With food and gas prices skyrocketing, it's time to reconsider how we spend our paychecks. Even if you've got money to spare now, you could be looking at a downsized salary later or a period of unemployment. Unless you've been on the job for a while, that unemployment check isn't going to cover much. Better to rethink some everyday expenses so you'll have a bit of a financial cushion for later on.
There are some daily luxuries many of us think we can't live without. Still, there are ways to cut back on these costs.
Is part of your daily routine a grande latte at a major coffee chain? It's an expensive habit, and as the stock market shows, it's a habit that more people are passing by. A recent Consumer Reports article gave some surprising ratings to basic brews, including Starbucks'. Here are some ways to reduce the cost of daily caffeine:
Good buys: looking for the best deals on store-bought lattes, limiting the number of times you go, and always using a coffee club card
Better buys: buying the beans you like in bulk and brewing at home...whether by drip or espresso method
Best buys: sampling lesser-known (and less expensive) brands to discover more options
Creeping Computer Crashes
Part of the problem for computer users comes from the manufacturers themselves. Planned obsolescence means that the software you desire today is deliberately designed to not work with yesterday's operating systems and hardware. What retailers and manufacturers hope you will do is keep up with the latest and greatest systems.
Good buys: waiting for special holiday sales, combing catalogs, or checking out the remainder bins
Better buys: upgrading your computer's components (sound card, memory, etc.) to meet your needs when possible instead of always buying an entirely new system
Best buys: using free, reliable software, acquiring a previously-owned computer from a trusted source, maintaining the system's security and anti-virus software
Green is good—both on the road and in your wallet.
Good buys: buy a new car with excellent gas mileage and low projected maintenance costs
Better buys: buy a reliable used car with low projected costs
Best buys: choose a place to live that is close to public transportation. Investigate car-sharing and van pool services
Entertainment for Everyone
A long, hot summer lies ahead. Save your gas, your cash, and your credit line by staying away from mega shopping malls.
Good buys: wait for the best-sellers to go on sale at the big chains and use a store card for more savings
Better buys: discover used book stores both downtown and online; attend bargain matinees
Best buys: go to your public library for free books, music, movies, and live entertainment
Books on Bargains
If you want to take counting costs to the next level, these books can provide inspiration. Click on any title to read more about it in our catalog. From there, our patrons may also place requests to have the books held for them at a favorite branch.
Buy, Buy, Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds by Susan Gregory Thomas
Buying Guide: 2008 from Consumer Reports
The Cheap Book: The Official Guide to Embracing Your Inner Cheapskate by Robin Herbst and Julie Miller
The Credit Repair Answer Book by Gudrun Maria Nickel
Not Buying It: My Year without Shopping by Judith Levine