Sunday Saving Tip – Shopping Around

When you decide you want an item at the store do you typically find the best price in the first store you’re in? Probably not, in our day and age finding the right item isn’t necessarily hard but finding the right item at the right price is. Personally I’ve never liked shopping around, but then again I’m often guilty of the impulse buy. Shopping around is very much the complete opposite to the impulse buy because it means that you’re taking the effort to find the right product at the right price.

Shopping around becomes really noticeable when you buy more expensive items such as cars but even the tires on the car are worth shopping around for. The reason I mention the tires is because that was one of the best examples of the power of shopping around that I ever witnessed. I needed to put new tires on my car so I did a little research and found a brand and model I liked and a list of people who could put the tire on my car. The first phone call yielded a guy who had the tire and could put it on my car for X$(sorry don’t remember the exact price). I wasn’t thrilled with the price but I almost took it. Something in the back of my mind said call a few more places and I did. What it turned out had happened is the Goodyear plant was on strike so the tires I was looking for were scarce and the first guy I called knew this and was marking the price up. Shopping around would have saved me more than 50$ per tire and the last place also did free alignments.

The biggest item with shopping around is it requires effort and I’m sure that the phrase shopping around paints a very clear mental picture for some people: getting into the car and driving from one store to the next till I get a good deal. With so much information on the internet easily available all we have to do is do a little research and make a few phone calls and I think you might be surprised how much you can save.

Now with this said I do believe that shopping around is best when it comes to bigger ticket items. If you’re going to shop around and spend an hour getting the best price for your computer speakers that cost 15$ but will cost more than that in gas to get them it’s really not worth it.

[tags]saving tip, shopping around[/tags]

June Goals – Just Enjoy It

In a couple weeks from now I will be married and on a honeymoon that isn’t going to be nearly long enough. The past almost year of planning for this wedding has come down to all of the details and small items to make sure everything is in order. In the processes I’ve also switched jobs and managed to max my financial life back out with expenses. So between the stress of getting work completed and accurate, making sure all the wedding details are taken care of, and the my slowly disintegrating financial situation I’ve decided to keep the goal for this month very simple.

Just Enjoy It.

I’m getting married and I would much rather remember it for enjoying myself during the wedding weekend and the honeymoon following rather than the stresses of work, money and wedding details. I understand that this is not a financially based goal on a personal finance blog but sometimes it’s not just about the money and you just have to live and enjoy your life. This doesn’t mean that I’m about to start spending money like crazy, I believe I’ve broken the habit of excessive spending and lets be honest I don’t have the money to spend right now. This is a once in a lifetime experience that I would like to keep as a happy moment and not one where I’m worried about exactly when my car payment is leaving my account.

There is one nice aspect to the wedding that will help ease the financial worries after the wedding is done: gifts. We’ve specifically asked for monetary gifts because we have most of what need and we’ve been bleeding money for the wedding like its going out of style. This is going to allay any worries about money while on the honeymoon (aka all the bills will be covered). Once back from the honeymoon that will be a completely different story but it will allow us to enjoy it, which is the goal.

[tags]money, goals, monthly goals[/tags]

Sunday Saving Tip – Bring your lunch!

The topic of this week’s saving tip is probably one of the oldest ones out there and its also one of the ones that I find people generally ignore. I know that bringing my lunch to work and before that to school was something I generally tried to avoid. I always enjoyed the social aspect of going out for lunch and then the luxury aspect of having someone bring me my food freshly cooked. This one item is also a part of how I managed to get into debt early on and once you look at the numbers it becomes clear why brining your lunch is such a great saving tip.

I think this saving tip is best illustrated with an example: Say you’re like a lot of people out there any you eat out for lunch during the work week. Now being a money conscious individual you try to eat in the food court or fast food joint close to the office. Well for arguments sake lets say you’re only spending about $10 on your food (with any drink and tax that was included). I’m sure some people will argue that $10 on lunch is a lot and that they don’t ever spend it and I’m sure this is true but I’ve been finding keeping lunch under $10 is doable but it somehow always gets pretty close to it.

Before digressing to a tangent about the cost of fast food lets get back to our example; that $10/day on food over the course of the week translates to $50. Now the average worker in North America works about 50 weeks out of the year, which brings our daily lunch cost up to $2500! And this is with a $10 a day lunch, imagine if you sat down at a restaurant every day and had a $25 lunch which is what I did in my youth; the cost of those lunches over the course of the year were over $6000!!

I’m guessing at this point I’ve either got your attention or you’re about to argue that bringing in your lunch from home still costs money and you’d be completely right about that. Feeding yourself is going to cost money no matter what. But if you bring your lunch from home and its leftovers from the night before the cost of the extra food is probably only a couple dollars if that. You’re still saving thousands per year.

Unfortunately brown bagging it isn’t very glamorous and often means you’re tied to your desk. But the cost savings are huge and the spending on food very quickly adds up. When you get into a pattern of buying lunch and you’re out of cash what to most people turn to? Yup their credit cards. This is where the trouble with something as simple as lunch can start and I know this is what happened to me. I still like to eat out for lunch but I don’t do it every day.

[tags]saving tip, spending, bringing lunch[/tags]

The Wedding Cometh

The wedding is now only a little over two weeks away and the stress of making sure that everything is ready for the day is starting to take its toll. Place cards, table arrangements, gifts for the wedding party, and of course ensuring that everything is set for our honeymoon. We’re at the point where we’re dealing with a series of small details and the sum total of all of them is daunting. Why didn’t we deal with a lot of this stuff before? Well we dealt with a great deal of it to some extent or another over the past couple months but now we’re getting down to crunch time.

I’ve always known that planning a wedding is a big job but considering I’ve worked in project management for the past few years I figured that it was nothing more than a big project. Boy was I wrong! When it comes to work based projects everything is about the project and the business behind it, there are no feelings involved and often the decisions are pretty straightforward. When it comes to the wedding the decisions and choices are a delicate balance that needs to be maintained between too many different people. The closest thing I can think of is project management by committee where everyone has different goals. Everything is starting to wrap up and become finalized so there are no last minute problems though I have to say the wedding has been an experience to say the least, not a bad one but an experience nonetheless.

The other side of the wedding that I don’t think I was mentally prepared for was the monetary side. Until recently I haven’t been good with my money and even now I can’t say I’m great at it; planning the monetary side of the wedding is very daunting in that it’s a very big expense. We’ve managed to keep things under control but that doesn’t make it and cheaper or less stressful when it comes to the money. Thankfully the parents have come to the rescue and offered their help in a big way so at the 11th hour the money is no longer something that we’re going to be worried about. Granted it’s caused enough stress up to this point.

I’m looking forward to the big day; it’ll be a lot of fun for us and for our guests. I’m excited and anxious to make sure everything goes off without a hitch but at this point I also think its time for me to stop worrying about it and simply let it go. What will be will be and dwelling on it isn’t going to change the final outcome. The really great part about the whole wedding is that we’re taking our honeymoon right after the wedding. From a personal finance point of view this probably isn’t the best idea since we don’t really know we’ll have the money for it but it will give us the time to just sit down for a couple weeks and detox, relax, and enjoy our marriage. The build up has been slowly building both from an excitement point of view as well as from a stressful one.

We tried to keep everything as simple as possible but complexity inevitably crept in and we’ve been dealing with that since. That would be the only piece of advice that I would give to someone just starting the planning of their wedding: Keep it simple! It will inevitably get more complex and complicated than you want. Just don’t forget to enjoy the journey

[tags]wedding, spending, stress, money[/tags]