101 Ways to Save Money and Live Better is provided for one purpose and one purpose only!

TO CHANGE YOUR THINKING.


You thought I was going to say, “To save you money,” didn’t you?

You will save money by using these ideas. You might even save a lot of money. But…

Until you change your thinking about how you spend your money,
you’ll only be scratching the surface of what you could do!

Many of our clients, who really use this guide to change their money habits, take off on their own when they “get the fever.”

These ideas will not work unless you do!

The more you save, the more you can save for yourself in the form of retirement, mutual funds, bonds, whatever you think is best for you.

It will take a purposeful dedication to your goals, but you can change your situation!

Well I promised you 101 Ways To Save Money And Live Better, so here it is.

In General

1. Don’t go shopping! If you don’t go shopping, you won’t spend ANY money. Of course if you really need something from the store, go and buy it. But don’t just go shopping. Don’t get trapped like 34,300 surveyed mall shoppers who were asked the primary reason for their visit to the mall. Only 24% said they had come for a specific item.

So don’t go shopping. And while you’re at it, stay away from the advertising that whets your appetite for stuff that you don’t need and likely don’t even want! And for heaven’s sake, don’t tune in to the Home Shopping Network.

2. Avoid Everything Stores like K-Mart, Target, or WalMart. These stores are just too dangerous. Because they carry everything in the world it’s just too easy to go and stray from your plan. If you need hairspray, get it at the grocery store when you do your food shopping. If you’re especially weak in these stores, take your spouse or a good friend who understands your quest for Intelligent Frugality and ask them to be sure you stick to your list.

3. Live within your means. This notion is so outmoded that some readers might not even know what it signifies. To live within your means is to buy only what you prudently can afford and to avoid debt. Living within your means suggests that you wait till you have the money before you buy what you need. No interest charges, no sweating the end of the month and no unconscious spending. It also gives you a “waiting period” in which you may very well discover that you don’t need or want those things after all.

4. Take care of what you have. This is sort of a no brainer but some people simply don’t care for what they have. When you neglect what you have, when you defer inexpensive maintenance and care for replacement instead, you feed the system instead of feeding yourself. Get into changing the oil in your car, clean your tools, clean you appliances (hair dryer, vacuum, refrigerator, etc.) Machines, unlike our bodies, are not self-healing. You let ‘em go, they’ll let you down.

5. Wear it out. I know this sounds contrary to what you just read. It’s not. Think for a minute – What’s the last item you actually wore out? Americans discard 1,455 pounds of garbage every year. Much of it is perfectly usable. We replace, upgrade, trade up to the newest fashion, and just plain junk perfectly good electronic equipment, furniture, clothing, kitchenware, linens and automobiles.

Think of ways to recycle (for yourself) items that are just a little worn and possibly not just the latest. Think of ways to use parts of items you’re going to discard. And before you buy anything new, ask yourself, “Do I already have something that will do the same job this one will?”

6. Learn to enjoy each moment as a special gift. Truly in the 90’s we can get so busy chasing the carrot, raising the kids, improving our minds, eating low-fat, striving for excellence in all that we do, that we fail to enjoy doing any of it. Part of the title is Living Better and with that goes some change in our thinking. One very important factor in living better is to enjoy each moment. Waiting in line, driving to the beach, drifting off to sleep, reading a story to the kids, making dinner, and answering the phone are all necessary components of our lives. Just accept it. Learn to love the process of getting there instead of always focusing on that distant goal or achievement that will “make you happy.”

7. Do it yourself. Can you tune your car? Fix a plumbing leak? Do your taxes? Rewire a toaster? Think of all the things you pay others to do that you could at least try yourself. There’s hundreds of books (FREE at the library), or sites on the BIG WWW that will walk you step by step through just about anything from building your own computer to changing out a broken window.

8. Anticipate your needs. Forethought of purchases can bring you tremendous savings. With enough “lead time” you can get items at savings of 20 to 50 percent under the usual price. Think in terms of white sales, end-of-the-season clothing sales (buy your winter coat at the end of winter when they’re all on sale). When you wait till the last minute to buy things you need you’re at the mercy of whatever is out there RIGHT NOW. A little planning allows you time to search for sales, coupons, and garage sales.

9. Get it for less. With the availability of discount catalogs, discount chain stores and the miracle of the Yellow Pages, and shopping on Ebay or other WEB sites, you can, with just a little effort usually save up to 30 percent just by checking a few options before getting out that checkbook!

