Greetings from hot and balmy Florida. We’re getting ready to head off to a reunion with college friends for a week, but wanted to share some fun ways to save a few bucks first. Most of us worked hard for our money, and want to be intentional about how we spend it. This post is not about “what” you should spend your money on, or why you should save instead of spending. That would be ridiculous, because we’re all different and each have our own goals and priorities. We should spend our money on whatever matters to each of us. Some expenses/costs are nearly universal in our modern lives, so we might as well minimize those costs. With that in mind, below are three ways the Income Surfer family tries to maintain our frugal ways.
Shop around, before and after the sale– The internet has made it much easier to shop around, obviously. Long gone are the days of looking up businesses in the phone book, and placing a dozen calls trying to get the best price. I chuckle about this each year, when our local phone company delivers a new phone book. What a waste of paper! Anyway, we recently needed a new set of tires for our Accord. I poked around and surprisingly found the best price at the local Honda dealer. It was so much cheaper than the typical tire places that most said their price match guarantee didn’t even apply. Anyway, I went in and had the tires installed….. in this case 85,000 mile Yokohama tires. A few days later it occurred to me that I had forgotten to check Yokohama’s website for rebates. Sure enough, there was a $60 mail in rebated on the tires we had purchased. I scanned the receipt, and filled in our contact information. About a month later we received the rebate. That rebate was the icing on the cake, of an already good deal.
The great thing about this concept, is you can apply it to anything. Auto insurance, sure check a couple websites and then ask Progressive and AAA for a quote. At that point you can make an informed decision and feel confident you know how much you should be paying. The same goes for hotels, airplane flights, etc.
Check forums or other discussion boards- Knowledge is power, and the internet provides more than it’s fair share of power to us mere mortals. With a few minutes on Google, you can be well on your way to making an informed decision. Case in point, my father needed an expensive repair on his Toyota pickup. About $2,000 worth of expensive. This wasn’t what you’d expect from an otherwise reliable truck after only 100k miles. Anyway, the issue made the vehicle unsafe until it was repaired…..so he went ahead and paid for the repair. A couple days later he was telling me how disappointed he was in the issue. Having a little bit of mechanical knowledge, I thought it was odd to need such a repair so soon. I suggested he check out the online forums and see if this was a common issue on his model of truck. Sure enough, it was a fairly common issue for a few model years. What’s more, Toyota had owned up the defect and the repair was completely covered by Toyota. A quick call to Toyota corporate got the ball rolling, and a few weeks after he submitted the receipt, he received a check completely covering the repair. My point is, we never would have known if he hadn’t spent 15 minutes poking around the online discussion boards.
Always ask if there are any specials or discounts running- Whether you’re booking a hotel, repairing a car, or purchasing a service….. it always pays to research if the company is running any specials. It also pays to ask at the time of purchase. A few times I’ve had better pricing at the time of transaction than the website indicated, because I specifically asked and the website had not yet been updated. Sometimes the discount is for AAA members, or veterans, or based on the day of the week. Sometimes a particularly nice employee will even tell you that the item or service will be going on sale in a couple days, which is great if you don’t need to purchase today. Anyway, my point is that you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
With those ideas in mind, we wish you a great August. We’ll be around the site and twitter quite a bit, but most of the time we’ll be out enjoying life. Below are three interesting articles I wanted to share. I hope they are thought provoking to you as well.
What are your favorite money saving ideas?
Regulated utilities don’t typically exhibit much growth, but they have found a new way to adapt to the modern world. In years past the typical regulated utility may have contracted to purchase a certain amount of power from a given renewable power project. Now, they are increasingly purchasing the projects themselves. The article above details the reasons why, but it seems like a good way for the companies to squeeze out a little more margin….with minimal risk. Another benefit of being a regulated utility and passing on any and all fees to the consumers. Of course in our corrupt state of Florida, the utilities start charging consumers before they even come online……..
It strikes me that E-commerce pendulum may have swung too far when a company like Hershey spends an inordinate amount of time and money on their online sales strategy. Management also spent a great deal of the recent conference call discussing E-commerce. This strikes me as very odd, and has me wondering if we will look back on this as a “pets.com” type of moment. Some products don’t lend themselves to online sales, and I think that’s ok. I would expect most candy bar purchases are impulse buys, or else intended for cooking in the very near future. If I am hungry for a candy bar right now, why would I purchase one online and wait for delivery. Even if Amazon delivers by drone the same day……it’s still too late. I want my candy bar now!
It has often been said that the “last mile” is the toughest part of the logistics for online sales delivery. With that in mind, I am sure that Amazon’s new locker system has it’s place. My question is what that place is. It might make sense at high density office complexes, or apartment complexes, but I will be curious to see what other locations work long term. One of the best things about Amazon, is the company’s willingness to tweak/pivot it’s strategy along the way. The reason this article caught my attention, is because a gas station near us just installed a huge block of lockers. A gas station?! I’ll be curious how well utilized the gas stations lockers are.