Episode 2 - In this episode, Emily and Amanda discuss a list of money saving strategies that Amanda created by talking to family and friends. From saving on insurance policies to beauty services, we hope you find something that helps!
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Emily Agosto (00:08):
Welcome to connecting the dollars, a personal finance podcast. I'm Emily Agosto, a CPA and financial advisor.
Amanda Vaught (00:16):
And I'm Amanda Vaught, attorney and financial advisor, both Emily and I are co-owners at Propel Financial Advisors.
Emily Agosto (00:25):
Propel Financial Advisors is an investment management and financial planning company. We are fee-only fiduciaries and independent registered investment advisors. I'm based in Chicago and Amanda is in New York City, but we work with clients nationwide.
Amanda Vaught (00:40):
The purpose of our podcast is to explore personal finance topics, including budgeting, investing, behavioral finance, current events, and other helpful information. We also hope you'll get to know us along the way.
Emily Agosto (00:54):
Thanks for listening. Hi Amanda.
Amanda Vaught (01:01):
Hey, how's it going?
Emily Agosto (01:03):
Going well, how are you?
Amanda Vaught (01:05):
I'm good. I was just thinking that today we're going to talk about different ideas for saving money in your monthly budget. And the biggest money saver I have this month has been on my rent because the city inspected our apartment building and discovered that the gas line was corroding or something was wrong with it. And they turned off the gas for our whole building. And because of this, I've gotten a rent abatement, which is great to not have to pay rent for a month, but, I'm not sure I would recommend it as a money-saving tip across the board for everyone. Because hopefully wherever you're living, you are getting, you know, a functioning stove and hot water.
Emily Agosto (01:54):
My goodness, I can't imagine My neighbor's doing a kitchen renovation and he's like, I thought it was only going to take two months, but he's like, it's going on month four. And my wife is not very happy about it. So mm-hmm
Amanda Vaught (02:07):
Is there any bigger money pit than a home renovation project? Gosh, I mean, seriously. I've never heard anyone say that. Oh, that home renovation project was less than I expected. Right. I don't think that exists.
Emily Agosto (02:20):
No. So Amanda came up with a list of 10 money saving tips, by talking to her friends and family. And so take it away.
Amanda Vaught (02:31):
You know, the first thing I wanted to go over was just, it's important to ask for what you want, because people aren't just going to give you money or give you savings. You have to go for it yourself. So this could cover things, from asking for discounts, if you're a senior, a veteran, or a student, to things like your credit card bill. If you forget to pay it one month or you're late and they charge you some $50 late fee, you have to call up the credit card company and say, Hey, please, I just made this mistake. Can I please get this late fee waived? And in my experience, the credit card company, is going to waive it for you as long as it's just a thing that doesn't happen very often.
Emily Agosto (03:17):
Yeah, I like that one.
Amanda Vaught (03:20):
Yeah. Or even I should also say, I know this is about saving money, but it's also could be about earning more money. You know, sometimes you have to go in and ask for a raise and in today's labor market, we're seeing wage increases. So this could be a good time to go in and negotiate a raise, obviously, depending on your personal situation. And then the next one is on your utility bills. You know, it's the time of year, it's getting colder in a lot of places. And so the gas, the natural gas prices are going up this winter. There was an article in the new Wall Street Journal recently they were going up up 30%, I think. So, that could be a significant increase for some people, you know, it's always important to make sure you weatherize your home and seal up your windows, but you know, it can be extra important this year that you could get hit with a bigger heating bill than you're used to.
Emily Agosto (04:19):
Similarly, in this area, you can try to call your telephone company or cable company. I know a lot of people don't really use cable that much anymore, but every year, if you're on a contract, me or my husband will call and say, what can we do here? And usually you can find a little bit of a discount either by bundling something. It's never fun to call the phone company or Comcast or whatever, but it does work out sometimes.
