Anything I have today comes from unfailingly paying the least I can possibly pay for something, then socking away that surplus. With few exceptions, I’ve kept my savings tactics to myself. But increasingly I have been distressed to hear otherwise sane and sensible people whining that they can’t save money. Yes. You. Can. I am going to teach you how.
For the first time ever, I present Kimmie’s Top 10 Can’t-Miss Tips for Saving Money™. These aren’t in any way revolutionary but they will absolutely, positively keep more cash in your pocket. And they’re dead-easy. See you on the bar stool (where we’ll go Dutch, of course).
1. Be a constant shopper. This may sound counter-intuitive to anyone trying to save money, but it’s not IF the things you are constantly on the prowl for are non-negotiables such as toilet paper, peanut butter, soap, Britta filters and so on. In other words, stuff you are going to buy no matter what. If you are constantly on the lookout for these items, you are better positioned to find them on sale. Not only that, you will create a stash of essentials, meaning you’ll never suddenly run out of toothpaste and be forced to run to the corner store where you’ll pay top dollar plus 25 percent. With non-negotiables, buying now means saving later. And for something like toilet paper that can mean a difference of $6 to $8. Really. Mega-tip: Being a constant shopper is as simple as walking through No Frills on your way to work instead of walking past it.
2. Clip and use coupons. This is so incredibly obvious I can’t believe I have to state it, but apparently the message hasn’t gotten through. “But what if the cashier thinks I’m poor, or a jerk?” Here’s a news flash: the only thing the cashier cares about is not getting sucked into the vacuum of a tedious conversation and getting you out the door with the correct change. Besides, if he’s working as a cashier, I promise you he understands the value of using coupons.
3. Carry the coupons with you in your wallet when you go out. And be sure to use them against a product that’s on sale thus saving even more money. This is another benefit of being a constant shopper.
4. Read the weekly flyers (or sign up for them online) and grab your essentials – or that week’s grocery/garden/household/underwear needs – accordingly. Did your Mom teach you nothing? And you don’t need to visit 10 stores to realize savings because most stores will match a competitor’s advertised price. You knew that, right?
5. Unless you’re on death’s door or so drunk you’re at risk of falling face-first into traffic, don’t take taxis. Taxis cost a fortune and represent ridiculously low value for money. I’ve heard people try and rationalize them – ‘I don’t own a car so I can afford it’ or ‘It’s too cold’ or the gold-plated shit-for-brains classic: ‘My time is more valuable than the cost of the fare.’ Really? But it’s well-spent watching Dancing with the Stars or whatever stupid-ass show I guarantee you watch religiously? (We all do). Suck it up and wait for the goddamn bus. (Sorry for all the cursing just now, but I really hate motherfucking taxis).
6. Don’t buy daily coffee at Starbucks and lunch at McDonalds. This too has been hammered home by financial experts since AC/DC was considered Satanic. But punters STILL fail to calculate the significance $5 spent daily has on the bottom line. So let’s do it again for the dude in the pointy cap: $5 per weekday equals $25/week equals $100/month equals $1,200/year. You can fly pretty far with $1,200 and wherever you’re headed probably has an all-you-can-eat buffet, so you’ll get all those empty calories back eventually. Brew your own damn coffee and stick a sandwich in your backpack (which you will remove promptly and hold in your hand the minute you board the subway).
7. Fight fees and service charges like a warrior goddess with a chip on her shoulder and a Michael Bay script in her back pocket. Rogers charging you $2 a month for sending paper invoices? Call and switch to paperless invoicing. (You do READ all your monthly bills for errors and sneaky fees, right?) Don’t withdraw money from generic ATMs that levy a fee for the “convenience” (as will the place where you actually bank). Fees are way more pervasive than you think. And they suck. Be constantly vigilant.
8. Collect loyalty points and use them to save money. Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum points are great – 8,000 saves $10 and you can buy everything in those stores! Correction: you can buy everything there once it goes on sale. But you will need to carry the loyalty card(s) with you in your wallet at all times… right beside your coupons.
9. Join the library where your books, periodicals, movies and music aren’t sitting on shelves collecting dust like all the crap you have at home.
10. Get a fucking grip already. This may be the hardest thing but it’s also the most important. You probably don’t need that shit you’re about to buy anyway (plus your sense of entitlement is really annoying). Also, pretty much anything you’re grappling with can’t be solved at the retail level despite what the advertisers tell you. Being on a budget doesn’t mean life has to suck. It means you need to be more creative. I promise you’ll be better off in old age when you don’t have to eat cat food to survive. I dish that stuff up every day and it is nasty - even the expensive stuff - which neatly drops us at our 11th and final point.
11. When you are about to make any purchase, ask yourself: do I want to eat cat food one day? If the answer is no, put the bill back in your wallet and walk out of the store. It’ll still be there tomorrow if you change your mind.