Three quick and easy ways to cut spending

March 5, 2019 by David Riedel

We all know not to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, right? In case you haven’t heard that one, bear with me: We don’t go to Whole Foods on an empty stomach because if we do, chances are we’ll walk out with about half the inventory, and nine-tenths of it will be things we don’t want or need.

The same is true when buying just about anything. For years, I had a bad habit of hearing an interview on NPR or “The Daily Show” or “Last Call with Carson Daly” (kidding), and the interview subject would say, “I just wrote this book. It’s called ‘Buy Me Immediately and Without Thinking.’”

And I would go to Amazon, dump the book in my cart and check out without hesitation. Sometimes by the time the book arrived two days later, I’d look at it and think, “Wait, why did I buy this?” And that’s why I have about 100 books on my shelves that I hope to get to but probably won’t.

So maybe before making that impulse buy on Amazon (or wherever), just leave the item in your cart for a few days. In the past several years, I’ve saved myself hundreds of dollars worth of books (and music and gardening equipment) because I took 72 hours to wait and review potential purchases. Get the books from the library. Sounds simple, but it’s a life changer.

Speaking of life changers, if you ever find yourself looking at your credit card statements and wonder how it is you purchased that bocce ball set even though you live a city and the closest park is six miles away, there’s something you can do to hopefully eliminate wasteful spending in the future.

Go through the credit card bills line by line and see whether you purchased something on impulse (the bocce ball set), when you were starving (the 12-pound roast turkey from Whole Foods), when you were angry (why did you buy books in which revenge is a main theme, such as Hamlet and The Count of Monte Cristo?), or tired (the My Pillow). Make a mental note – or better yet, write it down so it’s easier to remember – to eliminate that kind of spending. It takes practice but it’s worth it.

Finally: Bundle. You’ve heard this one forever and some bundles are scams. But as far as cable and Internet goes, it may be worth it. For those of you who haven’t cut the cord yet (which I strongly recommend; no one can watch that much TV), call up your provider and take a bundle, even if it has a phone plan you may not want. Chances are it will be cheaper. (Important: Don’t take a contract deal. You want an out without restrictions.) And if the price is still too high, threaten to go somewhere else. Your cable company will almost always blink before you do.

Bundling goes for insurance, too. Since bundling our auto, home, and every other kind of insurance, my family has saved the aforementioned hundreds of dollars a year.


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