Ten Ways To Save

by Joey Shanley

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In order to trim your budget, not only should you take an Old School approach, but you should discover where you can limit your spending in the New Wave areas of your life, as well. Below are ten ways to save, tossing aside older habits and analyzing newer fads that may have infested your pocketbook and destroyed your budget.

Old School

1. Ah. The Great Television Debate

Analyze your television viewing habits and figure out if you really need all nine hundred and eighty-four channels on your cable/satellite system. Chances are you chose to receive many of them at a cost. Especially now that entire seasons are released on DVD, it's the perfect time to say goodbye to the Sopranos and Deadwood. If you can stand to watch your favorite series by renting the DVDs next year, then trim your cable offerings and your budget.

2. Eating At Home: So simple, but yet oh so hard...

Buying groceries, cooking dinner, and eating meals at home is the easiest way to cut costs and free up extra money to pay down debt or to sock away. Not to mention, tonight's leftovers turn into tomorrow's lunches. Bringing my lunch to work is easily the number one area in my life where I consistently trim my budget.

3. Cancel Those Subscriptions

I get the newspaper everyday. I read the newspaper everyday. Therefore, I will probably continue to get, and read, the newspaper everyday. My subscription to the gossip and entertainment magazines? They come weekly and I can't remember the last time I popped any open. I went through my magazines last weekend and canceled every single subscription, but one. If you don't read it, get rid of it.

4. Your Landline

We spend so much time thinking about our cell phone plan that many of us have neglected to think about our landline phone bill with the same level of scrutiny. Do you make most or all of your long distance calls from your cell phone? Then get rid of your long distance carrier. A couple of times a year, look at your phone bill and decipher whether those additional charges continue to be necessary.

5. Those Lingering Services

Look over each of your credit card statements with a fine tooth comb and cancel those lingering services. Many times, you've signed on for something and were told that a $5 monthly fee would be billed to your credit cards. However, once you stopped using the service, you forgot to call the company to cancel the fee. Month after month, you are charged for a service you have long since stopped using. This happens, too, with online services such as dating sites or apartment/housing rental sites. You pay them an annual fee, but they will renew it automatically without alerting you. So make sure you cancel services you no longer use.

New Wave

1. Tivo vs. Your Cable Company's DVR

Every cable/satellite company now offers their own DVR (digital video recorder). However, you are billed for the service monthly without end. Find out if it would be financially sound for you to purchase a Tivo system. Or you can eliminate this "need" entirely. There was a time when you did live without Tivo. (I know. I know. It changed your life.)

2. Music Subscription Sites vs. Apple's iTunes

There's no argument in terms of pricing. A buck for songs that you get to keep forever versus a monthly fee for songs that are "yours" for as long as you continue to pay for the subscription? If you have your iPod, this is a no-brainer. Or you eliminate this "need" entirely, too. I know music is extremely important for some people, but while you are trying to climb out of debt and build up your savings, this may be a luxury you could temporarily do without. (This same thought process should be applied to Netflix, as well.)

3. Cell Phones

Sometimes we just have too many options. And sometimes we succumb to marketing campaigns. In late 2004, I bought a cell phone with a camera that I never use. Opt for the free cell phone that comes with the introductory plan. You don't need a razor. I don't care how cool they look. Buy it when you can really afford one.

4. Internet Access: DSL vs. Wireless vs. Dial-Up vs. Anything At All

This luxury has pretty much turned into a necessity within just over a decade, but you may not be able to afford the high-speed access that you have right now. Ask yourself if you could drop down to dial-up (or no home access at all) while you are trying to get control of your finances. For those who are able to have access at work, it might make sense to say goodbye (temporarily) to your Internet access.

5. Online Shopping

At least when you go to the mall, there are factors that limit your ability to purchase items: your time constraints, an item may not be in stock, or the store might be closed. Shopping online removes any barriers between you and what you want. The Internet is always open. Things are, more often than not, in stock. You shop when you are available. You can even shop during work. In order to eliminate your debt, you have to stop building on it in the first place. Stop shopping online. Be more intentional about your purchases.

Individually, you might only save $5 or $10 per month with each area. By taking action and trimming your consumption, you'll see savings rise to hundreds of dollars a year (or more).

Consumers in previous generations never had the onslaught of goods that most of us are facing today: iPods, DVDs, MP3s, Tivo, cell phones, text messages, home computers, Internet fees. These all add up. Some of these have, unfortunately, turned into "luxurious necessities" that are difficult to live without. However, with a heightened level of self-control, you can learn to eliminate the extra costs associated with these items.

Joey Shanley writes Molly's Brother On A Budget, an online journal devoted to helping him, and others, get spending under control.

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