Articles Comments

My FI Journey » Reflections » 17 Ways to save money without adversely affecting your quality of life

17 Ways to save money without adversely affecting your quality of life

1276337_heres_your_change_2Saving money is essential to achieving early financial independence.  But saving money at the expense of wrecking your quality of life is a game that I don’t play.  Here are some methods that I have have successfully used to reduce my bills.  And I promise no BS about meatless Mondays, biking to work, or taking cold showers.

Power / Electricity

  1. Turn off your electronics when they are not in use.  Even in ‘sleep’ mode a computer set up is a huge power hog.
  2. Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room.
  3. Replace light-bulbs with efficient LED or CFL models as they burn out.  Not CFL and LED bulbs last longer, but they also use less power.
  4. Use box fans to substitute for running the air conditioner.  Depending on where you live, these fans will knock up to several months off of your air conditioner use.  And they’re cheap.  You can pick them up for $15-$20 at your local Target or Wal-Mart.
  5. Lose weight.  Not only is getting to a healthy body weight better for you, but your heat tolerance will go up because you won’t be carrying around as much extra insulation (fat).  Healthier life and less need to run the air conditioner – it’s win/win.

 

Water

  1. Work out in the morning and take your showers at the gym.  Get in shape and save water.  Win/win again.
  2. Be conscious to turn off the faucets when they are not needed.
  3. Fix leaky sinks and toilets.  If you live in an apartment, call your landlord and tell them to get on this.

 

Natural Gas / Heat

  1. Wear an extra layer of clothing.  A long sleeve shirt, a pair of comfortable sweatpants, and maybe some socks are all you need to put off turning on the heat for a couple of weeks or months.
  2. Use a towel to block drafty doors.
  3. Open your windows and let the sun warm up your home.  May not help in the night, but it can help a lot during the day, depending on the direction that your windows face.

 

Internet

  1. Try to negotiate a lower price with your internet service provider.  I’ve been lucky twice with this tactic, but both times it required far more effort than it should have.
  2. Shop around for the best price.  This only works if you are fortunate enough not to live in a monopoly.

 

Food

  1. Shop at an ethnic food store (Hispanic, Indian, Asian, etc.).  Vegetables are often much cheaper here.  Although they may not look like the perfect specimens that you’ll find at the higher priced yuppy-marts, they taste just as good when diced and sauteed.
  2. Don’t stockpile meats or frozen foods.  If you’re a family of one or two, limit your stockpiling of food.  Just because you can buy chicken or steak for a buck off, doesn’t mean that you should buy three months worth of it.  Most of which will sit in your freezer, get forgotten about, and get slowly ruined by freezer burn.  Make sure that you use everything that you buy.
  3. Plan meals ahead of time.  This will help you focus your grocery shopping on just those items you need for the week, as opposed to buying whatever you feel like eating when you get to the store.  Plus, by planning your meals, you’ll be better able to make use of all the fresh meat and vegetables that you buy before they go bad.
  4. Stop eating out. With a little bit of practice you can make meals just as good as those served at Applebee’s, or any other mediocre chain restaurant, for just a fraction of the cost.  With a little more practice, you’ll be able to beat Applebee’s (seriously, most chain restaurants are a low bar to overcome).

 

Readers: What are your suggestions to save money without reducing your quality of life?

Written by

Filed under: Reflections · Tags: , ,

15 Responses to "17 Ways to save money without adversely affecting your quality of life"

  1. Good tips. I like the idea about the fans. I get warm very quickly so I always feel the need to want to run the AC during the summer. This year I have been trying to hang in as long as I can by turning the temp up a few degrees and using fans to keep cool. My wife also works out at the gym at her work and showers a lot there which helps out. Every year I negotiate, or complain, to my cable/internet provider that they charge way too much. Typically they will lower it down a decent amount. I also just shopped my car and home insurance. Switching from Allstate to Progressive will save me close to $2,200 a year.

    1. MFIJ says:

      I tried to tough out heat before. Once I start sweating with the fans on, I call it quits. It’s AC time after that. If you live up north you can usually open the windows and turn the fans on again once it gets dark. If you live down south, just accept the fact that the AC will run for 3 months straight.

  2. Awesome tips! My wife and I already do quite a few of these, but there are a few that we should implement. I’m with Alan when he mentioned that the fan idea is a great idea. Minnesota doesn’t ever get extremely hot, so a fan may be all that’s needed for 90% of the summer. We changed out our regular light bulbs for the LED ones and I think it saves us about $5 a month (based on previous and current electric bills) which isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing.

    1. MFIJ says:

      The one thing I really like about the LED or CFL bulbs is how long they last. I’m also thankful that energy saver bulbs now give off reasonable a spectrum of light. I tried some when they first came out they were terrible.

      It’s a little known fact but I spent some time up in Minnesota years ago. Summers were great. Rarely got too hot and daylight that lasted until 10pm or so. We won’t speak of the winters.

      1. I see you didn’t stay up here… good choice. Our winter is still going with another 2-4 inches of snow tomorrow. You won’t see me complaining during the summer though.

  3. Good tips! We’re focused right now on trying to drop our cell phone bill. It is such a rip-off and there are starting to be some viable options finally!

    1. MFIJ says:

      Depending on where you live discount pre-paid cell phones can be great. Of course they can also get terrible reception. I’ve had both experiences.

  4. Pauline says:

    I always check if I get my money worth out of a membership. Gym, cable, magazine or monthly banking fee, and cancel if the answer is no.

    1. MFIJ says:

      I only have two memberships. The gym and AAA. I definitely get my money’s worth out of the gym membership. AAA is one of those memberships I hope I never use.

  5. All great points, we always open our windows to let the sunlight in during the winter to help warm the house.

  6. These are great suggestions and just the kind I like! Why throw away money on things we don’t even care about? So much better to put that money towards things we DO care about.

    1. MFIJ says:

      Thanks! My philosophy on frugality has always been to try to save money where you’ll never notice the changes.

  7. [...] My Financial Independence Journey wrote about how to save some cash without making your life suck. [...]

  8. Ezequiel says:

    Hello everyone,

    Another idea: when you get your salary, first of all take the money you want to save. Then pay your bills and, in the end, you could spend the remaining ;).

    Most people do the opposite; the first thing they do is spend money in gadgets, cravings or similar and when they want to save, in the end of the month, they have no money to keep.

    See you!

    1. MFIJ says:

      I do something similar. I get paid every two weeks which is about twice per month. So I live off the first paycheck and bank the second one.

Leave a Reply

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>