This is an essay I wrote over two years ago, and it went completely viral and made it on several major publications. I think it’s a true classic to share, and there really isn’t any other like it.
What inspired me to write it was after two decades of reading personal finance articles, I finally got sick and tired of clicking on headlines about saving money, only to see a re-hash of obvious advice.
I wanted to present some ideas that are drastic, yet doable, so here are my top 10 ways to save some real money. If you’re already wealthy, perhaps you can share these ideas; if you’re broke, then consider implementing them.
Now, these ideas might upset you, so just remember I am not in charge of your life -- you are -- so you can do whatever you want. But please don’t complain about not having any money… because clearly I have found some ways to help you keep more of your cash.
1. Get rid of your pet. I saw a recent study that showed the average dog costing anywhere from $100 to $200 a month!
That’s $1,200 a year on the low end. Think about that… that’s like 2% of the average annual income. I know pets can add value to your life, but if you are tight on money or looking to get ahead early in life, get rid of your dog, cat, aquarium, etc.
2. Sell your TV and cancel the cable bill. Basing it off of my own cable bill, which is actually not a cable bill anymore, it’s a Verizon Fios bill, and I pay about $80 for the basic setup. That’s $960 a year!
Replace the cable bill with Netflix and Hulu, or search around for what you want to watch on YouTube or the actual channels’ website themselves. I remember I used to watch the show 24 on Fox.com since I didn’t have a DVR at the time. The fact is with the Internet, no one truly needs a cable bill anymore.
3. Stop eating meat. It’s overpriced and it really isn’t that healthy for you anyway. Instead, eat beans and raw nuts for your protein. Think of all the money you will save by grilling vegetables and eating salads. I have no clue how much you would save, but I would bet it’s about 25% of your grocery bill and 50% of your eating out money, since salads are about 50% less than a steak.
4. Drive a cheap car with great gas mileage. First off, you should NEVER have a car payment; if you do, I would recommend you sell that car and get out of that situation. Your life is too short to be making payments for the vehicle that gets you from point ‘A’ to ‘B.’ When I was young, I drove a 1992 Toyota pickup that squeaked 40 to 50 yards prior to stopping.
I remember on many occasions squeaking that thing right into my favorite steak house valet, parked right next to all the Bentleys. A car shouldn’t be a matter of pride, especially if you are just borrowing money to drive it – then the pride is artificial. Own your car and drive one with great gas mileage. You can literally double your gas mileage in some cases.
5. Freeload. Start heading to your mom’s house at around 4:30pm and your grandmother’s before you head to work. Not only will you get a great, free meal, but the time you spend with your loved ones will be priceless.
6. You will hate me for this one, but get rid of your smartphone. I know, how could I even include it?
That’s like asking people to get rid of a body part, but hey… I told you this would be the unconventional write-up on how to really save some money. Okay, so back to saving $40 a month! Seriously, smartphones are 3x as much as a basic cell phone plan. You could justify it by canceling the Wi-Fi bill at home and just use the cell phone for Internet, but if you really want to save money, this is an idea that will help you save $480 a year.
7. Cancel your gym membership. Save over $1,460 a year. Instead, go for a walk, ride bikes, or take the kids to the park, and instead of staring at your phone, get out there and start running around playing tag.
Stay healthy and make your wallet fat.
8. Get full use out of your clothing and shoes.
Though I am not a very big fan of former Mayor Bloomberg, I once read that he only owned 2 pairs of shoes. In fact, one of them he had owned for over 10 years, which he would get resoled every few years, the other pair were his exercise shoes. Avoiding high-end clothing brands is also a smart way to save money.
9. Stop buying gifts for every occasion. Most people, like my wife, take this the wrong way, or at least did in the past. It’s not that I was being cheap or didn’t love people, but when we were building our business and saving money, I didn’t like the idea of buying adults gifts on their birthdays or sending extended family money for the holidays. This will eventually add up.
I know a person today who buys every kid a gift they know for their birthdays, adult friends, and sends cash for every occasion. This individual is single, makes below-average income, and is honestly being stupid with their money. What they should be doing is saving and investing in their own quality of life. Unless, of course, buying those gifts is adding to their quality of life in their own way, but I doubt that.
10. MOVE! Housing is the biggest expense in our lives. In LA County, people rent 1-bedroom apartments for around $2,000. If they moved 30 minutes east, it would cost $1,500. 1 hour east, and now they are looking at $750-$1,000. The same price drop occurs when owning a home, however, if you can, consider moving to another state or country for the best capital savings.
All of these ideas are pretty extreme for most.
Most of them can be short-term decisions while you acquire assets and focus on building wealth. However, they will also add to the quality of your life.
Living debt-free with very little obligation is the best way to live out your life.