14 Ways and Methods to Save Money


14 Ways and Methods to Save Money

If you are seriously interested in saving money—whether to pay down your debts or to save more to make a down payment on your first house or to save more to live more comfortably in retirement—the following  list of 14 methods to save money will help you on this journey.  

First, let's look at why each of the 14 ways helps to save money. (You can click on a specific method to go directly to that part of the article.)

Table 1:  Top 14 Ways and Methods to Save Money

#

Ways and Methods to Save Money

Why Money is Saved?

1

Price Comparison

Get a Lower Price per Unit with same Volume

2

Price Discounts & Coupons

Get a Lower Price per Unit with same Volume

3

Cherry-picking

Get a Lower Price per Unit with same Volume

4

Retail vs. Wholesale

Get a Lower Price per Unit but with more Volume

5

Cash Back

Get a Lower Price per Unit with same Volume

6

Trade Brand for Private Label

Get a Lower Price per Unit, comparable product or service

7

Trade Quality for Price

Get a Lower Price per Unit, comparable product or service

8

Substitution

Get a Lower Price per Unit, but different product or service

9

New vs. Used

Get a Lower Price per Unit, but product not new

10

DIY vs. DIFM

Get a Lower Price per Unit, more do-it-yourself time spent

11

Unbundling & Decomposition

Get a Lower Price per Unit with same Volume

12

Trade Time for Price

Get a Lower Price per Unit but for a different time period

13

Volume Reduction

Get a Same Price per Unit but with less Volume

14

Total Cost of Ownership Comparison

Get a Lower Price per Unit

.

Now let's look at every one of these methods individually to better understand how they work and how you can apply them to save money.

 

Savings Method #1:  Price Comparison

This is the most straightforward and obvious (and one could even say the most "Duh!") tactic that all of us know and use.  Maybe we don't use it all the time, but it always works. In spite of the fact that we all know how to do price comparison, we'll still talk about a few tools and tricks.

The key to success in Price Comparison is to understand and effectively use the best available tools that make online and in-store product and service Price Comparisons easier and faster.  This allows you to quickly find the best price in the market.

It is important to note that there is a significant difference between Price Comparison done for products (example: cars, grocery products, apparel, electronics, etc.) and services (baby or pet sitting services, tutoring, college education, AC or plumbing repair, car repair, travel, entertainment, etc.)..

There is also a very different set of tools (price comparison engines, marketplaces, lead generation sites, etc.) available for products vs. services and for online vs. in-store shopping.

 

Savings Method #2:  Price Discounts and Coupons

All vendors, without exception, run promotions (also known as "promos").  Some run them all the time, while others do that only once in a while. There is an infinite number of types of promos.  Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Percent Off: for example, 50% Off
  • BOGO FREE: Buy One Get One Free
  • BOGO 50% Off: Buy One Get One 50% Off
  • Dollar Off:   for example, $5 Off any purchase of $20 or more

And a huge number of other promo types.

Now let's talk about the top 19 options for finding and taking advantage of Price Discounts and Coupons.  Here is a list of the key resources where Price Discounts and Coupons could be found..

  1. Sunday paper "free standing inserts"
  2. Digital load-to-card coupons
  3. Checkout cash register coupons
  4. Instant redeemable coupons
  5. Direct mail coupon packs and flyers
  6. Coupon books
  7. Local newspapers, magazines, newsletters and radio stations
  8. Printable online coupons
  9. Coupon apps
  10. Coupon browser extensions
  11. Email coupons and discounts
  12. Professional discounts: military, first responders, teachers, students, and seniors
  13. Group buying
  14. Employee perks and discounts
  15. Association special discounts (e.g. AARP, radio stations, etc.)
  16. Discount networks
  17. In-store and online flyers
  18. Online promo code websites
  19. Social media

 

Savings Method #3:  Cherry-Picking

Cherry-picking is an effective savings approach albeit requiring some leg-work and price monitoring across multiple retailers.  In a nutshell, cherry-picking is when you use multiple retailers or service providers, buying from each one of them only those items and services that have the best price in the market.

Let's consider an examplea popular pastime is to compare ALDI vs. Walmart prices.  There are quite a few categories and items that are somewhat or significantly less expensive at ALDI.  However, not everything.

