Things are getting better all the time, but it never hurts to get back a buck on your house, your car, your dinner, or your wardrobe. Here are some essential tricks of the everyday financial trade from a helpful new guide, The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager.
(PLUS: Enter now to win $250,000 and change your life with Esquire.)
1. BYOB (Be Your Own Butcher)
Learning to cut up a whole chicken, clean your own fish and grind your own hamburger will save you big money - and it's kind of fun.
(Don't know which meat to buy or how to cook it? Here are some suggestions for great, inexpensive steaks.)
2. Cut Your Commute
Move close enough to your office to walk or bike. You'll save $4,000 per year, which adds up to $535,500 when invested at 5 percent over a typical forty-year career.
3. Spend Less Than Your Age
A few decades ago "earning your age" ($30,000 by thirty, $40,000 by forty, and so forth) was the gold standard for measuring success. Inflation made it obsolete, but here's a new gold standard: you should spend less than your age. That's in sharp contrast to so many young people who rack up credit card charges as if they're already middle-aged, and then rely on Mom and Dad to bail them out.
(Here are some tips for saving money at every age.)
4. Schedule Contractors Off-Season
Good timing can save big money. Tree services, landscapers, and exterior home repair contractors are often hurting for work in the wintertime. Schedule interior jobs in the spring and summer. You can save up to 30 percent.
5. Insulate Everything
Beefing up insulation in walls, attics, crawl spaces, and elsewhere in your home (including around your hot water heater) can save you 50 percent on your heating bill.
6. Avoid Extended (Dis)service Plans
Extended warranties for consumer electronics and appliances are great deals - for the store selling them (and the salesperson who makes a refrigerator-sized commission). These can constitute half of a store's profits, but don't pay off for the vast majority of consumers who buy them.
7. Eat Leftovers
Approximately 25 percent of all food purchased by Americans goes to waste, but home canning and pickling are experiencing a resurgence. Sales of canning jars and supplies are up 30 percent; you can pickle cucumbers, eggs, green tomatoes, garlic, beets, and more.
8. Get Some Shade
As few as three strategically planted trees in your yard can lower your heating and cooling costs by 25 percent. Also, you can score free or cheap mulch from the local highway department or landfill.
(Haven't gone green? Here are five easy ways to do it.)
(And here: 20 things you should never recycle.)
9. Buy Cheap Meds
Warehouse clubs can't require you to be a member in order to buy prescription drugs (nor to purchase eyeglasses or booze). The average American over thirty would save $125-$250 per year.
10. Dine Out in the Daytime
Lunch menus are usually 30 to 50 percent less expensive than dinner fare.
(Want a suggestion? Check out one of our favorite new restaurants in America.)
11. Stretch Your Charitable Donation
Many employers will match your charitable gifts, dollar for dollar up to a specified limit. Share the wealth.
MORE FROM ESQUIRE:
What I've Learned: Secrets of the Super-Rich
The Best (and Worst) Fast Food in America
Money-Saving Advice from Celebrities
How to Get the Most Out of $1,000 Right Now
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