Advice I was given 20 years ago fell on deaf ears. “You got to count your pennies before you count your dollars” I was told by coworker, Bill. If I could recall his last name I would look him up to convey that while it took a while to learn, he was right.
To many of us are focused on “hitting the lottery”, or “getting rich quick”. The reality is that most of us would be better served to focus on the basics of living within our means, saving, investing and getting rich slowly.
Pennies add up over time and if effectively saved and invested can have a significant though maybe not substantial impact on our lifetime wealth equation.
How do we find all the pennies we can? One concept that I have considered is an idea I call Cost Shifting. It occurred to me the other day when I stopped at the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant. When I asked for salt, I was given three packs. I only needed one. Typically, most of us throw out the excess.
How many packs of salt have you thrown out in your life, I wondered? Hundreds for sure. What if we made use of those extra salt packs, how much could we save? Granted we are talking pennies, alone it may not be worth the effort. How many other ways could we use that concept though, and what would the combined effect be?
Could you save even $100 per year if you combined all the little penny pinching opportunities? Using the math provided at EliminateTheMuda and U.S. average savings of 5% we know that a $100 savings is the same as earning another $2000 in income. Would you like a $2000 raise? Saving $100 in expenses has the same effect on your finances.
So, how many ways are there to cost shift (saving your money by using someone else’s)? Here are 8 ideas off the top of my head:
- At restaurants save the extras: Salt, pepper, ketchup, mayo, mustard and napkins.
- When traveling save the extras: Shampoo, lotions, soap, coffee
- Frequent shopping rewards (point programs): Use points to purchase gifts for family and friends.
- Start a book club: Do others that you work with read the same genre as you.
- Read free papers: A suggestion was made in a friends office to put used newspapers in a central location each day enabling many to benefit for one small cost to the office.
- Use online sources: Never before has so much information been available free. OK maybe not free for most. Paying for access or an ISP costs money but are we fully leveraging this cost? For example there are many sites with free e-books online like GetFreeBooks.com
- Online Entertainment: There are more and more sites that are providing video content on the web. Check out sites like Hulu for free TV on the web.
- Online Recycling: Participate in a community effort to recycle and reduce your costs in the process. Sign up for an organization like Freecycle.
Let’s be clear, stealing is wrong. I am by no means advocating that anyone take more than their share, keep only what is offered by companies and friends and where possible share alike!
Do you have more ideas on how to cost shift? Please share by leaving a comment below!