services like Netflix, Hulu, and a wide variety of services that allow you to download your favorite series and full-length movies, television is becoming extremely passé. With my Netflix and my laptop, I can’t think of a reason to ever pay for television.
I am not sure I have ever paid a home phone bill. I do remember when I was growing up; my parents got me my own phone number. That was fun for about a week. But with the advent of cell phones, and the ease of use, it seems like everyone has a cell phone these days. If you don’t, well, then you need to climb out from under the rock you are living under and get with the times.
There will be a time in our lives that home phones are replaced with cellular devices. Why do I need to pay for a landline if you can call me, or better, text me, on my cell phone? I recently helped a friend move, and we actually threw her home phone away because she never uses it.
Now, I like coffee as much as the next guy, but there is no reason to pay over $5 a cup at somewhere fancy like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best. As a matter of fact, did you know that Seattle’s Best is actually owned by Starbucks?
My girlfriend drinks Starbucks like it is going out of style. I’ll grant you, their coffee is delicious, but I do not necessarily drink it for the flavor, but for the effect of the caffeine. I can get the same enjoyment from a cup of Speedway coffee as I can from Starbucks. If you have not had their Via, I suggest grabbing a trial pack. Take a bottle of water, take one drink, and then pour the Via mix into the water. Shake and enjoy. Delicious!)
Print Media (Newspapers, Magazines)
For some of the same reasons that you don’t need to spend your hard earned money on cable, you should also consider dropping newspapers and magazines. There are very few publications that don’t put their content on the web. In most cases you get the same amount of content, if not more, and fewer ads. So it makes the reading more enjoyable, you can save images or videos that appeal to you, and you can read at your own pace.
With the introduction of the Apple iPad reading your news online is that much easier. Add that to the fact that most flights are now offering in flight Wi-Fi. Even folks who travel will be purchasing fewer print publications. I would actually be curious to see if there has been a decrease in magazine sales as much as there has been with newspapers. For instance, the New York Times actually has recently announced that they have experienced a twofold loss in paper sales. They are actually now printing half the number of papers they once did, and starting to charge online access to more in depth news stories. If that is not a sign of the future of print news, I don’t know what is.
Not too long ago, I purchased a new car. Since I turned sixteen, I had been driving used cars, and had always wanted the feeling of owning something brand new. The thrill of driving around on any given Saturday looking at rides, test driving a handful of cars, researching online, and then finally pulling the trigger to dedicating the next five years of my life to car payments.
So, I went out and did just that. I looked around for cars that fit my desired monthly payment and ended up selecting three cars to test drive. I went to the first dealership, drove the Honda Civic, and was merely impressed. Then to the Scion dealership, where I tried my heart out to wheel and deal and ended up walking away with nothing more than a sad face. But when I finally decided on a Smart car, from the Mercedes dealership just down the road, I knew I had made the right decision. So, what’s my point in all of this? I didn’t need a brand new car. I could have lived without a new car for a few more years.
Buying a brand new car is a risk. You trust that for at least the next five years, or less if you can pay the car off early, that you will have that monthly payment. You are also taking a gamble on what car you buy based on warranty, what the warranty covers, how many miles per gallon you get, and how much an oil change or a new tire might cost. There are so many factors that go into buying a new car. All of that plus the value it loses the second you drive it off the lot. I am giving you the green light to forego that new ride and settle into something used. Sure, someone else owned this car before you. But isn’t the ton of money you save worth it?
How close do you live to your office? If you are like me, it’s a quick five to ten minute commute every morning. I hop in the car, drive to the gas station for my morning caffeine fix, and then jet over to work. My car sits there all day baking in the sun, just for me to do it again eight hours later. But do I need to drive to work everyday? Of course not. I could walk. I could ride a bike. I could take a taxi. My daily commute is one that I could make with or without a car.
As a matter of fact, I know some people who live in cities like New York and San Francisco who don’t even have cars. They live in these big cities, and everything is within walking distance. If a resident needs to go somewhere else, like home for a weekend or to a graduation party on the other side of the bridge, they will simply rent a car. Renting, in a situation like this, is an easier and a cheaper alternative. Ditch that daily commute if you can, and save the environment while also saving money.
There are a lot more ways you can save money, but these are just a few to get you thinking. How do you save money? What are you doing to save this summer? What are you doing to save money and better prepare for a long and hot summer in a still-struggling economy? There are a lot of people out there who would love to have your job. Keep that in mind the next time you buy a new purse or order a pay-per-view movie on television. Saving money might not be your cup of tea, but the more money I have in the bank, the less I like to spend. Happy saving!