Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to save money by thinking ahead

Today I'm going to make another post dedicated to saving money, as I realise I've wandered off course a bit recently. So, my topic for today is how to save money by thinking ahead and planning. Now I don't mean budgetting, because we all know about that, I'm talking about the 6 P's (7 if you're an adult, but this is a child friendly zone!). Prior planning and preparation prevents poor performace. I'm not sure who coined that phrase, but it is one of the better phrases that was taught to me by my father. So let me give you a few examples.

When I was younger, getting my learner's license for driving, I was quite lazy. The policy where I am from is that you have to log 100 hours of driving time, before you can take your test and become a full license holder. I was extremely lazy, and after 3 years I still hadn't logged my 100 hours, so it came the time to renew my license. $120 down the drain, for a 3 year license renewal, which I barely needed 6 months of, because soon after that I took my test and got my full license. If I had been less lazy, and thoguht ahead, that's $120 extra I could have had in my pocket!

Let me give you another example. One of the guys I used to live with, one whim, went to the local music store, and came home with a brand new $1400 guitar. By itself there's nothing wrong with that, but 3 months later, he decided he didn't like it. Now, everyone knows that as soon as something is owned by someone, and takes on the "second hand" title, it's immediately worth less. If he had made a sensible decision, and thought ahead, he wouldn't be $400+ out of pocket.

Really, these are simple ideas. I can't think of the number of times myself, or someone I know, has been caught out by not thinking ahead, and it can be very costly. If you want to save money, this really is a great place to start! Budgetting is all well and good, but if you can plan ahead, understand what you are going to need, when you are going to need it, and make sensible decisions, you wont have any trouble saving money.

Live simply, plan ahead, save money!

Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a FortuneFrugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune

How to Save Money when Times are ToughHow to Save Money when Times are Tough

How to be assertive

As a child I was often told by my father that I had to be more assertive. Only recently have I really begun to understand what this means. I came to realise that there is a difference between being assertive in a "nice guy" sense, and being assertive in a respectful sense. I have also learned that you aren't going to get anywhere being a nice guy. This doesn't mean you have to become a jerk, and I will explain to you what I mean as I get further into this post.

Assertiveness really is a skill that is going to help you save money, live happier, and of course help you get your own way. The way to be assertive is to consider yourself in the other person's shoes. They don't want Mr Bossy coming in, telling them what they want, and how they want it. If you do this, chances are you're not going to get your way.

To be assertive, you really need to practise the art of being respectful. By this I mean showing respect for others, but at the same time requesting (not demanding!) respect for yourself. The combination of both of these skills will really help you in the future, in all walks of life. Let me give you some examples.

Let's say you're in line at your favourite fast food restaurant, and you finally recieve your order, but to your dismay, one of the items you ordered is missing.

Now at this point, you have 3 choices.

Option 1: walk away and ignore it. It's alright, they gave you the wrong food, but that's ok, I will just eat my other food. In some cases, I would recommend this option. If it's extremely busy, and you haven't been robbed of anything significant (i.e. if you ordered 3 sauces, and you only got 2, and you've only lost a few cents). The amount of time you have to spend waiting to have your ordered correctly, just may not be worth it.

Option 2: abuse the staff, and demand the problem be fixed. Never do this. I've seen it happen before too many times, and it's just painful. For both parties invovled, and any casual observers, it really is just terrible to have to deal with.

Option 3: Go back to the staff, politely tell them they have made a mistake, ask for the problem to be rectified. This is being assertive. You are getting what you want, but you are doing it in a sensible, rspectful fashion. You haven't caused a scene, both parties are left with their self respect, and you have achieved what you wanted to. This is the sort of model you want to apply to your daily life, it will improve your self esteem, and make you happier.

Now, moving right along, I want to explain how being assertive is going to help you with saving money (afterall, this blog is based around saving money!). My father was one of these people who had no shame when he bought something, he could take himself to such a low level of embarassment, and come out the other end with his self respect, and having haggled to the point where he had saved an impressive amount. Fundamentally, this comes down to self confidence, and assertiveness. You don't have to quite take it to the level where your children are watching and trying to hide their faces, but you can use this to help you save money, and train yourself to be more assertive.

This can also be applied in your career development. Employers are always looking for employees who are dominant and impressive in their field of work, but respectful and thoughtful. You need to be willing to put yourself above others to succeed. I know this sounds controversial, but it's true. Those who want to succeed, will, even if it takes ruthless determination, and even if they have to step on a few toes. You need to put yourself in this category, but I urge you to do it in a way such that you don't ruin your reputation, and you maintain your morals and self respect.

