3. Buy in Bulk
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Initially, buying in large quantities when you're on a tight budget may seem counterintuitive. But there are things you’re always going to need that never expire.
For instance, it’s doubtful you’ll ever stop using toilet paper (we hope). Same goes for other non-perishable items, like soap, water, shaving cream, etc. These are items where buying in bulk actually makes a lot of sense, because you’re going to use the stuff sooner or later – why not just buy them at a reduced per-item price?
Don't let the sticker shock deter you -- do the math. It'll soon become clear that buying 30 disposable razors at Costco is actually a lot cheaper than buying them in packs of 4 elsewhere. The key is to remember that these are things you're going to use sooner or later, and that the money is going to come out of your wallet either in one large chunk or in several, ultimately larger, chunks. So take the hit now and you'll be thanking yourself later.
2. Craigslist is Your Friend
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I cannot over-emphasize the importance of mastering the art of Craigslist. The impact it will have on your wallet is simply massive.
For instance, let’s say you’ve managed to drop your cell phone in the toilet. It’s a paper weight now. So what do you do now? Buy a new cell phone at AT&T for full price and get forced into another two year contract? Hell no.
You jump on Craigslist, find a used phone for 30 bucks, throw your SIM card in it, and you’re on your way. Speaking of which -- if you’re one of the many people who’ve accumulated a pile of old cellphones -- instead of throwing them away, snap a photo of each one and post them on Craigslist. It’s free and twenty dollar bill is always more useful than a redundant cell phone collecting dust in your junk drawer. That goes for pretty much anything of value that you no longer use. Craigslist is free, so there's no reason not to list things you no longer have a need for.
Another nice feature of Craiglist, since most people loathe the idea of haggling, is that you can score crazy deals on things simply by utilizing the old axiom of supply and demand.
When you contact someone about a post and you’ve established that the post is legit and the item is what you want, name your price and say you’ll buy it today. Cash always talks. Make sure to meet in a public place (or at the seller’s home if it’s something that needs to be tested out beforehand) to minimize the dodginess of the whole transaction.
As with any purchase, “buyer beware” is paramount, but when you’re sitting at home with a perfectly awesome PS3 for half the price you’ve paid at Best Buy, you’ll quickly realize that a little bit of effort goes a long way when it comes to bargain hunting.
1. Do It Yourself
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Embracing a DIY ethic is the truest test of your ambition to save money. but if you want to jam econo, why pay people to do things you’re capable of doing on your own for free?
This is especially applicable to vehicle maintenance. In nearly every automotive repair, the bulk of the cost is the labor charge for installation (usually between $65-100 an hour).
If you’re feeling confident and you have a decent set of tools, get yourself a shop manual and start doing the work yourself. If you’re less confident about your skills as a mechanic but well aware of what parts a mechanic would need to fix your car, you can avoid the shop markup by simply going to Kragen or Pep Boys, buying the parts yourself, and having the shop install them for you.
Now that you’re feeling pretty handy, you can fix that dead computer of yours, get the faucet to stop dripping and finally fill that cavity. Now you’re a regular spendthrift!
Did we miss anything? Leave your favorite cost-cutting tips in the comments!