The North American culture is extremely individualistic. Individuals own all of their own items. If something is missing from a person’s repertoire of ownership they take a trip to Walmart or Target and then become the proud owner of yet another item. This individualism is not indicative of the world culture. Many culture groups live in community settings. Within the community people have joint ownership and joint responsibility. While I know that our culture will never fully become communal, I think it is important to recognize that forming small communal saving coalitions does provide significant cost-reducing opportunities. Besides, working together financially does seem to have some biblical foundations.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (Acts 2:44-45 NIV)
What I am suggesting is that groups of frugal friends can form money saving networks for mutual financial benefit. While not all of these ideas will apply, even a small group of five families adopting one idea could provide some drastic savings.
10 Ways To Work Together For Significant Financial Savings
Form a coupon sharing network
Have you ever come across a good coupon for a product that you don’t use? Truth is that someone, somewhere could use the coupon. Go ahead and clip the coupon and when you get together with your group, pass coupon envelopes around. Also, you might come across multiple coupons for something that is a great deal.
Create a shopping co-op
Buying in bulk does present some significant cost saving opportunities. However, at times buying in bulk is not a good alternative because (1) not enough cash up front, (2) not enough storage space, and (3) you use the product too much if you have bulk in the house. Get together with your group of friends and agree on products you normally buy. A representative does the shopping and then the cost is split equally.
For many families too much of their budget goes into entertainment. Things like video games, movies, books, and board games drain the budget. If, however, your saving group agreed that only one family would own each item and willingly share it, then those items could be shared, borrowed, traded, and exchanged – for everyone’s benefit.
Share high cost infrequently used items
This could be something like tools, machinery, or kitchen gadgets. Depending on location, this could even apply to items like lawnmowers and other household items.
Rotate home fix up days
What a great way to improve relationships, improve your home, have a lot of fun, and save money. Once a month everyone agrees to meet for an afternoon at one house and do some work on the house. It could be anything from cleaning to remodeling. Share your friendships and your talent.
Form a deal alert alliance
Agree that when you hear about a good deal or sale around town you will send out an email. Just add your group of friends to a contact group so anytime you hear about a promotion you can easily notify your friends.
Take advantage of group discounts
Many movie theaters offer discounted tickets to groups. Also, many community events like zoos or museums also have group discounts. Some locations will even allow you to buy group discounts and use the tickets on different days. Just call and ask about their group discount policy. My local credit union offer discounted movie tickets when you buy 10 tickets or more at a time.
Since we are all uniquely gifted, this can be an advantage for sharing resources and talents. One person in the group might be able to find cheap travel deals. Another is knowledgeable about financial issues. Another is a great cook. Trade services hour for hour.
Create a baby sitting co-op
Rotate baby sitting with friends. This works best if it is a regular schedule. Every second week or once a month one or two families might keep all the kids while the others go out for a date.
Host a monthly Bible study
The Bible has a lot to say about money and finances. Why not agree as a group to get together and encourage each other in our stewardship. This group is especially helpful for those seeking to become debt free.
Sure, some of these ideas are different, perhaps even radical. I have a book on my shelf that describes the church and it says the church ought to be ‘A Peculiar People’. It seems as though communal living should be a central facet of the Christian life. Unfortunately, we have individualized much of our lives. However, working together can be fun and result in some significant financial savings.
Photo by Rennett Stowe.
Any other ideas for how a community can cut costs? Which of these ideas do you think are practical and which are just pipe dreams?
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