10. Buy it used. Reexamine your attitudes about buying used items. You might say, “I don’t want to get any used items.” Well let’s just think about that . . . EVERYTHING YOU OWN IS USED! It’s true. Buying used requires a little forethought (see #8) in that you may not be able to find what you need as quickly as buying new. At least give it a try.

11. Write down everything you spend for 30-60 days. You would be amazed how unconsciously you spend your money. Be sure to write down EVERY PENNY you spend. Do it for at least 30 days. My lovely bride did this about 15 years ago and learned that she was spending over $100 a month at MacDonald’s! Things changed real quick. J

12. When you want a non-budget item, write it on a Want List. Then, just before payday, if you have some extra money, you can grab your Want List. This is an excellent habit for a couple of reasons. You will be more disciplined throughout the month because you know that there’s something else you really want. The time between writing it down and the actual time of purchase may be enough time to decide you don’t really need the item anyway. If that’s the case, cross it off the list.

13. Study and follow all the steps of this program. The steps in this program have been followed successfully by thousands of people. They have found that doing all the steps leads to a transformed relationship with money. When you change your thinking, tremendous things will happen!

Probably most important of all is that you have a plan for your money and your future. Planning is just too easy to let worry and frustration over money get in the way. There are simple models to follow based on your income, goals, and financial situation.
* * * * * (Please see me for additional information: Call me at 619-670-1000 or Email me at Dennis@DennisVolz.com )

Transportation Expenses

14. Learn to do certain minor automobile repairs yourself. It’s not true that men can naturally fix cars and women cannot. Whatever labor costs you save are like making money at a part time job. If you normally spend $20 at “Slimy Lube” for an oil change, you can make about $14 an hour at your part-time oil changing job by spending $6 for oil at K-Mart and doing the job yourself.

15. Shop around for a reliable, reasonable mechanic before you need one. Ask around. Check with people you trust. Then when you run up against a repair you can’t do or just don’t know what’s wrong, take it to them. After time you’ll build a relationship and they’ll treat you really well. Sometimes paying them $10 just for a few minutes to tell you what’s wrong will enable you to fix the car yourself.

Sometimes you can shop for parts yourself, often saving 15 to 20 percent and then, if needed, your mechanic can install them for you.

16. Perform regular maintenance (or do it yourself). I’m sure you remember the old commercial with the mechanic and the oil filter. “You can pay me now (he holds up the oil filter), or you can pay me later (he holds up some oily, drippy, ruined part from the car engine). It’s oh so true. Regular maintenance will add years of life to your automobile. It will add years to your life through reduced stress and anxiety from a car that is not reliable.

17. Assess whether or not that extra car (or two) is necessary. Go ahead and figure out what that car costs you. Don’t forget license, insurance, maintenance, gas, oil, storage, time and energy. Be careful not to over rationalize or confuse need for want.

18. Walk to do local errands. How far is too far to walk? Is it good exercise? You might enjoy the walk as an escape from it all. Short trips in your car on a cold engine are the major contributors to wear and tear and poor gas mileage.

19. Use public transportation. I know this may sound a little “out of the box”. Just consider the cost of going downtown is more than just parking; it’s gas, wear and tear, and more. If the IRS computes mileage at 27 cents a mile, shouldn’t you.

20. Carpool to work. It can be a little inconvenient, but once you get used to it, you’ll never go back. You will reduce your expenses, form new relationships, possibly reduce your commute time because you can use the “commuter lane” and zip past all the single-occupant cars!

21. Move closer to your job, or get a job closer to your home. You might even go so far as to get within walking distance (or at least bicycle distance). In order to really get ahead on your finances, it will require some real “thinking out of the box.” Just explore the possibilities. If you live close enough to bike to work and you don’t have a bike, borrow one for a few weeks and then if it makes sense, go out and buy a good used bike.

22. Check out insurance rates before you buy a car. Once you buy your car, hopefully you’ll keep it for a long time (till the wheels fall off!) That way you’ll get maximum value for your purchase. So in consideration of keeping the car awhile, check out the insurance rate you’ll be paying on that car for it’s stay with you. Even if you save $50 a year by getting one model instead of another, that’s $50 you can use for investment or debt reduction. Remember, THEY ALL ADD UP!

23. Repair your older car rather than purchase a new one. It can be a little inconvenient but consider the added insurance costs for a new car, the car payment, and you’ll probably wash your newer car more. Keep a record of your maintenance costs. By doing that, when you consider purchasing a newer car, you can look at accurate figures to see if you’re really spending more than your new car payment will be. At $300 a month for a new car payment, your old car would have to be in the shop a full week out of every month to exceed that expense!

