One percent. It seems small right? But it matters more than you could imagine! There are many ways to save money. Below we present many seemingly minor adjustments, but you will certainly find at least one that fits in your life. Each little adjustment can be thought of as just making a tiny 1% change in your life as they are each so trivial with just a little bit of extra effort planning. Though, make enough of these and they add up! You can use these improvements for your gain if you are smart enough to recognize them and understand the long term implications. Small incremental improvements of just 1% – to not just your normal everyday thinking – but also to your finance plan can greatly affect your long term trajectory. We will discuss here how you can help find ways to save money for the future.
With proper planning, some thought, and a lot of diligence – you can really make this work. You must have control over your finances so that your finances do not have control over you. Having financial control is the primary way to be able to save money.
Making small 1% decisions and changes will help move you to be the 1% of people who have this control over their own personal finances.
We’ve all heard the story when it comes to saving or investing. You have probably even said this to yourself. ‘I have no money.’ Or – ‘I don’t make enough to invest.’ Well – with the ways to save money presented below if you are able to follow even just some of the suggestions – you may be able to free up some capital to be able to. Also remember – you make money by investing not saving. Saving is just the first basic step to be able to use as a platform for investing.
– Cell Phone Plan
– Morning Coffee
– Credit Card Cash Back Rewards
– Bank Accounts and Interest
– Insurance Premiums
– Dining Out
– Home Lighting & Electricity
– Home Heating
– Paying Bills
– Insurance Companies
– Online Purchase Tracking
– Bulk Purchases
– Check Online
– Prepay Heating
– Sales and Large Purchases
– Off Season
– Cash is King
Cell Phone Plan
Most people do not think too much of their cell plans once they have one setup. Often they will have the same plan for as long as they can remember and have never shopped around since. But often competing companies have better and lower rates. While you also have to consider cell coverage in your decision as well, realistically – if you are in any major city it should not matter who your cell carrier is. As just an example, my original carrier for unlimited talk, txt, and data was around ~$130.00. But I found a competitor who had the exact same talk and data for a much lower $70.00 a month. That is $50.00 in savings a month! And $600 in just one year. Talk about ways to save money!
Other options you have in relation to your cell plan, depending on your situation, if you are able to make due with less data (who needs to be looking at Facebook on the go anyway!?), you can have your data reduced to bring down your costs. Be sure to be diligent to track your data usages though as if you do exceed your allotment it is quite costly!
Recently I spoke with someone who mentioned that they found they could save $20.00 a month by reducing their data limit. They decided that this was one of the ways to save money for them as their only sacrifice was to not go on their social media during their lunch break.
For those that can make do and do not even need a cell, your most cost effective method is to move to having only your land-line. Land-lines are generally significantly cheaper than cell plans – often only $20-$30 a month in total. If it was good enough for our parents generation to call and leave a message, then it is good enough for our own financial future. (Remember that everyone lived this way for decades prior to the explosion of the cell phone.)
Your morning routine is probably the same each day. Wake up, shower, brush, clean up, eat breakfast, leave, buy some coffee, head to work. Everyday, some go out and buy their morning coffee at the local coffee stop. If you are buying you $5.00 Starbucks coffee each day, that can really add up! There are a few ways to save money with your daily cup of Joe!
If you could switch to another coffee chain and pay half that price, it would be a better option. You could also start brewing your own coffee at your home which also would be ways to save money. Best yet – if you could stop drinking the coffee each day and make due without it you could save that $5.00 a day. Which would result in $25 a week * 52 weeks = $1300.00 in savings in a year!
Recently speaking with my banker, we discussed similar 1% ways to save money that were “low hanging fruit.” And cable – is often one of the easiest for most people. My banker mentioned they were paying around $180+ a month for a cable + internet combo. I use the same carrier and was paying $100 less by having no cable and using internet streaming services for viewing.
All you need is a Roku or other of the multitude similar streaming devices available and an internet connection. As for what to watch??? There are many free streaming services and even YouTube is accessible via these devices. Or, simply paying for a streaming service such as Netflix. Or better yet, kill two birds with one stone and use Amazon Prime streaming service which also will get you 2 day free shipping on Amazon for any of your prime purchases. Turning off your cable is one of the many ways to save money – one which could save you around $1200 a year. Add that up over a decade and you are looking at $12,000.00 in savings that you could use to invest. Imagine that doing work in your 401k?!
We all have to pay for gas for our cars. Yet paying cash for gas seems almost trivial. Most if not all gas stations have a “cash” price and a separate “credit” price. For the most part we’ve seen the cash price is often $0.10 a gallon cheaper.
Just to throw some math at this, let’s say you fill 10 gallons of gas each week in your car. That is $1.00 in savings a week – which doesn’t seem large. But add that up over the 52 weeks in a year and you saved $52.00 dollars.
