Cost-cutting easily learned from experts

Books: Save a few dollars, or a few thousand. There are gobs of books just waiting to tell you where and how.

October 03, 1999|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Jonathan D. Pond not only writes books about personal finance and talks about the topic on public television, but he also puts the ideas into practice at home as soon as he dreams them up.

For instance, the Boston accountant-turned-author recently started buying more wash-and-wear clothing and using his iron and ironing board more frequently.

"I looked at $40 every time I went to the dry cleaners and I decided I really don't need that," said Pond, author of "1001 Ways to Cut Your Expenses" and a half-dozen other books. "I was previously spending $2,000 plus on dry cleaning. I've cut that in half."

Pond is far from alone in the lucrative market of dispensing cost-saving tips and advice on investing and leveraging money to the public. Bookstores are crowded with titles that promise readers ways to save money at a time when consumers have shown a passion for pinching pennies by making big business of outlet malls and wholesale warehouses.

Personal finance is such a hot topic that some bookstores have decided to capitalize on the burgeoning interest by offering lectures and holding discussion groups for the public.

The Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Ellicott City, for instance, offers a series of four different finance talks every few months. Each session focuses on one popular personal finance book -- with such titles as: "Six Secrets to Accumulating Wealth," "Wise Ways to Protect Your Assets," "Simple Solutions to Debt Elimination" and "The Roaring 2000s."

"Those are books that sell well," said Cindi Arnold, community relations manager for the Ellicott City Barnes & Noble. "Customers have expressed a lot of interest in this area. They've requested seminars."

Borders Books & Music in Columbia sponsors Tuesday night financial programs that highlight the personal finance books on its shelves.

In those books, authors such as Pond take simple ways to save pennies and demonstrate that by the end of a month or a year or a lifetime, the cost-cutting measures constitute big savings.

The authors advocate such practices as adjusting the thermostat by a few degrees. At home, Pond keeps his thermostat in the mid-60s during the winter months with a timer that further reduces the temperature to 60 in the middle of the night when his family is sleeping.

"Sweaters and blankets are a lot cheaper than fuel and electricity," he said. He estimates that those temperature adjustments save him $300 a year.

Pond also has taken to wearing shoes with rubber soles recently, eliminating the need to visit the shoemaker to get new leather soles.

"Not only are they more comfortable, they last longer," Pond said. "I would have to have had these shoes I'm wearing resoled twice by now."

Of course, some of the recommended cost-cutting tips have more universal appeal than others. For instance, one of Pond's books suggests that homeowners consider getting a goat. "It will not only mow your lawn but will also give you milk and cheese."

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