24. Consolidate errands to conserve money. Every trip you take costs you money. Keep a notepad at home or in your car to jot down things you need to do and get. Then, once a week or so, do all of it at once. Do it all at one shopping center if you can.

25. Get off of the Advertiser’s Bandwagon. If you listen to them, it’s impossible to be happy, or sexy, or young, or successful unless you are driving a brand new whatever. Given a line of diminishing returns, older cars are better for you. When I compare the years of car payments up to my neck or years without them, I’ll pick the minor repairs anytime.

And if you’re afraid that your friends or work associates will judge you unfairly based on what you drive, here’s a clue. THEY WILL. They will make judgements about you whatever you do. Stop buying to impress others and start buying to wow yourself with your cash flow!

On Your Job

There are more ways to make more money on your job than there are ways to save money. After all, isn’t that what the job place is all about? Making money. The first consideration is your wage. I know people who say they make $10 an hour, or they make $27.50 an hour, or whatever. They think they make money for the time they spend. Not true. If that were true, they could just say home and have their company send the money.
In reality, they get paid for the value they bring to the hour. If that’s the case, here is a question for you. Is it possible for a person to become more valuable and therefore receive more money for the value they bring to the hour? The answer is, of course. As we bring more value to the market place, we will be compensated accordingly.
Why would large corporation pay its Chief Executive Officers millions of dollars a year. They have become more valuable. If an executive makes a company a billion dollars, why wouldn’t they pay him several million?
With that in mind, let’s see how we can affect our financial condition at the workplace. Here’s a couple of ideas – a few on saving and a few on becoming more valuable.

26. Stay away from the “snack area” or the “break room.” This is a double whammy! You’re likely to be spending money on things you don’t need to eat and aren’t healthy. You’re also likely to be talking with the negative complaining bunch. Instead, grab an apple from your lunch pale and spend the time enriching you and your work environment. Use the time to talk with someone who might have a position in the company that you’d like to have someday. Ask to help out with some project, take some work home, or study some of the appropriate manuals in the area.

Do what you can to make yourself more valuable to your employer. Despite that negative bunch you used to hang out with, they will recognize your improvement and pay you accordingly. If they don’t, you are more valuable and another company will pay you for your improved condition. Speaking as an employer, I’ll always keep and pay more to the person that has become more valuable, dependable, or trustworthy!

27. Ask the boss for a raise. I’m amazed at the number of people who fail to do this. Maybe it’s fear or lack of confidence. The truth is that if you go into the situation with some reasonable documentation or logic, the boss will be more than likely to grant your request. There are books at the library that will teach you how to go about the process.

28. Cut your wardrobe expenses by 20 percent. Most of the time, companies are much more concerned about your job performance than your wardrobe. Although you can’t come to work looking like a homeless person, you don’t need to have all the latest and totally trendy clothes just to go and get the job done. As long as the clothes are neat, clean, and presentable, your employer will prefer superior job performance to fashionable presentation any day!


Medical Costs

29. Consider getting a major medical insurance policy with a $1000 - $2000 deductible. Usually deductibles are annual and some can be carried into the next year if expenses are incurred during the last quarter. If you follow the rest of the suggestions in this section, you won’t need to be going to the doctor as often.

30. Comparison-shop for medical services and supplies just like you shop for anything else; EVEN A DOCTOR. We’ve been so conditioned that doctors are almost god-like. Don’t be afraid to call several doctors’ offices and ask them their prices. Ask them if they will discount their price if you pay cash. Even if you have insurance you will save on deductibles, co-pay, and you will get better prices for your insurance company that will help control premiums. (Remember, insurance companies don’t decide the rates, they only compute the rate necessary based on costs.)

31. Eat a proper diet. Preventative maintenance works just as well for your body as it does for your car. Except you can’t trade your body in when you wear it out. Get some good nutritional books from the library, exercise regularly, don’t snack, drink lots of water, all that stuff your mother told you still makes sense.

32. Stop smoking cigarettes. Not only to non-smokers have fewer health problems, but insurance companies honor that by giving them lower rates. In addition, consider just the cost of the cigarettes. If you smoke a pack a day, you’re up to at least $2 per day with cost of cigarettes and ruined clothing. Of you quit at 30, put that $60 a month into a tax shelter, you’ll retire with $49,450.87 more than you would without quitting. Not to mention you’ll probably love longer and better!

