Big Ideas, Big Savings: Where to Find Yours

For most of us, saving a few dollars each week is cause for celebration. Large-scale cutbacks seem impossible for most families—but are we looking for savings in the right place? A recent article illustrated the power of critical thinking when fourteen-year-old Survir Mirchandani’s discovered a way to save his school $21,000 a year in ink costs. As his chosen science fair project, Mirchandani discovered that his school’s printing budget was not the result of excessive paper or printer quality; it was the font used in school handouts. He predicted the five-figure savings of switching from Times New Roman to Garamond because the latter font requires less ink to print. Mirchandani’s rationale is turning heads and raising questions about potential savings in other organizations. In fact, he predicts that the same measures could save $234 million per year in state agency and federal government printing costs. That’s right, millions.

Survir Mirchandani possesses and undoubted gift, one that we as individuals should try to emulate in our own spending. Review the common expense below and their less-than-obvious solutions. Searching for deeper answers will help you on your savings journey.

 “My heating bill is too high! I should turn down the thermostat.”
You may be guilty of utility waste, but that isn’t the only reason for skyrocketing bills. Older homes can suffer from insulation inefficiency, leading to higher costs of heating and cooling, poor air quality, etc. Don’t limit your cost-cutting measures to the thermostat. Consider hiring an energy auditor to survey your home. He can help you identify potential problems and offer budget-friendly solutions.

“I need to save more money. I’ll ask my boss for a raise.”
Of course you want a raise—who doesn’t? Although a lucrative career is a definite credit repair asset, it isn’t the only way to cash in on savings. A little attention could save you as much as $100 per week, a lifestyle change that could pay off big in the long run. In addition to tightening your utility budget, cut 15 percent from your entertainment expenses and 10 percent from your necessity expenses such as food and transportation costs. Learning to live with less will help you save more, with or without a pay bump.

“My investments aren’t doing well; the market is to blame.”
After years of financial turmoil, it’s easy to blame the stock market for your bad luck. Yes, the market is fickle, but it’s not the only deciding factor of your investments’ success. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my risk tolerance? Is my money allocated accordingly?
  • Do I trust my financial planner? How often does he/she check in and review my portfolio?
  • Am I willing to change my investment strategy?

When it comes to long-term stability, learn how to manipulate the market and use your resources wisely. Do some research to identify all the possible causes of an investment slump. What you learn will help you make an informed decision.

“My credit reports are wrong, and it’s all the credit bureaus’ fault!”
One in five consumers has some sort of error on their credit report, whether it’s a misspelled name, outdated account or even a case of identity theft. While it’s true that the credit bureaus must report fair and accurate information, they are not the ones who supply it. Consider the following example:

Stephen checks his credit score regularly and is shocked to learn that it has dropped 25 points in the past three months. He orders copies of his credit reports and reviews them carefully, discovering that one of his credit accounts has been cited as unpaid. Furious, Stephen contacts the credit bureaus and demands a correction. He later discovers that his creditor’s clerical error let to the mistake on his report.

Consider all possibilities before jumping to hasty conclusions. Identify the problem by also identifying where it came from. Solutions come easier to those who reason rationally.

The bottom line: We could all afford to think like Suvir Mirchandani. Use your critical brain on the road to credit repair and savings. The answers you find could make all the difference.