Skip to comments.101 ways to save money (surviving socialism)
Posted on 11/15/2008 9:26:50 AM PST by RKBA Democrat
Food is expensive, gas remains stubbornly high and winter's big heating bills are coming.
Since loans are tough to get and our retirement funds are shrinking fast as the stock market crashes, we thought we'd share some old-fashioned penny-pinching tips.
Some come from readers who responded to a business reporter's request for suggestions. Others come from the misers on our staff. And a few come from rules our mothers taught us or hints we've read over the years.
Of course, one person's "don't need that" is another's "can't live without" (we didn't suggest cutting out the $4 latte).
If some of the tips strike you as "well, duh," good for you. But just because you know that it pays to turn off lights, does everyone in your home? Show them this.
KEEP A THRIFTY HOME 1. Dry your clothes outside on a clothesline and use the dryer only to "fluff" the stiff ones.
2. Wash laundry in cold water and you'll save roughly 36 cents a load.
3. Lower your thermostat at night and stay warm with flannel sheets and down comforters. For each degree you lower it, you'll reduce heating costs 3 percent to 5 percent.
4. Lower the temperature on the water heater; 120 degrees is hot enough.
5. Unplug electronics that aren't being used.
6. Switch your old electric meter for a time-of-use meter. It gives you a better rate for running appliances/heat/AC after 9 p.m. and on weekends.
7. Wear long underwear.
8. Replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescents; over its lifetime, a single CFL provides around $30 in savings.
9. Turn off lights when you're not in a room; 5 percent to 10 percent of your monthly energy bill goes toward lighting.
10. Seal ducts and add insulation.
11. Replace old windows and exterior doors. If you can't afford to do the whole house at once, start in the rooms you use the most.
12. Turn the dishwasher off when it gets to the drying cycle and open the door to add heat to the room. It also puts moist air into your home during winter when heating systems can dry the air.
13. Likewise, when you finish baking, open the oven door.
14. If you have ceiling fans, reverse their rotation to push warm air down.
PAYING (AND CUTTING) BILLS 15. Pay biweekly instead of monthly on your mortgage. You'll make an extra payment annually and save thousands on interest over the life of the loan.
16. Check with your phone, cable or insurance companies at least once a year to see whether you're getting the best rate. Ask about discounts and specials.
17. Go to a site such as letstalk.com to find the best plans for your phone habits.
18. Drop long-distance service and get a prepaid card. You will have to dial a 1-800 number, punch in your PIN, then dial the number you want. The savings may be worth it.
19. Drop your landline and use your cell phone.
20. Pay your bills on time to avoid any late fees.
21. Pay your bills online to save on stamps. Automate it and you won't forget to pay.
22. Look at your insurance policies _ home and auto _ and consider upping the deductible for a lower premium. Raising homeowners' deductible to $500 can cut a premium by up to 15 percent, reports the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.
YOUR RIDE AND YOUR ROUTINE 23. Consolidate trips to save gas.
25. Buy a fuel-efficient, reliable car. Pay cash if at all possible or put a good chunk down. Keep it once you have paid it off and you will save on car payments and insurance.
26. Save money on gas: Get rid of the roof rack _ even bike and ski racks.
27. You don't need premium gas unless the owner's manual says "premium required."
28. Keep tires properly inflated.
29. Keep car tuned and the oil changed.
30. Bike or walk.
31. Learn from the pros. UPS maps out its trips in advance to avoid left turns, which cuts down on engine idling.
EAT HEALTHY, PAY LESS 32. Plant vegetables and freeze or can enough for the winter. No green thumb? Buy in quantity at farmers markets or at pick-your-own sites.
33. Subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture). Pay the farmer money in the winter, and in spring and summer get a weekly box of fresh, local produce. For one in your area, check www.localharvest.org/csa.
34. Cook more meals at home and turn last night's dinners into today's lunch.
35. Plan a week's worth of meals to cut out spontaneous grocery trips and impulse buys.
36. Stop paying for bottled water. Get a refillable container and use tap water.
37. Stockpile when you find good deals; combine coupons with sales.
38. If you have a freezer, buy meat when it has been marked down. Label with description and date frozen. You'll want to use most meat within three to four months, but a whole uncooked chicken can last a year without affecting quality. For a chart and freezing guidelines go to www.fsis.usda.gov and click on "Fact sheets" then "Freezing and food safety."
39. Eliminate waste. Make a weekly inventory of your refrigerator and pantry to see what needs to be used immediately and what can wait. Fresh fruit in danger of spoiling becomes fruit salad. Grapes can be cooked in their own juice and added to just about everything. Drooping vegetables become soup, with leftover meat added, when available. Stale breads become french toast.