Table 2: ALDI vs. Walmart Select Item Price Comparison

#

Item

ALDI

Walmart

Cherry-Pick

From

1

Bananas ($/lb)

$0.41

$0.51

$0.41

ALDI

2

Yogurt (light, plain) ($/32oz)

$1.79

$1.96

$1.79

ALDI

3

Diaper Wipes ($/package, sensitive)*

$3.65

$1.78

$1.78

Walmart

4

Diapers ($/large pkg. size 3)**

$10.99

$17.57

$10.99

ALDI

5

Paper Towels ($/6pk)

$5.99

$2.98

$2.98

Walmart

6

Green Peppers ($/each) 

$0.66

$0.80

$0.66

ALDI

7

Peanut Butter ($/18oz)

$1.19

$1.64

$1.19

ALDI

8

Toothpaste Crest ($/5.2oz)***

$2.46

$2.97

$2.46

ALDI

9

Eggs ($/dozen)

$1.25

$1.35

$1.25

ALDI

10

Whole Milk ($/gal)

$2.86

$3.52

$2.86

ALDI

 

TOTAL

$31.25

$35.08

$19.66

 

* Aldi's 192-wipe package and Walmart's 172-wpe package.  Price per wipe: $3.65/192=$0.02 at Aldi and $ 1.78/172=$0.01 at Walmart.

** Aldi's 100-diaper package and Walmart's 144-diaper package. Price per size 3 diaper: $10.99/100=$0.11 at Aldi and $17.57/144=$0.12 at Walmart.

*** ALDI's Crest toothpaste is actually slightly bigger--5.4 oz.


As you can see from this sample list of 10 items, 8 items were less expensive at ALDI and 2 items were less expensive at Walmart.  Going and buying all items on this list from Aldi would cost $31.25; buying all at Walmart would cost $35.08. Buying all at Aldi results in a $3.83 (or 11%) savings compared to buying all these items at Walmart.  So, a simple Price Comparison approach would result in 11% savings.  Not bad!  .

However, if visiting two (or even more than two) stores is not something you'd be opposed to—you could Cherry Pick the least expensive items in each of these stores and get the most savings.  In the example above, the Cherry-Pick scenario—at the total cost of $26.40—yields an additional savings of $4.85 (or 16%) compared to the "Aldi only" scenario.  

 

Savings Method #4:  Retail vs. Wholesale

Many people don't realize that when they buy an item at their local retailer 25% to 75% of the price they pay is actually not for the product they buy but to cover the retailer's profit, labor cost, advertising, rent, utilities for their store, and other expenses.

Furthermore, if you buy the exact same item from a smaller retailer, the price is often 20% to 100% higher than the price you'd pay for that item at a large big box retailer. Why?  That smaller retailer—in addition to everything the larger retailer needs to cover—also needs to cover the profit and expenses of the wholesaler from whom this smaller retailer bought their goods, and for the profit and expenses of the distributor from which that wholesaler bought that same product before selling it to the smaller retailer.

To illustrate how the math works, let's assume a manufacturer produced a widget that you want to buy.   The manufacturer sells the widget to a big box retailer for $1. At the same time it sells it to a large distributor for $1 as well.

The big box retailer sets the price of this widget at $2 (earning $1 which in the retail parlance is called a retail markup).  When you buy this widget from the big box retailer, you'll pay $1 for the cost to produce it and another $1 to cover the big box retailer's expenses plus profit.

Meanwhile, the distributor sells the widget for $1.20 to the wholesaler who in turn sells it for $1.60 to the small retailer, who in turn sells it to you for $4.

You are probably thinking, "So, where you are going with this?" Well, the point is—when you buy a widget (or groceries, or anything else for that matter) from a retailer, you commonly pay a "retail price"—in our example above $2 or even $4 for something that costs $1 to produce.

Wouldn't it be better to buy directly from a manufacturer for $1, or from a distributor for $1.20, or from a wholesaler for $1.60?  The short answer is yes.  And you would save quite a bit of money.  Buying directly from manufacturers (or farmers, if it is food), or from distributors or wholesalers is called buying "wholesale" or buying "in bulk."  Unfortunately you cannot buy just one item.  You'd need to buy more.  Oftentimes, a lot more.  But you can still do that and save money.

