Last month I saved $540 in just 5 minutes. All I had to do was make a quick phone call.
A friend’s comment recently made me think about how a lot of money-saving efforts can be so time-consuming. Our time is precious, and we need to find the balance to use it in the best possible way.
I see tips for frugal living like “wash and reuse plastic sandwich bags” to save money. Seriously? They are about 3 cents apiece. I am not saying we should wastefully throw things away. I sometimes wash ziploc bags and reuse them. I think this is great from an environmental perspective, but it would take a lifetime to wash enough plastic bags to reach my financial goals.
If too many of our financial strategies are focused on pennies, then we miss out on the opportunities to save in ways that have a big impact. Even with all of our good intentions, we can only do so much. Since our time and energy are limited, we need to first focus on saving dollars, and then we can focus on saving the pennies as well.
So how did I save $540?
I got a letter from my apartment leasing agency informing me that my rent would be going up $70 a month. I called them to say the increase seemed a bit high, and I was hoping it would be lower. They called back to offer that they would only raise my rent by $25 a month. It took 5 minutes total. This saves me $45 every month, which is $540 over the year. I am not one who pushes someone for a bargain, but this was so easy.
I was in the same situation the year before. The letter from the leasing agency said the rent would go up $70 a month. It had never occurred to me to try to negotiate my rent, but when I talked to the agent about it, I expressed my concern over such a large increase. “No problem,” the agent said, “that is just a starting rate.”
In that conversation I learned not to accept a new rent amount without at least talking to the leasing agent first. With no extra effort on my part, they lowered the increase by $30 a month, which saved me $360 that year.
I looked at my other recurring bills to see where I could save money. I found quite a few places in my budget that I could save money with very little effort or sacrifice on my part, and yet it would still yield a big impact. Those were the places I focused on first. I’ll share more about those, and if you have money-saving ideas I’d really like to hear them.