Oct 5, 2009

Top 10 ways to save money and live well - desi version

We all see tons and tons of such top 10 and top 20 ways that you can save $100-500/month. It has gotten to a point where Yahoo Finance and CNN money have nothing better but to daily advertise haggling with cable operators to save a few dollars or cut. This list may have some similarities, but I promise its more relevant, practical and geared towards us desis.
  1. Daily Stuff:
    1. Use Target/Walmart a lot. Their prices are really cheap and its far better to just walk out knowing you didn't overpay and that you didn't spend your entire Sat morning clipping coupons. If you do see a coupon you can really use, definitely use it!
    2. Get a membership to Sam's Club/Costco. I would say Sam's Club since in a recent price comparison it was found to have cheaper prices and the membership is cheaper too. Get Toilet Paper, Laundry Detergent, Cereals and the savings have already paid for your membership. Case Closed. Please don't buy jumbo packets of Muffins and Croissants as however tasty and good they look, you will not be able to finish it. Don't buy these things.
  2. Shopping:
    1. Don't buy on impulse and NEVER ever worry about what your friends got. Desis are notorious for comparing and gossiping and bragging about every little thing they buy and what a great deal they got!  To buy anything online do the following:
      1. Read the reviews on Amazon (best place to review a product)
      2. Look for coupon code for the site on RetailMeNot
      3. Look for deals on SlickDeals and Fatwallet.
      4. Use Ebates to go to the target store and get Cash Back.
      5. Always use a good credit card like Starwood Amex,  to buy a product/service online.
      6. Most products have a 30 days price match, so keep checking the store's web site, if price drops, call customer service and get the difference credit back to your card.
      7. Before you buy anything new, recycle your old product by going to Gazelle. They give you cash money and free shipping.
    2. Don't buy Jewelery like there's no tomorrow! I have seen families load up Gold faster than Zambia trying to balance their economy by buying Gold bullions. Please stop. Gold is expensive and depending on where you live and how social you are, you'll be using it about 4-5 times a year plus paying extra for a bank locker to keep this precious jewelry. And its not as good as CASH not matter how you try to justify it.
    3.  Don't go to India every year! Stop it. The ticket is like $1000+ and then you buy at least another $500+ in clothes to impress and its a rush rush trip and you blow up your entire year's vacation. Instead for the same price you can go to places you haven't been in the US for much less, relax a little. I am not against meeting family back home, but do it in moderation.
    4. Just because you and your brother and your dad and your cousin are in IT, you don't need 5 laptops in the house. Just get a decent one and share.
  3. Extreme Cheapness

    1. Call up friends and relatives and pretend you are in the area and want to drop by and drop in during dinner or lunch hours.
    2. Whenever having people over, always insist on Pot luck
    3. Visit local temple on Sundays to get free dinner. Also, pray while you are there!
    4. Visit Ikea on the weekends for their $1 breakfast.
    5. Steal toiletries from your hotel stays. Load up on paper napkins from Starbucks (they are better compared to TacoBell ones).
    6. Steal unsecured wireless connections and never pay for Internet.
    7. Guys should get haircuts at home from their roommates, mom, sister, girlfriend, wife. Just invest in a cheap clipper.
    8. Never eat out. Eating at home is healthier,  cheaper, you get more quantity and cooking is a fun exercise.
    9. 15% is a good enough tip for any restaurant! Don't buy in the hype. Always share a dish with your spouse....Healthier & Cheaper and also increases the love & bonding!
  4. Education:
    Stop wasting your time by reading blogs like this one while updating your Facebook status and do something more constructive online: Free online classes from MIT. Start contributing money towards your child's 529 plan tax free now.
  5. Taxes:
    Always file your own taxes. We are desis, and the only thing we are good at is Math. Pick up a copy of TaxAct or TurboTax at Sam's or Costco and just answer their tax interview. The IRS web site is also pretty good. Make sure to take all the deductions for parents, siblings and children.
  6. Fines:
    Don't donate money by getting traffic, speeding or parking tickets. The Chinese are smart; they never get tickets even when they drive 20 miles under the minimum posted speed limit.
    Find a good mechanic by asking your friends and your coworkers. If you choose to go with a major auto repair shop always go to their web site and print coupons. Also check out RepairPal
  7. Investing:
    Invest in Stocks regularly and use free personal financial analysis software such as Mint.com or one of these software. Use calculators like this one to figure out just about anything financial.
  8. Services:
    Get basic cable and drop HBO and Cine-max other premium channels. Combine your internet with your cable package and save money. Don't keep a land line and get a good Family Plan on your cell phone.
  9. Invest in yourself:
    1. Explore Hobbies/passion and pursue it. Whether you want to learn Flamenco or be a Top Chef just find a school and go for it.
    2. Never fall sick. Life's too short to be spending on a bed feeling all miserable. Drink orange juice, milk and eat fruits EVERY day! The desi remedies that your mom always tells you about do work. Try to avoid popping a pill every now and then stick with natural ways to cure any headaches or infections. Always use Olive oil or Grape seed oil. Don't eat anything DEEP fried. Eat Taco-Bell ONLY if you are not overweight according to this BMI calculator. Do this along with these steps and live till 100.
    3. Get out there and enjoy nature. There are tons and tons of national and state parks in US. They are free or $5/car. You will get exercise, you will spend some quality time alone from work, dishes, laundry and other things, and you will breathe fresher air. Take a hike; it is the cheapest way to spend half a day and it will reduce your stress levels too. As desis, we stress out over everything...no wonder most of us suffer from heart and blood pressure problems.
    4. Get a gym membership for Winter for cheap by using GlobalFit. No matter what don't ever sport an ugly belly or unwanted fat. Desi food is notorious for adding pounds which is why you need to exercise more often..specially women.
  10. Entertainment
    1. Don't spend $100+ per ticket to see your favorite Bollywood celebrity lip sing a song you have already seen like a zillion times on You Tube and Zee TV. Instead spend money and get the cheapest ticket to a desi singer's concert where the only thing that matters is his/her voice even if you have the last seat in the auditorium. Don't waste $500/ticket to get your picture taken with Ash only to post it on Facebook for some lousy comments.
    2. You don't have to see every single YashRaj movie in the theater and pay upwards of $10. Just wait for the original DVD and watch it for a dollar. Better yet, download it from sites like DesiRelease. With fast net connections even streaming videos are fun to watch on your flatscreen TV with a S-video cable or a HDMI output capable laptop. Get your English movies from RedBox and cancel your NetFlix subscription and stop watching movies that you don't have to.
    3. Never go to a club and pay cover! Only pick clubs/lounges where you don't have to pay to get in. I mean what are you really paying for? AC?? Music? Unless they have a special guest DJ or something don't pay to get in. Always get on the guest list and sign up for emails from all the major clubs that you go to. Never keep the tab open and pay  the bar tender with Cash. Its easy to lose more money on drinks when you are drunk and the tab is open

Disclaimer: This is an original post; Please try to link to it as opposed to copy it and present it as your own. Also, this post is only for those trying to save money. If you are loaded, then sure ignore this post and please spend however you feel like.

1 comment:

The New Me said...

Do check out travel tips for South America