40. Can't afford all organic? Some items most likely to have had pesticides used on them: peaches, apples, celery, peppers, nectarines, strawberries, lettuce and imported grapes.
41. Learn to cut up a chicken; buying a whole chicken is cheaper than buying parts.
42. Purchase potatoes, oranges and the like in bags. They're typically cheaper than when purchased individually.
43. Don't buy nongrocery items such as toothpaste and shampoos at grocery stores; they are generally cheaper at mass-market retailers and warehouse stores.
44. Look at an item's cost per unit (it's on the sticker on the shelf). Shop with a calculator.
45. Don't throw out stale muffins _ zap 'em. Ten seconds or so in most microwave ovens will freshen stale muffins and bread items. Use the microwave to get more juice from a lemon you're about to squeeze.
46. Add oatmeal to hamburger to make it go further.
47. Make your own bread crumbs (the heels are good for this) and salad dressings.
LOOK GOOD AND PAY LESS 48. Shop consignment stores and Goodwill for clothes for yard work or growing children.
49. Get haircuts or dye jobs at salon schools.
GO ONLINE FOR SAVINGS 50. Sign up for online polls; you can earn gift cards.
51. Drink soda? Sign up at mycokerewards.com and earn points for gift certificates and music download. Buy the Cokes on sale, of course.
52. Need toys, clothes or musical instruments? Try freecycle.org, newspaper classifieds or craigslist.com.
53. Buy flea/tick and heartworm medicines online.
54. Need WiFi? Find out which eateries offer free access and dine (or drink) accordingly.
55. Get info on freebies _ like "a friend you can eat" T-shirt, a promotion for Swedish fish candy _ at slickdeals.net. Click on forums and then freebies.
BE A SMARTER SHOPPER 56. Look for senior citizen, student, alumni and military discounts.
57. Shop yard sales.
58. Organize a group yard sale. You share the marketing and logistical costs but keep your share of the proceeds.
59. Give yourself a cooling-off period before purchasing anything that isn't a basic need. Can you do without it? Can you make it?
60. Don't shop as entertainment. Or when you're hungry or depressed.
61. Bought something only to see it on sale the next week? Many stores will let you bring the item back for the discount. Worried you might not see the sale? Try www.priceprotectr.com. Find the item you bought on the store's Web page, past its url into the box at the priceprotectr site and enter your e-mail address. If the price drops within the store's policy guarantees, you'll be notified by e-mail.
62. Check receipts for savings. Stores such as J.C. Penney send you to online surveys from their receipts. In return, you get coupons for money off. CVS prints coupons on the receipt for members of its loyalty program.
63. Shop seasonally for sales. Sure, swimsuits are cheaper in September, but did you know cookware usually goes on sale in May (just in time for weddings and graduations)?
64. Belong to AAA? Check to see what discounts it has available. For instance, you can save $3 on movie tickets. Go to www.aaa.com for details.
65. See if your employer gets discount tickets for local theaters, amusement parks and the like.
66. If you're shopping for a computer, see if the store offers discounts to employees of local businesses. The Apple store does. If your company is a division of another, check under the parent name as well.
67. Don't be tempted. Go to www.dmachoice.org to have all catalogs stopped.
IDEAS TO USE OVER AND OVER 68. Use washable cloths instead of paper towels.
69. Make your own household cleaners. With baking soda or white vinegar you can clean many things. For a no-streak glass cleaner: mix \ cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 quart warm water. Apply with a sponge or pour into spray bottle and spray on. Wipe dry with crumpled newspaper, buff to a shine. Use crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels for lint-free results.
USE CREDIT CARDS WISELY 70. Get a credit card with rebates you can use. Discover Card gives 5 percent cash back on various charges _ restaurants, groceries, movie rentals _ that rotate throughout the year.
71. Earn reward points with your debit or credit card? Remember to use them before they expire. If you don't have enough points for something big, get gift cards. They make great presents, or use them yourself. Order soon to get them in time for the holidays.
TRAVEL MORE, SPEND LESS 72. Use Hotwire or other online sites to book hotel rooms. Don't be afraid to negotiate with hotels for a lower rate.
73. When traveling, stay at hotels that offer free breakfast. If there's a microwave or fridge in the room, look for a nearby grocery store. Even if you dine out for most meals, pick up a few snacks and you'll save vending machine costs, not to mention calories.
