Thursday, August 8, 2013

Three Easy Ways to Save Money

I hope I'm never that rich.

I recently heard about two silly things: a $120 t-shirt and a $999.99 iPhone app. The shirt just has Kanye's name on it, and the app just flashes the words "I am rich." If only it were always that easy to see that you were being overcharged. 


I think there really is only one way to figure out if you're overpaying for something. Ask yourself, "Can you get it cheaper?" If the answer is "yes," then, SURPRISE, you're overpaying. This can get really tedious though, and you don't want to get caught up thinking about whether or not you could have saved $0.50 if you went to Target instead of Giant for that package of cream cheese. Here are some habits that ensure that you will save money, so you don't always have to ask yourself that question. 


#1: Buy in bulk. 

This is more difficult for college students who live on campus, but it's not really applicable for them anyway because they're probably living on a dining plan. For people living in houses with three or four other roommates, know that buying non-perishable items in bulk really does save you money in the long run. 

#2: Buy the store brand. 

With a few exceptions, the store brand is always cheaper than the name brand, and there really isn't a significant (or noticeable) difference in quality between the two. I've had some bad experiences with store brand food (I got store brand crackers once and they tasted like sandpaper). Along the same lines, buy generics drugs because there is literally no difference as far as effect goes (see source). 

#3: Get a store card. 

People usually advise against this, but there are store cards that don't charge a fee, but provide good benefits anyway. For example: the Target REDcard® (the debit card version, not the credit card version). You get 5% off every purchase, and there's no fee involved. It's super awesome, but only if you go to Target all the time. 

Bottom line: think about the big picture. It's cool if you clip a coupon and save $2.00 on toothpaste that one time, but if you are already overpaying for a super fancy name brand item anyway, are you really saving? The key is to establish long-term habits that are really easy to remember. 

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What do you do to save? Let me know in the comments. 

As always, contact me with questions or suggestions! You can either comment directly on the post or send me an email to moneymattersjoan@gmail.com. 

Photo credit: Screenshot from wikipedia page. 

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