Friday, January 2, 2015

Penny Pincher Skills- Improve Your Ability To Save Money

How Can You Improve Your Penny Pinching Skills?

Improve Your Skills at Saving Money
Improve Your Skills at Saving Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

It takes skills and abilities to be good at saving money instead of spending it.  Some abilities are more at the innate end of the spectrum, for example you may naturally be a patient person, or you may naturally be impatient.  However even something like patience can be improved with practice if you work at it.  Determination is another example of an innate trait that can be improved with work and through your circumstances.

Skills that can help you save money can be learned and improved.  For example, when I bought my first house I had no plumbing skills at all.  Over time, I learned to do more plumbing work.  Last week, I cut off copper supply pipes, removed a kitchen sink and sink base cabinet, and sweated on new shut-offs and installed new drain lines for the new sink.  I bet I saved well over $500 on plumbing bills by using skills to do something myself instead of paying someone else.

What Skills Help You Save Money?

If I were training you to improve at basketball, I would teach skills like passing, dribbling, shooting, and defense.  What skills can you work on to become a better penny pincher?  Here are some that come to mind:

Negotiation Skills:  There are many situations where having good negotiation skills can save you lots of money.  When buying a house, car, furniture, or other big ticket items there is often a lot of room for negotiation in the price.  The keys to successful negotiation are to understand the realistic market value of what you are buying and try to understand how you can sweeten the deal for the seller in ways other than paying more money.

Budgeting Skills:  Are you good at keeping track of expenses and how much you are spending?  Do you know where your money is going?  Some people seem to be naturally good at doing this, while other people struggle with keeping track of expenses.  No matter what your current skill level at budgeting, improving you budgeting skill can help you become more effective at saving money.

Home Improvement Skills:  There is a lot of opportunity to save money on maintaining and upgrading your house if you develop some home improvement skills.  You can save money if you can do simple electrical repairs and upgrades such as changing a faulty light switch or replacing a light fixture or ceiling fan yourself.  Plumbing skills, such as being able to replace copper fittings and install new sink drains, can save tons of money if you are planning upgrades to your kitchen or bathroom.  Painting yourself- both interior and exterior- can save you lots of money if you are able to do this work yourself.  The more landscaping and yard maintenance you can do yourself, the more money you’ll save.

Improve Your Home Improvement Skills to Save Money
Improve Your Home Improvement Skills to Save Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Couponing Skills: Coupons represent a lot of planning and work that people put into saving money.  It takes some time, effort, and organization to use coupons effectively- but the payoff is well worth the effort.   I would say that I use some sort of coupon of money-saving program almost every time I buy something.

Improve Your Skill at Using Coupons to Save Money
Improve Your Skill at Using Coupons to Save Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

“Smart Shopping” Skills:  I describe this skill as being able to accurately identify things that you need and obtain them at minimal cost.  This may involve shopping at clearance sales, or purchasing used items at consignment stores and thrift shops.  For example, today my wife found a pair of dress pants she can wear to work for $7 at a clearance sale.  This is a lot better than waiting until new pants are urgently needed and then risking paying full price for them.  A couple years ago, we had no chair in our living room and picked one up at a consignment shop for $38.  We would have paid 10x more at a furniture store.

Cooking Skills:  I’ll admit this is an area where I have a lot of room for improvement!  Fortunately my wife is good at cooking and enjoys doing it.  If you get good at making food at home, you can save a lot of money on eating out and eat healthier as well.

Gardening Skills:  Growing your own food provides a great feeling of independence, as well as an opportunity to save money on buying groceries.  If you are good at gardening, you can produce a lot of food using few resources.  If you are lucky, you grew up helping in the garden and know how to do it.  If not, you’ll need to read books and get tips from others who are good at gardening to increase your skills.

In the past, car maintenance skills may have made the list, but cars are so complex now that it is hard to work on them at home.  You can find coupons and get an oil change for under $20 which is hard to beat even if you do it yourself.  The oil change shops like to get your car in the door with a cheap oil change so they can recommend other repairs you may need while you are there.

Improve Your Penny Pincher Skills

So how can you improve your penny pinching skills?  Practice to improve your skills by taking on small projects or tasks and challenge yourself to see how well you can do.  Get some books at the library or read articles on the Internet to get up to speed on the knowledge required.  Choose a problem and see how well you can solve it while improving your skills at the same time.

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