On first impression, I might not strike you as someone you'd call "frugal" - I have a fondness for scotch and cigars, drive a luxury car, enjoy travelling, etc. - but I'm something of a penny-pincher in other areas of my life, which helps to cover the defray the costs of Cuban robustos and single malt.
I'm always on the look-out for new ways to save money without making sacrifices. So, I'd like to share some of my cost-cutting strategies and would invite you to post yours, as well.
1.) Skype: Although I've only started using Skype recently, I'm absolutely hooked. The best feature by far is the $3/month dial-out service, which covers unlimited calls to anywhere in North America. Based on this, I've been able to trim back my Rogers cell phone plan by another $17, plus tax.Savings: $15 per month x 12 months = $180, or the cost of a very fine dinner for two at AquaTerra.
2.) Insurance: When it comes to car insurance, I like my coverage low and my deductible high. Having a $2,000 deductible vice a $500 deductible saves between $200 and $500 per year - though I am careful to ensure that I do have liability coverage of at last $1M, which actually isn't that expensive.
I'm also careful to read through the cardholder agreement for credit cards, so I know whether they cover additional warranties, car rental insurance, travel insurance, and so on. I've saved at least $700 in hotel and restaurant costs as the result of travel insurance, alone.Savings: $1,200 per year, or a week-long trip to Costa Rica during the low season.
3.) Rewards Points: I'm careful to compare the different Visa cards and the rewards they offer. When I switched to a RBC Avion card from the CIBC Aerogold*, they waived the annual fee and gave me 15,000 travel miles, or a free $350 plane ticket (tax incl). If I put on another $15,000 on my card over the year, that's $700 in free travel.Savings: $700, or three boxes of Cuaba Exclusivos and a bottle of 16 y/o Lagavulin.
4.) Low-Cost Banking: All of my banking is either done at PC Financial (which has no fees) or with institutions where I have the minimum balance to avoid monthly fees. StatsCan says that the average Canadian spends $15 per month on bank fees, or $180 per year.
I also don't allow my credit cards to carry a balance. I've said this before, and I'll say it again - credit card debt is the financial equivalent of a sucking chest wound. It's nature's way of telling you to slow down. I don't even want to think about what average credit card debt is, but I've seen estimates of around $2200 per person, which sounds about right to me. That's around $400 per year, just in interest.Savings: $580, or enough to purchase sufficient premium gasoline for 5,400 km in an SUV.
5.) Brown-bag Lunch: Before I worked from home, I was one of the few people in my office to bring a lunch with me. Even those who did bring a lunch usually brought some sort of frozen dinner. I'd estimate that the price difference between a cafeteria and a brown-bag lunch is around $6 per meal. It doesn't take long before that starts to ad up in a big way.Savings: For an employee who eats at the cafeteria every day for 49 weeks a year, you're looking at an annual cost of $1470, or 80 pounds of gourmet, fair trade, shade-grown coffee.
Okay, your turn...
*For a while, I quite liked CIBC Aerogold - then Aeroplan waited four months to inform me that my reward flight had been cancelled, thereby causing me to lose my hotel deposit. When I confronted them about this, they told me to pound salt. When I explained my situation to RBC, they very kindly offered to waive my first annual fee and
give me the points for joining.
My favorite part was when I cancelled the CIBC card and they - quite naturally - asked why. At the end of my tirade, all they could say was, "Oh, I see."
Labels: cigars, frugal, money, saving, scotch, travelling