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Okay, I know, right--it's waaaay past 30 days since this thing started. That is NOT my fault as Ramit just posted the last tip today. So I didn't fall behind. ;-P

Quick summary of the first ten tips. I usually pack my lunch. I've kept my heater off until today (although part of that was involuntary!). I sold all three items I wanted to sell on Craigslist for the prices I wanted. I talked to people about my challenge. I got rid of the insurance on my cell phone, since when I got my new cell phone I found that if I hadn't paid for insurance, I would break even. I don't really drive enough to use Tip #6, and I totally ignored my 'No-Spending Day.' However there are many days where I don't spend anything. I cancelled Proactiv to save Mom money and donated clothes to Goodwill. The biggest money saver, which admittedly I had started at the beginning of grad school, was to use the rewards points on my credit card to pay for most of my ticket home for winter break. (Although I had to fly on stupid US Airways.)

Total savings from the first ten tips: $584.25

Let's continue, shall we?

Tip 11: Never pay full retail price for clothes (or eyeglasses) again
Well, the tip came too late for my eyeglasses. For clothes, the tip mentions retail stores like Ross, which I haven't been to in a while, and Target. I should definitely utilize Ross more--the three things I found there I love and wear all the time. He also highly recommends buying clothes online. I KNOW I can return them but I'm just uneasy about buying something I haven't tried on because many things don't fit me. I have some clothes alert emails coming into my inbox, to keep the idea in the front of my mind.
Estimated savings: Nothing yet.

Tip 12: How I'm saving $2000+ on eating out in 2009
This is mostly about restaurants.com and the Entertainment Book. I don't eat out enough, or at the right restaurants, to use either. These would just make me spend more to save more.
Estimated savings: $25 for the book, $10 for the certificate, to NOT buy them

Tip 13: How to negotiate your car insurance
This is something that is on my to-do list for the next couple of weeks. I already have a lot of discounts. However, my yearly mileage is actually less than what it's currently listed, so I'm wondering if that makes a difference. I've also heard that auto insurance companies sometimes offer discounts for professional affiliations, or if you point out that you don't drive your car to and from work every day (which I don't). Finally, I noticed 'Roadside Assistance' on my bill, which I don't need since I have AAA, and 'Car Rental', which offers me a rental while my car is in the shop. I don't drive enough to need this.
Estimated savings: $19, possibly more with discounts

Tip 14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you've saved so far
This tip is mostly about taking Ramit's survey. So I did. But I don't think it saved me any money.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 15: Forget going to a bar -- ask people over for dinner
Hmmm. This tip is supposed to replace going out to dinner, which again, I don't do too much. But maybe I (we, since anything social I do, Christine gets roped into ;-) ) should plan a get-together dinner at our apt this quarter. Hmm.
Estimated savings: $0, but fun!

Tip 16: Cancel any large purchase this month
I don't buy large purchases. Except plane tickets.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 17: Buy generic for the stuff you don’t care about
I do this some by buying Ralph's brand, but there are lots of other things I bet I could switch to generic on. Next time I go to the grocery store, I'll experiment with more generic products.
Estimated savings: $10?

Tip 18: No Christmas gifts this year
Um. No. Sorry, but I LOVE giving Christmas gifts. It's the one time a year when you get a gift for everyone who's important to you. Yeah, I know Christmas is not supposed to be about consumerism, but that's not the point for me--the point is picking out something I know will make my loved one's eyes light up. If it costs $5, cool. If it costs $100, I'm okay with that, because this is something where cost doesn't matter to me. As Ramit says, "money is a very small part of the holidays", and it's one that I don't worry about.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour
This is another tip advocating buying clothes online. I actually signed up for the Shop-it-to-me site that the guest author recommends. This is actually really cool because you sign up for the brands you like, your size, and how much you'll willing to pay. And it sends you an email every week with clothes that are on sale. The problem for me? I don't know what brands I like or my sizes! Maybe I should just buy a selection, try them and see if they work, and return them if they don't for no charge. Maybe I will do this someday, but for now I a) don't need to and b) don't have time to. Other sites recommended are Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, which I used to find a couple Christmas gift bags this year. There's also a site for pet-owners. Anyway, I haven't saved any money yet with this tip. I may have to buy a new dress or two in the future, in which case Shop It To Me might come in handy. Until then ...
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 20: Change the date of Christmas
Unfortunately my break is designed around Christmas, so moving it up a week isn't really too feasible. I suppose you could do this on the weekend to make sure adults have off work and kids have off school. But I don't think it would really save me money. There are just as many sales before Christmas as after, so buying presents afterwards doesn't really count either.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt
I am definitely doing this! Ever since I got my car, I paid $10 more than the monthly minimum. Just $10? How much more could I put towards it? Last quarter, I upped that by $200. This means that instead of paying off my car in 2013, I'm projecting to pay it off exactly two years earlier, in 2011. And that's if I continue on my current budget and don't get any raises (which I will) and up the payment (which I will).

