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Old 05-01-2005, 06:34 PM
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Default Painless Saving - Streamlining & Consolidating

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be able to save money without any pain while others feel that their entire lifestyle has been uprooted. While some of this is due to the amount of money that needs to be saved, there's also another hidden factor of which most people are not consciously aware. When people talk about saving money, rarely do they discuss the different categories that saving money fall under.

That's right - all saving is not created equal. All the "saving tips" that you come across can be classified into a number of different categories. Understanding these different categories and what each of them entail will determine how much "pain" you feel when attempting to save money.

The beauty of understanding the different categories is that by knowing them, the chances are better than 80% that you can get yourself completely out of debt with little to no pain at all! That's right, painless saving. The key to achieving this is understanding which saving money techniques cause no pain for you (since these aren't always the same for each person) and focusing on them.

When you start to save money, the first place to start is with Streamlining. A saving tip that falls under the streamlining category is the holy grail of money saving tips because it'll cause you no pain. That's because you don't have to change anything that you currently do - you simply get the exact same things you have always paid for at a better price.

You pay a lot of bills on a monthly basis, but when was the last time you stopped to take a look at them? If you are like most people, you probably haven't, and since you haven't, chances are that you're paying more than you need to be paying. You can use competing offers to streamline the amount you pay on a number of services without ever having to switch companies.

Streamlining is basically a tune-up for your monthly expenses. Just like a car needs to be serviced every once in awhile to make sure it's performing at its best, you need to do the same with your spending.

All you're doing is making sure that you are receiving the best deal for the product or services you want. Again, you don't change anything that you are currently doing or receiving, but merely get a better deal on it. A prime example of this is refinancing your house mortgage with your current mortgage lender at a lower interest rate. Another would be calling your credit card company and getting a better interest rate if you have a balance (studies show that simply calling your credit card company and asking for a better rate will result in them lowering it most of the time). You receive the exact same service from the exact same institution, you just pay less for it.

Streamlining is not exclusive to services. If you purchase a diet cola each day at work for $1 at the vending machine, you would pay $30 a month for this product. If you went to a discount store and purchased 30 cans of the same diet cola for $20 and then took a can each day with you to work, you have not made any sacrifice (you still get your same diet cola each day), but have streamlined the price of it.

The main foe to streamlining is laziness and habit. The reason that marketing companies will offer a three month discounted rate is that they know that when they raise prices, most people won't do anything about it. For streamlining to be effective you need to take a proactive approach. This is especially true because streamlining is a never ending process, but it also means that the more active you are in streamlining your expenses, the more you can save without changing your lifestyle.

Most people have a large number of areas where they can streamline and thereby pay less for exactly the same things that they are receiving now. By making a conscious effort to streamline you may find that you have acompletely painless way to get your budget better under control.

Painless Saving - Consolidating

Once you have streamlined all that you can, the next painless form of saving is Consolidating.

Just as with Streamlining, Consolidation causes little or no pain. Here again, you're not giving up anything, but simply rearranging the way that you receive the items which results in you saving money.

A prime example of Consolidation is taking all of your credit card balances and moving them to a single credit card with a lower interest rate. You still have to make the payment, but consolidating them into the single best card means that you save money in the process.

Another example would be taking all the separate charges that you're paying on your phone bill and signing up for a calling plan that bundles them all together, but at a better price. Or if you have 3 separate checking accounts at three different banks and are paying fees on each account, you would be consolidating them by moving them all to a single account at a bank that had the most favorable rates.

Consolidation can also be accomplished in non service areas. For example, you can take a multi-vitamin instead of purchasing many different types. Or you can purchase clothes that can be worn and matched together easily for a number of different situations instead of buying a new outfit for each specific occasion.

Consolidation takes some thought on your part looking at what you're currently paying for and seeing if there are services or products that overlap and cost you more than need be. If you take a look at your finances, you'll likely be surprised at the number of consolidation opportunities that are available to help lower the amount you pay without changing or causing pain to your current lifestyle.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:11 PM
$ Saving College Junior
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Central Illinois
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Default Re: Painless Saving - Streamlining

Excellent article -- I would like to add that in addition to saving money by buying stuff like pop and taking it to work, look for substantial rebates on things you have to buy such as prescriptions. I have to take a certain allergy medicine and each time I refill the prescription, I send in the rebate form and get about $10 back in a rebate. That rebate goes into savings which I think is like "found" money.
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