The 10 Golden Rules of Saving on Everything

Photo (cc) by Lordcolus

On this website, as well as others like it, you’ll find thousands of individual tips to save money on virtually everything you buy, from groceries to funerals. But when you boil it down, most ways to save can be condensed into some simple rules – use them and you’ll painlessly find ways to meet your savings goals.

Following is a short video Stacy recently shot that offers five golden rules to save on anything and everything. Check it out, then meet me on the other side to fill out his tips and expand the list to 10.

1. Never buy new what you can buy used.

That brand-new sparkle comes at a high price, on everything from cars to furniture to clothes. Let somebody else take the hit. Instead of heading to the department store, head to the consignment store, thrift shop, yard sale, or sites like Craigslist or eBay.

2. Never buy this generation when last generation will do.

Ignore the commercials that entice you to buy the latest and greatest. From cars to computers, buying yesterday’s technology can save you 20-50 percent. Early adopters are often paying for nothing more than bragging rights – why not wait and brag about how much money you saved?

3. Always ask for a lower price.

People say you get what you pay for. We say you get what you ask for. In addition to negotiating more traditional things like houses and cars, our writers have succeeded in scoring lower prices on hotel rooms, doctor’s visits, cable bills, and car repairs, as well as asking for and receiving lower rates on loans and higher rates on savings. Check out Confessions of a Serial Haggler.

From now on, consider the price of services or big-ticket items as what they are: an opening bid.

4. Stop paying for name brands.

What’s in a name? Often nothing more than a higher cost. Paying more is OK if the higher cost means higher quality. But it’s not OK to pay more simply to help pay for some company’s annoying commercials.

One of many examples: More often than not, generic patent medicines like aspirin and cough syrup aren’t similar to their brand name counterparts. They’re identical. There’s only one reason anyone would pay up to 50 percent more for an identical item – some commercial told them to.

Check out 7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic for more on this topic, and stop throwing money away.

5. Share with your friends and neighbors.

It’s probably not practical to share a car with your neighbor, but what about his ladder, or your lawn mower? If it’s something neither of you need to use on a regular basis — and you get along well enough — get together with one or more people on your block and form a neighborhood co-op. In addition to reducing the cost of common household items by 50 percent or more, you also reduce clutter.

And if you use something really infrequently, rent it instead of buying it.

6. Try to substitute imagination for money.

People often pay for pre-packaged ideas by habit when they could easily come up with lower-cost ideas that are also better. Instead of buying cards and gifts, make your own. Instead of taking your date to a restaurant, take her on a picnic. Instead of meeting at a bar, have your friends over. Instead of heading to hotel, camp out.

Use your mind instead of your money and your life will be more interesting and less expensive.

7. Try to make it or fix it yourself.

Just because something’s available in a store doesn’t mean that’s the only place you can buy it. Check out 6 Alternatives to Expensive Household Cleaners, Do-It-Yourself Laundry Detergent and Household Products Vinegar Can Replace.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg. From Homemade Halloween Costumes to Home Repairs to growing your own food, you can save a bundle by using your hands instead of cash. And you can find help with just about anything online.

Additional benefit? You feel more independent, because you are.

8. Always use the Internet.

While using the Internet to comparison shop should be obvious, there are new techniques and technologies evolving constantly. For example, PriceBlink: This browser add-on automatically searches for a lower price and/or coupons on anything you’re looking at or searching for online.

Don’t ever buy anything online or off without first searching the web to see if you can find a coupon or discount. But the Internet is a double-edged sword…

9. Never subscribe to “deal” websites.

While it’s smart to be able to find online coupons and deals on the things you want, it’s dumb to allow websites to fill your in-box with dozens of potential impulse buys. Tell the Internet what you need: Don’t let the Internet (or TV commercials or your friends) tell you what you want.

10. Sell before you buy.

Before you buy anything you want, make it a habit to first sell something you don’t. Your garage and closets are full of stuff you no longer use. So before you go to the store or click that online “checkout” button, stop. Put off the purchase – first, take some clothes to the consignment shop, or take a picture of something you’re no longer using and put it on Craigslist. It only takes a minute.

As soon as it sells, apply the money to the purchase you were going to make. Now you’ve saved on something you wanted, and gotten rid of something you didn’t.

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