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25 Ways To Cut Household Expenses Now (Part I)
Answers To The Four Big Questions About The April 15 Tax Filing Deadline

25 Ways To Cut Household Expenses Now (Part II)

In my last blog article, I gave you the first 12 of the 25 money-saving tips we recently compiled. Again, I can't take full credit for the 25 tips as most of them came in from my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. If you did not catch my prior article, here is a link to the first 12 money-saving ideas.

13. Promotional Codes

This is a great idea, and something I just learned from researching this article. You've probably purchased something online, and noticed the option of inserting a promotional code for a discount. If you are like me, you probably don't have the promotional code and therefore do not get the discount. There is a very creative solution to this. Through Promotional Codes.com you can search for the product you are about to buy and find an appropriate promotional code to qualify you for a discount. I have not tried this yet, but the person that suggested this idea told me that they use this site very frequently. Seems like an idea at least worth trying. If you have success with this, please let me know.

14.  Negotiate On Everything

I mentioned in my last article the idea of negotiating with your bank and credit card company. What I have been hearing from people, however, is that virtually everything is open for negotiation. I am receiving reports of successful negotiations with the local telephone company, cable company, the list seems endless. The bottom line is that it doesn't hurt to ask for a discount or a better deal. If you don't ask, you're not going to get a break. This includes things we normally don't consider open for negotiation. Many retail stores are now accepting lower prices and haggling for large ticket items such as refrigerators and television sets. Before you pay full price on anything, ask for a better deal. The worst thing that could happen is that you are told no.

15.  Check Out Your Neighborhood Garage Sales

According to Craigslist and other online classified services, the number of ads for garage sales over the past year has doubled. This is probably due to a combination of issues. First, when people are evicted or foreclosed, this is a natural time to have a garage sale before moving. Also, simply due to the economy many people have been forced to raise money by holding garage sales. Garage sales have recently become very popular. In fact, my kids just had a garage sale in our driveway and probably 200 people showed up. I was really surprised at the turnout. The truth is, that people almost give things away at garage sales. It is a good idea at least once a month, to check out a handful of garage sales in your neighborhood. You you will find bargains on a number of household goods, including appliances, lawn equipment, exercise equipment, clothing, you name it. Over the years, I have met dozens of people who have made a business out of buying items at garage sales and reselling them at flea markets and also on eBay. Whether you plan to turn this into a business or not, there is no question that you can save hundreds of dollars per year by doing at least some of your shopping at garage sales.

16.  Check Out Local Storage Auctions

In most states, when a person stops making payments on a storage locker the contents are auctioned off. I happen to have a close relative that earns thousands of dollars per month buying items at storage locker auctions and reselling them. There is nothing very complicated to this at all. Make a list of the storage warehouse businesses in your area, call them up and ask when they have their monthly auction. In many cases, they are also required to post an advertisement in the newspaper notifying the public of these auctions. Probably the easiest way to find out about the auctions, is to call the storage rental warehouses directly. In our area, they have the auctions around the first day of the month. In the coming weeks, I plan to bring a video camera to a storage locker auctions in film it to show you exactly how the process works.

17. Say No To Extended Warranties

I recently bought a new headset at a local office supply store. The grand total of my purchase was $33. I was offered an extended warranty which cost almost $10. Of course, I said no to this. You'd be surprised how many people add these warranties to everything they buy. For years, I have suggested that you simply say no to any extended warranty. In most cases, they are very difficult to collect on and are priced well beyond any benefit they will provide to you. Of course, there are always exceptions. For many years, our family had been going through about one video camera per year. It seemed like no matter what brand we purchased, the camera would break in about 12 to 14 months and we would be told that the cost of repair would be greater than that of buying a new camera. So, in this one instance we decided to start buying a warranty to cover our video cameras. If you have an especially poor track record with a certain item, you may want to consider adding the extended warranty on a case-by-case basis. For the most part though, I have been applying this concept for years and have rarely regretted it.

18.  During This Tax Season, Say No To Rapid Refund Offers

Rapid refund offers are probably one of the worst financial products on the market today. It has been determined by some states that the annualized rate of interest charged on these refund advances is more than 100%! Why certainly understand the excitement that most people have about getting their tax refund, is it really worth paying all this money to get your refund a couple of weeks sooner? Probably the only thing worse than a rapid refund offer, is a payroll advance. In many cases, the same companies that offer payroll advance services also offer rapid refunds. Rapid refunds are a ripoff, plain and simple. You're far better off waiting the extra week or two to get your refund, than to pay these ridiculous fees.

