Thrifty readers share tips

September 03, 1993|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Staff Writer

Baltimore police officer John Papier has never purchased a new car in his life -- and has a healthy bank balance to show for it. Retiree Thomas Millenburg and his wife, Helen, spend about $1,200 when they go shopping -- yet end up saving almost $400 a year by buying in quantity. Frequent withdrawals from automatic teller machines caused administrator Michael Morsberger to blow a lot of cash -- now one monthly withdrawal means less impulsive spending and more savings.

More than 50 people answered The Sun's request to share money saving tips with other readers. The request was part of a story on how to budget and increase discretionary income.

Some of the suggestions called into our SUNDIAL system were of the tried-and-true variety. Anne Arundel County's Michael Travers paid off balances on about 15 credit cards and now keeps only one. Ann Saunders of Cockeysville writes down everything she buys so she can keep track of her spending. And many callers have taken advantage of low interest rates by refinancing mortgages.

Other tips were more unusual: Baltimore's Yulanda Tisdale uses all-purpose soap for dishes and clothes, baking soda as a deodorant, toothpaste and antacid, and balled-up aluminum foil to scrub pots.

Listen up to a few money-saving tales. They could add up to

more money in your pocket.

* Do you really need a new car? Buying used cars, instead of new cars, is a sure-fire way of having more money on hand, John Papier says. "When you aren't paying a car note, you can save a whole lot of money," he says.

And don't shed any tears for Mr. Papier. He doesn't tool around town in cast-off, rusty junk-mobiles. "I've owned three Cadillac, two Lincolns and four Mercedes," the Fallston resident says.

Last year, he sold a 1976 Lincoln with 140,000 miles on it for $1,000. When he bought it in 1979 for $3,600, the car had about 20,000 miles on it.

Now he's driving a 1985 Ford LTD with 45,000 miles that he picked up for $2,000 cash. "A friend who has a Mercedes was in my car the other day and said how much he liked it. I told him that what I paid for this car and every car that I have owned in my life does not equal what he paid for that one Mercedes he owns!"

People usually buy new cars for emotional reasons -- not out of need, Mr. Papier says. "When people get close to paying off that last car note, they have these psychological excuses for buying a new one. They say they hear a noise, or a ping, anything. They go buy a new one and just keep that car note going."

* Think bulk. Thomas Millenburg, a retired export manager, buys food and household staples by the case. Toilet and facial tissue, juice, canned goods, detergent, frozen food, these are some of the items he mentioned.

"We buy several cases of each item," the Parkville resident says. "You save two ways, it's cheaper by the case and you save on escalating cost." Besides the estimated $300 or $400 he saves each year, there is an extra added benefit. "Its a really good thing for seniors, you don't have to worry about running out to the store every time you run out of something," he says.

* They are entirely too convenient. You know what they are. Those little money machines never far away from wherever you happen to be.

"Our problem was the whole ATM convenience," says Michael Morsberger, the development director at Calvert Hall College high school.

He and his wife, Marybeth, public relations director for Montebello Rehabilitation Hospital, haven't ripped up their ATM dTC cards but they no longer make frequent withdrawals.

At the beginning of the month, they each put aside a designated amount of money for incidentals like gas money and entertainment. Now, they know how much they have to live with for a month and stick to it. Occasionally one runs out of his or her allocated amount, but there is only one acceptable recourse.

"You have to beg and plead to the other spouse," Mr. Morsberger says only half in jest. "And we are tough on each other!"

They have done other things like having car insurance deducted monthly from the checking account. "We used to get that bill once a year, then worry about paying it," he says. Discipline, the Morsbergers discovered, is the answer. And discipline means increased savings, part of which goes into a college account for their 22-month-old daughter, Courtney.

* Have goals in mind. Rosemarie Reed owns her own home in Northeast Baltimore, has savings, investments and is on her way to a secure financial future. All this at the age of 30.

"When I got out of college eight years ago, I only had a couple of hundred dollars," says Ms. Reed who works in computer systems support. She earns a decent living, but "not that much."

Ms. Reed lives within her budget by being a careful shopper who does not buy on impulse. "I pack my lunch for work every day, shop around for the best prices and use coupons," she says.

She does not carry a balance on credit cards and still drives the same car she bought eight years ago. "I did make a couple of good investments and bought some stock," she says. Ms. Reed keeps a minimum amount in her checking account and regularly contributes to a mutual fund.

When she got out of college, one of her goals was to own a home. She bought one four years ago -- and has recently refinanced the mortgage.

L Says Ms. Reed: "I'm real conscious of where my money goes."

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