For better outcomes in finance (or sports), in general, two things are involved: good offense and good defense. You can get away with being really good at one, while being hopeless in the other, but it’s better to be effective at both. Personally, I’ve always been better at one, but as you pick up new things, you try to shore up your skills in the other. So this year, I’ve learned a lot about playing financial defense and I’d love to share some of the tips I picked up. They apply to a variety of circumstances so I’m sure someone would fine at least one area that would help them.
1. If you’re a bibliomaniac, find a book club. Or start one.
At one point, I was sure I was holding up Amazon’s stock price by the sheer volume of books I was buying. Book swaps saved me. I have one where me and a few other people maintain a joint kindle account, and pitch in to buy books that we all have interest in. Kindle Web reader makes it really easy. And for my fiction needs, I cannot shout out @theReadClub on twitter enough. They supply all my literary needs and the only thing I have to do in return is participate in discussions online. If you can’t arrange something like that over the internet, do it the old fashioned way: organize with people in your area to stock up on books and swap with each other. If it was good for high school, and college? It’s probably good for life.
2. Split Wifi with Your Neighbor
I know, this can’t be done everywhere. You’d have to live in close proximity, and you’d have to be cool with your neighbor. I recently moved from a stand alone house to an apartment. I’m surrounded by young graduates and some people still in college. We’re cool with each other. Three of us got together, agreed to set up a joint wifi and split the internet bill. The only thing it cost me, other than the bill is getting a $120 router that amplifies signals and what not. Now, instead of paying $150 each for Internet, we pay $50. No brainer. Internet is just as blazing fast as it usually is. Think about it.
3. Apply the Three Day Rule.
This is for the shopaholics in the house. When that urge to jump online or run to the store to get something hits you, implement this rule: wait for three days. If you still want whatever it is after three days, buy it. Naturally, this only applies to non-necessities.
4. Turn your Heat/AC off when you’re not in the house.
My goodness, I was one of those people that leave stuff on when they’re not at home. I just never thought about it. Now, I like my environment cold, so I usually have the AC running at maybe 65 F (~18 C). And while I was spending increasingly less time at home, I kept the AC cooling an empty house. It wasn’t even the money saving argument that struck me, it was just the absurdity of it. Then I got my power bill and realized it was 30% lower. Light bulb moment.
5. Pack Lunch to Work.
Again, this was one of those epiphanies. I’d gotten used to eating out at work daily. Done it for six months or more. I had a friend at my place one week and she made food so I never ate out for a whole week. My Personal Capital report showed a deep dive in my weekly expense and another light bulb came on. I’ve tried since then, to always pack lunch. All those lovely Firehouse subs add up.
6. Set up Autopay on Everything.
Enough said. You can’t keep track of bills, and you do not want to forget any. Autopay, or online bill pay exists. Use it.
7. Have A Rainy Day Fund
When you don’t have savings, and you need money urgently, you use a credit card or borrow. And that comes with interest. And interest is an expense. Worse, you lose valuable time running around trying to raise money. And God forbid you’re sick or laid off. It’s not going to immediately save you money, but it gives you room to maneuver if something ever came up. And something always comes up. Always.
8. Rent or Buy Smart.
If you’re still in that moving around a lot stage, rent. If you plan to be in an area more than 5 years, please, I know it gets a bad rap, but buy. Just buy smart. Instead of buying your ‘dream house’, choose something like a detached house or duplex, or even townhouse, basically something you can rent out some of the rooms in. Price it smartly and you can cover your mortgage payment from rents, or even make a little extra income. Oh, and a free tax tip: buy it between Dec 15, to April 30 2016, so you can claim an $8,000 tax credit. People pay people to tell them that. You’re welcome.
9. Get A Library Card
This goes back to the book argument but then it also comes with subscriptions to all those journals, magazines, newspapers that we’ve learned are needful. It’s where I go to use Barron’s and Standard and Poor’s Charts and Manuals for financial research. It’s where I go to get business insights from almost any market in the world. No matter your interests, if you live in a good area, there’s next to no resource your library can’t give you, information wise. And it’s absolutely free. It’s shocking. If I have the resources, I want to make this type of system common place in Nigeria, so help me God. The value is impossible to quantify.
10. Life Is Give and Take
Don’t try to always give. Sometimes allow yourself to take. This one isn’t part of the tips, it’s me telling you that having given you nine, I’m curious as to what money saving tips you might know that I don’t know about. So why don’t you give me one? Drop it in the comment section so me and other readers would gain something from you. Thanks!
I hope you found one of these useful. Pass the article along to someone who might.