Amanda Vaught (04:46):
No, that's very true. Okay. And then the next topic I wanted to hit was insurance. This is not the most exciting thing to have, but hopefully most people have some form of insurance, whether it's renter's insurance, home insurance, most people have car insurance. I know health insurance is always a big expense. So we're coming up on the end of the year, we're going to be approaching the open enrollment period. So it's a good time to assess your current insurance coverage you have through work. If you're going to need to pay the same premiums and adjust your budget accordingly. I know one year, me and my husband looked at our insurance coverage and we realized the car insurance we were paying for was just way excessive in terms of what we needed. And so we called around and got some different quotes and we lowered our car insurance bill significantly. So just taking that time to do that assessment of your coverage could be a good opportunity to save money.
Emily Agosto (05:45):
Yeah. And it goes along with the ask for what you want in your first tip.
Amanda Vaught (05:49):
Oh yeah. Yeah.
Emily Agosto (05:50):
What about anything we can do entertainment-wise?
Amanda Vaught (05:56):
Oh, for our monthly bills. Mm-hmm oh gosh. I think that's so it's so personal. You know, those kinds of things are hard to generalize. And I think especially lately, if you like to go see bands play and you haven't been able to do that for a long time, now is not the time that you might wanna cut that kind of thing out of your budget. You know, that's true. Very true. Because people have been entertainment-deprived for a while. But you know, I just think it's good to just be conscious of your spending around it just because you haven't had it in a while and you say, oh YOLO, let's go, spend $500 on these concert tickets and then buy
Emily Agosto (06:40):
The t-shirt and then $15 drinks.
Amanda Vaught (06:44):
Yeah. Mm-hmm like, maybe just do that once. Don't say oh, okay. And do it, you know, five more times after that. Set some kind of limit around it. Yeah. whatever's appropriate, you know, for you your budget obviously, because you know, it is important to go out and have fun too. I agree. Right. Life's not just about saving money. We have to spend it sometimes. Yes, absolutely. but I think that gets to the heart of it too, is, you know, you can step back and think about what your priorities are. What's important to you. What's your time worth? In other money saving things, they'll say, oh, well just clean yourself. Don't hire a house cleaner. And for me personally, that's like my favorite bill to pay every month is for somebody else to come clean my house.
Amanda Vaught (07:32):
Because for me, I love and appreciate the free time I get from not having to spend time on that. You know, I get more time to spend with my kids on the weekend and that is incredibly valuable. And for me, I'm in a position thankfully where I can afford to pay for a house cleaner. And so I do mm-hmm I feel like I should also say it's also a good time to think about giving these, if you do hire a house cleaner or a nanny or somebody else who helps you with your day-to-day life, it's a good time to also think about giving them a raise with inflation. You know, people on social security are getting a cost of living adjustment. I think, if you do take one of our other tips and save money on your insurance or, whatever it is, think about passing some of that on, if you do hire people to help you with your life. Yeah. I'll just, I'll get off my soapbox. Just something to think about.
Emily Agosto (08:27):
Amanda Vaught (08:29):
Okay. So, I don't know, Emily, do you wanna tell me, tell everyone about your hair cutting tip and how you save money on beauty routines? Yeah,
Emily Agosto (08:38):
Sure. I fell into this with my hair gal. It's really important. I mean, first of all, like I just, I never know what I want to do. I don't know what I'm doing with my hair. So I talk to them for like a good 10 minutes, figure out a plan. And so I decided to do balayage a couple years ago and I thought you had to just get it redone every time you went. And after talking to, the stylist for a while, she's like, no, you can just do partial. You can let it go longer. There's a million things you can do. And just me being, not, I guess, educated in that area, I thought you had to do the full thing and it's really expensive to do, especially if you're doing it, you know, multiple times a year. So just talk to people, ask questions and yeah, that was my big tip. I saved a lot of money. And then also related to beauty routines, I mean, there's, there's so many things you can spend money on, like eyebrows, facials, massages, everything in that, in that area.
Amanda Vaught (09:41):
Yeah. And, I think too, for women as they age, I mean, once you start getting into like skincare products and anti wrinkle creams, I mean, those are very pricey mm-hmm , items. I don't have a lot of tips on how to save money on that end, other than by not using those products. Right. You know, there are some more affordable brands out there. You can try and see if those work for you instead. Like, The Ordinary is one.
