If that trip to Hawaii or starting your own business or retiring early means enough to you, there are lots of little ways to save more money each month. Here are just a few ideas: do not buy clothes that need to be dry cleaned (unless they are business suits), grow a vegetable garden, learn to mend socks and sew on missing buttons, rent a movie instead of going to the theater or play a board game together, making a spaghetti dinner (bottled sauce) is a lot cheaper than eating out, take the family on a picnic at the park or beach for the day rather than take a week-long vacation, learn how to change your own oil and make your own repairs, change your expensive hobby to an inexpensive one, encourage your kids to start their own business (dog bathing, teaching art classes to elementary children, selling your excess vegetables, etc.).
Let’s back-up to one of the above items that can run into quite a bit of money: your hobby or hobbies. But do not think of completely giving up your hobby unless there is absolutely no way to make it less expensive. Now, a lot of hobbies are very inexpensive to start with. Arts and crafts usually do not cost a lot. Simple wood working, once you have the tools, is inexpensive and satisfying. However, if your hobby happens to be a rather costly one, think about how to bring those costs down. For instance, woodworking is a very productive hobby but, if you do not already have the necessary equipment, it can be very expensive.
If you have already bought all of your equipment (which is why you owe so much on your charge cards), then all you have to do is cut back on the size of your projects thus saving money on the cost of wood and fixtures. If you are just starting out, you could get a part-time job at a store that sells the machinery if they offer an employee discount. However, be very careful of this. We all know the jokes about men and “more power” in their equipment. A part-time job like this could be just too tempting and end up costing you more money than your pay check comes to.
But what if you really want to do wood working and cannot afford the equipment? Check out the local schools to see if they ever open up their shops to adults in the evening. Ask at stores specializing in wood working equipment if there is a way (perhaps by taking classes) that you can use their equipment. Work out a deal with a friend who does have the equipment.
These same methods work for most hobbies. If you can’t afford a sewing machine, do you have a friend that would help you out in exchange for your doing some sewing for them? If you love water skiing but can’t afford the boat, is there someone that you can go with if you pay for the gas? You all know the saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. We know for a fact that this is very true.
But don’t cut on everything
Some things you can and should save on and some things you can but should not. Changing the oil in your car is one you should not cut back on. We may be unusual as we come from the old-school of car buyers and become attached to our cars.
The most important way that we keep our vehicles running for 10 years and over 200,000 miles is to change the oil every 3,000 miles. Therefore, do not cut back on oil changes. However, you can save money by changing the oil yourself. If you do just average driving of 20,000 miles a year, that is about 6 oil changes. If you pay to have this done at $39.95 each time, this would cost over $240 a year. Changing it yourself with just the oil and a filter (about $20 each time) would cost you only $120 a year. This is a 50% savings on oil changes alone.
Of course, there are other things that need to be done in order to keep your car for 10 years. If you live in snow country, you have to worry about rust. Keeping your car washed every week during the snow months, and paying particular attention to the underside, will keep your car body from rusting out too quickly. Keeping your car clean and waxed will keep a 10 year old car looking like new. Changing the air filter yourself will save money and wear on the engine.
A car can be an expensive investment that only depreciates in value. If you want to live comfortably on a tight budget, it makes sense to take good care of your car and make it last as long as possible.