Savings Do’s and Don’ts

I thought about calling this “The Savings Manifesto,” or “The Tao of Savings,” or some such nonsense.

But it’s just some stuff that, after a little thought, strike me as central tenets for how to save, efficiently, without undue effort.

1. Move quickly

This is probably rule #1.

In general, there are two “issues” with the savings hobby, or whatever this is: time and privacy. We’ll get to the second shortly.

Time, meaning that taking too long to save too little is dumb. Only you can decide if the saving tips in this site are worth it in the context of how much time it takes get the, you know, savings. Your time, after all, is money.

So I guess this is actually two points: get your savings on auto-pilot (a good start is to wire up The Basics,), and then, think hard about other approaches that just takes too much time to pull off. I put groceries in this category, but you may feel otherwise. The Savings world welcomes all kinds.

2. Don’t buy on your mobile (mostly)

This one might surprise you. And make some recoil in horror. “What? I live on mobile. If I can’t buy there, I don’t buy at all.”

I get it. Well, no, actually, I don’t. But I do see it all around me, and I must accept reality. I mostly restrain my urge to slap millenials in their screen-adhered faces.

This concepts embraces two factors, other than phone addiction. One, you really should do as much of your shopping at a desktop/laptop as possible, for very practical reasons.

And second, buying on your phone suggests you’re buying on a whim. Impulse buying is a bad idea in general, in my philosophy, but it’s worse when you also can’t apply sound saving techniques when you buy that stuff you really don’t need. It’s a lose-lose, except for Amazon.

3. Resist impulse: It bears repeating: buy what you need – and OK, maybe sometimes what you want – but only after taking a deep breath. The mantra of this site is how to save on things you’re already buying, not the stuff random retailers want you to buy. The ultimate saving technique is not to buy at all.

If I sound like your Dad, well, good, he’s a smart guy. You should call him, by the way.

4. Patience

Wait, what? Aren’t I supposed to “move quickly?” Get your story straight!

Relax. Moving quick is for the execution of savings – say, by getting your browser and emailbox weaponized with The Basics – once the sale is going to happen.

If you can, though, wait to buy. There’s almost always a better price coming. Retailers created false urgency all the time; they have quotas to hit and inventory to move. But that’s on them. You can take your time, find a better deal, and pay as late as possible. The Basics includes price trackers – find a product you want, set a price target, and wait for it. It works. And naturally, the more your purchase will cost, the better off you are wait.

So slow down. Then pounce when the time is right.

5. Be vigilant

Again with the waiting!

Not really. This just means you should equip yourself with as many savings monitoring tools – twitter follows, browser extensions, price trackers, newsletters – as you can handle to keep an eye on things.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had interest in some gizmo I (marginally) need, and a few days or weeks later, it shows up in a Kinja or Wirecutter listing at a fraction of the first price I saw. That’s a great feeling. It’s like I picked the universe’s pocket.

6. But don’t overdo it

Last word on this, I promise. If you really need something, you’ve done your research, and you’ve applied the usual tools to find the low price, then pull the trigger.

The sooner you do, the sooner you get to enjoy it. Just be sure pay with a solid credit card so that last easy bit of savings come through. And you won’t have to pay for it off for a while, too. Which is nice.

7. Privacy matters

You’ll see references to this throughout Obsessive Saver. Always keep in mind: you are earning savings by sharing your personal data. How important/scary/risky that is to you is up to you to decide.

Privacy is your most important possession on the web, and your leverage with merchants. Don’t give it up lightly.

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