On the other side, I'm not paying anything towards my student loans--BUT, the car loan has the highest interest rate, and the student loans are deferred. It makes more sense to pay off the highest interest loan first, and fastest.

Using a calculator, I find that just with the $200/month higher payment, I'll save about $2000 in interest.
Estimated savings: that's $60 per month!

Tip 22: Analyze your progress in the 30 Day Challenge
Well, that's what I'm doing.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 23: Go cash only for 15 to 30 days
Ramit makes good points about how giving up cash when you make a purchase causes you to reevaluate it, like you might not if you use a credit card. I can see this in my budget--OVERALL, I'm within my budget, but in some categories (travel, food) I'm WAY over. It's easier to go over if I don't have a set amount of cash for each category.

However, my budget is based on yearly averages--meaning that as long as it averages out over the year, I've met my goals. (For instance, my 'Supplies' category is VERY over budget--but I put Christmas gifts in that category. Averaged over the year, I'll be in budget, no problem.)

Plus, the tip about using credit card rewards far outweighs what I might save by using just cash. I think I'll stick to using my credit card, paying it in full every month, and asking Christine if I really want that new shirt. ;-)
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 24: Cut your commute expenses by 40%
Although I have a car, it is MUCH cheaper to spend $22.50 on the bus per quarter than to pay for the gas and parking fees of driving to work each day. I save probably around $400 a quarter by bussing. The other part of this tip is to work from home once or twice a week, aka telecommute. As a grad student, my time is mostly my own--there are meetings, and classes, but no one comes looking for me to make sure I'm in my chair from 8-5. (Although almost always, I am.) I see this tip as being very useful in the future--in a few years, when I am writing my dissertation, writing from home will be much preferable to writing at school. Until then, I don't see this as being viable. Oh, plus, it wouldn't save me that much money.
Estimated savings: $63/month permit, plus ~$50/month gas, saved by not driving

Tip 25: Earn more money using your God-given skills
This is one of the hardest tips for me to implement, but one I KNOW I could. Instead of 'O'ptimizing spending or 'C'utting costs, this focuses on the 'E' of the CEO model: 'E'arn more money. In particular, I know I could be a tutor. But I start to think, 'do I have time for this?' I could totally babysit on the weekends. It's more about inertia ... right now, I don't HAVE to freelance, and the scaryness/difficulty of setting something up keeps me from wanting to. Perhaps ... someday ... but not now.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 26: Gardener? Cleaning lady? DIY instead
I don't really have ANY of the things mentioned in this article, except for having someone cut my hair. However, I can't effectively cut my own hair, and they do a really good job. It's only one thing, and it's worth it.
Estimated savings: $0

Tip 27: Use barriers to prevent yourself from spending money
This tip is about things that cause me to spend. For instance, getting email alerts about a coupon from Barnes and Noble makes me think if there's anything I really want, etc. Personally though, I usually delete these and various clothing store emails I get. If I happen to go to a store, I do a quick search through my deleted email for a recent coupon.

In one of the comments, someone mentioned a mental barrier I use. Whenever I want a cup of coffee, I weigh that $4 against a plane ticket to see Jay (or paying off my loans faster, etc). Reminding myself of the things that are important for me to spend on totally puts the little purchases into perspective.
Estimated savings: $30 (I crave coffee a lot, hehe)

Tip 28: Use price protection guarantees to always get the lowest price
ZOMG this tip was perfectly timed. I used the PriceProtectr site that Ramit mentions. I put the digital photo frame I bought for my mom on alert, and sure enough, two weeks after I bought it, the price dropped by $20! This website sent me an email, I didn't even after to do anything to keep an eye on it, and I went into Best Buy and got $20 refunded. WOW.

The second site Ramit mentions is Yapta, which I just signed up for. THIS IS SO COOL. This is a site which monitors flights and notifies you when their price goes down (you can pick ones you've already bought, or search for and monitor flights you're considering). The one downside is they don't track Southwest. But, as I bought my V-Day travel on Northwest, I'm putting it up for tracking. Who knows??? (Side note: the flight I bought is currently selling for $100 more than I bought it!)
Estimated savings: $20 so far

Tip 29: Stop being a loser and pay money to save money
Ramit's pretty ranty in this one, but the point is that sometimes spending a little bit of money can lead to you saving a LOT down the road. The way I see it: what better to spend your money on than books? This summer, I was able to download Suze Orman's book, Women and Money, for free. That book changed the way I look at my money, and made me want to get interested and take charge of my "relationship" with money. Yesterday, I was able to download another Suze Orman book for free, the 2009 Action Plan. Today, I bought "Your Money or Your Life", a highly recommended book from the personal finance bloggers that I follow. After a bit of research, I will buy a book on investing ... and all of this will save me thousands, by teaching me how to effectively manage my money.
Estimated savings: Let's go with $50 so far, just from the free Suze Orman book

