Radical Ways To Make Money: 7 Radical Savings Tips - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Radical Ways To Make Money: 7 Radical Savings Tips

  • Hold the mother of all garage sales. Cast a critical eye on the stuff at the way back of your closets. If you haven't used it in six months, chances are you can do without. Same goes for all that junk in storage. (See "The hidden costs of too much stuff." ) Annual savings? Depends on how much junk you have, of course, but one coworker guessed he had at least $5,000 worth of stuff he could get rid of. I'd put my own garage sale potential down at around $1,000. That's a good number.
  • Quit smoking. Pack-a-day habit? In Washington state, that's easily $5 a day -- or about $1,800 a year -- that can go right into your savings, not to mention what it saves you on insurance and health care.
  • Tame your driving addiction. In other words, carpool or use public transportation. This saves on gas, insurance and maintenance costs -- not to mention any money spent on aspirin. Using the IRS's 2002 mileage reimbursement rate of 36.5 cents per mile as a proxy for the cost of commuting, you could save $1,141 a year by driving half the time for 50 weeks a year (based on a 25-mile roundtrip commute). For an even more drastic approach, consider getting rid of your car if you live in the city. Some cities are now implementing progressive programs that allow you to have access to a car without the ownership hassles (e.g. "Flexcar" in Seattle, Portland and Washington, D.C. For more on Flexcar, see link at left.)
  • Buy used. The average consumer spends about $1,750 a year on clothing and its upkeep, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey. You can potentially cut that in half by shopping at consignment shops and auctions, though the life of the goods may be less than buying new. To account for that, the annual savings may only amount to 25%, or $437.
  • Become a homebody. At just over $1,800 a year on average, entertainment spending has a way of quickly eating through the best-planned budgets. Consider the library for books, music and movies. Eat out less often. The average person spent $2,276 a year on eating out in 2002. Try cutting your spending in half on both areas for annual savings more than $1,900.
  • Cut your housing expenses. While a move across the tracks may save some money, moves are expensive in themselves. Consider renting out a room. The average housing costs per person in 2000 were just over $13,200. In metropolitan areas such as Seattle, rooms easily go for $400 a month. Figure about $20 of that goes to increases in utility costs, and you've still got an annual savings of more than $4,000 before any income taxes.
  • Cut up your credit cards. Build an emergency fund first to handle most unexpected expenses. This allows you to become your own lending agency. (OK, if you're chicken, try cutting up all but one.) Credit cards can be a cash-flow management tool, but paying only the minimum will keep you in debt for years. If you're the average American with at least one credit card, you probably have close to $8,523 in credit card debt, according to industry research group CardWeb.com. At an average APR of 14.4%, it could cost you as much as $1,100 a year in interest alone. By simply waiting until you've saved enough money to make purchases, you could eliminate those interest payments entirely.

If you're really ambitious and follow all the above tips, you could be looking at savings of nearly $12,000 a year. Figuring you can invest it at the historical rate of return at 10% your savings will start to compound nicely -- and rapidly.

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