How NOT to be broke

Yogurt acquired. Now there seem to be lots of schemes floating around on how to save money, but many of them require spending a lot before the meager savings roll in. I know a lot of these apply to home owners only, but there are a couple hints that will help apartments dwellers also.

A good example is the whole trend of replacing major appliances with more energy efficient ones. I am all for energy efficiency, but a brand new, high-end fridge is going to take a long time to pay for itself. If your old one is 30 years old, on the verge of death, and there is some kind of rebate program available, go for it. Just make sure you are thinking clearly about the costs and actual savings, not all brain-dazzled by the shiny new appliance.

When it comes to heating and AC units, depending on what region of the country you live in, this could be a huge deal. But think about what you can do first to save money, such as insulating the home better, painting the roof white, and caulking up drafts. Try these things first as they will help regardless of whether or not you install the new system.

This one works for houses or apartments: New windows on a home help with energy, but they are massively expensive, with little return in the form of savings or resale value on a house. Try getting some heavy duty curtains, or caulking around the window if there are gaps. If you are trying to block out heat, put white facing on the back of the curtains to reflect as much sun as possible, the opposite for cold. You also want to make sure the curtains reach the floor or rest on the window sill. This prevents the cold or hot air from channeling down anyway.

Buying anything brand new is always going to be more than buying something slightly used. However, you want to make sure you have a reputable seller, or a way to protect yourself from buying a lemon. Ebay has protections in place, but Craig’s list does not. Many thrift stores do not allow returns, so I don’t buy big-ticket things from them. Buying from friends can be good, but if something craps out it can be stressful to the relationship. If you are buying a used car from an individual be sure to have it checked out by a mechanic you trust before handing over a dime.

The epitome of these money saving scams is the toothpaste dispenser I saw for sale on TV. The thing is a huge hunk of plastic that sticks to the wall with your normal tube of toothpaste inside it. Then all you do is push your toothbrush against the button and poof! toothpaste comes out. The whole tube gets sucked completely dry.

The thing costs $20, it’s ugly, and it’s clutter. If it’s saving you a dime per tube of toothpaste, you’d have to go through 200 tubes of toothpaste before it’s paid off. That’s around 50 years, assuming one tube of toothpaste for one person lasts 3 months (which is how it is around our house). I have to look at that hideous thing for 50 years before I save any money? Won’t I be using Pepsodent by then anyway? Will toothpaste even still exist then, or will we have magic teeth cleaning lasers?

So to bring it all home, don’t assume something will actually save you any money in the long run. Take a hard look at concrete numbers before forking over a huge wad of cash.

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September 13, 2010. Tags: , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool.

One Comment

  1. forwardenergy replied:

    This is great! I agree completely, if you are not going to make back your investment in a reasonable amount of time don’t buy it.

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