There are several options that one might consider to get a lower "wholesale" (or "bulk") price instead of paying "retail" price:

  1. Direct buys from Wholesalers, Producers, or Farmers
  2. Wholesale Clubs
  3. Bulk Buying Clubs

 

Direct Buys from Wholesalers, Producers, or Farmers

Many people buy their food or consumables directly from producers, farmers, or wholesalers.  Keep in mind that to get a much better price than what you'd pay at a local retailer, you'd have to buy a bigger volume of the same product.  For example, instead of buying 1 widget or 1 lb of produce you'd need to buy a case of 24 widgets or a minimum of 25 lbs of produce.  Some wholesalers allow consumers to buy smaller quantities of each individual item but require a certain minimum spend (for example, $250 or $500 per order) if buying a variety of item to make it worth their while.

If or when buying directly from wholesalers, producers, or farmers make sure:

  • You can safely store what you can't consume right away.  For instance, if you buy the whole animal (whole calf, whole hog, etc.) you'd need a lot of freezer space to store the extra meat.
  • You know how to protect what you store against spoilage, pests, and vermin.

 

Wholesale Clubs

Another alternative to buying retail is to join one of the so-called Wholesale Clubs.  There used to be dozens of Wholesale Clubs 30-40 years ago.  But now there are only three Wholesale Clubs left in the United States:

  1. Costco Wholesale
  2. Sam's Club, and
  3. BJs Wholesale Club 

The advantage of joining one of these Wholesale Clubs is that you'd pay prices that are pretty close or are the best bulk wholesale prices in the market.  As an example Figure 1 shows a comparison of the price of pork chops between Sam's Club, Walmart, and Safeway.  Here are the prices:

  • $2.23 / lb at Sam's Club
  • $4.12 / lb at Walmart (46% more expensive than Sam's Club), and
  • $5.99 / lb at Safeway (63% more expensive than Sam's Club)

Figure 1: Sam's Club vs. Walmart Pork Chop Price Comparison

 

 

Do we even need to say more?

 

Bulk Buying Clubs.

In addition to the above two options there is also another way to enjoy "wholesale prices" rather than pay "retail" ones.  It is called a Bulk Buying Club (or sometimes also referred to as Neighborhood Buying Club).  In a nutshell a Bulk Buying Club (BBC) is basically when a few neighbors or friends (oftentimes 10 or even fewer) get together to agree to buy food or consumables or some other products directly from wholesalers to save 20-50% on their expenditure.  There are hundreds, maybe even thousands (it does not seem anyone is tracking any statistics on this) of Bulk Buying Clubs in the United States.  The concept is so simple and straightforward that anyone can start a Bulk Buying Club today if they have the desire to save money, posses some organizational skills, and don't mind spending some time leading their neighbors and friends in this process.

 

Savings Method #5:  Cash Back

Money savings can be achieved in multiple ways:  in-store discounts, coupons, price comparisons, and cherry-picking, etc.   Another popular way to save money in your favorite retailer or restaurant is cash back.  Basically, if you spend your money with a particular brick and mortar or online merchant, the merchant "rewards" you for this by giving a small percentage of what you have spent back.

Keep in mind, just because merchants offer cash back does not mean that their products or services are the best value in the market.  Cash back has nothing to do with the value.  Actually, the opposite is likely to be the case—the higher the prices a merchant has, the more cash back they can afford to pay back to you to entice you to continue to shop with them.  

So, make sure you first do a thorough Price Comparison,  ideally combined with Discounts & Coupons,  as well as Cash Back options.  That way you can find the best value in the market and maximize your savings.

Cash Backs can be earned in a number of ways:

  • Cash Back Credit Cards
  • Cash Back Apps
  • Cash Back Websites

 

Cash Back Credit Cards

Most banks offer Cash Back Credit Cards these days.  How much Cash Back each credit card offers varies from 1% to as high as 5%. However, Cash Backs of 3-5% typically come with a ton of "ifs" and "buts" and often have some limits on the timing when they can be earned as well as narrowed down to specific industries (such as travel) where they can be earned.

The good thing about credit card Cash Backs is that it is basically "free" money.  If you are planning to spend money to buy stuff anyways, why not to use a credit card that will give you 1-3% savings? These additional savings would come on top of the savings you earn by doing your Price Comparison homework, by finding and applying Coupons (if any are available for what you are buying), and even on top of the Cash Back you may earn from cash back apps and websites.  The only exception is if you will be charged a fee for using a credit card—compare the fee to your credit card’s Cash Back to know which option is the better deal.

