With the higher and higher cost of living these days, many of us are left struggling trying to make ends meet. These days I’m always looking for a new way to save money. Things are tight all over. If you haven’t already done it you might want to sit down and write out a budget. Figure out where ALL your money is going. You can’t stop “leaky pockets” if you don’t know where the leaks are. Once you’ve done that it’s time to see just where you can make some changes in the way you spend.
I’ve compiled a list of things that I hope will be helpful to some. If you have some other ways you use to make your dollar stretch, please feel free to leave a note in the comments!
In no particular order at all … Lets get started!
1. Check out your phone service. Do you have a homeline and a cell phone? Are both really necessary? There are several good cell phone provider’s out there and rates are starting to be quite competitive. Some prepay cell phone plans are even cheaper than a monthly service.
2. If you have a high speed internet connection, consider loosing your home phone long distance carrier and use a program like Skype to talk for free. Or consider Magic Jack or Uma. Very very low cost phone service.
3. Take a look at your car insurance coverage. When was the last time you compared insurance prices? I’d been using one of the “Big” companies for a few years, having found that at the time they had some of the best rates around. Recently I decided to see if I could find a better rate. I was ecstatic to find that I could save over $300 a year with a new company! Shop around. You never know what is out there if you don’t look for it.
4. Pay your insurance annually. You can save a few more bucks a year this way. My insurance company charges a $5.00 fee every month if paying by the month.
5. Are you paying your bank to be their customer? There are too many banking services that offer free checking to be paying your bank for the “privilege” of doing business with them. Lots of banks will require direct deposit or a minimum number of debit card uses per month for free checking but that’s not a big price to pay for free(ish).
6.If you are printing something from your computer, check the “Print Preview” first then print only one page. Most of the time you can save your printer from using a second page and save ink as well.
7. Invest in a solar dryer. Hanging your laundry out not only saves money on your utility bill, it just smells so much better!
8. Use cold water in your washing machine. It’s the action in the washer that cleans the clothes!
9. Unplug anything that is sucking “ghost power” We’ve got a power strip that we can flip on and off when we need to.
10. I like to declare a baking night when it’s cold and I’m going to be using the oven. It warms up the house and you get yummy goodies too!
11. Turn down the thermostat. We aren’t blessed with alternate heat (yet) so we use electric heaters in the RV. They have a thermostat we crank down to about 60. This may be a little cool for some but learning to layer your clothes in the winter can save you money. That’s why they make sweaters you know! 🙂
12. Speaking of turning down the thermostat, you can save money if you’ll turn down your hot water heater to 120. Most are set to 140 degrees. You’ll still have hot water but you won’t be scalding yourself!
13. Keep your air conditioner filters changed/cleaned. This helps keep the AC from working so hard.
14. Use your laptop instead of the home computer. It runs on batteries therefore it can save you money since it’s not always plugged in.
15. Speaking of computers, set your computer to “doze off” after 10 minutes of non-use. This will save on your electric use as well.
16. Close off the rooms in your house you aren’t using to save on heating and cooling. Around here we close off the bedroom when we get up and open it up an hour or so before bed. In the spring/summer, use the weather when you can. Open up your windows at night to catch cool breezes and close them before it gets hot again outside the next day.
17.Make your own household cleaners. You can make your own all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, de-greasers, floor cleaners, anti-bacterial wipes and many other things to use around the house. Not only are they cheaper… err…frugal…. they are also “Green Products” made from things you probably already have on hand. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and alcohol are just some of the ingredients you can use.
18. Make your own laundry soap. I’ve been making my own for a couple of years now and have saved a ton of money. It works well, it’s easy to make and it’s inexpensive. Have you seen the price of some of the name brand laundry soaps lately?? You can make your own for pennies a load. I just love it! And I love the savings too.
19.This one may not be for everyone but I cut my husbands hair. We invested in a pair of clippers a few years ago which makes it so easy to do. He looks good and it’s also saved a ton of money. Now I just need to learn to cut mine.
20.Craigslist, Freecycle, Penny Papers, Thrift Stores and yard sales all can provide most things you are looking for. Why buy new when gently used is so much less expensive?
21. Can you borrow what you are looking for? Sometimes there are things tht you only need once. Maybe your neighbor already has “one”?
22. If you do have to buy new, choose wisely. Well made products may cost a bit more but they tend to be durable.
23. Check out 3 month supplies of prescriptions thru mail order. With some insurance plans you can have your medications for much cheaper via mail order. Especially those that you have to take every day.
24. If you are on medications, ask your doctor for the generic drug. Places like WalMart and Target have hundreds of generic medications for $4 each.
