Best Money-Saving Tips From Top Personal Finance Bloggers
Ten popular bloggers offer advice on how to spend less and save more.
Each week I round up advice from some of my favorite personal finance bloggers to share with Kip Tips readers. This past weekend I had the chance to meet many of these bloggers in New Orleans during a financial media conference. So I used the opportunity to ask them in-person what is their single best tip for saving money. Here is the advice they offered:
Downgrade your technology, says Sandy Smith of Yes, I Am Cheap. She says that we get so hooked on technology that we fail to ask ourselves whether we really need to buy the latest and greatest gadgets. We often don’t bother to add up how much we’re spending on technology. Rather than buy a new iPhone 6, she’s sticking with the $50 phone she has with a pay-as-you-go plan.
Get a home energy audit, says Joe Saul-Sehy of Stacking Benjamins. Yes, you’ll have to pay for a technician to inspect your home ($200 or more), but Saul-Sehy says that you’ll save much more as a result of learning what can be done to make your house more energy efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy has more information about home energy audits.
Search for coupon codes before making any purchase online, says Patrice Washington of Real Money Answers. She says she never buys anything without first looking for a way to get a discount. (See my tips on how to find online coupon codes.)
Use the question strategy, says Shannon McNay of ReadyForZero. Before she makes a big purchase, McNay asks herself whether spending on that item will get her off track toward reaching her savings goals. Taking the time to question whether she should buy something helps her keep spending under control.
Automate your savings, says Rob Berger of Dough Roller. We spend what we have, Berger says. Have retirement account and other savings contributions automatically withdrawn from your paycheck or checking account so the money comes out before you can spend it, he says.
Earn rewards points on everyday spending, says Philip Taylor of PT Money. He racks up points through his supermarket’s loyalty program to save money on gas. As a Kroger Plus Card holder, he gets one fuel point for every $1 spent on groceries and two points for gift card purchases. Points can be redeemed for discounts at Kroger fuel centers ranging from 10 cents a gallon to $1 a gallon. So he buys Kroger gift cards to get double the points and uses the cards to purchase his groceries.
Buy quality, says Ryan Guina of Cash Money Life and The Military Wallet. Don’t settle for an inferior product just because it’s cheaper, he says. Buy something that’s going to last so you don’t have to keep shelling out money to replace cheap products.
Don’t be afraid to spend on maintenance, says Jim Wang of Microblogger. Paying to maintain expensive items, such as your car, can help you avoid costly repairs down the road. The most important thing you should maintain is yourself, he says, because nothing is more financially catastrophic than a major health problem.
Actually save the money, says J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy. It’s one thing to say you saved money by cutting back or shopping smarter, but it’s another thing to actually do it, he says. So when you eliminate an expense or buy something at a discount, put the money you saved into a savings account.
Focus on the big wins instead of the small ones, says J.D. Roth of More Than Money. When you’re trying to save money, you’ll get results faster by cutting back on the things that cost you the most. For example, he says, downsizing your home so you’ll have a smaller mortgage payment will make a bigger difference than clipping coupons.