 

Cash Back Apps

There are dozens of Cash Back Apps these days. Most apps offer cash back on 1,000 to 5,000 retailers with whom they have commercial arrangements.  Keep in mind that the value of the Cash Back offers from such retailers changes weekly or even daily.

There are two types of Cash Back Apps: linked to card or focused on specific products.

The way the “linked to card” Cash Back Apps work is that after downloading one or more of these Cash Back Apps you need to enter your favorite credit or debit card number. The linked Cash Back Apps monitor your credit card spending and credit the earned Cash Back on qualified purchases.

It is important to note that when you link your credit cards to any Cash Back App you are effectively agreeing to give them the right to monitor your entire transaction activity on such credit or debit cards.

Here is a list of some popular Cash Back apps that link to cards (listed alphabetically):

The second group of Cash Back Apps are not linked to a specific card—instead they focus on specific products.  Shoppers are shown available rebates for specific products, usually searchable by store, keyword, and product category.  Shoppers usually have to preselect the rebates they want before shopping, basically indicating an interest in the offer.  After the purchase is completed, shoppers usually prove their purchases by scanning their receipts into the Cash Back App sometimes also scanning barcodes of products purchased.  Some Cash Back Apps that are focused on products will automatically submit a shopper’s receipts, if the Cash Back App is tied to the shopper’s payment card, merchant rewards account, or internet browser as a browser extension.

Cash Back Apps that focus on products include:


Cash Back Websites

In addition to a few dozen Cash Back mobile Apps there are even more Cash Back Websites out there.  In some cases you don't even need to link your credit or debit card to the website to get the cash back, just create an account, click on one of the thousands of online retailers listed by the Cash Back Website you like and start shopping.  And the website will automatically credit your earned cash back into your account after each checkout.

Here is a list of some popular Cash Back Websites (listed alphabetically):.

 

Savings Method #6:  Trade Brand for Private Label

If you have not heard of Private Brands (aka Private Labels, aka Retail Brands) before, here is a 3-minute primer.  

Roughly speaking, the world of brands is split into two:  (1) National Brands and (2) Private Brands.  What's the difference?  The first type—National Brands—is created by companies like Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Nike, Calvin Kline, Apple, Samsung, Cartier, and other well-known companies.  The second type—Private Brands—is created by retailers such as Walmart, ALDI, Costco, Target, Kohl's, Best Buy, and others.

But that's not the only difference.  The other one is price.  In 99% of the cases, Private Brands are less expensive than National Brands.  Why?  Retailers don't spend much or any money on marketing and advertising their Private Brands.  Instead of spending the marketing money they simply allocate shelf space and make the price lower.  How much lower?  It depends, of course.  But in many cases the price difference between a National Brand and a comparable Private Brand is 20% to 50%.

So, another important tool in your savings toolkit should be buying Private Brands instead of National Brands whenever you can.  Savings could be as high as 50% (or even more when it comes to product categories such as apparel and jewelry).  And in many cases (but for sure not in all cases) the quality of Private Brands is the same or, in some cases, better, than that of the National Brands.

Of course, given the culture of "Competing with the Joneses" which seems to dominate in America and which appears to determine a lot of people's every day purchasing (and not only purchasing) decisions, quite a few people would not even consider saving 20-50% and buying a Private Brand.  Instead they would rather go for a more well-known and ostensibly more prestigious National Brand.   You know, the "Look, how successful I am!" syndrome.  In a lot of cases such decisions are not driven by the rational consideration of product quality but rather the person's internal insecurities and desire to look "rich" and "successful" in the eyes of their friends, neighbors, colleagues, or bosses.

So, instead of being suckered into the "Compete with the Joneses" syndrome we encourage you to follow the "F*ck the Joneses" strategy and only look after your own financial interests rather than fall into the trap of "appearing to be successful" and wasting your money on stuff you don't need.  "Competing with the Joneses" will only derail you on the path to financial independence and security or, worse, it will lead you on the path to financial ruin.

Figure 2:  ALDI's Highly Successful "ALDI. Like Brands. Only Cheaper." global advertising campaign

 

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Savings Method #7:  Trade Quality for Price

The word "Quality," when it comes to product or service description, has a much broader meaning than simply "good quality" vs. "bad quality."  All products and services we buy have varying:

  • Tastes and Textures
  • Packaging types
  • Attributes and Characteristics
  • Features and Functionality
  • Designs
  • Brands, etc.


