YOUR MONEY: Daily savings tips pay off for readersYou came. You saw. You saved. Certainly not everyone hit our goal of "Save $1,000 in 30 Days" — the tip-a-day challenge. But once it wrapped up last week, a number of Sacramento Bee readers opened their wallets to show us how much and where they saved.
By: Claudia Buck, McClatchy Newspapers
You came. You saw. You saved.
Certainly not everyone hit our goal of "Save $1,000 in 30 Days" — the tip-a-day challenge. But once it wrapped up last week, a number of Sacramento Bee readers opened their wallets to show us how much and where they saved.
They followed the tips offered daily by personal finance blogger and author Ramit Sethi, whose book "I Will Teach You to Be Rich" is a how-to manual on money management.
Several said even the simplest ideas — packing your lunch — got them motivated. Others went for bigger bucks — canceling unnecessary subscriptions, getting reductions on their cable bills and car insurance.
Barb Tincher, a programmer for Delta Dental, said she's probably saved $500 to $600 so far, following the daily tips.
Here's how: She canceled two subscriptions "that I never use" — an online radio service and a Web-based dieting plan, which saved a combined $95. She paid $200 extra on her car loan, saving $76 in long-term interest.
She also opened an online savings account — at Dollar Savings Direct — earning 2 percent interest, set up as automatic payments from her bank account. "My money market was almost flat and my checking account is interest-free, so this is a plus," Tincher said.
At work, the habitual restaurant-goer admits she could save "a ton" by packing her own lunch.
"I did take a lunch to the park recently, something I'd never done," the Sacramento resident noted. "It probably cost closer to $3, compared to my usual $7 or $8," she said.
The biggest savings: She booked a free $400 ticket to New Hampshire to visit her 86-year-old mother, using her United Airlines credit-card miles. "I'd forgotten totally about those points until I read (Sethi's) tip online."
Tincher said she's earmarked some additional ways to save, including cutting the cost of her mother's Internet plan. "I looked into it and she's paying twice as much as other providers, so I'll get it changed when I'm there in September." Tincher also wants to try another Sethi-suggested tip: Sell five things on eBay.
Others kept it simple, zeroing in on a single savings tactic:
Lynn Drum said she dropped her every-other-month pest-control service. "I am now killing my own spiders and saving $360 a year," she said in an e-mail.
Drum said she also wants to adopt her own version of Sethi's "No Spend" days.
"I'm trying to decide between 'no-spend' days in the middle of the week (weekends are just impossible) or just allowing myself a set amount each pay period and not touching the rest." Whatever is left over each month, she said, would go into savings or be applied to her car loan.
Patti Riggin, a divorced mother of two in Folsom who recently returned to the work force, said she found the daily tips a refreshing dose of fiscal reality.
"We need to hear positive ways to save and positive ways to understand that saving isn't about fear or deprivation. It's all about doing more with less."
Riggin, who called her car insurance company to get lower rates, said she's passing along many of Sethi's tips to her teenage son. "When I was 17, we didn't have the benefit of this kind of knowledge. Nobody taught us about saving or budgeting and it was very easy to get into debt."
At least one reader found it impossible to find $1,000 in monthly savings.
"For me to save $1,000 in 30 days would require paying for nothing — $1,000 is my total monthly expenses," said Karen Campbell, a Sacramento freelance writer and editor.
In an e-mail, Campbell said she already lives as frugally as possible.
"My A/C comes on only when the outdoor temperature hits 100. Groceries are bought when the items are on sale; meat comes from the clearance bin; coupons whenever I can find one that brings the name brand down to less than the store brand."
She keeps her monthly budget to $1,000 by not owning a car, going to Starbucks "only when someone else is paying" and eating out "maybe once a month, and generally only Carl's or KFC."
It's not easy to live so lean, she said, "but the payoff is on the back end ... (when) my friends are 80 years old and still working to pay rent, I'll have a reverse mortgage and money in the bank."
For Tincher, who already follows a budget at home with her husband, the 30-day savings challenge made her realize there were "a lot more things we could do to save or at least be fiscally happier." In these times, "It's a little peace of mind (that) I'm doing everything we can to be financially secure."
"To see all of Sethi's 30 tips, go to www.sacbee.com/30waystosave
Want more places to find money-saving ideas? Try these Web sites:
—BargainBabe.com — Written by an L.A. blogger, it shares daily savings tips for "savvy spenders."
—DollarStretcher.com — It's not elegant-looking, but the site links to hundreds of money-saving topics, from day care to car care.
—Frugalliving.about.com — Part of the About.com Web site, it's loaded with clear, concise advice on spending wisely.