Emily Agosto (10:11):
I was just going to say
Amanda Vaught (10:12):
That, they have some really nice stuff that I've used. You can look for sales. I mean that type of thing.
Emily Agosto (10:19):
Yeah. Just don't get sucked in by, you know, beauty influencers telling you, you need certain things. That's more of a, a behavioral finance and discipline kind of thing.
Amanda Vaught (10:28):
Yeah. And I did want to say our colleague Danielle, she loves to get massages. And if you like to get a regular massage, you know, that can add up. Yeah. and so what, she found a massage school near where she lives and you can get massages for, you know, half the price of a regular massage and, the person she was seeing who had a lot of experience. She just didn't have her license and that meant she wasn't getting someone who was totally junior and didn't know what they were doing, but she was able to get a good service for a good price. Mm-hmm so that's something you can look for, depending on where you live too,.
Amanda Vaught (11:15):
Another tip that's sort of basic, but some people can really lose track of their bank accounts, you know, like an old 401k that could be accruing fees or, an old savings account you had. People can lose track of these things and just let them go. And so we always like to tell people it's better just to keep your stuff consolidated. If you have an old 401k, think about rolling it over to your current 401k or into an IRA, depending on your personal situation, close out those old bank accounts. Another another thing is missingmoney.com. And I know Emily recently found her name on there. That's a website that will let you know about, money that is owed to you, that you might have lost track of. Yeah. Did you get your money back? Not yet, but
Emily Agosto (12:08):
Allegedly it's on the way. mm-hmm I think it was, it ended up being some rebates that I was owed for purchasing contact lenses a few years ago. I know. So random. I remember submitting all the information and I just never got the checks in the mail, so I'm pretty sure that's what these are about. But hey, I'll take anything. Yeah.
Amanda Vaught (12:30):
That's yeah. What a weird thing. Oh, weird. Who remembers some rebate they applied for three years ago?
Emily Agosto (12:36):
Yeah. And who knew they kept track of that?
Amanda Vaught (12:39):
Yeah. So, so that could be a good website for you to go check on: missingmoney.com. I checked for myself, I didn't have any missing money, but it could be out there for you.
Amanda Vaught (12:55):
And then another topic that can really affect your budget. Our kids, if you have kids, you're very aware of how expensive they can be. So this topic could be its own whole episode, how to save money about kids. And it's so dependent on how old they are, because at the end of the day, if they're young, you have to pay your daycare bill, you know, unless you have, can find a family member or somebody who will help you out to reduce your bill that way. I know a lot of people are struggling with this issue after COVID to find reliable childcare. So I know for some people they would feel like they would pay anything to have reliable childcare these days. Sure. But, just as far as toys and clothing and all the stuff, they're always growing out of and are being done with, you can find things - your local freecycle groups are full of old kid stuff or rummage sales. That type of thing. There's so many ways you can find kid stuff that can save you money. Yep. The next thing is subscriptions. We all have monthly subscriptions these days to different TV services, entertainment services. Does anybody get magazine subscriptions anymore?
Emily Agosto (14:14):
I just signed up for one because I missed having a magazine subscription.
Amanda Vaught (14:20):
yeah. That's fun, right, to get things in the mail. I think speaking of spending money on kids, I was thinking about getting them a subscription because they just, they love to get things in the mail too. So some subscriptions, you know, they're good. They bring you joy as Marie Kondo says. Sometimes, you lose track of them and you're paying for something that you don't really need anymore. So every once in a while, it's good to take a, moment and make sure you're still using those. And you feel like it's still worth to pay the monthly fee for them.
Emily Agosto (14:53):
Yeah. A lot of those TV ones overlap a lot.
Amanda Vaught (14:56):
So, how about, food, Emily? Do you have any ideas for saving money around your monthly food budget? I know for a lot of people, that's a big one. Yeah.
