Money Saving Tips
A little while back I was at park with some of my daughter's friends and we parents started talking about ways to save money every month on basic monthly expenses (like cable, internet, and cell phones). I really think that some of these ideas are pretty clever (and pretty good money savers!) so I thought it might be nice to share here on the blog (No companies asked me to endorse them--this is just my honest opinion!) This post also gave me a chance to take a picture of the piggy bank that I had growing up, which I pretty much think is the cutest thing ever.
Now, I'm not a financial adviser, and only you can really know if these deals are good for your personal financial situation. I'm simply providing ideas which you might want to consider. Do you see something missing from my list? Add it in the comments. I'd love for this post to become a resource for a wide audience, because, well, who doesn't like to save money?
Alright, let's get started!
Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill:
Consider prepaid: I pay $30 a month for my cell phone "plan", which has unlimited text and web (but only 100 minutes). I basically did the math and realized that most of the contract "plans" didn't make sense for me. I charted my cell phone usage over a year and I NEVER used more than 100 minutes. I have my plan through Tmobile, which has a pretty good selection of prepaid plans, including more expensive ones with more minutes. At first I was worried that I'd be locked into using a specific type of phone, but I was easily able to buy my own unlocked iphone through the Apple store and activate my plan online. So yes, it's possible to get a great phone and pay only $30 a month!! My husband--who rocks a flip phone--pays $100 A YEAR for 1000 minutes. Since he has no need for data and also uses less than 100 minutes per month, we pay less than $10 a month for his phone. Such a steal! We decided that since my husband can't really use his phone at work anyway, it made more sense for our family to just have one smart phone.
Consider smaller carriers: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where T Mobile has pretty good reception. However, if I head to far away from a metropolitan area, reception seems to be not as good as other carriers. For us, it's a worthwhile trade off though. Smaller carriers tend to have cheaper monthly rates.
Buy your phone outright: It seems like a good deal when companies advertise the latest and greatest phone for $200 with a 2 year contract, but really you are better buying the phone outright or use an installment plan. The first year you might not see much of a difference if you are still paying off your phone, but once the phone is paid off your phone bill will drop. In contrast, a typical contract won't ever go down. I plan on keeping my phone for a long time, so I also invested in a high quality case to prevent against drops.
Need a land line?
Have you ever heard of an Ooma? It's basically a voice over IP device that uses your internet service to create a land line. There's no monthly fee (except for taxes--I pay less than $5 per month in taxes). You buy the device outright--at a little over $100 now--but it's a one time cost. We've had our Ooma for years. The device purchase was totally worth it because we've saved so much not having a monthly phone bill. Having and Ooma also helps me use my cell phone less, since I'm often home.
Creative Cable/Internet Options:
Cable TV and internet: As I mentioned above, we have a land line, but we don't pay a monthly fee for it (besides taxes). This means that we can avoid all the cable "bundles." Instead we either go with just the most basic internet package (which usually also includes basic network TV reception--ASK...many companies don't advertise this fact) or switch from one cable carrier to another after the promotional period (and pricing) is up.
Make the most of online streaming: We've supplemented our TV viewing options with streaming options like Netflix and Amazon Prime. I liked that Amazon Prime also came with the lending library...and that I could save on diapers at the same time.
Save on Your Power Bill:
Inventive thermostats: We have a tiny house and a tiny power bill, so I can't say I have any personal experience with this one yet, but my friends seem to love these thermostats. The technology is really pretty amazing. The thermostat can even sense when you're home or not, and you can even control it remotely.
Shop the Deals:
Target: I'm a compulsive clearance shopper and I LOVE a good deal. I stock up on toys for Christmas and birthday presents every January and late summer (which Target tends to clearance their toys--for up to 75% off!) I've gotten some great deals on linens, home goods, and Christmas decorations at Target in January too. My latest find was a red striped "pouf" footstool at Target on clearance for only $15 (down from $50)--in fact, it's my background for the picture above!
Food: I could probably do a lot more to cut down on our food bill, but I generally try to do my weekly shopping based off of what fresh produce is currently in season, or what holiday deals are going on. Thanksgiving is a great time to stock up on things like chicken broth, for example. I generally try to ditch prepared and processed foods as well--not as good for you and more expensive too.
Clothes: I shop the end of season sales and buy for next year. I sort clothes by size and keep them in my closet, so that when my kids move up to the next size, I don't need to run to the store. I've been lazier about this lately, but I really need to get back into the habit of it. I love getting high quality clothing for inexpensive prices--especially things like jackets!
Phew. This is one long blog post... I think this is good for now. What about you? Do you have any money saving secrets that you'd like to share?
Labels: Saving Money