So, by "quality" we mean any and all of the above.

One of the most effective ways to save money is to consider a product or service with different "qualities" and select only those that offer the qualities we absolutely need at the best price.  Oftentimes products or services have a bunch of qualities that are nice and exciting, but we don't really need those.  Why pay extra for them? In order to save money we should always be looking at and comparing products and/or services and asking ourselves these questions:

  • Features and Functionality:  "Do we really need all these ‘bells and whistles,’ especially at this price?" and "Which features/ functionality are truly important to me and which ones are just nice to have, but not worth paying for?"
  • Brands:  "Is a store brand the same—or even better—quality for lower price?" or "How critical is it for me to wear brand A, which is 5 times more expensive than a similar quality brand B?"
  • Packaging:  "Is this fancy packaging that important for me, or can I simply buy the same thing in a simple, practical packaging and save money on something I'd throw into the trash anyways?".
  • Designs:  "Is it worth paying twice as much for the ‘cooler’ design or will a simpler and less expense one do?"

.

Savings Method #8:  Substitution

Substitution is simply buying Product B if Product A is priced too high.  There are a lot of situations in life when we could easily use an alternative to a product (or service) to the one that we "usually" buy.  For example, if we "usually" buy beef as our center-of-plate meat product, and beef went up in price too much, many people will switch to pork or chicken if they are less expensive per pound.  Or if we "usually" buy Coca-Cola, but Pepsi-Cola is on sale today, most people can substitute one for another and save money..

The key is to always ask ourselves, “Can we buy something else that is less expensive and still accomplish what we are trying to achieve?”

 

Savings Method #9:  New vs. Used

When it comes to most products usually the price of a brand new product is a lot higher than the price of a used one.  Some people have a prejudice against buying used products, but it is all psychological, as in most cases there is no rational basis for the bias against used products.

For example, did you know that the price of a "pre-owned" car with just 1 extra mile of use by the first owner is 20-30% lower than the price of an identical, brand-new car?  It’s a popular saying that, "The price of a new car drops by 30% the moment you drive it off the dealer lot," which isn’t exactly true but does emphasize the price difference assigned a brand-new car versus pre-owned.  Given a choice, would you save $10,000 on a $30,000 car if a 100% reliable inspection showed the only difference is 1,000 extra miles someone else put on the pre-owned car?

Many people understand this significant price difference, especially on products that are "durable" or "super high premium" and cost a lot, such as homes, cars, electronics, home appliances, haute-couture clothes and accessories, etc.   It can also be true when shopping for smaller-ticket items, like books, board games, and clothes, which can be found “used” at yard sales, thrift stores, and—for free—at libraries.

Here are some useful resources to help find open box, pre-owned, second-hand, or refurbished products online:

Anything and everything:

Electronics:

Fashion:

 

Savings Method #10:  DIY vs. DIFM

Do you know how much pizza would cost if you cooked it at home from scratch?  Based on three different calculations by Kristen from The Frugal Girl blogPete from the Pizza Oven Review blog, as well as our own estimates, a 12-inch mozzarella cheese pizza cooked at home from scratch costs less than $2.00. (See Table 3 below for details.)

Table 3: Homemade 12" Pizza Cost

Pizza Components

The Frugal Girl

Pizza Oven Review

CouponFindr.com Own Estimates**

12" Pizza Crust

$0.53

$0.44

$0.51

Tomato Sauce

$0.20

$0.28

$0.47

Mozzarella Cheese

$0.90

$0.72

$0.60

Electricity / Natural gas*

$0.25

$0.20

$0.11

TOTAL

$1.88

$1.64

$1.69

*NOTE 1: with an electric oven

**NOTE 2:  based on Sam's Club bulk quantity costs; natural gas (instead of electric) oven

What would the same size cheese pizza cost if you bought it from one of the more well-known pizza restaurants?   The answer is it would cost on average $9.60 to $12.85 (depending on the state), as low as $6.00 at Little Caesars in Alabama, and as high as $17.42 at Papa John's in Washington, D.C. (see Table 4 below for details).

