Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zooming Thru Life:
Sew Up The Hole In Your Pocket

by Paul M. Carhart

If you’re really on-the-go, then you’re feeling the bite of today’s fuel prices. Indeed, in these uncertain economic times, it’s important to cut back wherever you can. Here’s a few ways to save some money, at least until prospects are looking better.

Downgrade The Clothes
I’m not saying you need to dress like a bum. However, if you usually pick up your threads at Nordstrom, it might be beneficial to take a look at what Target’s duds look like. Already shopping at Target? Maybe it’s time to check out Wal-Mart.

Cut The Fat
Making meals at home is always cheaper than paying someone else to prep your meals for you. At restaurants, you’re not only paying the chef, hostess and waitress for their services, but you’ll also need to leave a tip. Perhaps cheaper is the fast food option. However, it’s not very healthy and the visits will add up to substantial subtraction from your wallet.

Combine Some Utilities
In the good old days, you had a phone company and a cable company and a company to get your dial-up from for your Internet connection (obviously, I’m not talking about the really good old days). But now, with various companies providing multiple services, it’s possible to save a little coin by bundling many of your services. For example, we get our phone, cable and Internet services all from the same provider and cash in on substantial savings as a result. Deals will vary in every community, so take a look around before committing to your provider (they will often require a year contract or so). Before you commit, in this day of mobile and smart phones, ask yourself if you even need a land line. You might not. You might be able to save some monthly money by cutting that out too.

Walk, Ride Or Carpool To Work
If you live close enough to work to make this feasible, you can get a good deal of exercise by walking or riding your bike to work. If the distance is an issue, especially in this green-happy day and age, many companies offer incentives to carpool. It’s entirely possible that you could save money and even make some additional money by giving up your daily parking space.

Take Your Lunch To Work
If you were to add up how much it costs to go out to lunch every day, you’d probably discover that you’re spending upwards to a hundred dollars a week, especially if you’re eating where tips are expected. That’s quite a bundle of lettuce! On the other hand, a brown bag lunch might only run in the neighborhood of two or three dollars a day for a couple sodas, a sandwich, some fruit, a bag of chips and maybe a cookie or two. Again, restaurants are notorious for their lard and salt content. Sit them out and serve up the brown bag instead.

Smarter Grocery Shopping
Everytime you go to the grocery store, they’ll print out coupons especially targeted to you based on what you’ve bought on that visit. Save these coupons and combine them with other ones from the newspaper. They add up. Also, make sure you’ve got the preferred card for whichever store(s) you frequent to ensure you get the best deals possible. Also, be on the look out for dinners that might provide more helpings than your family can handle in one night. If you can stretch a dinner over two nights on a regular basis, you’ve just cut your dinner grocery needs in half.

Buy Gas With Wisdom
Gas in the car. Gotta have it. Otherwise, your car is merely a hunk of metal taking up space in your driveway. But you’re the boss! Not the gas station owner! Not the oil companies! Don’t give those suckers one single cent you don’t have to. Use this website to locate the cheapest gas in your area. Also, if you’ve got an iPhone or other smart phone, there are many apps that can be downloaded that will provide this sort of information on-the-go.

Movie Options
Naturally, just because times are tough, it doesn’t mean we should go without entertainment. If you look hard enough, you might be able to locate an old-fashioned drive-in theater in your vicinity. Chances are they’ll have an updated sound system, broadcasting the film’s audio over FM radio waves that you can receive with your car stereo. Usually, you can see two movies for the price of one and kids under 10 or 12 get in for free. It’s great fun to pop up some popcorn at home, bring a few sodas and candy bars and spend the evening at the drive-in! If you’re one of those who just gotta buy your favorite movies when they come out, get them the week of their release. You’ll find them a good four to five dollars cheaper. And if there’s not a drive-in theater in your area, there’s always the good old rental stand-by. Whether you visit a video store, use your cable company’s video-on-demand service or click on over to Netflix, a good movie is never very far away and is almost always worth the price of admission. Especially in these troubling times when it’s often a necessity to escape from our everyday tribulations.

Most of us spend more than we have to. If we really look at where the money goes, we can probably find places where we can cut and better our chances of making it to the flip side of this economic crisis.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, Winter 2009. Stay up to date:

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