We in Massachusetts know all about the bottom line when trying to protect our bottom line. We understand that to stay in the black, it is not only about how much money comes in, but also how much goes out. The old bromide advising us to “live within our means” is as true today as it has always been. Some professional athletes, for example, have gone bankrupt despite earning millions annually, while others with $20,000 annual incomes stay debt free and always have a little money. So to help you keep from being a spendthrift to the point of excessive debt or bankruptcy, here is some advice. Remember that saving is important even if you are debt free, as some day you will need money for retirement. And remember, material goods do not make you happy.
- Bring your own lunch to work and avoid even inexpensive restaurants. Also, try to patronize the lower-priced coffee vendors such as McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts, instead of the expensive ones, including StarBucks. Be aware it is often the daily smaller expenses that quickly add up that lead to excessive debt.
- Another way to save money is to purchase the lower-priced supermarket brand items in the grocery store. The supermarket brands are often virtually the same as the more expensive ones, including factors such as taste and vitamin content. Often the supermarket brands are secretly manufactured by the famous name companies, with just a different label. So the quality is identical. To help determine a product’s quality, read the label. If the ingredients are the same in identical proportions, most likely you have a good product. And for non-food items, such as health products, the supermarket brands are often an even better bargain. The active ingredient in Tylenol, for example, is acetaminophen. Discount department store brand pain relievers that say they are similar to Tylenol and contain the same amount of acetaminophen are of equal quality to the famous name. The Wal-Mart brand is called Equal and is an outstanding choice.
- Pay with cash or a debit card. Statistics indicate those who pay with credit fifteen percent more. Try to wait to purchase items until you can pay with cash or with a debit card. And if you do pay with credit, pay off the balance quickly. Those monthly interest charges add up fast.
- Shop around for lower-priced insurance. In Massachusetts, Phil Richard Insurance offers significantly lower priced options for insuring your automobile. Often their premiums for the same coverage of automobile insurance are hundreds of dollars less annually than more well known companies. And consider raising your deductible to lower premiums.
- Fix your car rather than buy a new one. If taxi companies can keep their cars running for more than a million miles, you could be able to keep yours going for at least 200,000. And when your car gets older, the cost for your required insurance decreases too. Another way to save is to avoid changing your oil every 3,000 miles. Contrary to what Jiffy Lube says, under normal conditions oil provides great protection for 7,500 miles. Check your owner’s manual for details. And to reduce your gasoline consumption, combine errands into one trip. In addition, when purchasing gasoline, almost all cars run better with the lower-priced regular octane, not one of the more expensive choices. Only if your car knocks should you consider purchasing a higher-octane gas. Cars using high-octane fuel do not have more power. If your car runs great on low-octane fuel, increasing the octane makes it run worse. In addition, all gas is the same. There is no benefit to buying a well-known brand, such as Mobil, instead of the lower-priced alternatives. There are only a handful of refineries. So even if the gas does not say Mobil, you may still be purchasing gasoline that Mobil manufactures. And many gas stations offer a discount if you pay in cash.