MONEY MATTERS: 3 Money Tips To Save Big

One of the things I am into is saving money. I know that sounds kind of hoaky in this age of super cool and the ultra persona, but I’m old fashioned. I grew up in the 80’s. I saw what Middle America looked like in the old days and it was pretty quaint. There were only a few rich people in town, everybody else was pretty average.

My middle-class upbringing exposed me to an appreciation for saving money. Like my grandparents – they had huge piles of coupons lying on their kitchen table every single time I went over there. And my parents, I saw them save too. Buy less junk food, no new shoes, we don’t get the cool pants this year. Yeah, I’m still scarred from that one, but that’s a different story.

So I decided to put my middle-class upbringing to the test this week and push the boundaries of normal consumerism. Something more like Gonzo consumption. Here are the three little battles that added up to one big victory.

Cell Phone Victory

I spend a lot of time on the phone. I talk to clients, I gather information, I chat with my friends. So for the second month in a row I’ve gotten a little too crazy for my cell phone company and went over my minutes. That means it’s probably time for me to get a new plan because clearly this one isn’t working anymore. I call in and find out the only plan with more minutes is unlimited for $99/mo. My current plan was $50/mo. Not super pumped about doubling my monthly bill, I decided to hit the Street in search of a better deal.

That meant Googling “cheap cell phone deal” and sifting through the results. I came up with an offer from a leading cell-phone company for unlimited at $50/mo. That was half of what my current company had offered me! Looks like I’ve got a winner on my hands.

So I called back in and told them about my new offer. Without even blinking an eye, the young lady on the other end of the phone offered a “special” package besting the competition at $49.99/mo.

I was blown away. You don’t want me to send this offer to you? Do you want to verify that this is real? No such formalities. I was moved into the $49.99/mo crowd and sailed happily into my day.

The Olive Bar at Whole Foods

I don’t know what it is about Olives, but I love them. I think they are delicious. There’s something about that rubbery texture that just gets to me.

So it didn’t take me long to discover the olive bar at Whole Foods. No doubt this has to be the premier olive bar in the city, but it also happens to be expensive; to the tune of $8.99/lb. That’ above the $7.99/lb for the salad/hot bar but below $13.99/lb for premium roast beef.

I knew it would be dangerous for me to dabble with the olive bar, because to an olive lover, a pound of olives doesn’t really get you very far. But I couldn’t resist. So sure enough, a few months go by, and I am recklessly hitting the olive bar 2-3 times a week. My cute little romance with olives has turned into a $16-$20 a week habit, putting me out about $1000 at the end of the year. Holy smokes, I have a serious olive problem!

Anyway, long story short, I decided to cut back on the olives. Cutting some luxury or highly discretionary spending from your budget is a quick way to save cash. A friend also introduced me to quality olives out of a jar. They are cheaper and just as good.

Annual vs. Monthly

When I was at the gym the other day whaling away on the elliptical, I noticed some fliers announcing sales on annual memberships. At the time I was paying monthly, so I wondered if I could save some cash by shifting to a different model.

Turns out I could. My monthly rate was $45. Going to the yearly plan pushed that down to $34, adding another $11/month onto my roll. Not exactly rocket science or trading derivatives, but a guaranteed return none the less.

The Power of Numbers

So when you add all the little victories together you have something with real substance. In this case, that’s a monthly savings of $133 that comes out to $1500 at the end of the year. And who wouldn’t like to get a big check out of thin air once a year? It takes a little discipline and some strategic moves, but in a world that is ultra competitive to earn high wages, savings translate directly to the bottom line.

Savings Profile

  • Cell phone-$50
  • Olive Bar-$72
  • Gym Membership-$11



1.5 is a lot of money to most people – and certainly small biz owners who have overhead to manage in their storefronts. So there’s only one more point to make – what can you cut back on to save some cash for you?

MONEY MATTERS is a weekly column on the Retail Minded Blog that is contributed by Michael Vodicka, founder of boutique financial consulting firm the Vodicka GroupMONEY MATTERS is Retail Minded’s way of supporting independent store owners with all their financial concerns, real life needs and everyday issues both in and out of their  stores. You can find MONEY MATTERS every Wednesday on as well as in each issue of Retail Minded Magazine


  • Winny
    March 28, 2012

    Amazing how the things we see as too small to make a difference, all add up to a substantial amount annually. I got my dad to give me some advice on where to cut back, and his 1st suggestion was looking at my cellphone costs! He uses a senior plan (SVC) from Tracfone…no, I didn’t switch to the senior plan 🙂 , but his calculations on how much he was saving by spending under $10 a month because as a prepaid user, he now only spends what he needs, was enough to make me look at what was on offer in the prepaid sector. aid is soo much cheaper! That, combined with the savings due to planning before I do my shopping (thus less impulsive purchases) has already made a noticeable difference!

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