33. Get proper rest. According to Reader’s Digest, in the time before the electric light bulb was invented, people slept nine and a half hours. Now, if you sleep more than six or seven hours, people think you lack drive and ambition. Depriving yourself of needed rest will create problems in your thinking, your health, and your attitude. All will affect your pocketbook! Give yourself what money can’t buy; A good night’s rest!

34. Maintain the proper body weight. You will save on food, medical costs, clothing, and you’ll just feel a heck of a lot better. Keep from using an expensive diet program by making small adjustments in your eating habits – One at a time, every few months. Get good nutritional advice for free from books at the library and find a friend who has good height/weight ratio and who eats well and ask them for help.

Living Expenses

35. Move to a less expensive area. Try to keep the theme of living close to your work, but compare living expenses against commuting expenses. An apartment in Honolulu will run you abut $980 a month. The same apartment in Oklahoma City will rent for $308 a month. It DOES make a difference. Moves within your own city can see drastic differences in your living expenses. Also consider schools, proximity of shopping, parks, church activities, and whatever “things” that take you away from home.

36. Sell your house and live in a motor home. Have you ever herd of “snowbirds?” They are retired people who have sold their homes and now live in very nice motor homes and follow the summer! There are magazines and books that will offer you information on this kind of lifestyle. Even if you’re younger with children, there are places in your city that will accommodate a motor home as a permanent living arrangement. You might even consider this as a temporary arrangement to help you power out of debt or save to buy a home.

37. Buy a piece of property and put a used mobile home on it. A couple I know of purchased a piece of land and a used mobile home just forty minutes outside of Seattle for $10,000. She couldn’t believe she had paid over $1000 a month for a home for so many years. There are cheaper ways to live.

38. Do your own home repairs. If you own your home, maintenance can put a terrible damper on your cash flow. Learning to do it yourself isn’t as formidable as you might think. It’s usually just a matter of knowing the little “tricks of the trade.” Several years ago we remodeled our home. I watches the workmen rip my home apart. I flinched with each hole in the wall, each piece of shattered plaster. Then I watched them put it all back together and found myself saying, “Well, I could have done that!” Of course I could . . . AFTER I WATCHED THEM DO IT. Get someone to teach you, get videos at Home Depot, or watch “This Old House” on TV. Most tasks around the house are a lot easier than they seem.

39. Another variation on doing your own repairs is a working potluck. When there’s yard work or home maintenance, get together with a friend. Work at his house and then they come to yours. Maybe it’s regular maintenance items (yard work or auto maintenance) or a project such as removing storm windows or painting the fence. If you agree on some maintenance items that each of your homes need, you can share the time, share the tools, and possibly get a better deal on buying the materials you need for the job The task ends up like a quilting bee with the socializing making the time fly.

Around the House

40. Remove your shoes at the door. This works for a couple of reasons. First, when you get home and remove your shoes it’s kind of a symbolic thing. I’m home, I’m going to relax! Second, it will reduce wear and tear on your carpeting. My kids tell me that they like to run and slide on the tile. (Keeps it clean!)

41. Keep the thermostat at 68º in the winter and at 78º in the summer. Just a few degrees off of the heater or the air conditioner can save substantially on your utility bill. Wear a sweater around the house in the winter and during the summer, if you have air conditioning and the house feels hot, step outside for a few minutes. The house will feel great when you go back inside.

42. Run the dishwasher only when full. My mother, in her later years when living by herself, ran her dishwasher about once a week. She just waited till it was full and ran it. Also you can usually use half the recommended amount of soap and never know the difference.

43. Check your phone bill for unnecessary or unwanted features and charges. Could be just a little thing, but they will remove items you don’t want and if they were unwanted they will give back credit for a reasonable time.

44. Call the local utility company for a free evaluation of your home. They will come to your home and advise you energy-saving ideas. They will test for gas leaks. While on the phone be sure and ask for any free energy saving devices they offer. Also keep an eye on your bills for announcements of various saving ideas and tools they will offer for free or at reduces cost.

45. Install attic vents. Attic vents (those silvery things that spin on your roof) can save you up to 30 percent on cooling bills in the summer. If you have them or get them, be sure to close them in the winter to prevent unnecessary heat loss.

46. Keep your blinds closed during the day. This will not only wave money on cooling but will also reduce fading and deterioration caused by the sun on furniture, clothing, and carpeting.

47. Reduce your water heater setting to 120º. For each 10º you reduce your water heater you will save 6-10% of its cost. Most appliances will run just fine at 120º.

