Spending Filters – How I Save Money On Just About Everything

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A few new financial concepts and practices are being ushered into the Jabs household as of late.  Today I will briefly touch on a few of these but will be focusing on laying out several nifty little tricks that help save me money on just about everything.  I use these nuggets of wisdom every time I even think about spending money.  The good news is… these “spending filters” as I call them, are completely free and can be used by anyone that wishes to start saving money… and they can be used right away!

What are Spending Filters?

A spending filter is a concept or idea that can be employed in various ways to help save you money in almost any spending circumstance.

For me, any decision that involves spending money is run through at least one of these filters – usually several.  You can employ different filters for different situations at different times.  What you are purchasing is not nearly as important as how you are purchasing it.

Spending Filters I use on a daily basis

  • Do I need it? – Ask yourself… “Would proceeding with this purchase be a good exercise in stewardship, and a proper use of the money God has blessed me with?”  Stop to consider needs vs. wants.  Sounds simple right?  But are you actually using this age-old, tried and true method before opening your wallet?  Taking a few seconds to deliberate with yourself on this matter may very well be your best bet to saving money.  Yes you will have to sacrifice a few wants from time to time… but if you are reading this post chances are that is EXACTLY what you need to do.
  • Ask for a discount – I do it everywhere I go, every time I buy.  It use to embarrass my wife, but after watching me get discount after discount she finally jumped on board the “ask-train” and tries it herself when she can muster up the courage.  This “filter” is easier for the extrovert, but can just as easily be employed by the introvert if they just live outside the box for a minute or two.  A related technique I employ that will yield similar results is the art of negotiating price.
  • Consider alternative products/services – This is a broad filter and can cover anything from buying store-brand items to deciding to scale down a home project.  Next time you are grocery shopping, skip the name brand products in favor of a few store brand options… chances are you’ll never notice the difference.  Is the purchase you are about to make necessary?  Is it the best purchase you can make for your situation?  Consider your needs, make sure to do some research on alternative options, then adjust your purchasing decisions accordingly.
  • Compare prices- Just yesterday I needed to scan a 5 page document into digital format.  I did not have the means to do this at work so I began calling around for prices.  Instead of just picking the first store I thought of — FedEx Kinko’s — I kept digging for a better deal.
    1. Kinko’s = $0.99/page
    2. OfficeMax = $0.25/page
    3. My sister’s office next door = $0.00/page

    In the end I chose option number three and saved as much as $5.  Not too shabby eh?

  • Be productive instead of spending – Next time your friends are going out to overindulge in whatever… take a rain check and choose to go home and work on your goals and passions.  Sure, going out to eat with friends is fun, but sometimes it can be a waste of both time and money.  This determination will be unique for each of us, but once we clearly define “time well spent” it will be a powerful agent for change in our financial lives.  This concept will help save you money, accomplish more, and achieve goals more quickly.
  • Use a spending ledger – Simple record keeping fosters personal accountability that simply does not exist otherwise.  Going through the exercise of tracking every purchase will instantly help you curb extraneous spending. This is one of our newly adopted  financial practices that I mentioned above.  It all started by keeping a grocery ledger and has now morphed into spending ledgers for both me and my wife.  We continue to keep a grocery ledger — and most likely always will — but now each of us keeps a personal ledger that we use to track any personal spending that does not already have a fixed monthly amount in our budget.  For example, we track daily spending for gas, misc., irregular expenses, variable expenses and anything else that could cause an unforeseen “spending leak.”

Sound overwhelming?

Start by using just a couple of these filters.  I recommend you start with the first and the last bullet points — successfully implementing these into your life will help breed the others into existence.

Also remember that not all of these example are going to be a perfect fit for everyone in every situation, so take them and make them your own.  Just remember…

Thinking through each purchase WILL save you a lot of money.

photo credit to adamadam

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