Sunday, January 3, 2016

16 Ways to Save Money in 2016.

One of my heroes of the Christian faith, John Wesley said in his The Use of Money sermon in 1744,
"Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can."
For me saving money is both a spiritual exercise, a fun hobby, and a way to obtain a tax free raise to support the cost of living.

Here are some ways I came up with to save money in 2016. You don't have to do them all at once and some may not be practical for you at this time in your life. Please leave your suggestions in the comment section of this blog post for additional ways you know of to save money.

1. Give things a second life: Purchase things you need at reduced price from a thrift store, yard sale, or on a resale website like Craig's List.

2. Conserve energy and utilities in your home: Turn the lights off when you leave a room and especially whenever you leave the house, don't turn lights on when sunlight will be sufficient, and turn the thermostat down in Winter and up in Summer a few degrees at night.

3. Rewards Credit Card: Use a money back or rewards credit card to purchase necessary items such as utilities and groceries, as long as you pay it off each cycle before you are charged interest.

4. Couponing: Use paper or electronic coupons when you go out to eat or to the grocery store. Some valuable coupons can be received via email from popular restaurants.

5. Flexible Spending Accounts: If available from your employer, take advantage of a flexible savings account for medical expenses or dependent care expenses during the year.

6. Rewards Programs: Sign up for rewards programs at businesses you frequent and take advantage of discounts and rewards for accumulative spending during the year. Some I have found very lucrative are MPerks at Meijer, Kroger Rewards at Kroger, and Speedy Rewards at Speedway.

7. Gasoline Reduction: Use a free GPS App on your smart phone like Waze or Google Maps to navigate in your car and find the route that is the shortest distance from point A to point B.

8. Purchase Gift Cards and Use them for Regular Spending: Stores like Speedway and Kroger regularly offer bonus points when you purchase gift cards from them. Before buying from a business consider if there is a gift card available for that store where you can get rewards for purchasing, and then use a gift card you bought for yourself to make the purchase. Another way is to purchase gift cards at a discount from the face value at a free smart phone app such as Raise.

9. Cut the Cable Connection: Cut your cable service and watch television with options like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or by using an antenna to access free local channels.

10. Find the Cheapest Gas: Use a free App like Gas Buddy to find the cheapest price of gasoline for your vehicle available in your community at any given point in time. Sometimes their can be quite a difference when prices are in a state of changing at different businesses.

11. Groupon: Use Groupon to find discounts of around 40-50% on services and goods. I use them routinely for restaurant coupons and especially oil changes for my automobile.

12. Amazon: Use to purchase some items you need at a discount. If you purchase over $35 of qualifying items in each order you will get free shipping, as long as you can wait about a week to get the goods.

13. Cancel Magazine Subscriptions: Subscribe to Texture or Readily (both are a type of Netflix for Magazines) and read your favorite magazines electronically from a smart phone or tablet.

14. Purchase less Bottled Beverages: Reduce the number of of bottled beverages you purchase each week, and instead drink from a drinking fountain or a filtered water device.

15. Eat Out Less: As expensive as groceries are in 2016, you still usually get more for your money than you ever will by eating meals out at restaurants.

16. Don't Waste Food: Monitor expiration dates on perishable food in your cabinet and refrigerator and make sure you use them up before they become fodder for the trash heap.

Friday, January 1, 2016

16 Minimalist Ideas for 2016

I believe striving to be a minimalist is a lifelong process to reduce things that clutter life and distract from peace and tranquility. As a Christian I think it is to live by these verses in the Bible

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20)."

Here are some steps on the road to being a minimalist that one can try. You don't have to do them all at once and some may not be practical for you at this time in your life.

1. Eliminate 16 pieces of clothing from your wardrobe. 
2. Eliminate 16 files from your paper filing cabinet and put contents into Evernote
3. Eliminate 16 unhealthy foods from your diet. Here is a list of 33 for some ideas. 
4. Unsubscribe from 16 email subscriptions that clutter up your email inbox. 
5. Remove 16 apps from your smart phone. 
6. Get rid (donate, sell, dispose) of 16 unnecessary items from your garage, basement, or attic. 
7. Use a GPS App like Waze or Google Maps to find the shortest route and drive approximately 16 fewer miles per month. 
8. Eliminate 16 pieces of incoming postal mail by removing your name from mailing lists. 
9. Cut your cable service and watch 16 hours less of television per month. 
10. Find 16 types of items you can routinely reduce, reuse, or recycle your consumption of. 
11. Share 16 experiences during the year with people you cherish. 
12. Take 16 pictures over the course of the year of things you like but don't own and don't need to own. 
13. Cancel 16 magazine subscriptions and subscribe to Texture or Readily (both are a type of Netflix for Magazines). 
14. Read 16 books during the year that you can borrow from your public library or a friend. 
15. Set aside $16 per week in a savings account (that's just $2.28 per day) and leave it alone and you will have $832 at the end of the year. Then give that to someone or some organization to bless others in some practical and minimalist way. 
16. Spend 16 minutes per day in prayer for what matters most in your life, because in the end the person who dies with the most toys doesn't win.