Emily Agosto (15:07):
Food is definitely the area that my household spends the most on. mm-hmm . And during the pandemic, we did a lot more meal planning because we were trying to reduce our trips to the grocery store. And that actually helped us kind of realize a lot about our spending habits there. So just take, you know, 30 minutes on a Sunday and sketch out what you want to have for the week. And it also helps you use up foods you have and not waste as much. So then you're not having to replenish things as quickly.
Amanda Vaught (15:39):
Yeah, we did that. We started doing that meal planning and also have had a lot of success with meal prep, which can be hard to fit in if you're pressed for time. But just spending for us, spending a little time on Sunday, making some food in advance has been a real money saver because you know, at the end of the day, you're tired, your kids are hungry. You're trying to get dinner on the table. And then, I live in New York City, so it's really easy to just say, let's just get takeout. Yeah, we can't deal. And if you have that meal prep you did from Sunday in the freezer or the fridge that you can just heat up. I mean, it's, it's really been a big thing for us that, you know, it saves you money, but it's also also healthier to eat that homemade food that you have instead of getting restaurant food a lot of times. Yes.
Emily Agosto (16:29):
So multiple benefits there. Yes.
Amanda Vaught (16:31):
Yes. That's where, that's what we're looking for. Right. Mm-hmm .
Amanda Vaught (16:35):
And then finally - I think around spending there is a lot of retail therapy, especially ... I don't know. Do men do retail therapy or is that just a women thing? Probably. Yeah. I think for guys it's more like electronics or I don't know, they have their things right. Or tools, you know? it's not like maybe they're not shopping for clothes or maybe they want to call it retail therapy, but it's that - I call that itch. You get to go out and see what's out there, see what's new in the electronic section and see what's new in the handbag aisle, whatever it is. And that makes people feel better to go out and buy those things. And if you're trying to save money and you're looking at big ticket items, that that can affect your budget. And so if you need to cut back on that type of thing, you have to find another place where you can scratch that itch. And so that could be, I think what Emily said, like at home Depot, you can go in there and you can rent a tool instead of buying it.
Emily Agosto (17:42):
Yep. That's very helpful.
Amanda Vaught (17:43):
Yeah. You can go to - I don't know. Now I'm stuck on trying to think of where you could get like used electronics or something. but oh,
Emily Agosto (17:56):
Go ahead. Yeah. I mean, you probably could find certain things if you're not looking for something specific. Like if you're looking for just a record player or something like that, you could probably find it on Craigslist or Facebook like the marketplace. And we're not saying you can't buy a big ticket item, just maybe plan for it better. And in the meantime, scratch your itch elsewhere. Like I know a lot of times I forget what I've bought, so I'll shop my own house and walk around, and it's like, oh yeah, I did have an extra candle or that extra plant pot and just swap it out. It makes you feel like you have something new
Amanda Vaught (18:31):
Mm-hmm . Yeah. And one thing I, I was doing a lot of shopping online and that was really, getting to be too much. And so what I started doing was I would still shop online, but I would just put stuff in the cart and then just leave it. And I would tell myself, you have to wait at least 24 hours before for you can click the buy button. And for me, that, that really worked really well. Because you go back - Yeah. It's surprising - You go back 24 hours later. You're like, oh, I don't really care that much about this anymore. Yeah for sure. So little behavior changes around certain things can really go a long way. Yeah.
Emily Agosto (19:10):
We could probably do a whole episode on behavioral finance in the future. Yeah.
Amanda Vaught (19:14):
Yeah. Maybe we should. Mm-hmm We hope that, some of these tips are helpful for you. If you try any of them, we'd love to hear from you.
Emily Agosto (19:22):
Find us at connecting the dollars dot com. We're on social media and all of that will be linked on our website. See you next time.
Amanda Vaught (19:29):
See you next time, Emily.
Emily Agosto (19:33):
For all links and resources mentioned today, head over to connecting the dollars.com. Thank you for listening.
Amanda Vaught (19:40):
This podcast is for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. This podcast does not engage in rendering legal, financial, or other professional services.