Tip 30: How I'm Saving $25,000 in 2009
The last post is tips Ramit uses to save money. In a way, it's kind of a summary. Buying airfare for friends and family and then getting reimbursed is a GREAT idea--I would just put it on my credit card, get reimbursed, and get the points! Ramit mentions he has a card which gets him points for dollars spent AND miles travelled ... perhaps it's time for me to consider another credit card. Another point is to search for deals offered by your affilations (like credit cards, see tip 10) or coupons online before buying something. I do some things, like have an automatic withdrawal to my savings account. Some things I need to work on, like negotiating my car insurance. Since most of these either don't apply (car maintenance) or are in other tips, I'll just finish off with the $100 that I put in my savings account each month
Estimated savings: $100

Final savings through the 30 Day Challenge is ..........


I saved $1000! I seriously didn't add this up until I was done writing everything. Wow. Granted, many of this tips are things I already do, but some of them I just recently implemented, and will continue to save me money if I continue to do them.

Most importantly, I view my money in a different light. In college, if money came my way, I just spent it. That's what it was there for, right? I didn't have a real budget, and didn't track anything. Now I have a monthly budget, I track every penny, I have an emergency fund, I'm paying off my debt faster, and this year I plan to start investing. I only wish I had developed this drive to protect and cherish my money sooner. It really is like a 'relationship' as Suze Orman writes. If I treat my money right, it will always be there for me when I need it.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC)
Donating clothes to Goodwill is super cool, but how does Ramit say that saves you money?

Yay Ross! They really do have the best stuff...

We should totally have a party! I think the only time this apartment was used to have people over for a meal was the 4th of freakin' July! We could make it all or invite people to potluck...And watch movies and/or play games...Ooooo yay for our sweet apartment! (Ohhh we could blast some loud video games and compete with our neighbors!)

Yea, another thing with the online buying of clothes is that even if you know your general size, not every brand goes by that size! At Old Navy for instance, I think my pant size is FIVE sizes smaller than some of the pants I wear from other stores!

I'm confused by tip 20...Is he advocating pushing Christmas backwards to utilize the Day-After-Christmas sale? Otherwise I see absolutely no reason why it would save you money..

CONGRATULATIONS! Hail the conquering hero! Dadadadadadadada! Hmm, too much? :-P Wouldn't it be convenient if we were both skilled hair dressers? Then we COULD eliminate that expenditure...I once cut Mike's hair, but I was so nervous that I went super slow and he got a little frustrated with me. :-P
Jan. 11th, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
Wow, someone read this!

The tip in which I mentioned donating clothes is really about not buying something unless you get rid of something else. I didn't really save money from that tip, but I've never donated clothes before and felt it was noteworthy.

We should have a party. Let's bounce the idea off everyone tomorrow. We could even have it next weekend ...? Beginning of the quarter is better, and a week should be enough to prepare. Thoughts? (Mmm ... cottage cheese roast ...)

I think if I remember this site had options, so you could check "small and medium". But yeah ... knowing the size is a problem. I guess that's where the easy returns kicks in.

Actually, the guest blogger who wrote the tip suggested moving Christmas forward. By making it the 18th, she was able to save a ton on flights for her and her family. So as I said, we pretty much fly home when the quarter and AGU allow us too. And then I've heard of pushing it back to take advantage of those sales, but I feel like Black Friday and other pre-Christmas sales are just as good.

Dude, I could totally cut your hair. The problem is, it would not look GOOD. Fundamental difference there. I could just keep having my mom do it, but I don't go home often enough anymore, and I really like the thing they do where they cut the underside of my hair first, then the next layer (it's not 'layering', just a layering of the cut, if that makes sense ...).

I really only get it every six weeks to two months, so if $7.50/month is the only amount I spend on beauty, I'm okay with that.
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
you usually can get a reciept from donating stuff to use as a tax write-off. You have to drop it off to the store and it has to be more then a minimum value though to make it worthwhile. That and you have to itemize deductions so you may end up paying more taxes (if your deductions don't beat the standard deduction). I'd recommend looking into it though as understanding tax (at least basically) law can save you a bundle -- especially as a student.
Jan. 12th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC)
from shop It To Me
Hi Jen - thanks for including us in this post about saving $$! You're right, you can select more than 1 size and receive updates on both small and medium for instance. If you'd like some special brand suggestions, you can email support@shopittome.com and mention that you're this blogger and we'll try to help you out! Thanks! -Tamra
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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