12 Old fashioned savings trends come back
12 Old fashioned savings trends come back

In a not too distant past we lived with short term credit facilities that usually made us want to work harder to pay off debts quickly. Credit was an honor, a loan to bridge the purchase of necessities until the next paycheck. I have always believed in owing up to the realities and one important reality of life is cash. 23 Years ago I said goodbye to Credit Cards and vowed to never apply for one again, no matter how many sensuous invitations I get in the mail promising the Universe and Kryptonite Kards with unlimited spending. Since I do most of the household shopping I compare, mix and match all weekly savings opportunities here on Amelia Island. From Walgreen’s to Walmart and from Publix to Harris Teeter, I spend an hour at least every week on finding savings. In doing so, I have identified some great comebacks in recent times, that all spell back-to-the-basics. I consider this the only way to go in today’s credit crunch. The sooner we all get to accept the realities of this recession the better. Here are some great re-inventions of fundamental credit that made a come back recently.

Comeback #1: Layaways Returns

You remember layaway, right? You put an item aside at the store and make payments along the way until it’s paid in full. Layaway was hugely popular for many years, but went the way of the dinosaur when credit cards came along and allowed for instant gratification (and debt!).
Thanks to the credit crunch, layaway is making a huge comeback. In fact, demand is so high at K-Mart that they have made layaway plans the centerpiece of a national marketing campaign!

Be aware that layaway plans are usually not free. Most stores charge a fee for setting up their plans and require a down payment. Despite the set-up charge, I much prefer layaway plan payments to maxing out your credit card.

Comeback #2: Cold Hard Cash

Say what? Can it be so? We’re starting to use the green stuff (instead of the plastic) again?
This harkens back to the “good old days” when credit was used sparingly and people were more frugal. (AND they had a heck of a lot more money in the bank when it was finally time to hang up their work boots.)
Makes sense — less credit, less debt.
In fact, Wal-Mart recently reported a while ago that credit card usage, as a percentage of total purchases, fell a full 10% this year already. Target and J.C. Penney have reported similar trends. Keep it coming!

Comeback #3: Coupons — With a Twist

Coupons are making a BIG comeback thanks to tougher times and the Internet.  Our parents used coupons ALL the time, and a new generation is catching on now that it is so easy to print out coupons from online sites.

More than 45 million Americans are expected to use online coupons this coming winter and Holiday Season from services such as CoolSavings.com, RetailMeNot.com and Coupons.com, which offer discounts on a wide variety of products from toys to food to cosmetics. Coupons.com has estimated that it saves consumers more than $450 million annually through its printed coupons redeemed at retailers.

That’s no chump change, so keep your printer smoking and your wallet a little fatter with online coupons!

Comeback #4: Making Your Own Heat

After steep years of decline, sales of wood stoves, wood boilers and stoves that burn pellets are still skyrocketing!
Energy costs eat up a big chunk out of every household‚Äôs budget, and wood-burning products can often be cheaper heat sources than oil, natural gas and electricity. There‚Äôs something kind of nice about them too, wouldn‚Äôt you say? Of course here on Amelia Island we only have a limited need for this in our mild winters, but still….

Comeback #5: Cloth Diapers

The disposable diaper is convenient, but costly!
It is estimated however that you’ll use $5000 worth of disposable diapers on a new arrival from birth to potty training, and that price is likely to go up as the price of oil works its way back to $100 per barrel (yes, we need oil to make diapers!).
Cloth diapers are now becoming the “save big bucks” alternative to disposable diapers. The cost of cloth diapers from birth to potty training is estimated to be $450. That’s less than 10% the cost of disposable diapers! Better crank up the washing machines! But hang them on a cloth line to dry.

Comeback #6: Seller Financing

Seller financing was practically non-existent before the crunch, because loans were SO easy to come by. All it took to get a mortgage was proof that you were breathing and the ability to sign your name. Plus, selling a home was a snap.  That house of cards has forever tumbled (you better believe me).  Lenders are much tougher to impossible with their standards now. (A little late, sorry to say.) As a result, credit at many of the conventional sources of borrowing has dried up. Plus, sellers are having a hard time selling and are looking to offer incentives to potential buyers.
If you’re shopping for a new home, you might find sellers who are offering financing and acceptable interest rates.

