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I know a bit about saving money. In 2005-2006, I wrote 519 money saving posts (which I summarized in 301 Saving Money Posts -- Hundreds of Ideas on How to Save Money) and this year I've added almost 200 more. So at over 700 tips now, I know a few things about saving money.
After all of those thoughts, suggestions, and ideas, one thing I can tell you about saving money is that despite the fact that they can save you a boatload of money, some tips are hated. And I don't mean disliked a little. I mean people HATE them. They hate the thought of them, the suggestion of them, and the fact that I would have the nerve to even list them. How do I know this? I read the comments. I get the emails. I see the blog posts rebutting the suggestions. Believe me, there are just some money saving ideas that tick people off.
It's too bad because many of these ideas can save people a bundle of money. We're not talking a dollar here and a dollar there, but thousands of dollars in savings (and some even offer tens of thousands of dollars in savings.) And yet, people don't want to hear them.
But since I'm a glutton for punishment, I thought I'd highlight what I see as the 10 most-hated money saving tips. I'll list them all in countdown fashion according to how much they are hated. I'll give a brief summary of each of them as well as some links to related posts in case you'd like more information.
With that said, here we go:
10. Be healthy -- Let's face it, people don't like being told they are fat and lazy. I think that's at the core of the disdain for a healthy lifestyle. But despite the pans this suggestion gets, there's no debating that being healthy can easily save you thousands of dollars on items like medical expenses and life insurance. Even something simple like losing some weight can add up to big savings. Or you can sit on the couch watching TV every night eating bon bons. You decide what's best for you.
9. Move to a foreign country (or even visit for health care) -- How dare I even suggest this idea? It's unpatriotic, would require extensive travel to see family, and, after all, the United States is the "best" in everything, so why move? Let's take these objections in reverse order.
First, here's a news flash: the United States is NOT the best in everything (such as health care, lifestyle, culture, weather, etc.) I know, some of this is subjective, but come on, does anyone really believe the U.S. is the best in everything? Second, living in Central America may actually require LESS travel to see family than if you lived somewhere else in the U.S. Example: You live in New York and your family lives in LA. You move to Mexico. Are you closer to them now? Besides, once you have to get on a plane, any trip is not that much longer away even if you live farther. Finally, I'm not suggesting you renounce your citizenship. What I'm saying is that you can still love the U.S. (as I do) and live somewhere else. Sheesh! Lighten up.
The fact is that the cost of living is significantly lower in other parts of the world and you can save a ton of money by moving overseas. Of course this brings up the "what do I do for a living" question, so this idea works best for retirees. Some money saving countries to explore: Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama.
As far as health care goes, you can easily save thousands having a major medical procedure done in a foreign country. Concerned that the care isn't as good as in the U.S.? It isn't. In many cases it's better.
8. Quit smoking -- Ok, I expected the smoking addicts to hate this one. They, of course, decry the fact that I'm trying to steal all the fun from their lives. But I didn't expect the outcry from another group: those who invest in companies who make cigarettes. Ha!
I think everyone will agree that smoking is bad for your health. And, as we know by now, having poor health is bad for your wallet (re-read item #10 in case you've forgotten this already.) In addition, you can save somewhere around $6,000 a year by quitting smoking (maybe less, maybe more.) Heck, by just not buying cigarettes it's easy to save a bundle.
See? Now everyone is happy! ;-)
7. Buying used -- Let's list the things people hate about buying used: 1) it's not new; 2) someone else has used it; 3) did I mention it's not new?
Really, is owning something brand new really worth that much more? I think most of us have generally accepted that a good-condition used car is less expensive than a new car, but we haven't made the transition to other areas of products. But if we do, buying used can save a bundle. And yet, people don't really like this idea -- especially when it comes to buying used clothing.
6. Buy a house you can afford -- This one used to get a lot more heat than it does now. Then the subprime mortgage mess hit and detractors have been silent lately. Funny how good advice seems to always win out in the long run, huh?
5. Cutting your cable -- It's a known fact that the U.S. Declaration of Independence states that all men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through watching endless re-runs of "dog police" and "the world's wackiest whatever" sorts of shows. Who cares that it's rotting your brain and costing you a fortune?
4. Taking your lunch to work -- Who knew there were so many advantages of blowing $10 a day on lunch out? You get out of the office (which gets you exercise and allows your mind to freshen), you get to socialize with others (which can enhance your career), and you get to have fun!
I've got an idea, why don't you bring your lunch to work, saving a bundle of money, then get a group of people from the office to run at noon. Then you get exercise, socialization, a fresh mind, and fun. Or, if you simply want to walk with friends you could do that too. Not to mention, you wouldn't have to find a place to shower afterwards. And you can save a few thousand dollars a year. Not bad.
3. Limiting small spending -- Personal finance guru David Bach came up with the "latte factor," the idea that you could save a bundle of money if you limited the small, worthless purchases you make every day -- like $5 lattes for example. But no one likes this idea. It takes all the fun out of life and besides, we all need to focus on the big amounts we spend, that's where you can save the really big money.
Yes, while it's true that we all need to watch our big money expenditures, it's also true that before you have millions, you need thousands. And before you get to thousands, you need hundreds. And before you need hundreds, you need tens. And so on. Ok, enough with the philosophical junk, what I'm really trying to say is that pennies can add up to millions. Live with it for Pete's sake!
And finally, while it may be fun to pour $5 down your throat for 15 minutes a day, I prefer to have more fun checking my ever-growing net worth. ;-)
2. Not buying a pet -- If cable TV is the #2 right of every American, having a pet has to be #1. And shame on me for suggesting that pets actually cost money. What am I, some sort of neo-fascist?
Ok, I didn't help my cause out any when I claimed a pet costs $48,000. I was doing that to get your attention. I've since done a bunch of posts on what pets really do cost and it seems to me that $1,000 per year is a fair, rough cost for a pet. And just for the record, I'm not the only one suggesting pets are expensive -- Money Central says getting a pet can be a stupid money move.
That said, I'm also open minded enough to consider the alternatives -- that pets might actually SAVE you money, make you happy (who said money couldn't buy happiness?), help you become healthier, extend your life and even allow you to buy love. Ok, maybe the dog people are wearing me down.
Still, I'm still horrified by the possibility of having a problem dog that needs to wear diapers.
1. Moving to a lower cost-of-living city -- This one really puzzles me. Not only is it that people don't like this idea, but they REALLY don't like it. As in "you're the stupidest financial blogger ever" sort of don't like it. But what do I care? I still have my day job. ;-)
It must be the fact that, in general, people love where they live. They like the area of the country, their job, and the fact that they have family nearby.
However, if you move from a high cost-of-living city to a lower cost-of-living city, you can literally save MILLIONS over the course of your lifetime. And yes, that accounts for the fact that you'll probably make less money in the new city. But your living expenses will drop so much more that you'll be way better off financially. I know -- you don't want to hear that. I'll shut up now.
Let me end by saying that I'm not against spending money. I'm not about saving every single penny, eliminating any fun in life, just to accumulate more. But what I am saying is that there are a number of good savings ideas that will allow us to save money -- so we can invest a bit more and spend the rest on things we enjoy. And even with ideas we may hate, there are some really good ways to save money if we simply take time to consider them a bit.
That, and I like to aggravate you all with my stupid, money saving ideas. ;-)