Each summer, AARP Bulletin publishes a “99 Great Ways to Save” article with money-saving ideas. As a financial educator who has taught budgeting and frugal living for decades, I often find these lists full of strategies that I already know such as:
- Traveling with an empty water bottle to fill beyond TSA checkpoints, visiting National Parks during fee-free days, staying aware of online travel alerts, making reservations during your city’s “restaurant week,” telecommuting when allowed by your employer, and booking airline travel within flexible dates.
- Cutting utilities by keeping refrigerator settings slightly below 40 degrees, insulating hot-water pipes, washing clothes in warm (not hot) water, sealing windows, fixing leaky toilets, and installing LED light bulbs.
- Saving in general by utilizing senior discounts, noting seasonal sales, clipping digital coupons and promo codes, reviewing medical bills for errors, raising insurance deductibles, downloading shopping apps, bundling property insurance, bartering where possible, growing produce and flowers in a home garden, and drinking home/office coffee.
- Banking efficiently with cash-back and low-interest credit cards, setting up automatic bill payment, and prepaying your mortgage principal.
Nevertheless, I also continue to find money savings tips that are new to me. I call them my “Who Knews?”
Below is a list of 10 “Who Knews?” from the last few “99 Great Ways to Save” lists. If these money-saving tips are new to me, they might also be for you, too, helping you cut costs over time.
Ink Jet Cartridge Fix
Printer cartridges may still have ink in them but it could be blocked by dried-up ink. Take out the cartridge, heat it with a hair dryer, and gently shake it to see if any remaining ink can be saved.
Ink-Conserving Printer Fonts
Select light versions of fonts before printing out documents. In addition, Times New Roman uses less ink than Arial and Calibri because the font’s letters are thinner. Over time, this adds up.
Car Oil Change Sensors
On many newer cars, it is best to wait for sensors to notify you when oil needs changing instead of changing still-good oil at a predetermined number of miles such as 3,000, 5,000, or longer.
Discounted Gift Cards
There are a number of websites that buy back unused gift cards and sell them at a discount from their face value. Be sure to check the site’s fine print about shipping costs and possible online use only.
Generic Pet Medications
Pet owners can search online for sources of generic alternatives to popular “name brand” medications to keep their pets healthy (e.g., protect against heart worms and treat arthritic pain).
If it makes financial sense and only if your doctor agrees, consider splitting a double-strength prescription medication in half (to create two single doses) so it lasts longer (e.g., 180 days instead of 90 days).
Online Comparison Shopping
AARP recommended an app called ShopSavvy. Simply go to a store, scan the barcode of an item that you are interested in buying, and the app will tell you if it is being sold elsewhere for less.
Cell Phone Data Pruning
The objective here is to turn off cell apps that use data even when you are not using them. Go to your smartphone’s Settings to toggle off apps you rarely use.
Gas Purchase Timing
Monday is the cheapest day to buy gas in most states and Friday is the worst, according to a study conducted by the savings app GasBuddy. Depending on where you live and how much you drive, savings on cheaper gas can add up.
Non-Member Warehouse Club Discounts
The AARP article noted that certain products (e.g., prescription drugs and alcohol) and services (e.g., hearing tests) are available to non-members of Sam’s Club and/or Costco. In addition, non-members can make purchases at Costco if they have a gift card.
The Bottom Line
Think of all of the above suggestions as a “Diner Menu” from which you can pick a meal.
In other words, select those money-savings strategies that are relevant for you and your lifestyle.
Next, identify the potential savings from the strategies that you select using the CFPB worksheetCutting Expenses.