25. Drink more water! Not only is it better for you than those soda’s but it’s FREE.
26. Keep your freezer full. If you have to, put milk jugs or 2-liter bottles of water in the freezer. It’s less expensive to run a full freezer than an empty one.
27. Have a no-spend weekend, or a no-spend week, or if you think you can do it, try a no-spend month! Guaranteed to make you take a look at how your money actually works for you.
28. Check out shopping online. For example, we recently had to replace the starter on our car. The auto parts store wanted $150 for a replacement. We went online to Ebay and found the same exact starter for $30. (and free shipping) Quite a savings.
29. Plastic grocery bags can be reused all sorts of ways. A regular size plastic grocery bag will fit in most bathroom trash cans as a liner. Use them as lunch bags. Going to the park? Take extra’s for your trash and for things like wet towels and swimsuits.
30. Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Along the same line, use kitchen towels instead of paper towels whenever you can.
31. Shop “Seasonal Sales”. This not only goes for food but for just about everything. For instance I buy all my “stationary” once a year. Notebooks, office supplies, pens, pencils, sharpies etc are bought during the Back-To-School Sales. There’s a “season” for just about everything. (http://www.livingrichlyonabudget.com/grocery-sale-cycles-when-do-things-go-on-sale)
32. If you are going to college, consider your local Jr College to get some of your core classes out of the way. Most Jr College credits will transfer to a University but be sure to check first. Attend an in-state college and save a ton of money. Also, try finding used books. You can find them online for wayyyy less than they want in the college bookstore. Consider auditing classes that you are interested in but don’t “need” for your degree.
33. Lots of folks use CFL light bulbs to save energy. I’m not one of them. Personally I think they are dangerous and don’t belong in the home. You can save money over the long run by switching to LED lighting where ever you can.
34. Never ever spend your change. Set a goal and save for it. You would be amazed at how much money you can save this way.
35. Open the curtains/drapes on the sunny side of the house during the daytime and close them on the shaded side(in the summer I reverse that). This works very well on sunny, non-windy days. This allows me to use natural light as well.
36. Try your hand at DIY projects. YouTube is a goldmine of hands on visual teaching. You would be amazed at how many things you can learn to repair or make at home at pennies on the dollar compared to their store bought counterparts.
37. Make your own gifts instead of buying. If you are good at crafting, knitting, sewing or crochet you may already be doing this. You can also make some pretty cool gifts if you don’t know how to do any of these things. You can make Food Mixes in Jars, Homemade Jerky for the guys, jellies, jams, candy, breads, cookies, candles, soaps…. all sorts of things that take very little money. Did I mention that they will love the homemade touch AND they can use the gift instead of it being shoved into a closet somewhere to be re-gifted later on. Don’t forget to include a handwritten note with your gift. It makes it so much more personal. Oh, and did I mention all the money you can save doing this?
38. If you are considering making a big purchase why not try waiting 30 days and then see if you still feel the need for the item. I find myself sometimes not needing something nearly as much as I thought I would three or four weeks later.
39. Yes, I know smoking is horrible for you. Stop if you can (or if you want to). This can save a TON of money over a years time.
40. I’m still a smoker. I buy my tobacco and the cigarette tubes on line and roll my own. A pound of tobacco and 2 1/2 boxes of tubes are under $25.00. That comes to $1.oo a pack. Not a bad savings at all.
41. Do your own auto maintenance. Learn to change your own oil. Keep your tires properly inflated. Wash your own car. Check your own fluid levels. All these things cost $$ when someone else is doing it for you.
42. When traveling, pack yourself some goodies from home. Instead of stopping somewhere and laying out cash, consider packing a nice lunch. Stop at a park along the way if you need to stretch.
43. Try planning your vacations in places you have friends and family you can visit. Staying with Aunty Em could save you a ton of money!
44. If you are going to be traveling for more than a day, find a local grocery store and buy your foods there.
45. Consider a vacation in your local area. Camping at the lake or river is not only fun but it’s really inexpensive. Even if you don’t have camping gear many state and corp parks have cabins you can rent. You’ll still save money and have an awesome time while you are at it.
46. When running errands, try running them at “off peak times”. You’ll be able to save time and gas by not having to wait in 5’o’clock traffic. You’ll spend less time looking for a parking spot too!
47. When you have errands to run, make a list. Stop making all those extra trips in the car. Gas is expensive. Get it all done while you are running around in one trip.
48. Boardgames are a fun way to spend an evening at home with the kids. Pop some popcorn and have some fun!
49. Take advantage of your local area for having some fun. Festivals and free concerts, parks and lakes cost next to nothing and can get the whole family out of the house for awhile. There are free basketball courts, disc golf, tennis courts and playgrounds. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch!
