Saving for Law School $50 at a Time

Watch your power bill. As an electrical engineer I play with a lot of cool toys at work, most of which I can't explain to other people. But, the Kill-a-watt meter is another matter. I can explain it to anybody, even those who don't want to know like my personal heater loving work buddies who keep their heaters running all summer long because the office AC is a tad to high for them and they don't want to through a cardigan on over their cute summer clothes. Even they understand how this tool works when I use it to show them how much their heater is contributing to the overall electric bill, not to mention the environment.

This energy meter measures electricity usage and calculates electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year. I took it home and plugged into the outlet that my TV, DVD player, cable modem and wireless router are plugged into. I was stunned to find out that these appliances consume 10% of my electricity bill every month, even when turned off and I'm not using them! I can save 10% just by turning off the power strip on these things when not using them, amazing! Over 1 month that's $9.00, over the next year that's over $100.00. I also feel more environmentally friendly by reducing my power consumption. I am also going to unplug my paper shredder, PC computer, microwave, toaster and other appliances which I don't use daily and see how much my power bill goes down.

Cable tv $49.99 a month, nothing interesting on when I want it. Blockbuster by mail $17.99 a month for 3 discs at a time with unlimited in store exchanges. I can watch an entire season of my shows at once rather than wasting time with commercials or money with cable. I can choose when I want to watch shows without needing a DVR and I won't be sucked into pointless shows that happen to be on. Savings $32 x 12 months = $384.00/year You'll save even more if you are actually in law school without a hubby who watches tv and can go without tv entirely. Also, while you're on the phone with your cable company getting rid of your movie channels you should see if you can combine your services and save money. I was able to combine my cable internet, cable tv and land line and save enough that the cable internet was basically free. Some companies even let you combine your cell phone bill as well.

Make your credit card pay you. If you are the type who is able to pay your balance in full every month get a card who pays you a cash reward. If you know that you're going to be paying for a trip home to see the family every year a mileage reward card might make sense to you. Otherwise, while you're in law school a mileage card probably doesn't make too much sense. Instead get a card that offers cash back. The American Express Blue Cash card offers up to 5.00% back on everyday purchases and 1.5% on everything else after the first $6,500 dollars spent. It offers slightly lower percentages back before you hit $6,500. If you spend a less per year you can check into the Capitol One card which offers 1% back from day one and a 25% bonus at the end of the year. Also, ask your school if they take credit cards for your tuition bill. You might be giving yourself a discount on tuition, however slight. Just make sure you pay it off at the end of the month. In other words, wait until your loans have dispersed into your savings account before paying with your card. It won't save you any money if you are paying late fees and interest every month. We used our airline miles to pay for our law school visit trip last year, saved $1,300 in airfare. This year we'll be using our cash rewards card to save up for moving expenses. This isn't the time to be getting Victoria's Secret rewards which will only do you good if you continue purchasing more stuff. Store credit cards probably aren't your best option at this point.

Contribute to abundance, if you no longer need something , pass it on. Join your local freecycle group on yahoo. You can get rid of your things in an environmentally friendly manner and score things that you really need from others. I've been able to get rid of an old computer monitor this way that would have ended up in the garbage otherwise and the person who received it saved at least $50.00 over buying one.

Some of the best money savers are also environment savers. In my community the bus is free during the winter months. Taking the bus in the winter and biking in the summer saves me $40-$60 a month in gas.

Don't spend any $5.00 bill that comes your way. I saw this tip in Women's Day magazine, one of those Mommy magazines in Dr.'s offices. Apparently the lady who sent in this tip did it for five months leading up to a vacation and saved $485. Might not work for me though as I usually use credit cards to get airline miles. I rarely have cash as it tends to burn a hole in my pocket.

Now I want to point out something else, how $50.00 grows. If you save $50.00, even with no interest at all:

$50/month after 6 months is $300, after 1 year is $600 and after 3 years that's $1,8000
$50/week after 6 months is $1,300, after 1 year is $2,600 and after 3 years you'll have a J.D. and $7,800

That should put a dent in some of your student loan interest.