Woo hoo! I've been sharing my ideas for how to save BIG instead of small and soliciting you, the readers, to write back with your great, BIG techniques. Here are five really solid ideas that could help your fellow Big Savers. If one of these strategies works for your or if you have one of your own to share with the group, please write me back here.
C: Here's my tip...I charge my groceries on my charge card to obtain points to buy more groceries , etc. Then when I get home I mail that amount that I paid for groceries to my charge card company. Don, Ontario Canada
A: This is a great tip IF you do not carry a credit card balance. Those who charge their groceries because they cannot afford them any other way are in a terrible position. Don is doing it right by paying that bill right away to make sure it doesn't linger. Some credit card companies give as much as 5 percent cash back for grocery purchases … which can, in turn, help you buy more groceries!
C: I saved $50 a month by doing the "unthinkable" and downgrading from my Blackberry to a standard cell phone. I also decreased my usage plan, so instead of 900 minutes which I barely used anyway, I now have 450 minutes a month. I went from having a $115 a month phone bill and now it's about $65. Lara, Pittsburgh, PA
C: My cell phone costs have been reduced to about $10 a YEAR. How? By using T-mobile's pre-paid plan. I don't make that many cell phone calls, but need one for occasional use and/or emergency calls. Enter T-mobile. They're pre-paid plan has a gold membership. Once you reach $100 dollars of pre-paid minutes, all your minutes last a full year. Then, when you buy just $10 worth, all the minutes roll over for another year. So, now my cell phone cost me about $10 a year. It's great for those that don't talk a lot and just want a cell phone for occasional use. Terry, Flower Mound, TX
A: Most Americans pay for more cell phone service than they actually use and data plans for texting and emailing just make the bill even bigger. For those who would like for other ways to trim their bill –maybe even without giving up the fancy phone—try the website www.FixMyCellBill.com. For $5 the company will analyze your bill and "right-size" your plan, suggesting alternates that would save you money.
C: Anything I can do myself, and not have to pay someone else to do, I do myself. We don't pay a lawn service or a cleaning lady. We do these things ourselves, which is good exercise so we don't have to pay to go to a gym -- a double savings. We used to have a pest control company spray our house four times a year. Nnow we do it ourselves. I cut my husband's hair. I groom our dog instead of sending him to a groomer. We don't buy clothes anymore that have to be drycleaned. I figure our income taxes instead of paying a tax preparer. We wash our cars in the driveway instead of going to a car wash. My husband changes the oil in our cars instead of going to a service station. It is amazing once you start looking for ways to reduce expenses, how many things you can find that you have gotten in the habit of paying others to do, when you can really do them yourself. Sue, Cedar Rapids, IA
A: These are all terrific DIY projects for those who can do them. The only one I worry about is the taxes. For those with simple finances, doing taxes by hand or with a computer program is great. If your finances are complex, maybe not. I just interviewed a woman last week who used a computer program, which told her she owed $5,000 in taxes (she had gotten some of the inputs wrong.) When she went to a human accountant, she learned she would actually be getting a $5,000 refund!
C: Turn off you hot water recirculation pump. Saved me $100 month. Joseph, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
A: I don't even know what a hot water circulation pump IS, but I'm going to find out because that's a $1,200 savings and it sounds painless!