Taxes

Ah, yes. Everybody’s favorite subject. Tax laws change so frequently that it would be hard for specific information to remain current. Here are some general hints that will transfer a few dollars from Uncle Sam’s pocket to yours.

48. If you get a tax refund, redirect that money into an IRA. Tremendous tax advantage! If you receive a $1500 tax refund each year, you are loaning the government your money INTEREST FREE! Change your exemptions at your job so that they will withhold less taxes (about $100 a month – which will reduce your refund by $1200 to $300). Put that money into a tax deferred IRA. The deduction you realize will increase your refund back up to about $700. Magic!
* * * * * (Please see me for additional information: Call me at 619-670-1000 or Email me at Dennis@DennisVolz.com )

49. Start a home-based business. Some of the greatest benefits of running a business from your home are the tax advantages. But be careful! Although there are tremendous tax advantages, there are also a dozen ways to lose your shirt. Review the basic considerations of running any kind of home-based business: How to avoid stupid start-up costs; How to minimize an audit from the IRS; How to pay your children as employees; and How you can let your voice-mail become a 24 hour sales person for you. You can be cashin’ in while you’re snoozin’ out!
* * * * * (Please see me for additional information: Call me at 619-670-1000 or Email me at Dennis@DennisVolz.com )

50. Pay your children to help in your home-based business. Your children cam become employees and be paid money that you would be giving to them anyway – Now it’s just tax deductible money! Plus, if you get them an IRA to boot (there’s no age limitation on an IRA) the money they receive won’t be taxed. * * * * * (Please see me for additional information)


51. Take an aggressive posture on your tax return – When In Doubt, DEDUCT! Less than 2% of all tax returns get audited. Some parts of the tax law are gray at best. While I don’t encourage anyone to knowingly evade taxes they owe, people seem so unnecessarily intimidated by the IRS that they’re afraid to take the completely legitimate deductions for fear it will trigger an audit. I

Interest and Financial Charges

52. Pay off your credit cards. Credit card companies can rip you off for interest rates of 16 to 21 percent of your unpaid balance. That means that for every $1000 you carry on your balance, you pay $200 per year for that privilege (at 20 percent). Although credit cards are a convenience, they’re no bargain. If you pay off your balance every month instead of carrying an average of balance of $2500, you save $500 a year in interest charges! If you invest that $500 a year at just 10% interest, you will accumulate a mere $13,069.78 in 20 years.

53. Eliminate all but one credit card for emergencies and stop paying unnecessary annual fees. With rare exceptions, each credit card you have will carry with it an annual fee of from $20 to $300. With a little “shopping” you can get a card with no annual fee.

54. Pay cash for all purchases, even major purchases like your car. Follow this simple rule and you will get rich! Use the savings you realize in these ideas to start a MPSA (Major Purchase Savings Account). Save for refrigerators, washers, cars, home remodels, etc.

55. If have to take a loan, be sure to get a simple interest loan with no fees. You can pay hundreds of unnecessary dollars if you’re not careful. Most loans at the car dealership are not an especially good deal. You can get a much better deal through your credit union or, in this case, through your insurance agent . . . ME. * * * * * (Please see me for additional information)

56. Pay off your mortgage as quickly as possible. Choosing to extend your mortgage to the 30 year term (as preferred by the mortgage company) you can pay up to three times the purchase price of your home before the loan is paid off. Simply double your principle amount every month. Notice I didn’t say double your house payment, just the principle amount. On a $1200 house payment, $200 of it might be principle. Give your mortgage company a call and ask the easiest way to do this. Usually it’s simply just sending larger check each month.

57. Put most of the money you save in this program to retire other debts. Debt (a.k.a. Monthly Payments) is the killer of even the best income. You are strapped to the debt wagon and are controlled by it every month. Retire your debt and then prudently invest those monies in your future.

58. Avoid paying unnecessary fees to your bank every month. Check with your bank and see how you can configure your account to avoid ALL FEES. Don’t get trapped into, “Well, it’s only $10 a month.” They all add up! There may be a minimum balance requirement. Decide if you can meet that consistently. If all else fails, go shopping. There’s always some bank begging for your business with a year or so of free checking. There’s no marriage contract with your bank and there’s no magic staying with the same one for years and years.

59. Don’t bounce checks. Keep an accurate record of your spending. Bounced check fees can eat you alive. A client of mine was victim to an electronic deposit error by his employer. With only four returned items in his account, the fees totaled over $250! Fortunately the employer reimbursed my client, but the point is made – Bounced Checks Are Worse Than Bank Fees.

