Monday, July 16, 2012

Saving Money with Free Stuff

Not my campus but you get the idea
Let me tell you, government free stuff is amazing!!!  There is literally benefits for every citizen if you are just willing to spend the time to looking, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's set the stage a little bit.

A few nights ago, I had the privilege to watch a free movie screening (prior to DVD release) of a great flick on the lawn at my local collegiate neighbor. It was one of those family movie nights complete with summer students setting up the whole system and an inflatable projector screen. The movie on show was the "Five Year Engagement", and let me tell you that things were far more enjoyable when they are free! It was an evening program that started with a free concert from 6-8pm followed by a movie night. My wife and I got there, set up some chairs, and enjoyed our adventures together.
But that's not all the free stuff I've managed to take advantage of...

While pursuing my MBA, I received a special pass that allowed me to ride the subway in my town for free.  This was perfect, because the first stop of the rail was 2 blocks from my home and dropped me off right in front of my office building.  Normal fair round trip is $4, so you figure about 220 days a year I would need this multiplied by 3 years of my discount (I attended a 3 year part time MBA program), and I saved myself a handy $2,640 in travel expense.  Putting this in terms of retirement (with a compounded inflation adjusted 4% return each year), I saved myself $7,921!!!  Not bad.

Now here is the real deal.  While getting ready to purchase my first home, my wife was technically still in her Doctor's program at said institution which put us in a lower income bracket, because we were just living on my salary.  This was perfect, because it qualified us for a first time home buyers program in my city in which it paired up with local banks.  The offer basically had the bank match $4 for every $1 I put into a savings account over a 10 month period.  The max benefit would net me $7,500 plus the $1,875 I saved personally which gave me $9,375 to put towards closing costs and a down payment.  These housing programs are located in more municipalities than you may think, and it doesn't stop at just first time home buyers.  My city is still currently offering a grant of $15,000 for someone to remodel a house within the city limits.  The only caveat is that you have to live in the house for 15 years.  In my case, my program deemed 5 years to be enough.  However, if for some reason my wife and I had to move out before that 5 years was up, we would only have to pay back the grant on a pro-rated basis.  In other words, if we only lived in the house for 3 years, we would only have to pay back 2/5ths of the loan back or $3,000.  If you take into account the time value of money and a 3% inflation rate, that $3,000 is really only $2,738.

So what am I getting at with all these savings?  Let's just say I'm no expert at finding deals, but I put in the work and check out every lead I get on potential government programs.  Checking your local town or city's website could lead you to some home buying programs that may save you big.  Simple web searches on savings in your area can also help, however the best method is getting involved in your community and asking around.

Wonderful Moment of the Day:  Seeing a free movie and my wife run up to a guy handing out free popcorn only to grab the 3rd to the last box.

No comments:

Post a Comment