74. Staying somewhere several days? See about renting a cabin or vacation home and you can save money by cooking your own meals rather than eating out.
STAY FIT, LET SAVINGS FATTEN 75. Lose the gym membership and take a walk or a run.
76. Try a virtual gym like www.demandfitness.com where streaming video lets you work out. Cost is 99 cents a day or $15 a month; free trials available.
THERE'S GREEN IN THE GARDEN 77. Use a rain barrel. It saves water and money.
78. Plant perennials and native flowers, which require less water.
79. Take advantage of local garden club sales and the know-how of club members.
80. Plant from seeds. Rather than pay for expensive "starter" pots, use the cardboard carrying containers given out free at coffee shops when you have to tote multiple drinks.
81. Use an electric lawn mower.
82. Add your shredded white paper to the compost pile for free mulch.
EAT OUT WITH A LIGHT CHECK 83. When eating out, order from the small plates or appetizers section.
84. If you do go out to partake of food and wine, check for specials (is Friday margarita night?) and order accordingly.
85. Fast food chains make money on soda _ the markup is about 80 percent. When dining out, order water. Need more? Ask for two slices of lemon, squeeze, add Splenda and you've got lemonade.
ON HOLIDAYS, BE A SCROOGE 86. Shop for Christmas and other gift-giving times throughout the year to take advantage of sales. Organize a gift closet in a designated place in the house. Then go one further and take a digital photo of the item, download it onto your computer and add notes about who it's for, when you bought. Save receipts.
87. Frequent after-holiday sales. After Christmas, when items go 75 percent to 90 percent off, buy red and green wrapped candy. Separate the red for Valentine's Day; the green will work for St. Patrick's Day. After Valentine's Day, think 4th of July. After Halloween, think Thanksgiving. Giftwrap, cards, toys, etc. can all be saved for next year. Plain giftwrap can be used throughout the year. It's a good time to stock up on cards as well.
88. Need teacher presents? Buy packs of items like cocoa, chocolate bars and the like and then divide them up. Package them in pretty mugs (found at yard sales or on sale) and tie with a ribbon and a handwritten note from the student.
89. For wrapping paper, look at your kids' artwork or coloring books, especially holiday-themed ones.
90. Inexpensive wooden frames _ available for a few bucks in most craft shops _ can be decoupaged with wrapping paper or decorated with sea shells (hot glue guns work best).
91. Turn last year's holiday cards into this year's holiday postcards. Works best with stiffer cards. Save on buying cards and postage as postcard stamps are usually cheaper. Make sure the cards fit post office size restrictions.
92 Don't bypass dollar stores _ they're great places to stock up on greeting cards _ or discount stores such as Big Lots to score overstocks from brand stores such as Pier One.
ENTERTAIN ON THE CHEAP 93. Cut your cable or satellite TV. Keep your Internet connection and watch new and classic shows on Web sites such as YouTube, Hulu and NBC.com. For less than $20 a month, you also can join DVD subscription services such as Netflix or Blockbuster.com, and get full seasons of your favorite shows shipped to you.
94. Take advantage of free concerts by area community concert bands.
95. Look for reciprocal agreements. Many museums, zoos and botanical gardens have deals with similar attractions in other cities to allow members to get in at those sites for free or at reduced prices. Not sure? Show your membership card and ask.
96. Don't forget sneak peeks at the local cinemas and free gaming nights at area game stores.
97. Rent new DVD releases for $1 per night at RedBox. Every Monday, it offers a code for a free rental.
98. Entertain at home with board games and card games. Get everyone to bring a dish.
99. Get free books online. Visit www.gutenberg.org.
100. Try date night at the public library: free lectures, discussions and movie nights.
101. Get a library card. You'll find free books, newspapers, magazines, music and more.
Anything to add to the list?
When dining out, order water. Need more? Ask for two slices of lemon, squeeze, add Splenda and you’ve got lemonade.
if things get that bad, i won’t bother to dine out at all.
or alternatively, i’ll bring a single-serving packet of grape kool-aid. :)
Huh? It's around $1.80 here in southern MS.
How about voting in fiscal consvatives that will reduce taxes so you have more money to spend?
Destroy Socialism in your counrty by any means possible politicaly physicalyand Educationaly starting with higher systems and working your way down
and do it BEFORE THEY DAMAGE more than what they have already !
Vindication...#12 and #13...my kids think I am nuts!
I am assuming they are already adding the soon planned $3.00 Obama/Gore per gallon gas tax.
I am assuming they are already adding the soon planned $3.00 Obama/Gore per gallon gas tax.
