By Kevin M
We?re taking on this weekly forum as a way of exchanging ideas to help lower the cost of living. This includes expense reduction and elimination, but goes beyond, even to include lifestyle changes that may bring savings on a number of fronts. Ideas on ways to cut personal, household or business expenses are welcome!
This weeks suggestions:
Is it time to go on a diet? It?s unfortunate that most diet plans require that we buy food that?s actually more expensive than the kind we eat when we?re not dieting. On some plans, where you have to purchase prepared foods directly from the plan sponsor, it can be dramatically higher. At a minimum, most diets require that you change your food consumption to include more lean meats, fish, fresh produce and other food types that may be good for the waistline, but a disaster for the household budget.
So does that mean that we abandon hope of losing weight until the economy improves, increasing our incomes and enabling us to even be able to afford to be on a diet?
It seems there?s an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone here; we can lose weight and save some money.
There?s a neat point here where the twin objectives of losing weight and saving money intersect: in order to lose weight we need to eat less, and in order to save money we need to buy less. We can do both!
Now is an excellent time then to begin a diet centered on the simple directive of eating less. Cut the volume of food you consume by some desired amount?10%, 20%, 30%, or what ever is appropriate?and you should not only lose weight, but you?ll also save money on grocery bills.
There?s nothing fancy about this. The most crucial element both in losing weight and saving money are the same?to consume less.
Buy food at ethnic markets. The immigrant population is growing all over America, and because of their position as new entrants to the country, they often have less expensive ways to live, and often to live well. This is a compelling reason to expand our social circles a bit to include making some friends in the many ethnic communities springing up all over.
Ethnic markets can be an excellent place to find bargains on groceries. In Spanish speaking markets it?s possible to buy bulk items, such as rice, beans and produce, for less than you?d pay in chain grocery stores. There is also a variety of products available that you won?t find in a chain store.
One big way to cut down on your spending is to reduce the number of times you go out to eat. It will be easier to accomplish this if what you prepare at home is new and different, and ethnic markets are a good place to help make that happen. Invest a few dollars in a cook book specializing in the foods available at one or more ethnic markets in your area and you may develop some delicious reasons to eat more meals at home.
Not all products are less expensive than in chain grocery stores so you need to be careful. Package goods that you?d find in a chain supermarket tend to be more expensive at ethnic markets, perhaps because they aren?t big sellers. It?s not a bad idea to have a friend from the ethnic culture to help guide you along the first time or two you shop at a store.
A good description of Asian food markets appears on Wisebread and is well worth checking out.
Close little used checking or credit accounts. Do you have checking accounts or credit cards that you hardly use? You know, the kind you keep around just in case? Unless such accounts carry zero maintenance fees, you?re incurring expenses for no good purpose.
Many accounts have fees even if you don?t use them, such as monthly maintenance fees or annual administrative fees. A $10 per month maintenance fee on an unused checking account it costing you $120 a year. Some banks actually charge inactivity fees, just to keep an account open. Either way, if you have little or no use for the account, any charges associated with are a waste of good money.
What are some changes you?ve made or plans you?ve implemented to lower living or business expenses? What expenses have you been able to reduce? Are there any you?ve been able to eliminate entirely? Big ideas, small ideas, they?re all worth exploring.