Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

To celebrate Independence Day weekend, it’s appropriate to look back at one of what seemed to be one of the thriftiest persons in American history—Ben Franklin. Well, he really wasn’t thrifty at all. He just advised everyone else to be so. Good ole Ben lived a luxurious life, with fine clothes, gourmet foods and wine, and the best entertainment.  So now is when you say, “How can I do that and still write for a living?” You can and without sacrificing anything.

The trick here is to change your priorities. You need to be, as old Ben said, “healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

To keep health bills under control, you need to be healthy, and that requires eating right. Learn to cook good food. If you have to, take a cooking course to get you jump started. Don’t rely solely on prepared or frozen foods and eat a balanced diet. This means staying away from fast and junk foods. And staying healthy will help with health insurance. Shop around for that, too.

While you might think growing your own vegetables will save you money, think again. It takes time and energy—time you could better use writing—to grow a good garden. Then when everything comes to harvest at the same time, you’ll most likely have too much to use and will end up giving most of it away. The short time homegrown veggies are available—usually for a month or two—doesn’t make them a money-saving option. Better to find a market with good produce or a farmers’ market in your local area. And speaking of groceries, shop at one regular market, supplemented by goods from dollar stores and perhaps limited, and lower-priced markets like Aldi.

And for clothes, shop at thrift stores whenever possible and take advantage of end-of-season or clearance sales at other stores. Generally, stay away from more expensive department stores.

Limit your entertainment. Today, you have lots of possibilities, so you don’t really have to go to the theater—an extremely expensive night out. The same goes for movies. Instead, subscribe to Netflix, either for monthly streaming or DVDs for $4.95 per month.

Shop around for the best phone and Internet package. Forget cable or satellite T.V. unless you have really lousy reception. That’s the most expensive part of any communications bundle. If you want a cell phone, consider purchasing a prepaid one. And forget texting and data streaming. That costs extra, and you really don’t need it. Remember the days not very long ago when if someone called and you weren’t home, they just left a message on your answering machine?

Do your own repairs whenever possible. And to keep repair costs down, do regular maintenance around your home. Consider low-cost extended warranties for appliances that may continually give you problems.

If you have a mortgage on your home, consider refinancing. While this will extend your loan, it can save you a bundle each month. In the end, it’s like renting your house from yourself. You’ll pay much less each month for a mortgage payment, including escrow for taxes, than you would if you just rented a house or apartment, plus you gain equity.

Consider keeping your present car, if you own one, and doing regular maintenance to keep it in good working condition. If you need a new car, think about leasing. There are some terrific leasing deals out there for about $150 per month with 12,000 miles a year. Get the most economical car you can afford in your comfort zone. Since you most likely are working at home, you won’t be driving as much. Diving less not only saves on gas, it also saves on repairs.

Buy all your insurance from one company to take advantage of their multi-policy discounts. And don’t skimp on car insurance. Many plans come with roadside assistance which can come in handy if you have an older car.

If you like to read, and what writer doesn’t, buy used books instead of new ones. Browse library book sales and be sure to check the used editions of any books you plan to buy on Also, go through your library from time to time and sell back some of your books to Amazon.

Everyone needs a vacation from time to time, and writers aren’t any different. But instead of flying off to some exotic location—unless it’s a special trip you’ve been planning for a while—travel closer to home for shorter periods. Take a few days off during the off-season and go to places that interest you or where you can just relax. Many hotels offer weekend packages that include some meals.

Finally, only use credit cards to control cost, not to run a tab. Pay them off every month or at the most every other month.

To enjoy working as a writer, you don’t need to sacrifice anything. You can still have that cup of java at your local coffee bar. You can still have all the devices you need—T.V.s, cameras, cell phones, even a tablet. All in all, you can live a comfortable lifestyle.

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