Comeback #7: Lease to Buy

Also making a comeback in the home-buying world is the old lease with an option to buy. It can be a win-win for both the buyer and the seller.
Quite simply, the buyer and seller negotiate a property lease for a specific period of time and agree on a purchase price. If the renter wishes to then buy the home, a portion of the rent is applied to the purchase price. This often happens at the end of the lease but could also take place any time during the lease.

For the potential buyer, it’s a wonderful opportunity to check out a home, neighborhood, schools and more BEFORE you make a big financial commitment. For the seller, it means immediate income at a time when buyers are scarce.
In the business world this would be the equivalent to a leveraged buy-out experience.

Comeback #8: Christmas Clubs / Graduation Clubs / Vacation Travel Clubs
Remember when the bank had a Christmas Club where you could open a separate account and put away money throughout the year? Then, a month or so before Christmas, you would close the account and use that money you had been tucking away for holiday shopping.

Well, we’re glad to say that Christmas Clubs are making a comeback! If you start early and tuck money away all year, holiday spending can be much less painful. This is a simple way to tuck money aside so you can pay for those holiday gifts with cash rather than giving yourself a nasty holiday debt hangover. The same goes for travel, graduation.

Comeback #9: Ironing

How much do you spend a year on dry cleaning? Many people don’t know, because we’ve become so accustomed to dropping off the dry cleaning rather than doing it ourselves. With people tightening their belts, the old ironing board is getting dusted off and used again.
Talk about old-fashioned. But, trust us, you can easily save a couple of hundred dollars by skipping the dry-cleaning. And since the advent of those home dry-cleaning products for your dryer, there really are no excuses except for the lack of your own elbow grease.
So pull out that heavy hunk of metal that‚Äôs been tucked away for who-knows-how long (it‚Äôs called an IRON)…and USE it!

Comeback #10: Family Dinners & Homegrown Food

Before the invention of the “icebox” (okay, we’re dating ourselves here), canning produce and other foods at the peak of their season was the one and only way to preserve food.
Well, guess what‚Äôs back in style, thanks to the new (tough) economy (and some serious food safety scares). Growing your own food…storing it yourself…and, alas, cooking and eating at home.
According to the manufacturer of Ball canning jars, sales of these jars have climbed a whopping 28%. It’s no wonder. Food prices have gone up anywhere from 5 to 10% and more in that same timeframe.

So the mantra of the day? Back to basics: Buy cheap (or grow your own) and store it yourself. Then cut back on the restaurants and make a home-cooked meal on occasion. Learn about great money saving dishes, quick to make and delicious, even in quantity.

Comeback #11: Public Transportation

If you’ve noticed that traffic is lighter these days, there’s good reason ‚Äî public transportation is back! I actually read recently that Nassau and Duval Counties have done a public transportation survey for preferred public transportation developments, where 84% of the respondents were in favor of improving public transportation.
In July, August, and September last year, bus and train riders took 2.8 billion trips ‚Äî a 7% increase over 2007. American commuters also drove 4.4% less in September than they did the year before. Of course this “new” behavior was also forced upon us by $4 a gallon of gasoline at the pump, but we’ve got news for you: that will come back sooner than you think.

There’s another good reason that buses and trains have become more popular, too, though.¬† People can’t afford to buy new cars, and repairs are not cheap!

Comeback #12: Pre-Paid Phones

OK, this one may not be quite so old, but at a time when people are looking for extra cash, many are foregoing “unlimited calling” plans for their cell phones and going with less expensive pre-paid phones.
The average monthly wireless bill, according to The Wireless Association, is $48.54…but text messaging, Internet browsing and other fees can push monthly charges above $100!
Instead, many people are opting for a pre-paid phone plan that might offer 100 minutes of calling for around $10.
If you only use your phone for an emergency or short calls, this could be a money-saver.

You can find pre-paid phones at many mass retailers, such as Wal-Mart. International calls can be absolutely free nowadays via Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOiP) providers such as Skype.

Well there you have it. Trends are developing, people are holding on to their hard earned cash and are trying out cost saving alternatives from way back when as well as new trends and opportunities.