Thursday, November 15, 2007

Money Saving Tips

At this time of the year, two things happen:
First, churches talk about stewardship and may have pledge drives.
Second, we become a little more cost-conscious because we are about to be spending money for the holidays, often running up sizable credit card debt.

In addition, we have the challenge of higher prices these days, due mainly to the high cost of oil. Just about everything we buy has to be transported, so the higher cost of oil affects everything. I’m sure you’ve noticed that food is getting more expensive, for example. We have to do something to save some money, so below are some money saving tips.

I am putting these tips in this blog because we are supposed to exercise good stewardship of what God has provided us. We can do that by being wise shoppers, and not saving money wherever we can. Oil isn’t going to get any cheaper and we are probably aren’t going to get a big raise, so we might as well face facts: limit spending and be a wise shopper. There are significant savings opportunities available to us if we invest a little time and do some research. Check out cell phone plans, check out our insurance policies, do research before making a major purchase.

Below are thought-starters as to where there significant savings opportunities:

Telephone Plans
Long Distance: you don’t have to pay for LD calls with proper telephone plan or use cell phone or an inexpensive calling card.
Get cable, phone and high speed internet from same company and get a discount on all three.
Cell phone plans: evaluate various plans and get best one for you given your usage patterns. You shouldn’t be paying for extra minutes.
Home Phone: eliminate if possible if you are away from home all day and have a cell phone.

Car: get a higher deductible, eliminate collision if older car.
Life: buy term when you’re younger and need more insurance, and a whole life or universal life policy for the long haul (maybe paid up at 65).
Homeowners: higher deductible, don’t be over or under insured.
Long term care: consider taking out a policy because we are living longer.

Plan ahead: do one big trip rather than many smaller ones. Car more efficient when engine warm, plus saves miles by planning your trip intelligently.
Carpool if possible: with other parents to and from activities, or to work.
Maintain car well: keep running efficiently (good investment).
Buy used cars, fuel-efficient cars; get smallest car possible that will meet your needs (not desires, but needs).
If purchase car, drive car into the ground – but maintain well for reliability and efficiency.
Lease or buy: analyze options and costs (read fine print).
Get cheapest gas on your way, but don’t go out of the way.
Buy regular, not high-test gas, unless engine knocks.
Use independent mechanic, not dealership, for routine maintenance (unless terms of warranty or lease agreement require use of dealer).
Run errands when less traffic and no school buses.
Don’t transport kids to school, let them take the bus!

House/Energy Use
Set thermostats: cooler in winter/warmer in summer.
Caulk and weather-strip, insulate outlets on outside walls.
Attic and basement: additional insulation as needed.
New windows and outside doors if losing a lot of heat thru them.
Fans for summer: attic fan and/or whole house fan. Makes a big difference.
Energy-saving light bulbs and Energy Star appliances.
Do only full loads of laundry and dishes.
Don’t thoroughly clean dishes before putting in the dishwasher.
Clean off refrigerator coils frequently.
Stand-alone freezer: defrost often if not frost-free; unplug when not being used.
Stop leaking electricity: monitors, cell phone chargers.

Withholding: have correct amount withheld.
Property taxes: look for breaks; challenge reassessment amount if think too high.
Get tax advice if your situation is complicated.
Set up a flexible spending account for medical.
Set up a 401(k): forces savings and is tax sheltered.
Track charitable giving if you itemize.

Money Management
Credit cards: use wisely or keep in a drawer for emergencies only.
Buy only what you can afford and pay off card next month.
Go on austerity budget to pay off all credit card debt.
Invest wisely and be disciplined about savings.
Set up Roth IRA or other kind of tax advantaged plan.
Use a trusted money manager if you don’t have time or skill.

Never pay retail-look for sales for things you need.
Check cash register receipt before leaving store-errors are frequent because store computer not always updated for sale items.
Clip coupons: most supermarkets double manufacturer’s coupons up to 99¢.
Make a list before shopping (no impulse buys!)
Don’t pay for out-of-season fruits and vegetables.
Don’t renew subscriptions or club memberships you don’t read or need.
Buy cheapest model that will do what you want.
Limit eating out: expensive, unhealthy.
Limit heavily processed food: expensive, unhealthy.
Buying Clubs: some items aren’t a bargain, others are.
Quality vs. Cost: do research on the product, more expensive doesn’t always mean better quality.
Christmas: don’t run up credit card debt that can take months to pay down.
Add up savings and give a generous portion to God. Commit to increase giving to church by $________ per week.

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