Saving money isn’t just clipping coupons and looking for sales. Saving money starts at a far more basic level. While it seems that the powers to be do not want to admit that we are still in a recession, I know plenty of families who believe that are and some who would even argue that we are on the verge of a depression. I think the best way for us to avoid a true economic depression is to hearken back to the days of the Great Depression and learn from the people that survived that downturn.
1. Make friends and don’t be afraid to talk about what you need. For some reason, most people think that they need to bear difficulties alone. They are embarrassed to let others know of their needs, but humans are supposed to embrace each other. We are supposed to support one another. Recently, we have been able to get a refrigerator, washer, a pile of wood, laundry detergent, eggs, and a giant bottle of Soy Sauce not by asking, but just by talking. Some of these items meant some manual labor on our part and others were just a help to the other party to get rid of such items. As the Bible says “ask and ye shall receive” (Matthew 7:7) and if you don’t ask, how is anyone supposed to know that you are even interested? Of course, the flip side of this is to listen and to give too.
2. You don’t need the best. You need what works. We seem to have this a bit mixed up in this country. People don’t just need pocketbooks; they need $600 Coach bags. They don’t just need a car; they need a Lexus. My husband didn’t just want a lawn mower; he wanted a John Deere. Now I will concede that there are times and reasons that the best is worth the extra money that it may cost at first. However, for most items, this frankly just isn’t true. We currently only have a bit over an acre of land. So the question becomes, do you need a rider or will a push mower do? While pushing is a big chore, you are talking about a cost differential of several thousand dollars. In fact at that rate, there could even be an argument made that hiring someone to cut our lawn is cheaper than the mower. But this choice doesn’t always mean something as drastic as hand cutting an acre lawn, it may mean purchasing at a scratch and dent store or buying last year’s model. If your clothes can get well cleaned in a regular washer, do you really need the steamer wash model that adds even more to the bottom line?
3. Don’t just find it cheap.Don’t buy it period. Several years ago, we went into a friend’s house that literally had book shelves stocked with movies. I would hazard a guess of several hundred movies and I am probably underestimating. This friend was telling us about all of his financial difficulties, but as he talked I could not take my eyes off of this wall of dollars. I later asked him where he got all the movies. He brushed off my question explaining they were really nothing. He got them cheaply at a local movie store for $5.00 a piece. I didn’t take the conversation any farther, but quickly did the math in my head: 200 x $5 = $1,000. This collection cost him, on the low side, over $1,000. Sometimes when we find good deals, they are hard to resist. We rationalize to ourselves that $5.00 is nothing, but all that little spending can quickly add up to a lot. I’m sure this friend would have rather had had a $1,000 Certificate of Deposit and used his library card for free movies, if he really thought the cost of these CD’s out.
4. Do research on your purchases. Especially in this day and age of savvy advertisers, research your purchases. I highly recommend Consumer Reports and other such consumer magazines or internet sites which can help you in this process. At the very least, create your own spreadsheet of prices and compare the benefits of large ticket items that you plan on purchasing. The best way to win the advertising game is to hold back you passion purchases and focus on utility, cost, and benefit.
5. Keep what you have.Learn how to do simple repairs. Many of us probably laughed at our mother’s old button box or that strange gourd shaped thing she or your grandmother used to use to darn socks, but now that we are fighting to keep the money we make, maybe they make more sense. Learning to do simple repairs like oil changes, sewing on buttons, or changing a sparkplug on your lawn mower can help you keep the things you have spent your money on in good repair and save you substantially from having to pay an “expert”.
6. Be creative and find other uses for things you have. If an item does use up its usefulness in one category, look at its uses in a different area before you throw it away. I certainly am not encouraging us to become hoarders and use dead laptops at paperweights, but how about using your ripped jeans to make a rug or turning an old sheet into a curtain? How about saving your glass kitchen jars for Christmas Kitchen gifts?
7. Don’t use money at all – Barter. As you can see several of these ideas are not about “saving” money in the traditional sense at all, but about “saving” it by not spending it. Bartering falls under this category. Bartering is based upon the idea of not spending your cash, but your abilities, skills, or something that you want to get rid of anyway. To some degree, this idea ties in with our first one. Let people know what you are good at and you may be surprised to find that they are willing to trade for something that you have been eyeing. Although the idea of bartering had a bad connotation for a while, that is not so anymore. Rarely will someone be insulted by your honest offer.
Hopefully, one or more of these hints will help you save your money. In this economy, families are struggling to make do with less than ever before. Families are trying to make ends meet with one person out of work or after taking a pay cut. We are forced to stop thinking it terms of excess but in terms of conservation. This, honestly, is not a bad thing. It is beneficial to our environment and to our pocketbooks.