The ABCs of Saving Money will appear throughout 2010.
One of my problems with cash is that when I have it in my wallet, it gets spent, and quickly. It’s easier to spend small amounts when you have cash (â‚¬1.05 for a baguette here, â‚¬3.50 for a sandwich there) and because there is no electronic record kept like with a debit card payment, I have a hard time seeing where it went. I know that for many people, paying in cash makes saving money easier, but it just doesn’t work for me.
Being organized makes it easier to save money. If you stock up on a good deal, but then forget where you put those bars of soap, you will have to buy more and sooner. Physical clutter makes it harder to keep track of things like bills, creating stress and anxiety. And we all know that when you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s hard to keep up good habits- like not treating shopping as the cure to all emotional woes!
Credit Cards v Charge Cards
There are differing opinions in the personal finance community as to the usefullness of credit cards. The first implies that credit cards are the root of all evil and should be avoided at all costs. The second camp believes that they are a useful tool and serve their purpose well, when used wisely (and paid off immediately). I agree with both.
I think that if you have the wrong sort of habits (ie a certain lack of self-control), then credit cards will just get you into trouble. I fall into this camp. On the other hand, credit cards can be very useful for reward schemes. My father travels a lot for business and by using his credit cards for most purchases, he maximizes the reward points enough to have (a certain number of) free plane tickets each year.
I use charge cards for everything. The money is taken directly out of my bank account and I have an electronic (and paper) record of the transaction. This is what I have found to work best for me.
I don’t use coupons very often, as France does not have a strong coupon culture. Even when I lived in the US I didn’t use them much, because most store brands and farmers’ markets don’t accept them. That said, shopping with coupons is a very successful way for many people to save lots of money.
One of the things that I love about living in our new apartment is that we are much closer to the center of town, the tramline and my oldest son’s school (hopefully, where my next two children will go as well). While we still own two cars, I am able to go many more places on foot or by public transportation. This saves on gas (now at about $6.75 per gallon, if my calculations are correct) and wear and tear on my car. I don’t forsee selling my car in the near future as it’s a good little car (10 years old, with only about 50,000 miles on it), but I’d love to be able to use it even less.
What’s the C in the ABCs of Saving Money for you?