50. Check out your local community events and hit the fun ones. Lot’s of time you can get free entertainment and meet some new folks. To find special events and festivals, pick up a free state tourism guide.
51.Instead of going out to the movies, subscribe to a DVD rental service like Netflix. No late fees and no gas used going back and forth to the movie shop!
We chose to disconnect from tv here. To have it installed here is an expense that I’m not willing to pay. We do have internet acces for news, weather and “fun” stuff. Our internet provider has a bandwidth usage limit that doesn’t allow us to stream movies. What we’ve chosen to do instead is to not for everyone. We rent Netflix DVDs and watch one per evening. Our total cost for both the internet and the Netflix is still less than having tv on satellite.
52. Think about loosing some of those cable channels you never watch. Sometimes it’s cheaper to rent a movie occasionally than to keep all those extra channels. Do you really need 259 different channels? You could save a good bit of money by at least getting rid of some of those channels you never even watch anyway.
53. Rediscover your local library. Depending on where you live you might be amazed at all they have to offer. Free Books, DVD’s, CD’s, internet service. What’s not to like? Some even offer E-Books for lending.
54. Libraries have lots of programs your tax dollars pay for anyway….story tellers, classes for adults, movie nights, nice bi-lingual people who do taxes, videos, internet access, etc. Not to mention magazines and newspapers, so drop your subscriptions. You know they just pile up to be recycled after the first read-through anyway.
55. Cancel magazine subscriptions. Read them at your local library.
56. If your town or county has a community college, you can usually join that library as well. It is available to all community members.
57. Check out the Amazon Kindle Reader. Even if you don’t have the actual “reader” you can download a version for your computer. There are 1000’s of books offered free at any one time.
58. Instead of going out how about inviting friends over. Just about anything you do at home will be cheaper than going out. Fire up the grill or put on a potluck dinner. Maybe watch a movie or play some cards and have a few drinks. Always fun and easier on the pocket too.
59. Here’s another along the same line. Get together with a group of friends and all take turns at being hostess for dinner and DVD’s. Everyone else gets a night out of the house and your turn only comes up once every two or three or four times.
60. I like to keep a running list of the things I use. Mine is on my fridge. A friend of mine keeps her’s inside her pantry door with a pen attached to it so she can jot it down as she takes it out of the cupboard. When you remove something from your pantry write it down so you will remember to replace it. And always remember to rotate your groceries. This makes sure you don’t end up with wasted food. There is nothing worse than having to toss out something that you could have used if you had just rotated it in your pantry!
61. Check out the weekly ads in your area BEFORE you go shopping and use it to help with making your list. Once you get your pantry stocked up you can use this “tip” to help you prep and save money while you are doing it. The idea is to try and NEVER buy anything that isn’t on sale or doesn’t have the best bang for the buck so to speak.
62. Always shop with a list
63. If you have to veer off the list… make sure it is because you have found a REAL bargain. Try and give yourself a little “leeway” just in case you find one of those Unadvertised Specials. Don’t make a habit of it but always try to be aware of these specials and jump on them if you find yourself a good bargain!
64. Use coupons. You CAN save a lot of money using coupons. There are tons of websites dedicated to couponing. Check them out and do a little homework. Check out stores that offer double and triple coupons. Don’t buy things that you will not use or that you don’t need. Remember: Eat what you Store and Store what you Eat.
65. Never shop when you are hungry. There is no better way for me to load up on “crap” than when I go to the store with the munchies. All the sudden everything looks good!
66. Try to shop alone. Think about it. When you take the kids or even the significant other how often do you find yourself buying things you had NO intention of getting when you walked in the store?
67. Check out the store brands. Not always, but more often than not, the store brands are just as good and usually less expensive. If you try the product and don’t like it, most stores will refund you your money. They want your business and want you to come back. I have actually taken back the label of an empty can of soup once that I thought was disgusting. They gave me my $ back! OK I know this one isn’t a tip for the faint of heart but hey ….if you are cheap….er frugal…
68. Compare unit prices. I have found this to be really really helpful. Most all stores show the price per ounce. Lot’s of times what you “thought” was a good deal really isn’t at all. Compare the per ounce costs of each item. You would be surprised at how many times “bigger is not always better”.
69. Buying in bulk can save money. Be careful with this one though. I have found lately that some smaller sizes are actually less expensive than buying in bulk. This is where watching your “unit” prices comes in handy.
