Monday, February 18, 2013

Making frugal changes for 2013

Making small changes can have a big impact in the bottom line.

  1. Auto-payments. Checking my accounts to see the auto-payments and decide whether they are useful or not. If not, stop paying. This is actually a great practice to take up every six months or so, because I forget about those automatic payments I signed up for and then... under-used or never used.
  2. Mondays. For whatever reason, I always get the urge on Monday to stop and spend. So either not having cards or cash with me on Mondays or having one or two small things I need, works for me.
  3. Taxes. Someone like me who always gets a refund should not wait to turn in a tax return... because the payback is definitely bankable. A thorough and early return means the same for a refund, rather than delayed gratification.
  4. Resale. Keeping a bin of books ready. Ditto tapes, records, magazines. When it fills up, go to the store. Or take everything in once a month as a treat.
  5. Emptying the credit cards out of my wallet. Simple, yes.
  6. Gift cards. I have cards for coffee, for movies, for resale clothes and accessories. Have I used them? No. Go for it, because unused gift cards are basically like money sitting on your dresser.
  7. Bank/credit card reward points. Trade them for free gift cards. Another simple, no-brainer. They accrue and I've been using them for Christmas gifts but I am awash in points. Use or lose: gift cards, that then can be used... etc.
  8. Cash. Pay cash for groceries, gas, fancy coffee -- anything that you might normally use a debit card for.
  9. Re-discover what you own. CDs, DVDs, books, clothes.
  10. Barter. Trade your skills or stuff for something you need. Craigslist, for example.

Oh, so trying to make these work.

The point is not denial but minimalism: focusing and streamlining to make things work better. It is also about thoughtful application of money, which is after all simply a measure of where I have put my time and energy. That's all money is, in the end. It is not the work, but the measure of the work, the value to yourself and others of how you spend your time and how well you do what you spend your time on.

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