This is how you become more assertive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to survive the coming apocalypse-financially

It seems that every time I look around, or turn on the tv, I get bombarded with news about the state of the global economy, and conflicting messages about how "your money is safe, and you have nothing to worry about" and "economists are predicting hard times ahead, potentially as bad as the depression in the 1920's". Even if these seemingly pessimistic predictions turn out to be incorrect (which is entirely possible. I'm not here to spew doomsday messages, I'm here to inform!), it definitely seems like a good time to start to prepare some emergency funds and plan for whatever may come. As famously put, "hope for the best, expect the worst!".

The first thing I suggest you do, if you don't already own one, is to purchase a strong, fireproof safe, and find a suitable place to hide it in your house. It needs to be hidden enough so that if someone breaks it, it wont be stolen, but at the same time it needs to be in a place where it would be easy to recover in the case of a fire or collapse of the house (however that may happen). Many people I know simply use a tin or a money box for their valuables, and to be honest, this isn't really good enough. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a safe.

Now, I want to you learn how to open that safe, and memorise it. There's no use having a page hidden in your desk which describes how to open it if your house burns down and you can't find it to read it.

The next thing to do is to sit down, and plan exactly how much you would need to survive for a few months. Yes, a few months. It may seem unreasonable, but if there was an extreme financial collapse, and the banks closed, it could be potentially months before you can remove money. You need to be able to cut your spending substantially, and ration your cash reasonably. So what I am suggesting is that you go and remove cash from your bank, and put it in your safe. Don't do the typical "hide it under your matress" or similar techniques. Buy the safe. Spend the money, and you can have peace of mind. The amount of cash you put in the safe depends on how much you would spend in that situation, and how many people you would need to financially support. If you need to support your whole family, obviously you're going to need more.

If you can't afford to remove a lump sum from your bank account, then start putting away a few dollars a day. The way my parents used to do it is that anything that was saved during the week, was split into a cash storage safe, and put into the bank. As their income increased, this changed, but while they were earning smaller amounts this was the most effective way to do it. This is where any tips I have previously provided for saving money will come in handy.

By the end of your saving, you should have a large sum of money (for my parents, after quite a substantial amount of time, it was upwards of $20,000, although this was for use in a scenario where 5 family members, plus possible extended family, may need to be supported, and the amount you require will obviously be different).

Now, I am sure there are many of you reading this who are thinking "this is ridiculous, there's no way the economy is ever going to get that bad". Well, for all of you out there thinking that, do whatever you want. Don't put any money away. Live your day to day lives as if no bad can ever happen, and don't prepare for the worst. However, if the worst does occur, don't go running to your family and friends requesting money or food. You will have brought it upon yourself. It's like the story of the 3 pigs. Only one of them was prepared for the wold, and he had to support the other 2 when their happy little bubbles popped and they were thrown into chaos. Don't be the 2 stupid pigs. Be the clever one. And when those 2 pigs come knocking, send them on their way, because you're going to have more important things to worry about than helping them out of the situation they got themselves into.

I'm not preaching the end of the world, or telling you what is going to happen in the future. I just want you to be prepared. What's the worst that can happen with a large sum of cash hidden in your fireproof, lockable safe? You have to put it back in the bank in the future? Oh, catastrophe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saving money on entertainment

Hello my lovely chocolate buttons!

Today I thought I would talk about saving money on entertainment. I have already posted about saving money on hobbies, which you can visit by clicking here. This time, however, I am going to talk about one of the areas which will either cost you a fortune, or cost you nothing. Entertainment.

I have friends who seem unable to find something to do within their own home. Without fail, once a week, I will get a call from atleast one of these friends asking me to "go to the movies" or "go out for a drink". This may sound harmless enough, but for someone trying to live simply and cheaply, getting into the habit of finding external sources for your entertainment is going to be extremely costly.

What I challenge you to do is find a method of entertaining yourself that does not involve spending money with other people. The problem with having a social life, from personal experience, is that it burns deep holes in your pockets. You're always encouraged to buy lunch, or buy that pair of shoes your friend recommends, and this is why I urge you to find ways to entertain yourself without needing to be with other people.

Read books online, watch movies online, find a hobby such as craft or gardening which has the potential to return profits, or save you money in other ways, start exercising (at home of course, gym memberships are extremely expensive). Why not try your hand at baking or cooking? What about learning music, or writing a book? Hell, why not even try blogging? It's cheap, entertaining, has the potential to earn you money, and it's very satisfying.

Now, I'm not telling you to lock yourself in your house and alienate yourself from society. Go out with your friends sometimes, spend a little bit of money, but you shouldn't have to rely on that weekend shopping spree, or the thursday night movie and pizza session.

One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from spending money when out with your friends, is simply to just not carry any. Keep your pockets empty, don't carry cash, or alternatively, leave your cards at home and only carry a $20 note. Budgetting while shopping is going to save you a fortune. I posted about this technique in January here.

