Almost every Personal Finance blog I’ve browsed and/or started following recently includes multiple posts entitled “HOWEVER MANY TIPS TO SAVE HOWEVER MUCH MONEY IN WHATEVER AMOUNT OF TIME AND/OR ON WHATEVER OBJECT OR EVENT” – clearly, because it’s what people (especially those of us new to the PF world) want to know.
However, the thing with Personal Finance is just that – it’s personal. My financial situation may be similar to others, but it’s uniquely mine, meaning there is a lot of information out there that simply does not apply to me. Now, I’m pretty good at coming up with excuses for pretty much anything and everything, but every once and a while, my “excuses” are actually valid. Like right now.
WAYS TO SAVE MONEY THAT I CANNOT DO / DO NOT APPLY TO MY SITUATION
Ask for a Raise / Ask for a Promotion / Work Over-Time
None of these are options with my current employer. My bosses know they can’t pay us what we’re worth, but that’s the reality of a not-for-profit job. I’ve received (small) raises and bonuses before, but significant raises do not exist. I can’t ask for a promotion because there is nowhere to promote me to – I am my entire department. As for over-time, we get lieu time instead of extra income – which is great for my sanity, but not my bank account. My part time job is paid by the hour, and I could potentially work more (sometimes all) shifts, but it’s exhausting and I end up miserable and sick and it’s probably not worth it.
Brew Your Own Coffee
I’m not one of those people that have to hit the drive-thru every morning on my way to work, but I did have a brief love-affair with Tim Horton’s upon discovering their Carmel Apple bagels (toasted with butter). I would get up 10 minutes early and hit the drive-thru 2, or 3, or 4 times a week. But I made myself stop before it got out of hand – all that money, all that gas, all that waste on disposable cups and wrappers, AND sacrificing 10 minutes of sleep?!? NUTS!
Bundle Your Services
My cell phone and Internet are with two separate companies. (I got rid of my cable and land line over 2 years ago.) I have looked into cheaper plans for my cell and Internet, but there aren’t a lot of options in a city with only 2-3 companies to choose from. And sadly, the prices keep going up.
Cancel / Cut-Up Credit Cards
I only have one credit card, and I can count on my thumbs how many times I’ve had a balance on it at the end of the month. I only use it when traveling, or to pay for reimbursable medical expenses.
Most coupons I come across are for products that I don’t need but I think that I do because I’m saving 50¢. For me, it’s more a trap to buy crap then it is to save. I just look for things on sale instead, and save myself some time too.
As a renter, the maintenance of my apartment is the landlord’s issues, not mine. As for my car, I have a “freedom maintenance” plan for the first 4 years; they do all the oil changes, tire rotations, etc. at no extra cost to me.
One, I’m looking to work LESS, not more. And two, I could get fired if I was to go off and teach drama on my own (conflict of interest) and I don’t know what else I would offer as a freelancer…
Get a Better Education
This could theoretically work if I was to change career paths, but for now, more schooling would only equal more debt for me. I tried taking a few online college classes on “Effective Teacher Training”, but found the material far too simple and largely non-applicable as I do not teach within the school system. As well, I cannot use more education as leverage to ask for a raise; I am already one of the most educated people working this office.
Make Your Own (Insert Item Here)
With a handful of exceptions, I suck at making all things. It would be a waste of my time and resources and I would likely have to go out and buy the damn thing anyways.
Mortgages, Real Estate and Utilities
No real estate or mortgages for me – I rent a one bedroom apartment. My rent includes utilities, so turning off the lights or taking shorter showers isn’t going to change my expenses at all – not that I’m purposely wasteful.
Sell My Stuff
I don’t have “stuff” to sell. Even if I did, it wouldn’t generate enough money to be worth my time to hold a yard sale or post things on Kijiji.
Shop at Costco / Buy in Bulk
The closest Costco is over 400km away, and the one similar store here in town costs the same as the regular sized items. There are the few things that make sense for me to buy in bulk, and I do, but it’s not significant to my budget/spending.
Take Advantage of Employer Discounts and Opportunities
Things like 401K matching, pension plans, and group rates for cell phone plans do not exist in my working world.
Talk About Money
Most PF bloggers are living with their partner and/or kids, so talking about money within the household are obviously important. But it’s just me.
I really, really wish I could! But my job doesn’t allow for any lengthy time off except for Xmas and summer. (I do my best and try to travel in early June.)
There are also things that are suggested that do apply to me, but aren’t things I’m willing to sacrifice or change at this point in my life.
THINGS THAT I DON’T WANT TO DO TO SAVE MONEY
Cancel your Credit Card
Again, I only have one card, and I pay it off each month. How else am I going book flights online?
Cancel your Gym Membership
I debated this; I even looked into other gyms to see if I could find one that closer to my house and/or cheaper, but did not. I like going to the gym, and as long as I get back into a habit of going at least twice a week, it’s well worth my $45 a month.
Cut Your Own Hair / DIY Spa Treatments
It costs me about $35-$40 per haircut, and I only get it cut 2-3 times a year. I don’t go the spa, get my nails done, or take mud baths. At the most, this would save me $100 a year, and it would probably be disastrous.
Give Up on Your Indulgences
I have no issue wearing second-hand clothes, or buying generic brands when it comes to most things, but I will not give up on my Lush addiction. Sure I can buy shampoo from the dollar store, or wash my face with a bar of soap, but it’s just not worth it. I will gladly pay $30 for a bottle of Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo and $20 for 9 to 5 face wash – because they work and make me feel pretty!
I am not crafty, can barely sew, and I can’t bake. I don’t think anyone would appreciate any thing homemade by me.
Make $$ Off This Blog
I really don’t drink that often, and when I do it’s for social purposes. (And the boyf usually pays.)
Sell Your Car
No way! My car is less than 3 years old, with just over 15,000km on it. I’m still paying it off, and selling it now would likely result in a loss. Also, public transportation in this city is horrible.
To reiterate what I said at the top of this post, these are the things that do not work for me in my current situation, but that doesn’t make it bad advice (at least I hope not, because they showed up on pretty much every blog I’ve seen). Remember, it’s PERSONAL finance, so maybe these things apply to you?
[In Part II of this post, I will explore the advice that I have found useful.]