Table 4: Bought 12" Pizza Prices

Pizzerias

12" Pizza Prices*

Little Caesars

$6.00 - $8.00

Dominos

$7.99 - $10.71

Pizza Hut

$11.99 - $16.07

Papa Murphy's

$9.00 - $12.06

Papa John's

$13.00 - $17.42

AVERAGE

$9.60 - $12.85

*All prices are from www.fastfoodmenuprices.com

So, cooking your own pizza at home costs 4x to 10x less money than buying the same size and type of pizza from one of the top pizza chains in the United States. Or phrasing it differently, when ordering a pizza, the actual cost of the pizza is only 9% to 27% of the price you pay.  The other 73% to 91% is the cost of convenience.  And by the way, that's not including the cost of delivery and the driver’s tip.

What do the DIY vs. DIFM abbreviations have to do with this?  Well, these are the terms that describe making something yourself (DIY = Do-It-Yourself) versus buying the same thing made or done for you by someone else (DIFM = Do-It-For-Me).

For almost everything we need in life there is always an option to do it yourself.  Of course, in many cases the DIY route is simply not practical.  It would be silly to try to make your own car or your own refrigerator.  However, if you or someone in your family is great at repair work, fixing your own car or fixing your own fridge might actually save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

An interesting phenomenon worth mentioning is how YouTube and its proliferation of How-To tutorials impacts people's willingness to do home improvements themselves (DIY) rather than spend money on hiring a handyman or some other professional (DIFM). A survey conducted by John Burns Real Estate Consulting in 2017 discovered a much higher willingness of younger "YouTube generation" (30-34%) to do home improvement projects themselves compared to only 19-24% of older generation willing to do the DIY home improvements..

Figure 3:  DIY vs. DIFM in Home Improvements Survey Results

jbrec_youtube-diy-bpm-updated1

(Editor's Note: Yes, we see the typo in the chart, too, but still, it's helpful information.)

So, DIY for sure should be one of the more effective tools to save a lot of money in your toolkit.

 

Savings Method #11:  Unbundling & Decomposition

We are all surrounded by bundled prices. What is bundled pricing? It is when the price we pay for a product or service includes two or more (sometimes dozens or even hundreds) components of value all blended together in one.  Here are some examples of bundles:

  • A Big Mac meal that includes a burger, small fries, and a small drink.
  • A gala concert ticket that also includes a 6-course dinner.
  • A car insurance that also includes an uninsured motorist bodily injury (apologies for the insurance industry gobbledygook here), an emergency road service, a car rental reimbursement, and half a dozen other services.

Sometimes such bundles represent a good value.  An example is the Big Mac meal above.  Why? Because we know that if we were to buy this same burger, fries and drink separately (Unbundled), we'd pay more.

But more often than not such bundling is a waste of our money.  Especially when information about what is bundled-in is non-transparent and opaque, when we don't even know what's included in the price and whether we need all the stuff that is included in the price in the first place.  Insurance and healthcare are two of the worst industries abusing this approach..

So, in situations when the price includes a bunch of things that we need or don't need it is important to "Decompose" the price into separate elements and understand how each of these elements increases the price.  We may also need to understand if such separate elements bundled into a "package" are priced competitively and if buying them separately (Unbundling) might be cheaper. That is if we need some of the bundled elements in the first place.

 

Savings Method #12:  Trade Time for Price

In most industries, timing of when you'd like to receive the purchased product or service has value and thus has a price.  Here are some of the most obvious examples:

  • Airlines:   airfare can be much lower during the off-season and on weekends (See Figure 4 below.)
  • Theme parks:   ticket prices are lower during off-season
  • Postal services:   the faster the delivery, the more expensive
  • Healthcare:   emergency services are significantly more expensive than scheduled ones
  • Retail:   prices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are commonly much better than during the rest of the year

  

Figure 4: Different Airfares Based on Day of the Week and Season on Kayak

 

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So, to save money one should first understand how pricing in certain industries varies by season, by day of the week, by speed of service (fast delivery vs. slower delivery, immediate or emergency service vs. planned or scheduled service) and save money by taking advantage of often significant price differences based on timing of the purchase.

 

Savings Method #13:  Volume Reduction

Volume (or amount, or quantity) of the stuff we buy directly affects the amount of money we spend (taking away from the amount of money we have left).

So, the more stuff we buy now, the longer the road to financial freedom and comfortable retirement will be.

