5 Ways To Save Money In Central New York
I know, this is a pretty broad topic. That’s because I’m going to jump around and talk about 5 different types of things, so it’s not all specifically seasonal or food or restaurants or whatever. These are just 5 things I’ve noticed over the years that will help you save a bit of money, some I’ve written about elsewhere, and some I picked up on my own.
1. National Grid is your best buy for utilities
This one might sound like a commercial and that I might be getting paid for it. Nope, nada, zip! During the time I was on the road consulting in another city, I kept wondering why my utility bills were so high when neither me or my wife was home, and I had the temperature pretty low. I knew about the polar vortex and such, but it wasn’t an every day occurrence.
Then in June of 2015 I took one of those calls I shouldn’t have, made a decision I immediately regretted, and called National Grid to ask if I could cancel it, even though it wasn’t them that called initially. That’s when I found out that I’d supposedly signed up with another energy company in 2011 and that their rate was 3x when National Grid’s rate was; ouch!
You know what’s happened? My average winter bill dropped from around $515 a month to barely over $200! Sure, I use a kerosene heater to help keep me warm but I’m not running it throughout the entire house. My bill for the month of December this year… $185! Let someone else beat that on a consistent basis. 🙂
2. Bigger isn’t always cheaper
You know how you’ll go to the store and see something that comes in different sizes. The common theory is that you should buy the bigger item because in the long run you’ll save money on it. I’m here to teach you that’s not always true.
You need to look at that little yellow tag underneath all items. The number usually to the furthest left tells you how much you’re paying per unit. If you’re paying attention, sometimes you’ll notice that for the larger items that number is actually higher than if you bought the smaller items.
The reason for that is because items aren’t always priced by volume; sometimes they’re priced by how well they sell in that particular store…. and it can be tricky. Some stores will charge a higher price for the large item because more people buy it, which means they can make a bigger profit off you. Other stores will discount it to encourage you to buy the product because it costs more to store. In either case, it’s something you should look at… including in the large outlet stores locally; I’m not naming names. 🙂
3. Shop around for your pharmaceuticals
Most people have all their prescriptions filled at the same place for convenience. That might work if you have insurance and it pays a big portion of those pharmaceuticals. What should you do if your insurance doesn’t cover enough of it, or even a part of it?
During a period when I didn’t have insurance, I decided to shop around, and found some amazing differences in pricing. For instance, I’m diabetic so I need insulin; did you know that Walmart has their own insulin, two different types, and that the one I use only costs $24.95 a vial? For comparison, many people are paying more than $200 for a box of pens which they sometimes have to buy twice a month. If you’ve been hearing about the price of insulin rising everywhere else, know that this price hasn’t changed in 4 years. Oh yeah; you don’t even need a prescription or insurance for it!
I also need syringes for that insulin. Turns out that Price Chopper offers syringes for free… yeah, I said that, free! Almost everywhere else a box of 100 syringes costs at least $30; no thanks! You do need a prescription but free is free.
One more pharmaceutical I need is called metformin. I get that at Wegmans because it’s only $10 for a 3-month supply. Almost everyone else is charging at least double for the same thing; once again, this is with a prescription and without insurance getting in the way.
4. Breakfast restaurants are affordable; for everyone else, check prices online first
I’m someone who eats out a lot because I like finding new places that serve the type of food I like, as well as going back to places that I feel comfortable at. This is one area I can offer great advice on when it comes to price.
Every traditional breakfast restaurant in the area will serve you a pretty good meal for under $10… many for under $5! Almost no one can ruin eggs or toast, although some have ruined bacon; it happens… If you like going out for a meal here and there but don’t want to spend a lot of money, breakfast should be your choice.
The worst deals I’ve found overall seem to be buffets. Some like Ling Ling’s in North Syracuse might have a lunch buffet that comes in around $8.50 per person, which isn’t too bad because of all the choices they have… and it’s Chinese food! lol Others might have a lot of choices but you have to gauge just how much food you’re going to eat or “should” eat in deciding how much you’re willing to pay for it.
I’ve found that, other than Ling Ling’s, I can’t eat that much food anymore. So paying $20 per person for a buffet anywhere is a major waste of money… even though I’ve done it in the past. I’ve started checking the prices for both buffets and other items online first because it can save both a lot of money and a lot of stress. I’ll pay big money for things I want that I can’t make on my own (like salmon teriyaki) but would rather be a bit more perspicacious when it comes to everything else.
5. The best option for your entertainment spending power is…
This one’s easy; the Hollywood Theater in Mattydale offers movies at around $2 for most tickets, $3.50 for 3D, and that’s even with the upgraded seating. Sure, you’re going to have to wait some time before they’ll be showing any of the top movies but if you’re keen on seeing something and you don’t have to see it immediately, this is the best option in town. Oh yeah; if you go to a regular movie on Tuesdays it’s only $1.50!
If you’re looking at sporting events, the best prices for “real sports” (yeah, I said it!) goes to the Syracuse women’s basketball team (you remember, 2016’s finals runner up), which you can get for $10 per seat, or the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team, which runs around $12 (this was 2016’s price; I couldn’t verify a new price for 2017).
Finally, just to throw this in, the ticket prices for this year’s New York State Fair are only $10 per day, which is practically a steal, thus becoming the best priced thing for a short time event (just don’t eat too much at the food vendors lol).