20 Lazy Ways to Save Money

Single point of failure
Image by Paul Vivier via Flickr

Investopedia ran a post on 20 lazy ways to save money.  I thought it was worth sharing my take on the post.

1.  Schedule automatic payments. I do this obsessively.   I run all of my regular payments through my bank’s online bill-pay.  I think there are 2 bills that get paid manually; 1 is a quarterly payment, the other is due annually.

2.  Eat your groceries. According to the post, Americans–on average–throw away 15% of the groceries they buy.   I totally believe that.  We don’t throw away that much, but it’s still too much.  It tends to be the fresh vegetables, which we eat as side dishes instead of the main course.   We need to switch that mindset, both to use the vegetable efficiently and to eat healthier.

3.  Bundle services. I refuse.  I hate the idea of having a single point of failure for multiple systems.  If the power goes out, I lose my cable, but I keep the phone.   If, for some reason, I can’t pay my phone bill, I don’t lose my internet connection.   I like keeping these things separated.

4.  Pay off credit card. Hardly a lazy process, but otherwise…duh!

5. Mark your calendar. I use my Google Calendar as obsessively as I use automatic payments.  I put in reminders, grocery lists, or anything else I need to know at a specific time.

6. File your taxes on time. I just helped a friend dig out of this mess.   I pay as soon as all of my paperwork is delivered.   The IRS doesn’t give up and they have leverage, including garnishment and even jail.

7. Roll it over. When you change jobs, take your 401k with you.  Don’t leave it behind like a series of red-headed stepchildren.   It’s too easy to lose track of the accounts.   Don’t cash it out!  I made that mistake once and lost far too much to taxes.  A rollover doesn’t count against your 401k contribution limits.

8. Switch credit cards. If you can a good balance transfer offer that’s followed by a better interest rate than you currently have, use it.  But don’t forget to pay attention to the transfer fees.  Do the math.  If it costs you $500 to transfer the money, how much interest do you have to save to make it worthwhile?

9. Use your privileges. If you have a AAA membership, use it.  It gives you a discount on hotels, oil changes, car rentals, and more.   Read the paperwork. Former military gets a ton of random discounts, too.  Ask.

10. Rent instead of buy. Renting can save you money over buying, if it’s something you’ll only use once, but borrowing is free.

11. Buy instead of rent.  Rent-a-center is a ripoff, but they can’t even legally operate here.  If you’re going to use something regularly, buy it.

12. Ask. I love to call up every company I give money to and ask if there’s a way I can give them less.   Outside of chain stores and restaurants I almost always ask for a lower price.

13. Just say no. Extended warranties are generally a waste of money.   However, if I can’t afford to replace the item, I do get the warranty.  On my car, I brought it in for a full inspection and repair a few weeks before the warranty ran out and made all of that money back.    We are slowly building a warranty fund to replace the need for any future extended warranties.

14. Have the awkward conversation. We tried giving gift-giving the axe, but nobody enjoyed that.  Now, we cap the gifts at $20 and do a round-robin type of gift.  $40 for gifts keeps 10 adults happy.

15. Eat at home. Generally, I can cook almost anything better at home, but I really do enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants.  We just keep it from being a regular expense.

16. Balance your checkbook. What a waste of time!    With automatic payments and cash for all of the discretionary budget items, I balance the checkbook once a month.

17. Stick with your bank. Either use your own bank’s ATM network, or use a bank that refunds ATM fees.  I only take out cash on the first of the month, for the entire month and I do that with a teller, so this is never an issue for us.

18. Use your TV. Cable movie packages instead of a video membership?  Really?  That’s a horrible idea.

19. Quit those bad habits. I quite smoking, saving $200 a month.  I don’t drink much and I’m working on fixing my eating habits.   Vices are fun, and this is certainly not a fun way to save money.

20. Forget the pet. There is no way this would fly at my house.  we have 5 cats, 2 gerbils, and a dog.   Our renter has 2 pythons.  We’re a flippin’ zoo and honestly, mess and cost aside, we all like it that way.

How do you stand on these ideas?

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    1. I am totally guilty of throwing away groceries. I bet if I ate out less and used up my groceries, I’d save a ton more money…but I love eating out. 🙂

      • I have a hard time not eating out. There’s a development 1 mile from my house that has a dozen new restaurants in it, with at least 8-10 different styles of food. Gourmet pizza to sushi. I haven’t made it to any of them, yet.

    2. Wow…that’s a list! I’ll rehash it as a post linking to you on BFS, but suffice it to say we are pretty similar except that we are addicted to our cable and DVR as well as Netflix streaming…


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