Let's look into what the Volume (or amount, or quantity) of the stuff we buy depends on and how we can potentially use Volume Reduction to save money.

Housing is American families’ biggest expense, accounting for 30-50% of the average American family's budget.   The key driver of the housing expense is, of course, the size of the home we own or rent. In other words "how much" of the house we have is the "Volume" that we are talking about.

In turn, the Volume of the home we have determines the Volume of a bunch of other related expenses, such as:

  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Utilities
  • Home Appliances
  • Furniture and décor
  • Home improvements
  • Home maintenance, etc.

For the housing category, if we wanted to save money through Volume Reduction, the first step would be reducing the size of the actual house.  People who cannot see themselves changing homes may need to think of other ways to achieve Volume Reduction:

  • Cleaning out and ending a lease on a storage unit or parking space not attached to the home
  • Designating a room as a home office and following IRS guidelines in order for it to qualify for personal income tax deductions
  • Renting out a spare room, even if only for a summer while the normal occupant is away at camp
  • Hosting an exchange student (if there is a financial incentive or it helps your student receive housing in a similar program elsewhere)

For the average American family, the third largest expenditure category is food, including both groceries and eating out.  Of course, if we wanted food Volume Reduction, we'd simply buy less food or eat out less and cook more at home (see DIY vs. DIFM chapter above). .

Buying and consuming less "Volume" cannot be achieved with a magic wand, or a set of online tools or apps.  It is simply a conscious decision every time we buy something or through a planned effort, like with house downsizing, that we can achieve a significant reduction in our everyday expenses thanks to Volume Reduction.

 

Savings Method #14:  Total Cost of Ownership Comparison

The last (but not the least) money saving method on our list is what is known as Total Cost of Ownership (aka TCO) perspective that can help save money over time. What is TCO? Let's look at an example.

Imagine you are shopping for a printer. A simplistic approach to saving money would be to find a printer that has all the features that you need at the lowest price in the market.  Let's say you are selecting between two laser printers, Printer A and Printer B. Printer A is on sale only for $100 whereas Printer B sells for $300. One could say, "No brainer, of course you should buy Printer A. Duh!"

What if someone pointed out that a toner cartridge for Printer A costs $75 and is good for 1,000 pages of printing and a Printer B cartridge retails for $50 and is good to print 2,000 pages? Would this change your decision?

Let's do some quick math:   assume for our personal needs for a small business we will be printing 4,000 pages per year. Here is how much each printer would cost us over 3 years.

Table 5: Printer A vs. Printer B Total Cost of Ownership Side-by-Side Comparison

 

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

3Y TOTAL

Printer A

 

 

 

 

   - Printer Purchase Price

$100

-

-

$100

   - Number of Required Cartridges*

4

4

4

16

   - Total Cost of Cartridges

$300

$300

$300

$900

TCO for Printer A

 

 

 

$1,000

Printer B

 

 

 

 

   - Printer Purchase Price

$300

-

-

$300

   - Number of Required Cartridges**

2

2

2

6

   - Total Cost of Cartridges

$100

$100

$100

$300

TCO for Printer B

 

 

 

$600

*For Printer A one would need 4 cartridges per year:  4,000 pages to be printed each year divided by 1,000 pages Printer A cartridge capacity (4,000/1,000=4)  

**For Printer B one would need 2 cartridges per year:  4,000 pages to be printed each year divided by 2,000 pages Printer A cartridge capacity (4,000/2,000=2)

So, over a period of three years Printer B would cost only $600 compared to $1,000 for Printer A.  Even if Printer A were to be given away for FREE it would still be more expensive to use it over three years compared to Printer B.   

Using the TCO approach you will save a lot over the lifetime of whatever products you buy.  This same perspective and TCO estimate can be applied to pretty much anything that has a useful life of more than one year:  houses, cars, electronics, apparel—even razors with replaceable razor blades.  

 

Summary

In summary, using the above 14 methods to save money on a daily basis has the potential to substantially reduce your living expenses and help you save a ton to become debt free, save for a comfortable retirement, or even achieve full financial independence and not have to work for someone else.  

The key to doing this is to change your entire mindset from over-consumption and feeling the pressure to "Compete with the Joneses" to only buying what you truly need and being frugal and calculated in every single purchase you make.


Read Next:                                                         

Price Comaprison Saving Technique for Products and Services

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