Sharing

Are all of your possessions in use all the time? Of course not! So what’s wrong with letting others use one of them when you aren’t using it? Begin to promote a sharing philosophy with your friends and neighbors. When you lose a little of the “mine mentality”, life will be cheaper and more fun. You can also barter goods and services.

60. Start a neighborhood tool and skill swap. (This works with your church, or civic group, or any group.) Make a list of tools and skills you have to offer and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Distribute them among your group and see how often the help you need is as close as next door.

61. Swap services – Haircut for Health care. Or try baking for pruning, or oil change for sewing, etc. The more you know about your friends and neighbors, the more services you can exchange.

62. Start a babysitting co-op. Many parents have banded together to exchange babysitting services. It frees more of your time and money to do things that would normally cost you quite a pretty penny. How many times have you opted to stay home because the babysitter bill at the end of the night was just more than you could handle?

63. Borrow books and magazines from the library instead of buying them. I find that I rarely want to own the book or magazine, I just want to read it. And, with the exception of some great motivational, reference type books or my Bible, I can’t ever remember reading a book twice.

64. Share subscriptions to magazines or newspapers with a friend or neighbor. Chances are that someone you know shares your interest. One neighbor gets the morning paper, reads it in the morning before work and drops it on his neighbor’s porch who reads it after dinner.



Your Food and Shopping

65. Never shop when you’re hungry. Your hunger will override your good intentions every time.

66. Stick to a list prepared ahead of time. A little discipline will save you lots-a-bucks.

67. Learn to cook from scratch. Get out your cookbooks and be BRAVE! You will save a lot of money; you’ll eat better. If I can do it . . . anyone can!

68. Shop with cash. You will be a much more careful shopper knowing that if you’re over, you’re in trouble! J

69. Use coupons carefully and religiously! Carefully is important because often you will pay more using a coupon to buy a name brand than you would buying your regular generic item without one and is usually EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF! Religiously because you can cut 10%-15% off your grocery bill by using coupons every time.

One of the greatest ideas we’ve used in the past is to put our children in charge of clipping coupons and then managing them during the shopping at the grocery store. They have more time than I do to clip and will remember better than I do which coupons we have. Here’s the DEAL . . . the kids love it! Whatever we save at the register – they keep half of it. We end up saving more than if I did the coupons myself even after our children get their “commission!”


70. Don’t shop at convenience or specialty stores. You won’t find any bargains there! Avoid them.

71. Know your prices. Take a day and check out the stores in your area. Check the most standard items on your grocery list. You can’t recognize bargains if you’re not familiar with other prices.

72. Make milk and produce runs ONLY with a list. When you have to make a trip between you major shopping run, go with a list! Get in and get out.

73. Find a market that offers DOUBLE COUPON Value! This practice varies from time to time. Be on the lookout. Be sure it’s still a better deal with double coupons (usually it is because they don’t figure they’re going to run up against a coupon animal!) Sometimes you can even find a TRIPLE COUPON Deal!

74. Shop less frequently. You will be forced to make the food last longer and you will become much more creative. If you go to the market everyday, stretch it to every other day. Once a week? Shop for two weeks next time! You’ll waste less, use less, and spend a bunch less !

75. Make up menus seven to ten days ahead of time and base your meals on what’s on sale. You will save money because you’ll buy what’s cheap and you won’t overbuy on items that will go unused.

76. Be resourceful. If you run low (or out) of an item before your next shopping day, improvise with what’s on hand instead of running to the store. Remember that more frequent shopping trips will increase your spending. You’ll probably pick up several “other” items on that trip.

77. Know the “loss leaders” at your stores. Merchants use loss leaders to get people into their store. These are items that the merchant will sell at or below his cost to get you into the store knowing that “as long as you’re there” you’ll get other items you need as well. Beat him at this game. Find the loss leaders (they’re usually the items in the ads) and when you find something you can stock up on, raid the store for as much as they’ll let you buy.


Vacations

78. Relax closer to home. You might even enjoy just being around the house. Try using you house for a home base while you explore your local area. Adventures are made in the heart. Remember: If you need to “get away”, 3 miles and 300 miles are both away. Vacation is not any time to try to prove you’re making it financially.

79. Buy airline tickets well in advance. If you buy your tickets at least a month ahead of time, you can get a better deal. Also, be sure to take advantage of mid-week fares. If you fly during the week and stay over the weekend, you will avoid the higher weekend air fares.

