Five more tips on saving money

As promised, I said I would post five tips everyday to catch myself up. Here are the next five in the challenge.

Tip #14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you’ve saved so far. Well, I find this tip just silly. I am kind of already doing that by blogging about it, right? So this tip isn’t saving me any money. I think it was more of just a way for Sethi to get an idea of how many people read his blog. Next.

wineTip #15: Forget going to a bar– ask people over for dinner. This one I have actually already started implicating this month. I definitely do not go out nearly as much, for food or drinks, and have been eating in and having some wine with friends when they come over.

Sethi has a great excerpt from a book on hosting people at your house by Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone. It shows how easy a dinner party can be. Tiny space? No furniture? No cooking skills? No problem. Grab some folding chairs, a roast chicken from the deli at your local grocery store, cookies, brownies or ice cream for dessert, and lots of wine, beer or spirits and you’re all in for a good night. I have tried hosting dinner parties in the past with co-workers. We all had a great time. It ended up more like a dessert party with tons of sweets, but it was a lot of fun. We just sat around the table and talked and took pictures instead of going out to a restaurant or bar and spending $50 or more on food, cocktails, tip, taxes, gas, taxis, etc.

I was going out to dinner with my boyfriend every week, spending around $60 a night or more. That adds up quick. Now we stay in, cook and drink wine with each other. It’s kind of romantic too because we’re doing it all together and spending quality time with one another. This tip kind of ties in with tip #12. I have only gone out to eat three times this month, which has saved me probably over $100 already. This is probably one of the most cost-effective tips of them all. Going out is typically one of the biggest expenditures we all have.

Have you hosted any dinner parties? How much do you save compared to going out?

Total savings: $50 to $100

TVTip #16: Cancel/defer any large purchases this month. Read this tip a little too late. I just splurged and bought Rob and I plane tickets to Las Vegas for our birthdays next month. Another big purchase I have been wanting to make is a new windshield for my car though. Two weeks after getting a brand new car, a rock flies up and cracks my windshield. Just my luck. Windshields and I apparently do not get along. I have had to replace a windshield at least once in all of my cars. I am thinking that if I don’t end up needing to use my fuel hedge fund in a couple months, I will use that money to put towards a new one.

The idea behind this tip is that it helps you to evaluate whether you really need this big new purchase. You may realize you don’t need it, especially as your savings grow. Second, if you wait on purchasing a new TV or grill, in a month, the price will probably drop. Set up a reminder to check it out in 30 days.

What big purchases are planning to defer this month?

Total savings: $0, since I already bought plane tickets. Damn.

Tip #17: Buy generic stuff for the stuff you don’t care about. The stuff you do care about, spend more. De-prioritize. One thing I really don’t splurge on is expensive wines. What’s the point? I’m no wine connoisseur and like almost all of it. So when I go to the grocery store to buy a bottle or two, I buy the cheap stuff that costs like $10 instead of the high-end name brands that cost $20 or more (and then I repurpose the bottles). On a blind-taste test, not many people can recognize the difference between them all anyway.

I have also experimented with name brands and generic on simple things like toilet paper. I usually get the soft, more expensive kind. Recently though, my roommate bought the cheaper generic brand. Ouch! It feels like sandpaper on my butt! So that is one thing I will continue buying the better quality of. But the point is, I tried it. The things that I could stop buying name brands of are toothpaste, water (when I am in a rush and need to get one at the gas station), Q-tips, paper towels, vitamins, clothes, shoes, etc. Here’s an article from CBS News about brand names vs. generic.

What items could you save money on buying generic instead of brand names?

Total savings: $10 to $25

And finally…

Handmade Chistmas gift ideasTip #18: Skip the expensive Christmas gifts this year and instead give something more meaningful. This was my original plan for this past Christmas. I was going to give everyone something handmade or vintage, not necessarily by me (I bought gifts on Etsy). It didn’t turn out quite like I expected. I still ended up spending more than I would have liked to. This year though, I am prepared. I’ve set up a sub-savings account within my ING Direct Savings just for Christmas that I am putting 5% of my total monthly savings into. At the end of the year, I will use that money to purchase supplies to completely make my own gifts for Christmas.

Sethi’s tip on his blog actually says not to spend any money on Christmas this next year. He says to tell your friends and family that you simply can’t afford to buy them anything this year but that you’d be willing to help out around the house or host a dinner party. Me? I am determined to get this next “Handmade Christmas” right. So I am going to stick to buying supplies to make my own gifts this year. Who knows, I may even get started early.

Do you spend tons of money every Christmas and find yourself in debt in the New Year? How do you plan to avoid that this year?

Total savings: $50 to $500

That’s it for now, but I have five more tips coming your way tomorrow. Be on the lookout for them.

Carina Jaynes

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