19.  Before Making That Next Major Purchase, Check Out Your Local Pawn Shop

For the very same reasons that there is an explosion and garage sales, and storage rental warehouse auctions, there is a glut of merchandise at most local pawn shops. Whether you need to buy a musical instrument, lawn equipment, electronics, or even a car or motorcycle, a pawn shop can be the place to do so for pennies on the dollar. There is a rapidly growing market, of especially high end items, at pawn shops around the country. I was watching the news recently here in Florida, and saw a story featuring a Palm Beach pawn shop that was selling extremely high end jewelry and artwork for pennies on the dollar. The back story on all of this, was that much of this merchandise was purchased from people who were victims of the Bernard Madoff scam. The bargains are not just limited to high ticket items. It is a good idea to at least stop by your local pawn shop once a month to see what they have in inventory. Whether it is a new computer, a lawnmower, tools, you will find almost anything for sale at your local pawn shop.

20.  Cut Back On Your Water Usage

One of my followers on Twitter suggested the idea of putting a brick in the toilet water tank. There are hundreds of ways to save money on your water bill. This is something that most people just pay each month and don't think twice about. I found this interesting site that has some great ideas on how to save money on your water bill.  I think you'll really enjoy this article, and learn like I did all of the ways that there are to save money on your water bill. If you find a way to save $30 a month, that's $360 a year. These little budget cuts can really add up over the course of a year.

21. Get An Energy Audit

Most utility companies offer a free energy audit. With the summer months coming up, now is the time to consider weatherproofing your home. There is even a tax incentive in the most recent stimulus bill to encourage people to save energy in their homes. Here is an article I was able to find with plenty of good ideas on ways to weatherproof your home.

22.  Check Out The Local Goodwill and Thrift Shop

We have a very large Goodwill store about a mile from our house. I make a point to stop by there at least every couple of weeks. There is a huge variety of used items. I especially enjoy looking through the section of used books. Good financial books never go out of style. I usually find at least one to two books to add to my library and end up spending less than a dollar for each. As I look through the store, I see fantastic deals on furniture, toys, clothing, electronics, and even appliances. Something that few people know about, is that Goodwill as an online auction site.  I have purchased several items from the Goodwill online auction. In one case, we were able to save more than $50 purchasing a special calculator that my son needed for his math class.

23.  Trade Your Paperback Books Online

Paperback swap.com is a site I learned about from one of my Twitter followers. The site matches up people who have books that they want to trade. There is more than 1 million books to choose from and the site appears to be very user-friendly. There is another site for people that want to exchange video games . It looks like the idea of swapping things online is really catching on. I am especially interested in your feedback on this idea of the paper back book exchange. Let me know if you use the service and how it works out for you.

24.  Make Your Own Coffee

This is an idea that many people seem to have already caught on to. Starbucks is closing location after location around the country. But why did we ever end up spending five dollars or more for a cup of coffee? You have my permission to buy a fancy coffee maker, and your favorite gourmet coffee from the grocery store, as long as you make your own coffee at home. For that matter, go ahead and splurge and buy yourself a fancy Thermos so you can bring a coffee with you to work. You can even buy those coffee store type cups with the travel lids so you can have the feeling of a store-bought coffee. When I think about the fact that many people spend $10 or more per day on coffee, I can only quickly do the math in my head and calculate that this comes out to $3600 a year! Even if you need to invest a couple of hundred dollars in your "coffee gear" you are still going to be way ahead of the game on this one.

25.  Keep Careful Track Of Your Bank Balance

Especially in the age of the ATM, it can be easy to lose track of what your exact balance is in your bank account. Banks know this all too well and are ready and waiting to hit you with a $30-$40 fee for a bounced check or an overdraft. I would make it a habit to keep at least a $200-$300 cushion in your account to avoid any overdraft charges. I would also consider establishing a savings account in keeping at least $1000 in it with the agreement that your bank will journal money over if your checking account runs out of money. Over the years and working with families, and reviewing plenty of bank statements, I have regularly seen overdraft charges in the hundreds per year. Banks have become desperate and are doing everything they can to generate fees. It is very easy to end up with an overdraft charge if you don't watch your bank balance like a hawk.

Conclusion

I hope you've enjoyed this two-part series on cutting household expenses. Let's keep the discussion going. Please use the comments section below to share your best money-saving idea. Also, for those using Twitter feel free to post your best money-saving idea followed by #cutexpenses .  By adding this special tag (called a hash tag), we can start a conversation on Twitter and keep all of the results going on one page for easy reference.  Follow the conversation, click here. I appreciate all of the ideas submitted by my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for helping me to put together these two articles.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
Editor-In-Chief ChristianMoney.com 
Follow Me on Twitter Twitter.com/jameslparis
Christian Financial Advice
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