80. Take a camping vacation. As U.S. citizens we each “own” 3 acres of land. There are beautiful parks, both state and federal, that you can visit for pennies a day. You might feel more relaxed at the end of a week full of listening to a babbling brook and the wind through the trees than you’ll ever feel racing from sight to sight so you’re sure to get your money’s worth on your vacation.

81. Avoid restaurant food as much as possible. Restaurant bills can put a tremendous dent in vacation funds. Eat in your room whenever possible. If traveling in your car, take an ice chest and cold cuts for sandwiches. Snack on fruit instead of prepared, expensive junk food.


Entertaining and Dating

The key to frugal entertaining and dating is to remember why you’re doing it – to enjoy the company of other people. If you really think about it, beyond a certain level of comfort, money doesn’t really make an encounter any more (or less) delightful.

82. Have potlucks rather then dinner parties. Potlucks are the ultimate in ease and relaxation. I personally love potlucks. There’s more variety of food, it usually tastes better, and the atmosphere is just so relaxed that I can focus on the people rather than the event. Often your guests only want to take home their empty dishes, leaving you lots of leftovers that can feed you for several days!

83. When you do invite friends to share a meal with you, eat what you would normally have prepared. Mom’s casserole might be old hat to you, but quite a treat for your guests. Entertaining in your home doesn’t have to cost any more than a couple of extra servings.

84. Invite friends to view a movie or documentary with you. This can stimulate some very interesting discussions. You will get to know your friends on a deeper level and it’s a whole lot cheaper than going to the movies at $10 a pop.

85. Have a progressive dinner party. This will work well in a neighborhood or a small town but can be adapted to larger cities and wide open spaces. Start at one person’s home with appetizers, go to the next person’s house for soup, then another for salad. Keep a theme through the evening (or afternoon). It’s like a potluck but no one person gets all the work or clean up.

86. If you just can’t wait for a movie to come out on video, go to inexpensive matinees. The afternoon prices are about half of the evening prices, the crowd just isn’t there, and when the movie is over, you’ve still got lots of the day to finish chores, errands, or to take an afternoon nap.

87. If you like to attend movies or play regularly, check into ushering. Some local theatres will trade you an afternoon of ushering for several free movie passes. It’s a better deal for the owner and you get movies for free. My wife and I ushered at a local playhouse. We’d show the people their seats and sell refreshments during intermission. In exchange we watched the play for free.

88. Instead of dating expensively, go for quality of encounter. What the heck does that mean? Take an evening at the local coffee house and then on to the bookstore to browse and discuss. Drive to a local lake or beach and take a walk. Watch planes land at the local airport. Take your favorite game and some refreshments to a local park. Eat at home and go out for just dessert and coffee. Remember: It’s the encounter and quality time together that’s the reason for the date.

If you have young children, work a babysitting exchange with a friend or neighbor.

Insurance

Insurance has been one of the necessary evils of life for over 100 years. In this day of higher taxes, rising food prices and soaring housing costs, it is possible for you to get a handle on your insurance costs. Sometimes insurance can be complex and confusing but here’s just a few ideas that may help.
* * * * * (Please see me for additional information on all the insurance items: Call me at 619-670-1000 or Email me at Dennis@DennisVolz.com )

89. Drop your collision coverage. There comes a time in the life of almost every car when its value does not warrant the cost of collision coverage any longer. You will need this coverage for your car when you are in an accident that is your fault, or if your car is the victim of a hit and run accident. Ask your agent how to decide if this is right for you.

90. Drop your comprehensive coverage. Use the same decision process to decide if it’s the right time for you to do this.

91. Raise your deductibles. If deleting collision and comprehensive coverage puts you at greater risk than you are willing to assume at this time, you may want to consider increasing your deductibles as a compromise. As you raise your deductibles your insurance company will lower your premium. You get this reduction for two reasons: First, when you have a loss, the insurance company will pay you less money when you have a higher deductible; second, with a higher deductible, you will have fewer claims presented to your insurance company.

92. Evaluate your medical coverage. Medical Payments coverage is designed to pay for injuries sustained by you and anyone else in your car. Particulars of this coverage vary so the details are best discussed with your agent. But, here's the basic idea. If you have good medical insurance through your work or a private plan, it may be wise to minimize your medical payment coverage on your auto insurance. As far as the coverage applies to you, there might be a lot of overlapping coverage. It is probably not a good idea to drop this coverage completely as you are never sure just what kind of health insurance others that ride in your car may have.

93. Double check your mileage. Most companies consider the mileage you drive quite heavily when computing your premium. Be sure to learn from your agent what the categories are and just where the markers are between short and long mileage. Become an expert in this area. It can put dollars in your pocket. Definitions may vary greatly between companies.

