Spend less, save more. If it were as easy as it is simple, we all wouldn’t all constantly pay the cable bill with out credit cards. As it stands, I have exactly $1,008.37 in my “emergency fund”—which almost covers half a month’s rent (Whaddaya want? I live in NYC.) But I know that personal monetary renewal can be accomplished with a dash of self-denial and a pinch of common sense, just like getting over a gambling problem, a meth addiction, or a penchant for Craigslist men's room trysts. Having kicked all those habits weeks ago, I’m working on my financial situation. It all starts with spend less, save more, but since that’s kind of vague, here are four unlikely tips.
Rent until you die The three biggest lies you’ll hear this week: “the surge is working,” “just the tip, just for a second,” and “renting is throwing away your money.” Somewhere along the line, buying a house became the most important purchase you’ll ever make and damn those of you who are too busy enjoying their limited cash to see the forest for the manicured lawn. But is home still where your heart is when it turns out to be the "worst investment ever”? Sure, the housing market is slumping, but that doesn’t mean renting is a waste. This New York Times calculator allows you to plug in your current rent, the cost of your dream home, down payment, mortgage, and taxes, and work out for yourself whether renting is better than buying,
Quit driving like a jackass to save a couple hundred bucks According to the Department of Energy, your gas mileage can drop as much as 33% from aggressive highway driving. Stick to the speed limit and that’s a few hundred ducats a year. This list of ten ways to prevent road rage will save you money and possibly keep you from misguided attempts to show that jerkoff in the Hummer a lesson. (If you’re feeling extra generous, take a page from the Yom Kippur book and keep a “sorry” sign in your car at all times to help everyone else save, too.)
Chock Full o’Nuts your way to the Caribbean Come back from the strip club with nothing but a pocket full of crumpled ones? Your significant other probably appreciates your honesty about where you were, but what she’d prefer is a romantic battery-charging getaway to make everything better. The solution? An empty coffee can. Stuffing the money left over from the night before into a grown-up piggy bank ensures it won’t be spent on a hangover breakfast or an ironic tee shirt. Mock the geriatric simplicity if you want, but my wife and I did this in the year-and-change before our wedding and socked away over $1,000 for the Grecian honeymoon. Granted, it takes more than singles, and you need the discipline to leave it be, but you’d be surprised how those random bills add up. I recommend going with a Chock full o’Nuts can for that robust coffee scent.
Make money just by being patriotic You may feel like less of American for not joining the Armed Forces, but collecting all of the commemorative quarters of these here United States will at least make you feel like you’re supporting the troops somehow. 2008 wraps up with Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii, the last five states admitted to the Union and to our lovely custom coin folder. (Not to be a homer, but my native Montana’s the quarter to beat.) As any seasoned numismatic will tell you, once coins are out of circulation, they become more valuable, so get in before the price of these rises to .38 or so. As an investor, you’ll want to keep your completed quarter set in a safety deposit box to pass down to your great-grandchildren, or until you decide to take $12.50 on a nostalgic trip to the arcade.