Thursday, January 24, 2013

20 Financial Tips...

...based on our move to Las Vegas a year ago.
Here's 20 ways the spouse and I have been able to shift from a large, work-till-you-drop-full-time-business-owner income, to a meager retiree income and still come out seeming like we have more money than ever before:

  1. We paid cash for the one car that we drive and now, and as it has got older, only carry liability insurance on it.  This by itself saves more than $15k a year over what we used to pay when we had two or three new cars in the driveway.  Also, I found that the county offers a discount on property tax to seniors which pays for the complete cost of our car tax each year (Google is awesome).
  2. We skipped the cable TV and got an over the air antenna for $30 which saves us over $100 a month and still provides more than 40 free channels to watch.
  3. Our high speed internet service is $27 a month (at least for a year at which time I will call again and threaten to drop service at which time they will offer me another great promo price to remain a customer).
  4. We each have pre-paid cell phones from Walmart.  Yes, you have to pay the full cost of your cell phone up front (either from Walmart or Amazon) but it is much cheaper than getting a discounted phone from a cell phone carrier...along with a high-priced two-year contract.  Our monthly cell service with talk, text, and internet costs $30 each per month.
  5. We bought a house in a place where houses cost a lot less than where we used to live (ie: our house payment is 1/4 what it was in Seattle for nearly the same size house).
  6. We moved to a place where the cost of living is lower (unfortunately you have to forget about getting a good job here as they don't seem to exist but if you have a retirement or otherwise location-independent income you would do well in such a place).  Gas is $2.85 a gallon, utilities are much cheaper than in Seattle, and the weather is great nine months out of the year so we barely require heating or cooling during that time.
  7. We cook at home most of the time.  And food seems to cost less here with great bargains to be had at the 99 cent store and the Asian and Mexican supermarkets in town.
  8. There are A LOT of free activities here.  You can choose from literally a half dozen free, interesting activities each day in Las Vegas ranging from concerts and shows to conventions and community events (thus the free hiking each week that I do).
  9. You can pick and choose your hobbies to keep you occupied but not in debt.  My hobbies used to range from the expensive (shooting) to the expensiver (luxury travel).  Now I am happy to do day hiking, walk with the local volksmarch club, genealogy research, and volunteer with a couple of community organizations.
  10. We buy ALL of our clothes at the Goodwill (on senior half off Wednesdays, no less).  I haven't stepped foot in a mall or Macy's/Saks/Bloomingdales for a few years and I quite like it that way.  Now that I know about shopping at the Goodwill, I will never shop retail again for clothes (shoes I still buy retail on on clearance or a deep discount sale).  As I sit typing this I am wearing a pair of Levi's, a Hollister t shirt, and a Land's End fleece jacket all bought at the Goodwill for a total of $5.
  11. We don't buy crap.  For decades (mostly when the kids were growing up) we spent our free time shopping and ended up buying SO MUCH UNNECESSARY CRAP that it is embarrassing to look back on it (the point of which is quickly driven home when you go to sell all of this junk at a garage sale and it is worth only pennies on the dollar).
  12. We travel.  Cheaply.  Mega bus, off season cruises, discounted airline tickets, staying with friends and family...there are a number of ways to be able to travel yet cut the cost (our next adventure may be Couchsurfing and hosteling!).
  13. We don't work.  Which on the surface seems like not a very good financial move, but with a retirement income as well as some freelance income, we actually save a lot of money over the cost of working when you figure how much we used to spend on work wardrobes, commuting, an extra necessary car and insurance, meals out, coffee at Starbucks on the way to work, office gifts, etc.
  14. We conserve everything.  Water, electricity, name it and if there is a way to lower the bill we do it (to the point of recording our daily electricity usage in order to keep us striving to lower the bill even more).  Note that free low-flow shower heads and faucets are often available from the local utility as well as other freebies (rebates, etc) to encourage savings on utility costs.
  15. We save gas by staying home a couple of days a week and not driving, grouping errands and trips together, and looking for other ways to cut costs on fuel expenses (ie: day trips closer to home rather than long driving trips, etc).
  16. We do the usual money saving things: using the library for free books, movies, and ebooks, shopping loss leaders at the grocery store and stockpiling them, etc.
  17. Medical costs are paid for courtesy of Uncle Sam (which saves a TON of money).  
  18. I use the web to keep abreast of even more ways to save money such as here and here.
  19. By traveling for more than a year with only what we could carry in a backpack, we realized that we don't need stuff.  We do need good health and good friends and a good marriage so we spend our money accordingly.
  20. We still do many things ourselves: our wills, our taxes, installing a new faucet or shower door in the house, minimal landscaping, etc.


  1. Regarding #6, surprised to read that you don't need heating/cooling for much of the year?? When I lived in Vegas, we had the 100 days over 100 degrees. Not sure how you survive without cooling during May through Sept. Just saying...

  2. We did use the AC through the summer months but since we aren't home during the day much, it usually sits at 90 degrees. For heating we use a small space heater in which ever room we are in. Overall gas and electricity bills were much lower than when we lived in Seattle.