Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Secret to Making Itsy Bitsy Bargains Add Up

Any halfway decent shopper knows of small bargains that keep a little more cash in your pocket, or add a few bucks to your bank balance. For example:

Twin bladed razors. Twin bladed razors, either of the disposable variety or the replaceable blades--are much, much, as in much, cheaper than razors with three, four or five blades. If you keep your eyes peeled, you might find generic twin-bladed razors for one-tenth (as in 1/10) the price of something with more blades. And none of the mega-multiple bladed razors are ten times better or last ten times longer than twin-bladed razors. Why pay $2.50 or more for a razor?

Non-perishables on sale. Non-perishable foods with long shelf lives, such as tuna, peanut butter, and pasta, should be bought in quantity when on sale. Unless you live in a tiny home with no storage space, never pay full retail for non-perishable foods you eat often.

Home cooking. Learn to cook, and you'll save lots of money. In addition, you'll probably put less sugar, fat, salt, msg and other bad stuff in your meals, so your health care costs may be lower. For more, see

Prepaid cell-phone service. Contrary to popular depiction in the mass media, most Americans don't walk around with their faces buried in smart phones, stumbling into light poles and fire hydrants as they text away furiously or catch up on their favorite soaps. Keep a record of how much you actually use your cell phone. A prepaid plan, where you pay for a fixed amount of minutes, may actually be much cheaper than the standard all-you-can-text-and-call plan.

Regular coffee. Lattes are an expensive way to gain weight. Regular coffee, especially without sugar or cream, can give you a nice caffeine boost without larding up your bottom.

Of course, you can think of many other examples of small savings. For more ideas on smart spending, see

How can you make all these small economies add up? By sweeping your checking account every month. Have a savings account (or maybe a money market account) in the same bank where you have a checking account. At the end of each month, transfer all extra funds from the checking account to the savings account. For example, let's say you keep a minimum of $1,000 in your checking account, either because you want a buffer against overdrafts or because it helps you avoid banking fees. If, because of your smart money management, there is $1,125 in the checking account at the end of the month, move $125 into the savings account. Avoid spending the money in the savings account (except to make investments or in dire emergencies). This monthly account sweep prevents you from frittering away the fruits of your frugality. Over time, the swept amounts grow and compound. Compounding is your best financial friend. See By separating the money you save from the money you'll spend, you become richer. And that's better than the alternative.

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