Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fun with a Slide Show!

Here, we have a slide show that claims to show painless substitution to save you money.

1) Tights - buy non-designer instead of designer tights. Yeah. Seems a bit obvious to me, but then again, not sure I wore a single name-brand piece of apparel when I was growing up. Perhaps this particular tactic is a part of my childhood skill set.

2) Grocery store - buy store brand instead of brand name. Often, yes. For me, this is where couponing, should you do it, coupled with things like grocery store club cards, and comparing price per unit/ounce/sheet comes into play. A coupon does not always make a name brand product cheaper, but conversely, a store brand product isn't always the most frugal option either. Making the switch from name- to store- brand products that you purchase frequently will certainly help to bring down your overall bill. So will smart shopping. I guess my approach isn't so much painless as it is time consuming. :)

3) Movie Rental - opt for Netflix, not the brick and mortar store (if you can still find one). 5 bucks month for two movies (what they suggest) won't satiate the movie viewing appetite at my house. Honestly, we've recently discovered the joys of Redbox. The selection isn't always great, and outdoor locations do make on the spot browsing a bit chilly right now, but at a buck (plus tax) a day, it is far friendly on our wallets. We've also found out that you can search individual machines online and reserve specific movies. It does require a credit or debit card.

4) Coffee - froth the milk for your latte at home. Seems that they are suggesting a pseudo-latte, depending on your definition of latte, by brewing your own coffee, then adding the frothed milk. Substituting at-home coffee for cafe-coffee is always going to be a money saver. If you choose to go the route of buying a frother for the home, just make sure you research the appliances, and buy one that suites your needs, without breaking the bank.

5) Mail - pay bills online (automatically) instead of ponying up for stamps to mail them. Paying bills online is certainly a great way to eliminate paying for stamps and envelopes, and helps to cut the amount of paper you use. Scheduling online payments also helps you control when the money will actually be taken out of your account. All good - my sticking point is a personal one: setting up automatic drafts. A great idea in theory, especially if you are salaried, and always paid on the same day/date. If your pay amount or schedule is subject to change, automatic drafts feel risky to me. It can also be a pain to try to cancel automatic drafts once a service is terminated.

Having worked at a gym that sold auto-draft memberships, I fielded my share of phone calls from ex-members who were still being drafted. Sometimes it was their fault, sometimes ours, sometimes the bank. Also, we currently have our car insurance automatically drafted from an account. When we moved, we sold one car, and took it off our policy. Or so we thought; a random audit by the insurer placed the car back onto our payment plan, and for a few months, we were charged for a car that was 600+ miles away, titled under someone else.


6) Drinks - drink at home with your friends before going out. Or don't drink? Haha! Alcohol is expensive. Alcohol at a restaurant is mind-boggling. At a time when ordering a soda or iced tea (or sweet tea!) at a restaurant can easily add 2 or 3 dollars to your bill (per person), ordering one alcoholic beverage can be like adding a whole other entree! If drinks and friends are the motivation for going out, starting the outing at someone's house could be a more frugal alternative. Of course, this is provided that you do so responsibly, knowing your limits, and always having a designated driver, or alternate method of getting home. A cab ride is always going to be cheaper than driving drunk.

So, what do you think? Are these suggestions truly a painless way to make a few substitutions and save a bit of money? Are my critiques too heavy handed?


Margaret said...

And of course, don't buy magazines like Cosmo in the first place. The more we expose ourselves to advertising the more we think we have to have this, that or the other. Same goes for TV.

How is the menu planning coming on?

swiggett said...

Margaret - very true on your first point! I find myself falling for advertising sometimes. Hopefully, though, that realization means that I am able to stop it more often than not!

Menu planning is very slow going; something to which I have not yet quite thrown myself into. Thanks for asking.

inadvertent farmer said...

As a vegetarian I vote for one meatless night a week for those not going veg full time. Beans are always cheaper than meat!

Great post! Kim

swiggett said...

Kim - great idea! I'm not sure we'd go fully-vegetarian, but one or two meatless nights a week certainly wouldn't hurt, us or the checkbook. Thanks.