Sunday, March 8, 2009

Penny Pinching Tips for the Recession


Here are some good money-saving tips for this recession or anytime.
  • Call your auto insurance company and let them know if you are unemployed. If you are no longer commuting to work, you should qualify for a lower premium. Some companies, such as Allstate, will give you a "retired" discount if you are 55 and older and are not working. When you find a job, you then can resume your previous coverage. I saved almost $200 a year by doing this. Also consider increasing your deductibles. If you are driving less, your odds have improved about not having an accident.
  • If your cell phone contract has expired, get a new one with a reduced feature calling plan. Allow yourself enough minutes for job hunting activities. I canceled my 2500 anytime minutes plan and got a much cheaper 450 anytime minutes plan. I now make more of my personal calls after 9 PM or on weekends. Cancel your land line phone. I've lived without one for about six years. This is a trend that is increasing. And do you really need a Blackberry if you are home most of the time?
  • Find some friends who are penny pinching and shop in bulk with them, such as at a wholesale club. I have a BJ's membership if anyone wants to take me up on this offer.
  • Call the telecoms in your area to see if any offer "naked DSL." If so, ditch an expensive cable modem service. DSL is slightly slower than cable, but I cut my own Internet bill in half when I switched from Comcast to AT&T.
  • Review your satellite or cable TV package. Note the channels that you watch the most and reduce the cost of your lineup. Consider getting rid of this bill altogether since you can watch many programs free online. You can also get rent movies for free at your public library. So far for me, this is a guilty pleasure I haven't changed.
  • Fix it yourself or find neighbors and friends who know how to fix things. I am terrible at most handyman work, but I have taught myself certain electrical and plumbing skills. Two important lessons are to make sure you have the right tools and to work safely. Take photos of each step of your work if you have something complicated to re-assemble. Ask for advice on tools at the hardware store. One salesman once persuaded me to use a pencil instead of buying a tool just for a single plumbing job. The pencil worked fine.
  • I haven't used bartering myself, and I don't recommend that you barter with strangers. But many folks swear by the practice. If you have bartered, please leave a comment about your experience.
  • Cook from scratch and reduce eating in restaurants. Dried beans and peas are cheaper than canned. Homemade bread is cheaper and better tasting than store-bought. Fresh vegetables taste better than frozen.
  • Only buy what you will eat for the next three or four days. Otherwise, you run the risk of spoilage. Of course, keep emergency foods in the freezer for times when you don't feel like cooking. You'll still save over eating out.
  • Shop for food at Aldi and Trader Joe's to save money. If you have never shopped at Aldi's, they only accept cash and debit cards and you need to bring your own bags. They have incredible prices and their brands are high quality. I never recommend Wal-Mart, but that is just me.
  • If you have a guest room you seldom use, consider getting a roommate. I've had one for about six months. If you don't know the person, run a credit check and get a security deposit.
That's all for now. Please share others you have found.
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