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5 Ways I Save Money That Most People Don’t Try

People I meet usually have a few questions once they find out that I write about personal finance. For starters, they wonder how I got into it. Well, it really has to do with my $86,000 mortgage payoff goal. Blogging became an outlet for me. Now, as I work to pay off a NEW mortgage, I’m hoping you’ll follow along on my journey.

Like before, it’s going to take EARNING MORE and SPENDING LESS to accomplish my goal. I must admit that I’m more interested in the “spending less” part of that equation this time around. Instead of simply working more hours doing anything I can to make money, I’m going to try to work SMARTER, not necessarily HARDER.

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In the meantime, I’m focused on reducing my expenses. This is something I had a lot of success with the first time around. Once I paid off my first mortgage in 2 years, I eased up on myself a bit. Now, it’s time to focus. Today, I want to share a few unconventional ways that I save money. When I tell people about these things, they sometimes cut me strange looks. But as Dave Ramsey says, “If you will live like no one else, later you get to live like no one else.”

1) I have a budget cell phone carrier: I traded in my iPhone 5 in January for a Moto X, the phone offered by Republic Wireless. Since then, I’ve had a $25/month unlimited talk, text and data plan with this budget carrier. Thanks to referral bonuses, I haven’t paid a cell phone bill in months. I don’t have a fancy  iPhone, but I have a smartphone that does everything I need it to.

2) I take the bus to work: After relocating to a major city, I decided that a car no longer fit my lifestyle. In addition to the monthly payment, parking a vehicle in a garage can cost $300/month where I live. Now, I take the bus to work early in the morning. It costs $1.75 for the 25 minute ride to work. I generally take the train home, which is closer to $3. That’s cut my commuting costs to about $100 a month. When I’m not at work, I try to walk as much as I can and there’s always a rental car for weekend trips.

3) I buy discounted gift cards… with gift cards: Have you done this? I buy American Express gift cards at a discount through TopCashBack, then use those gift cards to buy discounted gift cards to retailers using Raise.com. The discount for the American Express cards isn’t huge (2 – 3%), so I generally buy a gift card of $500 or more to make it worth my trouble. The discounts from retailers on Raise.com, however, can be substantial. I recently got 11% off a gift card to CVS and 13% off T.J. Maxx.

4) I don’t buy Starbucks often: On vacation, I’ll do it… but I have friends who spend $5 to $10 a day at Starbucks. What a waste! They sell the same coffee in the grocery store. I’ll even admit to drinking the off-brand coffee they have at work to save money. I just use a quality coffee creamer to make it go down easier. Brewing coffee at home can save $500 a year, according to a price comparison I conducted. I’d much rather use that cash to go on a trip!

5) I don’t have cable TV… or a TV for that matter: I dropped a cable TV package a few years ago. I know this is something a lot of you are doing. Some folks choose to get Netflix, but I haven’t done that. In fact, I’ve lived the past 6 months without a TV at all. That’s not to say I don’t watch it. I actually work in the entertainment business. Now, TV is more of a special treat and I’ll go to a friend’s house or to a bar to catch whatever I want to see. I stream everything else on my computer.

These are just a few of the ways I save. You can read more in my Get Rich Guide. I’ll be sharing more specific details about my budget once my new mortgage payoff begins in December.  In the meantime, I challenge you to find ways to trim your budget that won’t affect your lifestyle. That’s the key. The changes I’ve made haven’t impacted my happiness. In fact, I’ve done them to live a happier, debt-free life.

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14 comments

  1. We recently ditched the cable (still have netflix though) and the savings are awesome. I have never heard of those gift card hacks – I am going to have to check that out. I am a gift card giver so the savings will help.
    May recently posted…Pursuit of Frugal November 2014My Profile

  2. I do most of those, but I think the biggest one for me is simply bringing my lunch to work instead of going out to lunch every day. I used to do that and didn’t ever think anything of it. But now that I realize that I save literally hundreds of dollars each month I don’t know if I could ever go back!
    Zee @ Work To Not Work recently posted…Be WeirdMy Profile

    • That’s a great one! Currently, I work overnights, so I have no choice but to do that! I also find that it’s much healthier. Those fast food lunches, even when it’s a salad, aren’t always the best for you. Thanks for dropping by and sharing this with everyone!

    • Yep…eating out can kill a budget. I just explored a typically budget with restaurants vs meals at home and was amazed myself at how quickly you can eat away at your food budget. I mean, I knew it, but to see in black and white leaves no confusion. That’s why we are running a 30-day meals at home challenge right now!
      Toni @ Debt Free Divas recently posted…Healthy Meals in a HurryMy Profile

  3. Love Dave Ramsey and I love that quote…Hoping to live like no one else one day! From your list, we are currently doing 3, 4, and 5! 🙂

    Keep up the great work…cheers to living like no one else so later you can live like no one else! AFFJ
    A Frugal Family’s Journey recently posted…P2P Accounts (Update) – November 2014My Profile

  4. I don’t do the gift card thing, but I can see the draw. I tend to set a budget for the week while at work, which is $20, I can go get whatever I want, coffeex5(usually $10-$12, i’m anti startbucks, i stick with Mom and Pop places as much as possible) and a lunch, or skip out on coffee for the week and get 2 lunches or however you want to spin it.
    Even Steven recently posted…Part Time eBay Side Hustle ExpertMy Profile

  5. When I lived in the States, I had no cable because I had about 20 free channels. I never understood why someone would want 300+ channels, most of which they never watched. I am fortunate that Vienna has a very good transport system, so I have no need for a car for now.
    Zambian Lady recently posted…My elephant rideMy Profile

  6. I’ve never heard of buying discount gift cards with gift cards. That’s pretty neat! I take the bus a lot of places myself and probably only buy something from Starbucks once a year when I’m traveling.
    Untemplater recently posted…A Fresh Start For Exciting And Challenging ChangesMy Profile

  7. I created a “salad club” at work with 4 other co-workers. One day per week I bring in a lunch salad for 5. It is healthy and inexpensive. The other 4 days of the week it feels as though I’m eating out because my co-workers each provide a fresh salad on their day. It works well when everyone in the group is open to a wide variety of ingredients. This is a savings that feels like a splurge!

  8. Some great ideas! I do many of the same things my self especially buying discount gift cards on raise.com for a quick 10% back on money i would be spending anyways. 🙂

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