What's in Your Wallet?

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Dec 9, 2010 in , , | No Comments

These tips will save you thousands of dollars!

After reading the tips below, take a few minutes to review your spending habits, then make adjustments. By making a few changes and adapting to a better way of handling your money, you might discover more money in your wallet.

If You Rent

Renters with a month-to-month lease are in luck. Rents in most places have dropped drastically and this means savings for you. Check the classifieds and rental company ads for current rents of comparable units in your immediate area. If you have been in your unit for a year or more, you might notice as much as a few hundred dollars a month difference in current rents.

Next, send your landlord a note documenting your findings. It should be worded in a way that shows you want to negotiate your rent. For example; “Considering what I found in the local paper (include clippings), I feel a rental adjustment of $___________ at this time is appropriate to keep current with the going rate.” Also, check to see if the ads are including a month of rent free, or some other perk for moving in. If so, you can use this as an additional negotiating tool. Make sure to get in writing any changes made to your rental agreement. Always read your amended agreement carefully, making sure nothing was added beyond the adjustment.

Regarding renters rights: if you receive a notice from the lender on your rental stating you must vacate due to your landlords mortgage being foreclosed upon, you do not have to move right away–no matter what the bank says. According to California law, you should be allowed to live in the unit for the duration of your lease. Be sure to pay the lender, not your landlord, once you’ve contacted the mortgage company. If you rent month-to-month, you have approximately 90 days to find a new home. Be sure to check for any updates on these and other housing rulings.

If you are in the State of California, pick up from the California Department of Consumer Affairs (or the housing authority in your area), the California Tenants book, which is free. This is something every renter should own, it is a guide to residents and landlords rights and responsibilities. Other states have similar publications.

Serious Java Savings

Look at how you usually spend your money every month. If you go to Starbucks and spend $3.50 every morning, you are spending $24.50 per week…and a whopping $1,274.00 per year! For under $10.00, you can purchase quality coffee and make your own at home, saving you money on coffee and on the gas to get to Starbucks (my apologies to Starbucks).

You Can Drive Under 65

What about your driving habits? I still see people driving well over the speed limit, burning up gas which is approximately $3.00 per gallon (and rising) in much of the country. Experts advise that we drive the speed limit, or 5 miles under, to help conserve on gas consumption.

Also, when you take into consideration how much you use your car, be sure to get as much as possible done in one trip, instead of making several trips. Car pool to school. Or, if you’ve never taken public transportation, give it a try. Most metro areas have efficient public transportation.

Another Persons Treasure

Is there anything you can sell in your closet, attic or garage? Many people have accumulated items they no longer use that can fetch a good price on eBay or by having a garage sale. Go through your things, closet by closet, make two piles; one should be “save”, the other “sell”. Enlist your friends and neighbors to get involved too, have a group garage sale. Your junk could be a gold mine.

You’ll find once you’ve unloaded all of these things you no longer use and have reduced the clutter in your home, your mind will feel clearer, and your wallet will be full of cash.

Shop Smarter

Examine your shopping habits. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry! Go when you are alert, stomach full and with a list in hand. Make sure you look for the weekly sales in the flyers your grocery store sends out, circle the items you need, bring that flyer with you. If they are out of a sale item, ask for a “rain check” ticket.

Clip coupons! If you clip $5.00 worth of coupons a week, at the end of the year you would save $260.00. Keep coupons in an envelope in your car, this way, you won’t forget them when you go shopping.

Shop the discount stores for your staples instead of the chain grocery stores. The big box stores have deals if you buy multiples, however, unless you have a large number of people in your household, that can be counter productive when it comes to food. A study showed people will overeat due to the extra large sized boxes purchased at these stores.

Store brands are cheaper than well-known name brands and are usually the same quality. So look for the store’s name on packaging and comparison shop.

Speaking of food, begin to eat healthier if you don’t already. Junk food costs you in poor health.

Dining Out

If you eat out, you are spending a great deal of money. Cooking quality meals at home saves money, time, gas and tipping wait staff. Learning to cook gourmet meals is easy and fun. Create weekly pot lucks with friends. It’s a way to save money for all who participate and you have the bonus of networking with people who may have job leads.

Muscle Money

Are you a member of a gym? Money can be saved by using what you have at home or school instead to workout. But, if you don’t want to lose your club membership, ask it be “frozen” until your financial situation is better or find a cheaper gym. Be sure to read your current contract, some gyms might charge a fee, or retain a deposit, if you break the contract within a certain period of time.

Wants Versus Needs

Stop buying items you don’t really need now, this will help you to learn to postpone gratification. Buy what you need, not what you want, there is a difference. Ask yourself this; “Do I really need that new pair of shoes?” If you shop to feel better, it’s time to find a healthier way to deal with stress in your life.

Credit card companies target students right on campus, basically, they make millions of dollars on your debt. Amassing debt is a dangerous way to live. It creates added financial stress, puts you at a disadvantage for a job (employers check credit scores), and limits spending for things you really need. If you designate credit card spending for emergencies only, and live within your financial means, debt will be a thing of the past. Learn to save rather than spend.

Ask your friends and family what they are doing to save money, trade ideas. Remember, every little bit counts–that’s money in your wallet.

©2009 Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California, is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages. http://workforcedevelopment.edublogs.org/