Cut your spending

Friday, August 21, 2009 |

CNN Money listed 63 ideas to cut your spending by $500 a month. Below are the list of ideas that I think should be easy enough for everyone to do and some that I should do myself.

Step off the gas

I think I am a sensible driver. But from time to time, I still do rapid acceleration and braking. I need to be more sensible. My commute to work is only about 2 miles. I could potentially ride my bike, which I tried to do awhile ago. Unfortunately, I forgot to close my garage door one night and my bike was stolen since I didn't lock it. So know I don't have bike. Even if I have bike, my route to work is not necessary the safest route for bike rider or even pedestrian. I need to cross a bridge where there are a lot of holes on the pedestrian section. And my city is not bike friendly.

It also suggests to check the tire pressure regularly. I do that and I own a simple tire inflator that I can use when needed. I keep my trunk empty regularly, except for my wife car where we regularly carry strollers for the kids since we never know if we need it.

Another thing that I am trying to do is to keep track of gas mileage overtime by using Fuelly.

Work out for less

I no longer have gym membership and I found out that I work out more regularly without gym membership. I don't even have any machine at home. There are a lot of exercises that you can do at home without any or minimal equipments.

For cardio, I would recommend Craig Ballantyne Bodyweight Cardio Circuit. You can find out more information on Craig Ballantyne's Youtube Video here or you can visit some info from article about the bodyweight circuit here. The great thing about this is that it requires less than 30 minutes of your time.

Or you can spend some money and buy some work out DVD. I have tried Billy Blank's Bootcamp series. You can get the DVD set for less than $50. Or for slightly more money, you can tried P90X. I have heard good thing from friends that have tried P90X.

There are more resources online for workout ideas that you can do at home. Of course if your goal is to build more muscle mass, you may want to consider going to gym. And remember, I am not a fitness expert and you may want to check with your physician/doctor before starting any exercise routine.

Remember, by working out, you are potentially cutting your health care expenses too!

Stop overpaying for college savings

That is what I did by doing my exercise recently when selecting 529 plans for my second daughter. I ended up with West Virginia Smart 529 Select plan. You can read all the articles about my research on 529 plans here.

Invest for less

I am a big fan of Vanguard. I used to buy individual stocks, but it is hard to do regular investment with individual stocks since you will be paying commissions. I have since open account with Vanguard and invest certain amount monthly. Vanguard funds are known to have the lowest fees around. You can go with ETF, but as I mentioned, it is hard to do regular monthly investment due to trade commissions.

Zap your energy costs

We installed programmable thermostat two years ago and I think it is one of the best decisions. Our natural gas and electric bill (depending on the season) dropped by about 10%. (Note: Remember to recycle the mercury thermostat properly. We brought ours to our state Department of Environment Protection office) . And we dress appropriately at home according to season. We don't mind putting on sweater at home during winter time.

Almost all our light bulbs are CFLs, including bathroom globe light bulbs. They cost more, but last longer and used less electricity.

Stake out vampire appliances

This is where I really need to pay attention too. I left a lot of electronic devices plugged in even when I am not using it. I need to start paying more attention to this.

Read bargain books

We barely buy new books anymore. I use paperbackswap as my main source for reading materials. And we also have membership to library where we get most of the books for our daughters to read. My first daughter loves to go to the library and she loves to read books. That is great for 2.5 years old. I hope she will continue to love to read books.

Tip judiciously

I agree with the article here, when does 20% become the norm? I thought it used to be 15%, but I noticed that I felt as if I need to give 20% now. I will start adjusting and only give 20% when it is an exceptional service. Otherwise, I will limit it to around 15%.

There are other ideas in the article that may be easier for you to implement. The savings may seem small, but it will add up.


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