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Save $50 a Day and Feel No Pain? Hmm…I dunno about that.

by J. Money on Monday, February 23, 2009

Kiplinger's Mag Cover StoryAs many of you know, I’m a huge magazine addict (i like all the pretty pictures). So it’s no surprise that I devour about 4-5 personal finance magazines every month, all of which excite me.

Every now and then though, I come across some “advice” that I personally have a hard time agreeing with. The cover story – “Save $50 a Day (and Feel No Pain)” – in this month’s Kiplinger’s Mag (March) being one of them.

Now, before I get into it, keep 2 things in mind. 1) My opinion is certainly biased, and 2) I still think Kiplinger’s is a kick a$$ mag (although not my favorite – that would be Money Mag). That being said, not everything you do to “save $50/day” is necessarily going to be smart, and I’m feeling feisty enough today to explain why ;) But because I’m also a lover, I’ll also share the tips that I happen to agree with as well…but let’s start w/ the bad ones first:

The 3 Tips I hated:

  1. Boost The Deductibles on your Insurance: “Increasing the deductibles on your comprehensive and collision coverage from $500 to $1,000, or even $2,500, can reduce your premiums by 12% to 18%” possibly saving you $648/year. You mean to tell me every time you cause a car accident you’d be willing to spend $2,500 to get it taken care of? NO. WAY. IN. HELL. That’s like saying you can go 4 full years w/out incident – no siree Bob, not for me.
  2. Cut Your Commute One Day a Week: “If you reduce your driving time by one day per week by telecommuting or carpooling, you’ll drive 3,120 fewer miles per year.” Yes, and you’ll also be on the top of the list when it comes time to downsize! Of course, this is totally based on your employer and given situation, but during times like this I wouldn’t risk it. If you wanna save on driving, then I’d suggest going w/ the carpooling idea :)
  3. Ditch the Old Fridge: And pick up a brand new one to save energy costs (they recommend a Figidaire 18.2-cubic-foot model for $750)! So you want me to spend $700+ so I can save $100 a year? No thanks. My current fridge is doing just fine and I’m not about to trash it for a newer version. Now if I *needed* a new one, then yeah i’m open to the suggestions, but how many people reading this mag will be in the market for one? (Not many)

The 3 Tips that made me ponder:

  1. Cut Your Hair Off! haha…yes, I suppose this would indeed save you some bucks, but good luck convincing the laides of this! For men, Kiplinger’s suggest using the Hair Cuttery at $15 a pop (I used to go there all the time before I got the Mrs. to do the dirty work), and for women they brought up beauty schools like Paul Mitchell’s for around $50 instead of $90. I’ve heard both excellent and horrible experiences using stylists in the making.
  2. Travel Last-Minute: They say you can save around $500 a year by using sites like Lastminute.com. Pretty sexy in theory, but most people like to plan for this sorta stuff – at least the big vacays. I’d be up for giving it a shot for quick getaways though.
  3. Buy a Fuel-Efficient Car: This may or may not belong in this category depending on what your idea of “fuel-efficient” is. If we’re talking about Hybrids, there’s a good chance you won’t make up the difference in what you spend vs. what you pay at the pump. But going w/great efficient cars in general is totally a good call on your part.

The 5 Things that made me cry with joy!

  1. Eat at The Bar! Yup, apparently you can get the same food at a fraction of the price by dining at the bar instead of the normal dining area. I wouldn’t wanna do it all the time, esp. if i’m in a fancy place to enjoy the atmosphere and good talk w/ some friends, but I’d totally do it when in need of a quick bite. In Kiplinger’s test over at the Cheesecake Factory, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Morton’s Steakhouse, they were able to cut the bill in half.
  2. Swap Sitting Services: Get your friends to watch your kids once a month while you and your lover go out on a date! Then, do the same for them each month and save yourself about $40 from not using baby-sitters. Don’t have kids at the moment, but this sounds like a most wonderful idea :) Any of you all do that already?
  3. Pick up Generic Medications Over Brand-Name: They say the average person can save up to $797/year by doing this. I don’t take much meds myself, but I can see how it would add up like that. And actually, I’d throw in ordering your meds via mail too! A lot of health insurances allow you to order 3 months at a time too – cutting your bill down by at least a 3rd in most cases.
  4. Rent Cars Off-Site (and fill up your own gas): You can grab a better deal by not renting them at airports or hotels, as well as topping up the gas yourself before dropping it off and paying their insane rates. Of course, the money you’d be saving for convenience might not be worth it depending on how much time and stress you have going on at the time ;)
  5. Install a smart thermostat: This allows you to program the temperature yourself and allowing it to go on autopilot. A lot of newer houses already come with this, but if not I’d totally recommend picking one up as it can save up to $180/year. And you can probably find them for way cheaper than that too, so you’d make up the money in no time. The tricky part is determining the degree to set it at where everyone in the house is happy ;) Our magical number is 72 in the winter, and 75 in the summer.

So yeah, I actually agreed with more of what was on their list than originally thought when I started this post ;) But I suppose that’s a good thing, right? Just keep in mind, however, that what works for one person may not work for the next. So as long as you’ve got that straight, get out there and start working the system!


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