70. When you are checking out ALWAYS watch the scanner. I’ve caught mistakes over and over again because items didn’t ring up correctly at the checkout. Why spend all that time trying to save money just to have them not ring it up correctly? Don’t be shy about letting them know.
71. Watch for marked down items. You can save huge money. I try to go earlier in the day to catch marked down items. Always check what I like to call “the bargain buggy” This is where you can pick up some great deals on “dented” and discontinued items. When a package is torn or squashed they will mark the item down as well.
72. I also find some excellent deals in the meat department like this. Since I either use what I have bought the same day or freeze it that same day this works well for me. I once found sliced cheese (24 oz package) marked down to $0.75 each. And yes it was “real” cheese. I bought all 15 packages and put them up in the freezer.
73. When you find something that you use regularly on sale – Stock up and buy as much as you can afford to. You know you will be using it later on and prices are rising fast these days. Store what you eat and eat what you store.
74. If the store is out of your “sale” item always ask for a raincheck. They usually ask how many you want at that price. I ALWAYS tell them I want the maximum number allowed if it has a limit. When you redeem the coupon you don’t have to buy that amount but if you can afford it and want to you still have that option. While you are waiting for them to restock that item you can also start looking for coupons for it. That way when it does come in, you can save even more.
75. Sign up for the “Store Card” This can save you money that you didn’t even know about. If you are reluctant to give up your information to them do what I do. Make up some BS information. They NEVER check the information anyway. And if they do, so what? What are they going to do? Call the grocery cops on you?
76. Remember that a sale is not always necessarily a sale. Many times a store will try to push something that has been overstocked and will just put it on an end-cap to get your attention.
77. Stay away from convenience foods. You can make most of the same things at home for half the price.
78. Avoid last minute impulse items. They put all that stuff next to the check-out counter to try and get you to make unnecessary purchases. Keep your hands to yourself in the check-out lane!
79. Eat fruits and veggies in season. Stock up and can,freeze or dehydrate what you can’t eat now.
80. Wean yourself off of processed foods. They are expensive and you can make most of the mixes yourself. Link here ,and here for a couple. A Google search will net you plenty of them. Another good thing about making things from scratch is that you KNOW whats in it.
81. Buy in bulk when possible. If you can’t afford to do it alone, maybe a family member or friend could share the expense.
82. I rewash freezer bags and use them again. I am careful with them and I do buy the good bags because they seem to be a lot tougher. When I’ve used them once, I wash them, dry them, and use them once more. I’ve used some more than 3-4 times with no holes and it kept great. With a garden that has saved me a ton.
83. Buy cheaper cuts of meat and cook them in a crock pot to make them tender and flavorful. Crock pots are also great for chili, stews and soups.
84. Make your own pudding cups ( or jello cups or applesauce cups, etc) No more buying those individual snack packs. For instance, pick up a large box of “snack crackers” are then repackage them into small zip-lock bags. Instant savings!
85. I used to think making bread at home was hard to do. Then I found a brand new bread machine at a thrift store for under $10 and proceeded to start making my own bread. These days I have given up the bread machine for the oven but either way I’ve saved so much money making my own bakery products. I haven’t bought a loaf of bread from the store in a few years now. A tasty way to save money!
86. If you just can’t bring yourself to bake your own bread, check out your local day old bakery store or even your local dollar store. I just can’t justify spending over $2.00 for a dang loaf of bread, even on a good day!
87. Go “meatless” one day a week. We love meat. But face it, it’s expensive. We like beans around here so I’ll cook up a pot with some rice and cornbread for dinner sometimes. Makes great leftovers as well. Use the leftovers as a side dish during the week. Another thought is to have “breakfast for dinner”. Pancakes and eggs for dinner…. oh my!
88. Buy cheese in bulk and stop buying those per-packaged expensive ones. It’s super easy to shred cheese in your food processor and bag it up yourself. Make your own cheese cubes and cheese sticks too.
89. If you don’t know how to cook it’s time you learned. Cooking from scratch saves tons of money and it’s just plain better for you.
90. Invest in a deep freeze. It can pay for itself over time pretty easily. You can take more advantage of meat sales, as well as fruits and vegetables. Buy meat in bulk, take it home, repackage and freeze. You can save several cents per pound this way.
91. Made a little to much “stuff” for dinner? Label and freeze it. Pull it out of the freezer and take it to work for lunch one day.
92. Make your own “fast food”. You can make things like breakfast tacos, biscuits and sausage and egg “Mcmuffins” at home for breakfast on the run. . Put them together and wrap with plastic wrap and toss in the freezer.
