Want to save money? Take notes. Seriously.

Ways to save money are everywhere, but you have to see or hear them. Then write them down.

John Nordell / The Christian Science Monitor / File
Karicerys Mateo takes notes during her GED science class in Holyoke, Mass. People could save money by writing down shopping bargains, advice from plumbers, and so on.

Whenever I’m traveling in new circles or meeting groups of people I don’t know well, the conversation usually turns into discussion of what everyone does professionally. When I explain that I’m a writer and mention The Simple Dollar, it’s not long before people at the table are usually tossing money-saving tips at me of all kinds.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting across from an elderly man when this same conversation thread came up. He looked at me and said, “Do you want to know what the best way I’ve ever found to save money is?”

“What’s that?”

“Take notes.”

I was baffled by this idea. What exactly did he mean?

I was already a person who carried a constant pocket notebook and jotted down notes all the time on various things. I considered it useful for not forgetting things – like ideas, things to do, appointments to keep, and so on – but I never considered it incredibly useful as a pure money-saver.

So I asked the man to elaborate – and he did, at length. He pointed out several opportunities when taking notes can save you a huge amount of money.

When people are talking about deals If you overhear people talking about places to find bargains on an item, pulling a notepad out for note-taking can result in a lot of money saved.

At the doctor’s office Asking for everything you can do to help your condition – and writing down those tips – can make a huge difference in overcoming a physical ailment and avoiding further medical bills.

When repairmen tell you things Similar to a doctor’s visit, asking for further preventive steps – and writing them down – can save you further bills.

At the store I already did this, but he also mentioned the advantage of simply having a pad and pen out at the store to jot down any seeming bargains.

Preparing a list If you keep your pad with you as you do housework and work in the garage, it becomes very easy to jot down things that you actually need as well as the specific brand and size you use. This saves on guesswork, mistaken purchases, and unnecessary extra trips.

These are all incredibly useful ways to save money just by having a notepad near you. Over the last few years, I’ve adopted the habit of having some sort of note-taking device (I’ve tried several, but I usually wind up back at the basic notepad and pen) in my pocket and I simply pull it out any time I think of or hear something noteworthy, from appointments or ideas to the kinds of money saving tips mentioned above.

In terms of little things that save me lots of money and time and energy, my pocket notebook ranks right up there near the top, and these money-saving ideas are just icing on the cake.

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