If you're looking for ways to save money, there is no shortage of tips out there. Kerry K. Taylor, author of the frugal living blog Squawkfox.com, came up with a wee list of them herself for her book, 397 Ways To Save Money. But even when you think you've read it all, there are more resources to tap, especially if you're willing to break from your saving routines and try something different.
Some strategies may seem obvious – like adusting your thermostat by a degree or two each season, to save on energy costs. Others may seem questionable – like only flushing once a day to save money on the water bill.
Yes, there are people who practice a single daily flush routine. I imagine their diets are not high in fibre. Lots of people will draw the line well before getting to the point where flush rations are the only option, but they could probably be doing a lot more to save smartly.
We all know eating out is costly, but lots of us still don't brown-bag it to work. We all know the door-crasher deals waiting on Boxing Day, but lots of us prefer to sleep in. Two gas stations on opposite sides of the intersection could have a penny-per-litre price difference, and yet many of us will simply pull into the one that disrupts our route the least.
Everyone leaves some money on the table.
I'm guilty of this too. I'm horrible with coupons. Free savings are sent right to my door all the time, and I fail to take advantage. For example: A fast-food restaurant drops a booklet of coupons into my mailbox regularly. I often toss it right into the recycling bin because I think to myself, "it's not healthy to eat there." And then I find myself there anyway, but with no coupons to show for it.
In the grand scheme of things that's only a few bucks a week left on the table. But add up the coupons for all the other stores and services I stupidly ignore and it becomes more significant. Forcing myself to change my routine would result in a big payday.
Same goes for eating out – buying lunch at work and eating out frequently at night, especially with drinks, can add up to hundreds of dollars per month. So try changing your routine: prepare enough brownbag lunches for the week on the weekend; stick to water at dinner, and watch it do wonders for your wallet.
Carpooling is another potential savings jackpot. You could save hundreds of dollars a year, simply by sharing the drive to work with someone else. (And if large cities adopted car pooling en masse, we might actually do something about traffic congestion. But I digress.)
If you're routinely spending less than you earn, then large changes to your savings habits may not be justified. But if you're financially stuck in second gear, there's no excuse.
There are hundreds of tips on how save money. Don't ignore the ones that push the boundaries of what you're willing to do. Breaking out of your routines might feel strange at first, but if some of the strategies stick, you'll no longer be flushing money down the toilet.
Preet Banerjee, B.Sc, FMA, DMS, FCSI is a W Network Money Expert, and blogs at wheredoesallmymoneygo.com. Twitter: @PreetBanerjee