By Shaun Somers
Several weeks ago (April 26th) I had the chance to host our radio show, Wise Up and Prosper, and for the day's theme I chose to discuss various money saving tips. I had an hour's worth prepared, but I was glad to hear from some callers who also gave some great advice.
Since that time my wife and I have made some changes to own family budget, looking to maximize the amount we can save towards our current goals, Some of these were discussed on the show, some didn't make it on due to time constraints. Though none of them makes a huge savings monthly by itself, they do add up. The effects on how we actually live range from zero to fairly significant. I will actually list them in order of smallest to largest lifestyle alteration:
1. Auto Insurance. I called up my auto insurance provider and changed the deductibles and coverage we had on our primary vehicle. We've owned our minivan for over six years and driven it pretty hard. We had "all perils" coverage for it, meaning if it were stolen or a tree fell on it, or it was damaged in any way we could make a claim on it. We also had a $1000 deductible, meaning we'd have to pay the first thousand of any repairs and the insurance company takes care of the rest. Well, at this point in it's lifespan – 12 years old and with over two hundred thousand miles on it- that van is barely worth a thousand bucks. There's no way that we're spending any significant amount making repairs and we definitely wouldn't make an insurance claim. So I raised the deductible to the maximum $2500 level. That change, combined with dropping down to liability only coverage, which is the minimum required by law, is going to save us about $12 per month. All it took was a ten minute phone call.
2. Air Drying Clothes. That we've made this change in the past couple weeks is really just a timing coincidence, as it has been getting much nicer weatherwise here in Southern Ontario. Almost as soon as it's practicable we like to start using our clothesline regularly in place of our electric dryer. According to this awesome energy saving website, we'll be saving about $7-10 a month.
3. Freezing more stuff. We have access to our own fridge freezer, and my mother's in her apartment below us (we live in a duplex). We are making more of an effort now to stock up on great deals on freezable food – meat in particular. Some of my friends and I recently got together to make our own sausage. I took home twenty pounds, at a savings of over $1/lb from retail. I'm not sure what the actual savings will be going forward, but I am sure it will be at least $10-20 each month. Note that a full freezer isalso more energy efficient!
4. Ditching the landline. This is one that my wife and I had discussed over many months but didn't actually take the plunge on until now. Since the beginning of May we haven't had a home phone, choosing instead to go only with our respective cell phones. More and more people are choosing to go this route, and we could see that there wasn't much point in resisting any longer. So few people actually called us on our home phone that it seemed silly to keep it. This means a bit of extra work for us as we'll need to eventually change our phone number with people who rarely call us, but might eventually. I know I should contact Canadian Blood Services before they call me to remind me of my donation next Wednesday. I also need to teach my kids our new phone numbers… hmm, I'd better put that on the list of things to do tomorrow. Because we had our phone bundled with our internet service through our cable provider (though we dropped the cable tv last year too), our savings were halved because we no longer get a discount on the internet. Still, it's another $10/month in our pocket instead of someone else's.
These four changes add up to around $40-50, maybe even more depending on how the freezing goes. On the days our phone and insurance bills are due each month I've already set up an automatic withdrawal to take the money from our regular bank account to an online savings account. This means that we won't accidentally just start spending more each month, it definitely will go right to where we want it to.
Do you already do any of these things? Have you been using your freezer more intentionally and noticed the savings? What else is easy to do and saves a bit of money each month. While these tips are the ones we've adopted in the past three weeks; I plan to continue some of these frugal-living posts describing some of the ways our family has been saving over the longer term.