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Thrifty Thursdays #1 – How To Save Money

We just took a dream vacation last month to Europe, to celebrate my turning 50. We obviously spent a good amount of money on this vacation, but had saved for it for a long time. I do not believe in carrying any type of debt, other than mortgage debt, so always save for what I want before I buy (or travel). I realize this is not easy for most people. I was raised by a divorced mom who was terrible with money and as a result, we never had any! I saw firsthand what spending money you did not have could do to a person and vowed never to be that way myself. When I first moved out on my own, I was naturally very poor and had to watch every penny, so I learned to save money every chance I could and became very thrifty.

Luckily I found my passion in my 20’s, selling real estate, and I have been able to build a very successful business. I also have saved for and purchased investment properties over the years that supplement my income. However, I have not outgrown my thrifty ways. In talking to people about saving money for things like a trip to Europe, it occurred to me the same thrifty ways will help you save for a house (or for an investment property). There seemed to be interest in my sharing tips to save, so I am starting this blog series “Thrifty Thursdays” here today.

Each week I will share one or two of my top money saving secrets. Use what you will. Hopefully some of these will make you think, oh yeah, I could really save a lot of money here. I will guarantee that if you follow all of these tips, and always put your savings into a separate savings account instead of spending it somewhere else, you will be able to afford a new home, an investment property, and/or a fabulous trip to Europe. You also will have the peace of mind of knowing you are putting your hard earned money to work for you. And the more you save, the more addictive saving money becomes!

Watch here each Thursday for money saving tips. They will go from very basic to hard core savings tips only a few are aware of. Here are the first two:

  1. Cut the cord on cable. I have NEVER paid for cable tv since I left college in 1987. In my opinion, this is the biggest waste of money there is. I am astounded when I hear of people paying $100-200/month for cable tv. First of all there really is not that much quality programming to watch, much less who really has the time to watch all that tv? Secondly, sitting in front of the tv is an unhealthy pastime, both for your body and your mind. Read a book, take a walk, go for a run, do some yoga, lift weights or ride your bike instead. All free and all will make you feel better than the tv. And because I know sometimes you really do just want to lay on the couch and relax by watching a movie or show, keep in mind that “free” tv has greatly progressed in the last few years. We get 40+ channels with our antenna. All FREE. Most tv shows are also available online, plus Netflix has tons of movies, past seasons of tv and cable shows and original programming for only $12/month. Eliminate your cable bill and you will save $700-2400 per year!
  2. Make your own coffee. I brew my own coffee at home every morning and take a “to-go” cup with me when I have morning meetings or appointments. I also brew my coffee in a good old regular coffee maker I got free years ago (yes I am too frugal to even spend money on a coffee maker). Often the coffee I brew is also free. And yes, I will share my tips on how to get free (or almost free) coffee in a later blog post.

    Sounds so basic, but coffee really is a money drain. If you are a coffee house addict and buy one $4 coffee per day, 4 days a week, not including tax, you are spending $832/year on coffee. I also think I am being very conservative here, in using only one $4 drink, four days a week. Mark works at the US Bank building downtown and he works with many people who buy 3 coffees per day, 5 to 6 days per week! That equals a MINIMUM of $1950 (3 cups at $2.50/day, which is probably a lot less than they are spending x 5 days/week x 52 weeks). And it could be as much as $3120/year ($4/cup x 3 per day x 5 days/week x 52 weeks). This is why buying coffee is so often used to explain the concept of compound effect.

    Again, I know these two tips are so very basic, but look at the savings. At the minimum you can save $1500/year by cutting out cable and making your own coffee. Depending on what you are spending on these two items, you could actually save $5,000/year or more! Definitely will pay for a vacation, or the closing costs on a new home. Happy savings until next week!