I’m a work-at-home dad who freelances but ultimately we’re budgeted on my wife’s single income. That leaves me with a very important job, save money and spend wisely. Over the last year I have learned firsthand how to take advantage of the system as well as where to not get ripped off. I started thinking with the new year, “Why am I not sharing this info, that I’ve recently learned, with my fellow Jedi Dads?” I mean, the same info I’ve gained is just as advantageous for anyone else so whether you need to save money or not, it never hurts to avoid some pitfalls at the very least. This could probably spawn an entire series but for now let’s just start with six ideas.

3rd Party Warranties are The Darkside

Long story short, I bought the “Accidental” warranty for my phone for $139, which included drops, getting wet, etc, so when I dropped it in the toilet they were happy to replace my phone, as long as I paid over $150 admin fee and they would only replace it with the same phone…so at the end of day I would have to pay $289 for a two-year-old phone I could now buy on Amazon for $60. WASTE OF MONEY!

Want another example? We bought a couch that was pleather. Salesman said the warranty covers it under “upholstery” since it’s not real leather but when I called the 3rd party warranty company to verify this information, they said it looks like leather so they’ll treat it as leather and won’t cover it as upholstery. Needless to say we changed our mind and canceled the sale.

Moral of the story? The only warranties that may be worth the money are the ones directly backed by the store you bought it at or the product manufacturer itself.

Don’t Splurge nor Procrastinate

Allow yourself time to hunt and monitor internet site prices.  Amazon constantly has fluctuating prices so I suggest you monitor a particular item you want for a few weeks so that you can catch it at a much lower price. For example, I bought a pair of $130 Ray Bans for $74. If you’re not sure if a price you find is the lowest it’s been, or if the item really is marked down from the crossed out price that Amazon loves to show, then use https://thetracktor.com/…it’s amazing!

Some items come up every so often on sites like SlickDeals.net that you may want to preemptively buy from for future use, that you know you’re going to have to buy eventually anyways, so get it at the lower price.  For example, I have an Xbox Live subscription and every couple months they offer one for $30-$35 when it’s typically $60 everywhere else.  So buying one at the lower price saves me $30 later when I eventually need to purchase it anyways.

Do You YouTube?

Back in the days our parents and grandparents were forced to call plumbers, electricians, and other handyman types but in an age of YouTube and Google there really is no reason not to do some of the less dangerous things ourselves.

I saved hundreds of dollars by diagnosing what was wrong with my air conditioner and replacing its capacitor and all because I looked it up on YouTube.

Pinterest You Pinhead

If you think Pinterest is only for women…stop, that’s stupid. There’s loads of great subjects like cars, architecture, video games, basically anything and everything. However, I am guilty of using it in a home-keeper kind of way. One example of how it turned me into a bit of a hippy, without really meaning for it to, was when I refused to pay the outrageous prices of the Free & Clear type detergents. So I Googled alternatives about cheap, easy, and chemical-free solutions and Pinterest proved to have heaps of recipes on it. Now we probably pay about $15 a year for detergent instead of $15 a jug.

Don’t think that’s hippy enough? Well when my armpits started getting discolored (as if they were bruised) and wouldn’t stop flaking I knew something was wrong. And there was…my deodorant. The aluminum was getting to be too much for me that I had to find an alternative method. I found one recipe on Pinterest, tried it, added a manly smelling essential oil to it, and I can’t tell you how happy I am with it. Not only am I spending less than $20 a year on deodorant (and that’s for me and my wife), but it even works better in that it lasts all day and I actually sweat less with it. On top of that I’m also not applying chemicals under my arms where lymph nodes are and that gives me a little piece of mind.

Cut the Cord

Now I know what the pessimists and naysayers are going to say, “But when you get all the different subscription services it costs more than cable even does,” but they’re wrong…you can save money by ditching cable. Here’s how:

First, get a new antennae for around $7 off of Amazon. One that is highly rated and can get a majority of the free channels being broadcasted in your area (which you can check here). Broadcast is HD now so you shouldn’t have any issues with quality.

Second, subscribe to Sling TV. For $20 a month you can get ESPN, ESPN 2, AMC, A&E, History, History 2, TBS, TNT, HGTV, Cartoon Netowrk, ABC Family, CNN, Lifetime, IFC, and a plethora of other channels. Plus they have extra packages if your budget so inclines.

Third, do you already subscribe to Amazon Prime? If so, great, now you have a ton of television shows and movies at your disposal. Do you not have Amazon Prime? Great, now you can choose one of many subscription services to get television shows and movies from. Say you go with Netflix for $9/mo then you get their great lineup of original shows, great movies and television series, and a kids portion that will be more than enough for any half-normal child.

So when all said and done, after purchasing a $7 antenna, you’re looking at a TON of TV and movies for a grand total of $29/mo. If that’s not enough TV for you then you have a bigger problem…and if you want sports, go to a friends house or figure out the internet.

Quit Bad Habits

This one is way too obvious yet way too difficult compared to anything else on here. A lot of us make New Years resolutions but when it comes to bettering our health and lowering our stress, sadly that isn’t always enough to keep us going. However, this may be the place with the most savings and there’s nothing like money to be our biggest motivator.

Average smoker spends $2,000-$5,000/year on cigarettes (study here).

Average adult fast-food eater spends $1,200/year (study here).

Shopping too much can cause debt where the average American household already has a $15,270 credit card debt (study here).

See where I’m going with this one? It’s not easy but it does pay off. If you need accountability to help with these things find someone, open up to them, and ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with trying to better yourself.

Overall, these six ideas are just a jumping off point to help with changing the mindset that there aren’t places we can save, or stop wasting, money. How about you? Do you have ideas you want to share so to help the rest of us? Leave your comments below…and thanks!