Magazines, newspapers, blogs etc. are habitually putting out advice on how to tighten our belts. The recession has created a global hyper-awareness about where our money is going and how to better manage personal finances. A few tips I’ve taken to heart. I signed up for e-Coupons and CVS rewards benefits, switched to generic brands and bundled my cable. However, nothing drives me crazier than when someone points out how much I spend on my daily latte, and how much I’d save if I just brewed at home. Give up my latte? Mmm, can’t really say it seems worth it to me. I understand that spending the money on a latte means I don’t get to save it, just as I understand that spending $50 on a new skirt means I have $50 less than I did before. Am I breaking the code of being a “Recessionista?” Probably. Call me a Rogue Recessionista, but I want my damn latte. What I’m really aiming to do is to figure out how to save money on things I don’t want to pay for (ie my water bill). While I haven’t quite managed to find a loophole to get out of paying my rent/student loans, I’ve maneuvered a couple of ways to save on a few things that dip into your allotted “happy hour funds.”
1. Organize your Organics
I’m as much on the organics bandwagon as the next person. We all know the benefits of eschewing pesticides from our diets, and the positive ecological impact organic agriculture has on the environment. What has made me stop buying organic, however, is the impact it has on my wallet. Despite the progress organics have made of securing a spot in almost every grocery store, organic produce still costs significantly more than its herbicide-laden counterparts. However, you don’t necessarily need to buy all organic-all-the-time to reap the benefits of a natural diet. Some foods retain pesticides more than others, and the Environmental Working Group has compiled a handy little list of the “Dirty Dozen,” using the USDA’s 2010 statistics on chemical retention so the average person can determine if $2.13 per apple is worth the organic benefits. And it is. Apples, spinach and grapes all make the list (when in doubt, remember that soft skin on produce creates an easy medium to absorb pesticides) while broccoli, bananas and onions are items you can skip the organic label on without risking damage to your central nervous system.
2. Find Cheap Gas
Nothing is worse than driving around, testing fate with the gas light on just to see if you can find a cheaper gas station than the one you just passed (actually, scratch that. The only thing worse is actually running out of gas because you were too stubborn to pay $4.11 per gallon. And having to call your dad to save you). However, I stumbled upon this brilliant website that helps you avoid filling up ¼ of your tank every time you hit empty. Gas Buddy lets you plug in your zip code and find the best price and its location, so you know where to head before you get in the car. The best part? There’s an app for that. The smartphone gods have created a “Gas Buddy” app so you and your backseat driver can navigate to the best gas station when you’ve been too busy rocking out to the newest boy band (they’re making a comeback, I swear) to realize the gas light came on 10 minutes ago.
3. Go to Beauty School
I’m not advocating a career change just to save a few bucks on your monthly trim up. Most beauty schools offer a discounted rate for basic services to let their more advanced students get practice on real subjects. A trim and an eyebrow wax usually run around $18 (plus tip), which is about half of what you would pay elsewhere. Paul Mitchell and Aveda tend to walk their students through every step of the process to avoid major mess-ups (probably the biggest risk with going to a novice studio), but I generally have great experiences with basic procedures. And I can even bring my latte to the appointment. Win-win.
Image from http://blog.intuit.com/money/5-ways-small-businesses-are-saving-money/