94. Double check your ticket and accident record. Insurance companies handle thousands of policies on a daily basis. They make mistakes on a daily basis! You may be being charged for tickets and accidents that are not yours. Check with your agent to see exactly what items show on your record that may be increasing your premium. If you are not sure of your record, go to local motor vehicle office and ask for a print-out of your record and compare it with the insurance company records. Removing these errors can save you 30% and more on your premium.

95. Get all the available discounts. Discounts offered by insurance companies are as varied as the cars they insure. Cross examine your agent to be sure that you are getting every possible savings opportunity that you can! Ask for a list. Check for the availability of the following discounts: Non-Smoker; Accident-Free; Citation-Free; Longevity with the company; Passive Restraint Devices (such as automatic seat belts and air bags); Car Alarm; Over 21; Over 50; Over 65; Driving Safety Course Completion.

Marketing conditions dictate that insurance companies constantly update their discount programs. Be watchful in your renewal notices for notification of new ways to save your premium dollars.

96. Use care in rating your youthful driver. Certainly one of the most expensive items for young people today is the cost of auto insurance. Because the inexperienced operators do cause a higher percentage of claim costs, they get to pay higher percentage of the premiums. Take heart! There are ways to effectively minimize the impact on your checkbook.

By far, the greatest savings on the insurance bill is wrapped up in the kind of car that the youthful operator drives. Almost 50% of your premium is shelled out to protect the more expensive car that is too valuable to withhold comprehensive and collision coverage. Consider buying a car that is within your "write-off" limit as defined in your Financial Picture. Selling this idea to your 16 year-old may be much more of a challenge than just paying the higher premium. But, it will provide substantial premium savings.

Additional tricks for the youthful driver include the Good ­Student Discount. The usual threshold is a B-average or better but some companies will accept statements from the school that the student is in the upper 20% of the class or similar alternative requirements. Some parents have made the B-average the requirement for the young person to drive. No B's -- No Keys! Check out all of the rules of your company involving the rating of youthful operators.

97. Check the amount of insurance you have on your home or renters insurance. (You should have one of them!) You may be over insuring your possessions or your home. If you are you are wasting your money and making the insurance company very happy. On the other hand, it’s foolish to spend money on insurance that’s not enough. When you need it, it’s not going to do the job you need. So don’t over-insure, don’t under-insure.

98. Consider not insuring your heirlooms, jewelry, and antiques. Would you really replace them? Sure it would be nice to get the settlement from the insurance company, but insurance is designed to help you recover from an unrecoverable loss.

99. Increase your deductible on your homeowners/renters policy. You can save between $50 and $150 a year by increasing your deductible. The average homeowner has a loss every 10 years. Learn to handle the little losses yourself and save the insurance for the big ones that you can’t handle yourself. The premium you save just might be your own.

100. Review your life insurance at least once a year. Things change! Again the goal is to be properly insured, not too much, but enough. The decision for term or whole life insurance is best solved individually. If you’re disciplined to be investing elsewhere in your future (IRA’s, Mutual Funds, etc.) then term is probably best for you. If it’s difficult for you to discipline yourself for that necessity, whole life might be the only way you’ll secure your financial future.

There are simple formulas to determine exactly how much life insurance you need. I have several.
* * * * * (Please see me for additional information: Call me at 619-670-1000 or Email me at Dennis@DennisVolz.com )

101. Don’t buy credit life or credit disability insurance with a loan. Instead get separate life and disability policies that will do the job for you regardless of the loan. Loans will come and go but your insurance needs are fairly constant. You’ll get more bang for your buck with a regular insurance policy rather than the specific credit stuff.

Please Share Your Ideas With Us!
We value your ideas and input. Many of the ideas you’ve read come from our clients. Who knows, you could be part of:

101 Ways to Save Money And Live Better – The Sequel
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Please send us your ideas Dennis@DennisVolz.com -- You can call us at 619-670-1000, FAX us at 619-670-1121, or drop us a note in the mail at: PO BOX 1961, Spring Valley, CA 91979.

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Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright (c) 2006 – SmarterInsurance Inc.-- No part of this document may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, without prior written permission of the copyright owner. LEGAL NOTICES: While attempts have been made to verify the information provided, SmarterInsurance Inc will not assume any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, or omissions. Since this document presents general discussions, always consult a qualified professional regarding your specific tax, legal, financial, and personal circumstances. (911.21740)

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