93. Check out local discount stores in your area. Try places like Family Dollar for “luxury” items like cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate. Dollar stores and “scratch and dent” stores can save you even more money.
94. Keep a steady supply of low cost basic “staple” foods, then use small amounts of the other more expensive foods (or food from your garden, better still) to round out the basics and add variety without breaking the budget.
95. Buy foods on sale in bulk when you can see the savings. Freeze, can or dehydrate what you can’t use right now.
96. Food wasted is money wasted. Rotate your foods. Use the First In First Out method and remember the old saying…. “Store what you eat, and eat what you store”. There is no sense in stocking up on Spam for an emergency if there is no one in your house that eats it now.
97. Use your leftovers. People waste so much food they stick in the fridge and forget. When I have leftover vegetables, even if its just a small spoonful, I put it in a jar in the freezer. When its full I’ll turn it into a soup or a casserole.
98. I keep a roll of masking tape and a sharpie on my fridge and label the leftovers and date them when I think of it. This really helps when you have no idea how long that science project has been lingering in the back of the fridge. (I need to work on this a bit harder… hey no one’s perfect!) Around here nothing actually goes to waste. We usually make lunch from intentional leftovers from dinner and what doesn’t get eaten by us, or the chickens goes into the compost pile.
99. I can get at least two and sometimes three meals from a whole chicken for the two of us. That doesn’t include the carcass, which I use to make a nice chicken broth for a soup or stew or something. That can make a single chicken stretch out for four or five nice meals for us.
100. If I’ve got leftover meats sometimes I like to cut them up and add them to a quick stir fry with rice. (no, really, it’s ok to eat pork and beef at the same time) Really quick and easy meal.
101. A FoodSaver vacuum sealer is another one of those things that will pay for itself over time. You can easily double the time many foods will last using one. (INSERT LINK TO FOOD SAVER POSTS)
102. If you have a way to have a garden of ANY size you need to be growing as much of your own food as you can. Even in an apartment, with a balcony you can grow enough to enjoy fresh salads all season long. Gardening can go a long way in reducing your overall cost of food. Not to mention how good and how good for you it is!
103. Learn to can. It’s not as hard or as scary as people think. Modern Science has made it safe and easy to do. Even if you don’t have a garden you can take advantage of your Local Farmer’s Market. I promise you there is nothing better than opening up a jar of home-canned green beans in the middle of winter to put a smile on your face.
104. Dehydrating is another excellent way to put up and store foods that show up on sale or are in season. Last year I grew several herbs and dried them to use until I can grow them again this year from the seeds I saved. That saved me money at the grocery store. I didn’t have to buy parsley, chives, sage, basil, oregano,thyme, rosemary, cilantro, or dill. This year I’ll be adding mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary and lemon basil to my herb garden. You can grow herbs in small posts on your kitchen window sill and enjoy fresh herbs most of the year.
105. Do you eat out for lunch at work? Stop for coffee and a doughnut in the mornings on the way in? Try taking your lunch to work. One thing I used to like about going out to lunch at work wasn’t so much for the food but for the change of scenery. Try heading to the park for lunch. If you REALLY want to be entertained try parking under a shade tree at one of your strip malls. People watching is always interesting!
106. Stop eating out. Make eating out something you do for a special occasion.
107. If you DO go out to eat try going out for lunch instead of dinner. The menus are often the same, only with much lower prices for lunch time.
108. Always take a snack and a bottle of water with you while you are out on errands and avoid hitting the fast food lane.
109. Pick up a discount card to buy gas. Lot’s of grocery stores have them as well as places like Costco and Wal-Mart. With some cards you can save 5 cents a gallon or more. If you are worried about them tracking your information, just make something up. It’s not like they are going to do a background check!
Use your crock-pot during the summer, instead of the oven when you can. This will keep you from heating up the house. If you do have to use the oven during the summer, try doing your baking late at night after things have cooled down. Your AC won’t have to work as hard.
110. I use those generic SOS steel wool pads to clean the bottom of my cookware. To re-use them again I toss them in a baggie and store it in the freezer. No more rusty wool pads that have to be tossed WAY to soon.
111. Invest in a thermos and take your coffee to work with you. With the money you save by not buying $5.oo coffee’s every day you could easily afford a nice home brewed coffee every day!
112. If you can’t live without your venti latte, consider buying an espresso machine. It will pay for itself in just a little while.
113. Avoid buying nonfood items such as detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, napkins, and facial tissues at the grocery store. Usually you can get these items much cheaper at discount or warehouse stores.
114. Reduce, reuse, recycle Good words to live by!
While I have c&P the actual post here, the WEBSITE is worth checking out!