Frugal Living 
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Don’t Work Hard to Save Very Little

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It’s no secret I’m a fan of Kim Palmer, my biased review of her book Generation Earn is probably proof enough (though Trent also praised her book in his review), but her latest list of money saving tips, culled from fellow bloggers, has some horrible and dangerous suggestions.

For example, turning off your car while it’s still moving is dangerous. The idea is that you can use your car’s momentum to slide into parking spots or when you’re going downhill, saving a few drops of gasoline in the process. The dangerous part, which Kim notes, is that you have no power brakes and no power steering. What she doesn’t mention is the fact that if you try this while going downhill, you’ll have to spend time and attention restarting your car. Is it really worth the risk? I say no.

There are so many things any one person can do to save money (just take a peek of my list of 100 Money Saving Tips if you need ideas) that you should do the ones that have the biggest impact.

Reusing sandwich bags can save you $30 a year, cutting back on cable can save you $30 a month… and requires less work. Taking cold showers can save you a few dollars a month on energy bills, whereas brown bagging your lunch can save you a few dollars every single day.

I think it’s important to save money, in any form, but it’s even more important to maximize your savings by first tackling the ideas that have greatest impact.

{ 16 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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16 Responses to “Don’t Work Hard to Save Very Little”

  1. DJ says:

    I totally agree Jim. There is no point to save a few bucks when it puts you, your family, or someone else is danger! I have heard, and even practiced on occasion, of shifting your vehicle into neutral when going down steep downhills on the interstate or other roads, but never turning your vehicle off completely. That seems dumb and foolish.

    • Peregrine Carruthers says:

      Not a good idea. When you’re doing 60+ down the highway shifting from D to N and back to D is just risking transmission damage. That little bit of saved gas might end up costing you $3,000 in a rebuild.

      • DJ says:

        Good to know. I actually have not down that in years. I only did it in my first beater Jeep Cherokee with 200,000 miles. Might be one of the reasons I had to replace the transfer case….

      • uclalien says:

        I’m no car expert, so correct me if I’m wrong. But no damage is done to a transmission by shifting from D into N. A car naturally does this every time it changes gears.

        The only risk for damage is shifting from N back into D while traveling at a high speed. I was under the impression that transmission damage could be avoided simply by applying enough pressure to the gas pedal prior to putting the car back in D. By applying enough gas, your car recognizes the correct gear it should re-enter into. Thing is similar to what a car already does when shifting gears.

  2. Peregrine Carruthers says:

    Is that woman nuts? She’s going to get people killed. Better idea is to replace/clean air filter, make sure your tire pressure is correct, and keep the car in tune.

  3. Shirley says:

    Turning off your car while it’s still moving is dangerous, penny wise and pound foolish!

    The time worn adage “separate the wants from the needs” can be then followed up with ‘separate what’s really important to you from what is just nice to have’.

    I could have $10 per year dial-up limited internet access instead of $25 per month unlimited DSL and hubby could choose $20 per month basic cable TV instead of $60 Expanded Cable which includes the sports and history channels. Those things are important to us now in this stage of our lives. A new outfit, a fancy car, or the latest in tech gadgets might be fun, but they’re not really important to us.

  4. I think the savings you get from the momentum of your car while it is turned off will be far outweighed when you plow into the car in front of you since you no longer have power brakes or steering! ;)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Stopping your engine during car use demonstrates complete lack of knowledge of cars. This will NOT even save gas, as the few seconds of saved gas will be vastly overwhelmed by consumption of fuel during engine start-up. Besides, this will lead to wear and tear on your transmission, engine, and starters. Internal combustion engines are NOT meant to be frequently started/stopped during short periods, and also NOT meant to be run at super low speeds or to idle for long periods. Extremely pound foolish! Running a car to 500,000 plus miles saves more money and is better for the environment, provided that you aren’t tearing down the transmission or engine every 100,000mi or so. Listen to a skilled mechanic for car maintenance and operation advice, not a personal finance “guru”

  6. live green says:

    I understand that the car issue is dangerous and shouldn’t be done. But many of the other points she mentions are valid and don’t require that much effort. Also, things like recycling, composting and reducing energy use are others that “require too much effort” yet can save money and are good for the environment.

    There are also other factors to take into consideration. Taking cold showers or even just taking cold showers are two things that don’t save tons of money on your water/energy bills, but makes a huge difference for the environment and can actually be beneficial to your health. You could say that eating at home requires too much work because you have to prepare, cook and clean dishes, yet it can be much more nutritious for our families.

  7. Rob Carlson says:

    I have no problem with turning the engine off during long steep downhills.

    Pop-starting a manual transmission at 60 mph in fifth gear is not stressful on the car. Probably wouldn’t recommend it for an automatic transmission tho.

    You get 2 or three good pumps of the brake pedal even when the car is off. If you need more, just pop-start it back up.

    People used to drive all the time with no power steering. At highway speeds, you hardly notice the difference.

  8. jsbrendog says:

    seriously, the things people will do to save a couple cents….and then they go buy giant $5 lattes….the whole world is insane. people amaze me, and mroe often than not in a negative way

  9. cubiclegeoff says:

    It’s the same thing with energy efficiency. It’s easier and cheaper to conserve energy than it is to find ways to make energy production more efficient. People often feel like the choices that require more work are better and get us to our goals faster because it feels like something is getting done (you can feel like you’re saving gas while going down hill with the engine off because you know you shut down the engine), when there are a lot of things that are easy and don’t take a lot of work or thinking, but achieve the same goal or better (like a programmable thermostat).

  10. Instead, why not make sure you’re doing one or more of the following:
    Driving the speed limit or below it (in the right-hand lane, of course)
    Consolidating errands
    Walking instead of driving (when possible)
    Carpooling or using public transit (again, when possible)
    Keeping the car tuned up, tires properly inflated, etc.
    Done consistently these techniques would save you a lot.

  11. Stella says:

    When I was young, we lived at the bottom of a hill and my Mom always had a game where she’d try to see how early she could take her foot off the gas (car still running) and coast the rest of the way down the street to our house. I doubt we saved much in the way of money spent on gas, but it was free entertainment–and obviously we were easily entertained.

  12. Nate Hall says:

    I don’t know if Kim has some better tips in the book, but the example used here is ineffective. I appreciated your 100 tips to save money which I found useful. It’s one thing to be frugal and smart with money, it’s quite another to use tactics that don’t work or save very little in the long run.

  13. Kevin H says:

    Money is for spending. Though you want to save, when you need to spend money you should spend money. Bottom line, the goal is getting more bang for your buck.


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