Happy saving!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

3 ways to save money on your mobile phone bill

Today I would like to mention saving money on your mobile phone bill by using the following few tips:

1. Use it less! 

So I realise that this is extremely obvious, but it's astounding the number of people who don't take this into consideration when looking for ways to save money. The easiest way to spend less on your mobile phone bill is to simply avoid using it as often. Now I realise that mobile phones are a fantastic device, and extremely important in most day to day life, but do you really need to send that simple 1 worded text that only says "ok"? Do you really need to vote for your favourite singer on american idol? Do you really need to get your daily horoscopes texted to you? These are the sorts of things I am talking about.

Instead of having a texting conversation with your friend, why not use something like skype, or MSN? It's cheaper and it's easier. If your friends are trying to start a conversation with you, give them a short answer to their question, and say something along the lines of "I can't really talk at the moment, it's very busy at work/university/wherever you are. How about we have a conversation on skype tonight?". I can guarantee you will save a fortune on your monthly bills if you do this.

2. Take advantage of what you have!

Everyone seems to brag about the features of their phone plan, but many people don't use it to it's full potential. If you have an hour a day where you get half price calls, make all your phone calls in that hour. If you get 50 free texts, use all 50, and try not to use more than that. It really is very simple, and you will save money!

3. Shop around for a better deal!

This money saving tip is extremely obvious. Always keep an eye out for a better deal. If it makes sense, change to the better deal to save money. Also, be mindful of any expenses you have to pay to break the contract, and calculate whether or not it's worth changing over if you have to pay the fee. In the long run, it may be cheaper to bite the bullet, pay the fee, and move on!

Hopefully these tips are helpful, they will certainly save you some money!

Coming back to life!

Hello to all my viewers!

It's been a while since my last post, since I've gone back to studying and have been incredibly busy, as well as having to deal with some issues in my life, so I would like to apologise for that.

I intend to begin writing regularly on this blog again, in an attempt to both expand the blog, as well as provide some great information to you readers out there! I intend to set myself reasonable goals to try and get myself back into the habit of writing new content regularly, and passing on my experience with saving money.

Today, I would like to talk about exercise.

It seems that in recent years, the "gym mentality" has really become quite popular. I don't know why this has come about, but in the past, if you wanted to get fit, you didn't need to do it in an environment where you had people watching you, and where you had to pay for a membership. What ever happened to the old days of hard work, and regular exercise in simple forms?

As a student, I am very pressured by my peers to join a gym and "improve my body". It seems to be the most popular thing to do at the moment. However, gym memberships are very costly. I began to research other options, and there are absolutely abundant resources providing details for the correct exercises, instructional videos, and extremely cheap alternatives to a gym membership. All it requires is a little bit of self motivation, and the exact same results can be achieved.

I encourage you all to do some research and consider your options, before purchasing a gym membership.

I will give you an example. My father is a pilot, ex airforce. Throughout his entire life (both for his work, and his own personal pleasure), he has been remarkably fit (even now as a man in his 50s he could still outrun most 20 year olds). He has always been a strong, fit man, and only in the last few years has purchased an exercise machine. Prior to that, all his exercise came from running, and basic home exercises, as well as his own home renovations. Between the exercise machine (which he rarely uses!), renovation projects, and his jogging, he has remained extremely fit, and spent very little money.

This is the sort of lifestyle which I encourage. Saving money, and saving your body. With enough research, planning, and self motivation, you can achieve anything you want to, and I wish more people would believe this about themselves. It has taken me a long time, and much self doubt, to come to this realisation, and I can only wish for others to believe the same.

So in summary, thanks to all my viewers, and sorry that I haven't been posting more regularly.  I will start posting frequently, and continuing to expand this site, and all I ask is that you tell other people about me, pass on the URL, spread the word.

As usual, feel free to comment! I will reply to all comments, and I would love to hear some suggestions from all of you for money saving tips.

Happy saving!

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Shopping Tips- Save Money Shopping

Hello again, sorry this post has come a bit late, but I've had a bit of a busy week. Today I want to talk about shopping again, as I feel that there is something that I haven't brushed on yet.

There are many people I know who tend to shop at specialty stores. For example, I was recently looking to buy small wall mirror to hang in my bedroom, and a friend recommended I check in the local home maker store. When I got in there, while I admit they had an astonishing variety of mirrors, the price was completely illogical. I could never imagine spending so much on something so simple. I decided to use the age old technique of searching super stores.

By super store I mean stores that sell a huge range of items, from linen to shoes, to dvds. In Australia stores such as Big W, Kmart and Target come to mind. When I did search one of these stores, although the variety of mirrors was somewhat smaller, the prices were much more appealing. I ended up saving something like $40 just by visiting a different store.

I highly recommend that you try and visit these stores as an alternative to buying from specialty stores. They have the potential to save you a lot of money, and you will not regret it.

Happy shopping!