The pillar of responsible personal finance is to spend less than you earn. If you've heard that once, you've heard it thousands of times.
There are three ways to work towards spending less than you earn:
- Earn more.
- Spend less.
- Both 1. and 2.
One area that discourages people with finding ways to spend less is that “spending less” often translates to “doing it yourself,” and that takes time. Indeed it can.
There are ways to spend less that don't involve spending a ton of time. I'll describe five ways that you'll be able to easily save $5 (or more!) in five minutes (or less!) Five bucks in five minutes is $60/hour. This is mid-level executive wage!
- Check Amazon. If you have an internet connection, it's quick to look for just about anything you'd care to purchase on Amazon. The technique is called showrooming and it's here for a long time. Head to your favorite store, find the item you want, and look up the price on Amazon to see if it's better there.
- Use a rebate site. It's shopping online but … cheaper. Instead of going directly to, say, bloomingdales.com, you go through a rebate site, click the link there, and you accumulate rebates that you can cash out. There's really not much more to it than that. Even better: Hit a rebate site comparison engine that racks and stacks the rebates that they offer. Here are the results for the Bloomingdale's rebate comparison on mine.
- Brew your own coffee. A friend of mine said that coffee always tastes better if someone who likes coffee makes it. If you make it yourself, you'll do it right, and you'll easily save a buck per minute of your time.
- Get an Entertainment Book or a local coupon book. For the times you eat out, having this in the car is an easy way to save at least $5. This book pays for itself quickly (even more quickly if you get a rebate!) If it's not an Entertainment Book per se, then there are local ones (like the Attractions Book in our area) that are often sold by fundraising groups. These sell really well because they pay for themselves so quickly. Normally these books don't have junk in them.
- Comparison shop in the supermarket. Almost every grocery store worth its existence will have unit prices on the shelf price tags. The tag that has the smaller unit price is (almost always) the better deal. How long does it take (under normal circumstances) to determine that one number is less than another?
What other tricks do you have that are worth $60 in savings per hour of your time?