Use a kerosien heater and heat only the rooms that you are currently occupying.
Visit a third world country and see how they do it.
Oops! That should read “kerosene”.
No thank you. Put Conservatives in charge. I want to live like an American.
Oh, and some of us cannot use fluorescent lights due to visual perception disorders, so lesser wattage is a better way to go. 75 rather than 100.
Completely cancel cable TV.
I don't even know what that means but my utility company, which owns the meter, might have a say so in the matter.
The library card is one of the best tips. My local library has a huge selection of movies you can check out & watch at home for free. Our library is close to the park, so I combine free exercise by walking around the park and then I go to the library & wind down by reading several of the many magazines they keep current. Then I check out some mystery novels and movies. Sometimes I pack my lunch at home beforehand and have a picnic at the park while I’m there. It’s all free and it’s all good!
I don’t buy expensive cleansers, just use vinegar & baking soda. I save my used dryer sheets - they work great to clean around faucets, the sink, shower/tub - they really cut through water & soap scum!
I never pay full price for birthday or other greeting cards - get them all at the dollar stores for a dollar each.
Stopped drinking soda pop - it’s not good for you & you don’t miss it after awhile.
We rarely go out to eat anymore, but when we do - we only eat half of our meal (they give you too much anyway) & get a doggie bag for the rest - we get two meals for the price of one.
My grandmother taught me to use the water left over after cooking vegetables to water my plants and garden with. She never poured water down the drain that could be used outside.
Sheesh. Fun times. Sounds like BO’s plan
Most of this is common sense. The ones I don’t do are mostly those that aren’t applicable or can’t be done when you live in a townhome or condo.
Carpooling doesn’t work for us - my wife and I work opposite directions, at different times, and none of our neighbors work where we do!
I guess all of these make sense if you live in a big city or in the ‘burbs.
If you already live a simple life, most of these make no sense because you don’t do any of it in the first place, or have been doing the alternate - like a big garden for your own good food, for years.
The thrift shop point is a good one, esp if you have children. Store brand vs brand name will save a few pennies as well.
I agree with the earlier poster - if you are unemployed, have massive credit card debt & a large morgugage - your’re pretty much screwed anyway. Get ready to enjoy life in the welfare lane....
Regarding credit cards, it’s a personal choice. If you can be responsible with them, go for the rewards. If you know you will overspend, cut them up.
Most people know the truth about this issue about themselves!
Like it or not, consumerism floated everyone's boat. The $4 latte not only kept Starbucks employees going, but also those of cup manufacturers, coffee distributors, flavor and additive manufacturers, advertising companies-you get the picture.
Every Oct. 1 my in-laws dutifully don their long johns for the next 6 months and shiver in the cold as they turn their thermostats down to uncomfortably cold levels.
These are people who have never had a house payment (they inherited a home) and could afford to turn up the thermostat. That is their choice. We, on the other hand are admittedly over-extended, but manage to pay our bills nonetheless. Our thermostat is kept at a moderate temperature so that our family is comfortable and I prefer to have the choice to keep it that way. That is what freedom and capitalism should provide--the desire for comfort and convenience creates jobs.
Flame away-maybe it will generate some heat so I can turn mine off.
We do have a fireplace. For the phone thing, I did reduce my cell minutes when I discovered I wasn’t using them all.
We have a landline phone w/unlimited long distance bundled w/our TV and Internet, and it’s cheaper to keep all three than two of three, so we leave it alone.
Right now we aren’t looking at that, but if budget requires it, we do get about 8 or 9 high-def local channels w/rabbit ears.
There's a lot of us Americans who already live like this.
Hanging clothes to dry? I put, maybe, two loads out of ten in the dryer. We have clotheslines strung in the basement and hang wet clothes on plastic hangers at 3" intervals and so long as the furnace or AC is running, the clothes dry pretty quickly.
Opening the oven once the baking is finished - been doing this for years.
In an effort to lose weight, I ditched the junk food and went to natural and potatoes and apples in the bags and it makes a difference all the way around.
Don't belong to a gym, but walk an hour a day and do a non-zen pilates class and spend $60/mo rather than $1,000/year.
It's all doable, you just have to be willing.
“How about voting in fiscal consvatives that will reduce taxes so you have more money to spend?”
Good idea. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re pretty much stuck with what was elected for the next couple of years.
My in-laws keep their house so damn cold you could hang meat in their living room.
Do you really want that for our country? The American ideal is to bring modernization to the third world, not the other way around.
Don't have a library in my little town and the nearby city that has one charges an exhorbitant fee for out of towners. When I checked about 5 years ago it was $150 per person per year.
