After a week on the road in the Midwest, we’ve got some amazing stories to tell. We’ve learned a lot about RVing and more than a little about each other. And yes, we saved some money.
Suppose there were a simple way to save from a few to a few hundred dollars a year, and to leave the Earth a better place for your children. Well, there is. This week’s lifestyle tip should surprise none of you who know what I do for a living. But I’m going to say it anyway. In non-emergency situations, it’s time to stop buying bottled water.
Is it too late to start saving for college? And what’s the best way to do it? My friend Vaishali recently asked me this, and then suggested I turn my answer into a blog post. She’s usually right about such things, so here goes.
Happy almost-240th birthday, America! It’s just the dog and me at home for a couple of days, and I took myself out to dinner at a favorite restaurant last night: The Vegetable Garden. I ordered my delicious meal and then remembered something: there’s a 10 percent discount if you pay in cash. And there’s a Capital One ATM right next door. So I took home an extra couple of bucks with my leftover Chinese food. And I started thinking about other ways that paying cash can put us ahead.
This week’s tip is an extremely simple, low-tech companion to paying yourself first. You can call it impulse control, self-deception or simply discipline, but it doesn’t matter. Here’s the idea: whenever you pay cash for something, take the loose change and put it away someplace.
Owning fewer things makes me feel more free inside. I get joy from carting useless or underused stuff out of my house to the local Goodwill donation center. Having clean sight lines in the home is a pleasure, and I can see and better appreciate the things I choose to keep when there are fewer of them.
So, today’s lifestyle tip is really a work in progress: if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
In theory, I’m a fiscally responsible grown-up. Or at least I think enough of my financial skills to write about them on my blog. I read about a dozen frugality and early retirement blogs regularly, own and have given away copies of “Your Money or Your Life.” I employ the services of a fee-only financial planner, and have never bounced a check or had a bill go into collection. I’m the chief financial officer of our household.
But I’ve got a dark secret.
Lindy and I were customers of discount mobile carrier Ting for two months. We’ve switched back to T-Mobile.
I so wanted to like Ting. The concept was right up my alley: a frugal way to do cell phone service. To me, frugality means not paying for things you don’t need and not paying too much for the things you do. That’s exactly how Ting markets itself.
Is this blog becoming a place for paid shilling? No, Amazon didn’t pay me to write this. And yes, it’s true that if any of the tens of readers of this blog sign up for a Prime trial or use my affiliate links, I’ll make a buck or two. But I’m not such an easy endorser. Amazon Prime has made my hectic life much easier in so many ways, any one of which could be worth the $99 annual price.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Yesterday evening, I ran out and got XY some Chinese takeout for dinner before the babysitter came over. Why? Because we couldn’t get into the kitchen to feed the kid. We’ve been having the kitchen floor re-tiled, which is a three-day job. The last-minute scramble, minus the tiles, probably sounds familiar to a lot of working parents. But it’s a very unusual thing for us, by design.
Avoiding situations like last-minute takeout food, with its high cost, extra packaging and often dubious nutritional value, is exactly why we make a meal plan every week.