Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure. Most money can be saved through preventive measures. “A stitch in time saves nine” stitches, as the saying goes. Service your heating and cooling system when the weather is great and the HVAC technicians are not out to gouge desperate customers. When you keep your unit(s) in good working condition, not only do you lower your utility and repair costs, you improve your indoor air quality. This can save you more than $120 yearly. Also, for better pricing and service, shop for tires on good weather days, not when it is rainy or snowy or when you are desperate. Tire prices are negotiable and major tire dealers across America are open to marching or beating bona fide lower price from their competitor. Be bold and ask for lower a lower price; you have nothing to lose.
Purchase What You Need, Not What You Want: Completely eliminate the purchase of things you don’t need. The 8-plus percent of sales tax is money you can save when you don’t spend. Why pay taxes to spend your money when you don’t have to? Soft drinks or sodas have no nutritional value, so why waste money on them? If your family consumes a case of 12 soda cans per week at $3 per case, you will save $156 every year, just by not giving your family something that could make them fat, diabetic, sick, and unhealthy. Some argue it’s a waste to have telephone land-line in this era of cellphones. Personally, I have not cut that cord although the house phone is mainly used to make calling card calls to Nigeria. Dropping the land-line service will save about $300 yearly.
Make Your Own Bottled Water: Purchase a kitchen water filtration system for a couple hundred dollars to make your own bottled water. The first year savings will pay for the purchase, while the subsequent years will accrue $200 savings per year. The store-packaged bottled water that has become a convenience symbol in America is wasteful. The expensive water you buy at the store is no better than the filtered water you get at your kitchen sink. If you read the labels of the ones bought at the store, you will see that most of them are municipal water from a nearby city. Through clever marketing, the stores sell, for example, Austin Texas municipal water in Dallas, and Dallas water in Houston, and Fort Worth municipal water in Austin. Some are imported from Arkansas and labeled spring water when all they are is filtered water that removes the fluoride some argue is good for your teeth.
Be Your Kids’ Barber: If you know how – and invest in a nice hair clipper – you can cut your son’s hair from age 2 to age 12. After the age 12, he could grows wings and start to insist on going to the barber. You can save $260 yearly or $2,600 in a decade plus hours at the barbershop. If you are blessed with daughters, you or your spouse can do your daughters’ hair and save even more. I won’t raise your blood pressure now by reminding you how much it costs to keep the girls looking pretty and smart…
Learn To Be Handy: There is a Tim Allen (of Home Improvement TV Show) in everyone of us. Fixing a leaky faucet, continuously running toilet and other minor jobs are easy to do, you don’t have to be Bob Vila to tackle these easy tasks that save you large sums of money. You can save money and derive priceless satisfaction by doing these things yourself. With the help of free home improvement stores’, YouTube, and Internet workshops, you can learn how to perform small repairs and save yourself tax-free money. Surprise yourself and give them a try. Don’t get over your head and chance getting hurt either. With a little do-it yourself (DIY), you can clean your vehicle battery terminals and spray them with anti-corrosion fluid to prolong the life of your battery and minimize battery problems. Replace your vehicle brake pads before they wear dangerously down, damaging the rotors and causing costly repairs.
Lend Money And Risk Your Money And Relationship: Give money to and buy gifts for your family and friends; but don’t lend them money. If you loan them money, you could end up losing both your money and your relationship with them. Moreover, you will create dependency that does nobody any good.
Watch Your 401K Expense Ratio Like a Hawk: Closely monitor the expense ratios and the underlying equities of the funds in your 401K. You can save thousands of dollars in lowered costs and improved returns on your 401K. Don’t choose the funds with lowest expense ratios that consistently under perform either. Pay attention and don’t just allow 401K administrators and fund managers to shepherd you into funds that earn them higher fees at your expense. The Wall Street is still full of wolves in sheep clothing and they are out to rob you blind. Don’t let all the Booyaah! hoopla fool you. Continuously pay attention by engaging in the beneficial praxis of due diligence. Remember the adage:”diligence is the mother of good fortune”.
Better yet, don’t put all your retirement funds in one 401K basket. Own some real estate, keep some cash, do your own independent investing. In other words, diversify. Learn from those who invested with Bernard Madoff, or in Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merry Lynch, AIG, etc, for years until the houses of cards collapsed in 2008. One can be very careful and still lose money in investments. I lost money invested in Lehman, Bears, Merry Lynch, and AIG stocks in 2008. These companies were involved in Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and other exotic products that only very few savvy investors knew anything about. I unknowingly committed the Peter Lynch cardinal sin of investing which states one should only invest in the companies one understands their products and services and management. Thank goodness for diversification.
Don’t Let Greed Get You: As several of us wake up to grossly underfunded retirement nest eggs, many of us will sadly fall victims to schemes that play on this venerability and further deplete already meager account balances. Some will be so desperate to make up for lost opportunities that they take big financial risks that will cause them to lose the little savings they have. The financial whiz folks you trust with your investment funds might be just as gullible and could help you lose your hard earned money. He or she could do it while being well remunerated by you via various fees and surcharges.
Stay tuned for Part Four.