Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Delay as an effective strategy to save money

Over the last several weeks, I have been delaying or putting off certain purchases in order to save money for other needs. My delay of these purchases has really risen out of necessity more than as an experiment to save money, but I have found it to be very successful.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines delay as:
  1. put off; postpone.
  2. to stop, detain, or hinder for a time.
  3. to cause to be slower or to occur more slowly than normal.
Here are some ways I have utilized a delay strategy in order to save myself some budget cash:
  1. Grocery shopping. How many times have you gone to the grocery store at a set day and time each week because you have a chore schedule? I know that I do this with a fair amount of regularity, but what if you were to delay and offset this chore by going every 8, 10, or 14 days? I have found that by eating extra food stored in my pantry and fridge and delaying a trip to my local grocery store, I can stretch my grocery dollars over time. For example, let's say you go to the grocery store once a week and you spend an average of $100 each week. In a year, you will have made 52 trips at $100, equaling $5,200/year. Now, what if you were to offset that by just one day, and go every 8 days? Then, you will make only 45 trips at a cost of $4,500/year. That's an estimated savings of $700. I do realize that the net savings will tend to be lower than this because you will probably need to buy a few extra groceries each trip to cover extra days, but you will also save yourself time and gas money. For me, this is a win-win strategy.
  2. Gasoline purchases. I will admit upfront that you have a 50/50 shot at saving money on this purchase delay. With gas prices in flux as much as they have been in the last several years, you are taking a gamble on how much prices will change each day. I've seen regular fluctuations upwards of $0.10 to $0.15 overnight in the past. I've also been pleasantly surprised to find prices drop as well. Obviously, if you need gas, you can't wait for your tank to run completely dry, but you can keep half an eye and ear open to see how prices are trending in your area.
  3. Clothing purchases. Have you ever realized that about 80% of the time, you only wear about 20% of your wardrobe? Hey, what about all those other clothes in your dresser or closet? You may be pleasantly surprised at what clothes might be buried in your room. Do you really need to buy more clothing, or is it really just a "want."
  4. Big ticket items. Recently, I have had the "fever" to go out and buy an Apple iPad. As an information junkie, I can really see the benefits of this incredible piece of technology. Before the iPad, it was the Amazon Kindle that I really had a crush on. I have not only delayed these purchases to save some cash short-term, but I am also waiting for the technology to be refined as well as come down in price.
Many times, we get ourselves into financial problems because we rush into bigger purchases, but our day-to-day needs outlays can also be a source of regular overspending. We can often save a few bucks if we will just wait a bit.

Have you ever used the delay strategy on making purchases, and what were your results?

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  1. I literally put off buying clothing for years... repaired what I have because money was so tight. If you do buy clothing, think yard sales or consignment shops. never pay retail.

  2. Yes - clothing is an area where we can save a lot of money by thinking ahead and having a plan.