Credit Card Cash Back Rewards
If you use your credit card properly (as a charge card only and for emergency only) you can benefit from gaining the cash back rewards. Most major credit cards nowadays pay at least 1% cash back on all purchases. If you pay your credit card balance in FULL each month, then you don’t need to worry about the large interest rates you pay for borrowing. If you spend just $1000.00 a month using your card and get that 1% – that is $10.00 a month in savings. Which really adds up and after a year will net you $100.00.
Some cards, such as Discover, over a rotating 5% cash back. With appropriate planning for long term expenses a full year in advance, you could take benefit of additional savings!
You would make these purchases anyway – just use your card and pay it off in full each month. Essentially then you are just getting paid 1% of your total payments to do your own book-keeping and money management! If you are going to work for anyone, make it yourself! Your goal should be having your long term position be working on managing your own money and have that making money for you! This strategy with credit card rewards is just one of many of the ways to save money.
Do remember though – if you miss just ONE month of re-payments, and have to pay the ~20% interest rate – all of this work is now gone for almost 2 years until you can hit the breakeven point. So do be very diligent here in managing your finances.
Bank Accounts and Interest
Some bank accounts you have may pay no interest. This is generally seen in accounts that have a very low balance minimum. But if you do your research, you may find a money market or other tiered savings account which offers higher interest payments.
Often to gain access to this higher percentage yield you need to either have multiple linked accounts with a certain number of transactions/deposits to quality. Or have some level of minimal daily balance. If you do your research and are diligent with meeting the minimum criteria – then you can take advantage of this extra %.
If you do need to keep some minimal daily balance, be sure that you have sufficient cash reserves so that you won’t have to take a hit should you need to go under the balance. Even with your cash reserves, you could even have a staggered CD strategy so that if an emergency comes up you only have to lose a portion of gained interest yet still keep the others around.
Many do not know this, but there is savings available if you pay insurance policies – like home and car – in full. Often this is up to 10% of the policy. Even if it is only $10.00 – that will add up over a decade to $100.00 in extra savings! We will make note that you know each year that you have these expenses anyway. They are static. You will always have them and you can use the prior years premiums as the baseline. So there is no excuse to not saving the full amount and having it available to pay the insurance premiums in full for the year.
Some are concerned that if anything happens to your car or if you want to switch companies you’ll lose your premiums. But this is not the case. Insurance companies are required to pay you back your pro-rated premium should you need it at any point. Though you will lose the full year payout savings.
There are many strategies and ways to save money with regards to dining out. I recently went out for dinner over the weekend and after drinks, appetizers, entree, and tip – it came to $60.00 for just 2 people. When you stay at home and cook it often can be just dollars for a meal. We’re not advocating passing by celebrating major events. But if you can try not to eat out as often, limit how often you go out, or do other cost cutting methods like not ordering drinks, appetizers, or desert you can help minimize your expenses.
If you already eat out frequently for the time savings of not having to go out food shopping, you could consider enrolling in a meal delivery service. They will ship you all the ingredients, provide you recipes, and with no shopping or planning at all – you only have to cook what shows up on your doorstep! Priced at about ~$20.00 a meal for 2 people, this is certainly a savings on eating out at most places. There are many services which do this and some of the larger are blueApron, and hellofresh.
Further strategies you can enact to save with your culinary dining is to order take-out instead of dining in. That will often save you 20%, for the tip, off your bill. If you had a budget for and spent $100.00 total a month on restaurants and eating out, you’d save that $20 and in a year you’d save $240!
Home Lighting & Electricity
If you are diligent with consistently turning off lights in your home when you aren’t using them, making sure you don’t leave them on when you leave the house, set timers for on/off when you are away, and put a timer on the TV, then you can find savings there.
Recently I switched my kitchen lights – which were 60 watt bulbs – to 8 watt LED’s. That is 52 watts in savings per light. There are 6 lights in the kitchen alone – which is 312 watts per hour and assuming they are on 5 hours a day that comes to 1560 watts. This will really save some electricity over time! (not to mention better for the environment!). Can you imagine the savings if you converted all the lights in your whole house?!
When heating (or cooling during the summer) if you adjust the temperature you have set by just 1 degree – it will save you that little bit of extra money. Often that 1 tiny little degree is barely noticeable yet will save you money.
Also consider if you are traveling or away for a few days, you can turn the heat down dramatically for additional savings. Another strategy I use is to keep the bedroom even a few degrees cooler as it is just as easy for me to bundle up in another blanket (and surprisingly it actually helps me sleep better!)
Almost all banks allow you to push “automated check conversion” (ACH) payments. This has become even easier than ever since most banks have apps you can use for ‘bill pay’ on your cell phone or computer to directly do this.
Otherwise to pay a bill, directly call up the company and pay via a credit card over the phone. I use this method all the time and to be honest – companies absolutely LOVE to be paid and have no issues with payments this way. Doing so will save you a check, a stamp, and an envelope. Assuming even that is only $1.00 in costs in total, but if you have 8-12 different bills in a month you are looking at close to $100 a year in savings!
