I was talking with a good friend who happened to share that her brother had recently gotten a promotion, yet he was always in money trouble. When I probed for the reason, she really didn’t have any, but it provoked a discussion about how people spend, save, and manage their money. This friend went on further to state she didn’t know how she could even be related (to her brother) given their completely opposite habits about money.
My wife and I often differ on spending but we’re largely on the same page as far as managing money. She likes to spend on things I don’t understand (Louis Vuitton) while I like to spend on things she can’t get in and out of (my car). Yet, when it comes to the entire notion of budgeting and saving, we understand the long view. Sometimes, however, we wonder if our boys have “gotten” any of this, though they’re exhibiting some early wisdom about saving.
My blue-collar parents taught me very well about money. My dad worked with his hands, never made a very big income, but my mom invested and managed their money to ultimately provide them a good lifestyle, if not an overly-lavish one. I remember when I was first making good money how happy I was to get my parents their first Cadillac. That was their dream car. If not for them, I’d not have been in a position to do that at all.
America is in an economic downturn that may not significantly recover for a long time. Wages are down and not likely to swing back (big), for a long time. Competition is intense, out-sourcing is here to stay, and long-term employment has gone the way of the record player and music business. Our kids indeed do have a harder time of it, all around, in my opinion and the opinion of 70% of America (from a recent poll).
However, making and saving money is still possible. Some discipline must be exerted throughout the moneymaking process even at the minimum wage job level. So, with all this in mind, I’m going to offer my tips for how to save and manage money (in no particular order or importance):
~~ I like George Carlin’s quote, paraphrased (by my memory): “So, you wanna be a millionaire. First get a million dollars, then…”
~~ Learn to put away some of your paycheck from the VERY FIRST one you receive! Establish that habit and stick with it as the paychecks increase!
~~ Stop buying expensive coffees at Starbucks and similar shops! If you must, just buy the straight coffee or buy at McDonald’s. Do the math. Is a little froth really worth that extra $2 – $5 EVERY day, especially if you add in a scone or other goodie? It adds up to a LOT of money!
~~ NEVER buy a new car. NEVER lease a car. Buy 2-3 year-old low mileage used cars and keep them for several years (5+).
~~ Buy just about EVERYTHING you need ON SALE! Last year’s ANYTHING usually is just fine, especially with things that don’t change that much like sporting goods and men’s clothes. You women are stuck with the fashion nonsense if you buy into it (and it is NONSENSE)!
~~ Learn to cook. Eat at home. When you eat out, eat out SMART – go to Happy Hour and eat appetizers. Use coupons. Pick and choose wisely and don’t over order! You can always order more but you can’t undo too much food (and its cost).
~~ NEVER order a soft drink, iced tea, or similar non-alcoholic drink at a restaurant. Drink water; it’s better for you anyway. Limit alcohol drinking “out” to a minimum. Save the bucks on a great bottle of wine or champagne at home. It will cost you about 1/3 of the restaurant marked-up price.
~~ Shop at discount stores such as CostCo for all your basic household supplies. The bigger the family the more you’ll save. Target and Smart ‘N’ Final are also great as is Home Depot. Do your “fancy” shopping at Outlet Malls ONLY. You can get your name brands there. Another example: Do not EVER buy retail at Nordstrom’s – buy Nordstrom Rack!
~~ Send your kids to community college for their first two years (of college). There is NOTHING to be gained by going to a 4-year college for 4 years other than wasting – and I mean WASTING – a lot of money, whether it’s yours for your kids or yours in the way of student loans!
~~ Pay off your credit cards IN FULL by the date each payment is due. Credit card interest can exceed 18% and is literally throwing money away!
~~ For that matter, think about your credit and debit cards as CASH. If you don’t have the cash, you can’t spend it, right? Well, use that mind-set with all spending (on “credit”). A credit card should be YOUR money rather than a loan with interest and a monthly extra expense.
~~ Do not incur ANY bank fees. Get a free checking account. Use credit cards that give cash back. Forget mileage because mileage is a scam, in my opinion. Too many blocked dates and restrictions. There are great 1, 2, and 3% cash-back credit cards. Use THAT cash to buy the best airfares you can find when you want to travel.
What savings/spending/money tips do you have to add to my list?