Do also consider that some companies – like many cell carriers – will give you a % discount on your bill if you setup auto-debit enrollment for billing. The difference with that, is they control pulling the cash out vs you controlling when you push them if you use ACH or bill pay.
Similar to the above strategy of “cell carrier switch” which we discussed above, you can also shop around the larger insurance companies in search of a lower rate. It is as simple as calling a few and asking for quotes. Be sure to pay attention to their gotchas with the rates. One trick they use is to give you a partial year quote, or they give you a quote which is less coverage you what you currently have for collision and liability. Be sure to shop around for savings and every few years re-evaluate.
Online Purchase Tracking
You may not have heard of this method. But there are a number of online websites that will pay you 1% of your purchase just to track what you are purchasing online. Sites like ebates will allow you to make money back on purchase like those made on amazon. If you are alright with the them tracking your purchases and that invasion of privacy, this then could net you another 1% back on all your online purchases.
This is one of the great many ways to save money that is only net positive! Let’s say you buy toilet paper once a month for $10.00. Everybody needs it. It will not go to waste. It will not expire. Then let’s say that there is a sale at the store you purchase it from which occurs once every three months where it is half off for only $5.00. If you could stock up on 3 months worth and buy only on the sale dates and your $120 a year will only be $60.00 a year. Cutting your cost in half! Use this same principle and strategy for all perishables you need to purchase like tissues, laundry detergent, etc and get this to all add up. Don’t wait until you need them and have to pay full price!
When you are out at the big box retail store and see those shoes you love, don’t purchase them right away. Be sure to check online at Amazon.com or specific sites like zappos to look for a lower price. Same goes for any other purchase. You’d be shocked at what you can buy online today and more often than not at a cheaper price! If you can plan ahead – as you have to wait a few days for it to be shipped to you – you can make some serious savings going this route.
In New England, many people use either oil or propane for their winter heating. The supplier I use gives a better rate per gallon if we prepay the entire winter yearly allotment. Often the savings here are a few hundred dollars – which is significant. This again requires some prior planning to ensure you have the amount set aside and available. But since this again is a fixed cost you pay every year anyway, all you have to do is plan and budget for it to ensure that you have it. Simple planning consistently saves you money in the long run!
Sales and Large Purchases
This strategy here is again one which requires some long term planning. I will relate a story of when I went to buy a futon and found they had forgotten to take down some signs for a 10% off sale. I asked them when the next sale would be as I didn’t require the futon for a few more months and they mentioned the next sale was the 4th of July. Being only around 2 months away, I decided I was going to wait.
Best part here is when i mentioned that to them – they wanted to make a sale now! So they honored the 10% off sale price without having to wait (how fortunate!). They even held it for a few months for me until I needed it. It never hurts to check if they have upcoming sales, or do your research ahead of time to see when the sales do happen. Then it is just a waiting game to get what you want. A good rule of thumb is almost all major national holidays will have a sale.
Use this plan for any large purchase you have such as furniture, electronics like TV’s, tablets, or cell phones. For this strategy to be effective, if you have any large purchase you need to make – plan it out ahead of time. Research – find which holiday has the largest sale %. Wait for the sale. Don’t wait till you need it and have to make a ‘spur of the moment’ purchase at full price. Take your savings so that you can live a better life!
Here in New England we have very separate and distinct seasons. There are all sorts of seasonal items such as pellet stoves, snow blowers, lawn mowers, beach towels, beach umbrellas, etc. The trick to utilize this strategy is to make the purchase you need in the “off season”. So buy your fertilizer in the fall. Purchase your snow blowers in the summer time when it is the hottest. Get the lawn mower in the winter. Buy your Halloween costume for next year after this years Halloween when everything is 75% off. Do this right and you’ll have big savings!
Cash is King
It doesn’t hurt to ask a business when you are making a large purchase if they offer some time of cash discount. Businesses have to pay sometimes over 3% to perform credit card transactions. Many businesses will give you a discount if you use cash and you’ll often be surprised if you ask that they will allow it. Cash is king!
As you can see – there are many ways to save money! If you were able to implement ALL of the above suggestions it could potentially save you $$ tens of thousands $$ in total over time. Your potential savings per month may look trivial, but they add up over a year and then extrapolated out to a decade you may be SHOCKED to see your savings. As the example – look at just the coffee section alone above. $1300 a year! That is potentially a $13,000 savings over a decade if you implement an intelligent strategy!
Even if you cannot do all of the strategies listed here – pick some which will work for you. Even making just some of the 1% improvements wherever you can will help your position. Remember the people who are the top 1% of anything are the people with the intelligence to know but more importantly the discipline to follow through. This is entirely in your control.
So what 1% improvements will you start planning and doing for yourself today??? Now go and use your savings to invest in yourself and your future.
~The Genuine Gentleman~
Thomas Morgan & Blake Douglas
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