I buy books and I always have the internet.
By the way, my town has voted two different times on whether to join that library system and each time it was soundly defeated, it seems that people didn't want their property taxes raised an average of $25 per year.
And when I was a teen, it was $0.17 a gallon in the Los Angeles area. It's low compared to a month or so ago, but still high.
Works as a facial too....just don’t stand to close!!
Will take under advisement. Thanks.
I burn junk mail in my fireplace. I use talcum powder instead of tinted cosmetic on my face, and dollar store lotions. Do my own nails, cut my own hair. I don't use air conditioner, or the heat unless I'm truly desperate (of course, L.A. weather is pretty mild.) I have no TV or landline, just a cell... I use candles a lot... shop at thrift stores, dollar stores, yard sales... this isn't even in response to the recession; I've always been like this. Eating out is my only vice.
This is one of those situations where you must be reasonable.
If you can afford to live a certain way, fine, do so, but be smart about it and know that if you do have to cut corners, here’s how to do it.
“I want to live like an American.”
You might want to define that. I live frugally. Not because I particularly need to, but because it’s a rewarding lifestyle. I don’t like to waste things.
Conserving is part of being a conservative.
This is not a flame, but you can find yourself suddenly unemployed, like I did. SO FAR, you have managed to pay your bills. That was true of me, as well, until last month. I lost my job at the end of May, and haven't been able to find another one. Health problems caused the job loss, and they've complicated the job hunt, since not all of my problems were diagnosed at the beginning of this whole process. I'm in need of surgery to correct one of them, and who knows what the docs will find after that problem is finally eliminated.
IOW, do what you can to cut expenses, and spend the savings on reducing your debt load. Just turning down the thermostat could help. It won't solve all your problems, but $30 or $40 a month applied to bills that don't keep getting larger each month and you could find yourself sitting pretty before too long.
Wish I'd thought of that a year or so ago.
already do 75% of these identified ‘savers’
Get a magicjack (www.magicjack.com)
Cost me 50$ first year
20$ a year thereafter
Free calls from my computer to usa and canada
can be used on any other computer too for free
102: STAY OUT OF THE STOCK MARKET!
I decided to get my feet wet and put a little money back into an Energy mutual fund that had been down 56% this year.
Big mistake. It’s down another 12% in one week and looks like it could go much lower. They’re talking oil at $30/barrel before long.
I’ve read serious analyses that predict the Dow dropping to 3000 or lower in the next year or two.
As well know who profits from every dollar you spend !
Shop Conservative is a double edged effort !
Shop for gifts at local pawn shops.
Stop paying for premium movie channels on cable. Use the $1 DVD rental machines at the grocery stores.
Get on a fixed monthly payment plan with your power company. Saves money and helps with budgeting each month.
Install dimmer switches on all your lights and switch to the CFL bulbs where you can. These two steps will save you more on electricity than anything else you can do. Our electrician told us about this and he was right.
Clip coupons but only for items you really use regularly, like cereal. Use coupon websites like CouponMom to get more coupons. Use those grocery store savings club cards too.
Anything sold in sealed containers can be bought in quantity when it is on sale. I buy the big plastic cans of Folger's Coffee when they are on sale for $5.99. Their Black Silk coffee is great.
Go to yard sales and consignment sales for everything for small children. They don't know from labels and new/used. I almost never bought anything new for my kids when they were small. I bought my daughter a used dollhouse for $10 that she still plays with today. My kids' favorite thing was getting a $1 grab bag with a whole bunch of old Happy Meal toys. These are great to collect and pull out on long car and plane trips to keep your little ones occupied.
Get your kids to participate in local consignment sales and let them keep the profit. They learn about recycling and prioritizing their stuff, and they are usually more frugal with "their own money" than they are with allowances that they don't earn. Keeps the volume of clutter down too.
Bring your own candy to the movies and don't buy drinks. Walgreen's often sells movie-size boxes of candy for $1.
If you like a glass of wine with dinner, buy the new wines in a box. You get the equivalent of 3-4 bottles of wine for $15-20. Stock up when they go on sale. You get a nice wine for less than $1 a glass. "Black Box" and "FishEye" are two of my favorites.
If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, their frozen pot stickers are amazingly cheap and good. A bag costs about $2.50 and can feed 4 as an entree or 6-8 as an appetizer. My kids love them. I serve them with homemade fried rice.
Serve one meatless meal each week. I make veggie lasagna with the pre-cooked noodles, cheese ravioli, potato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. Once in a while I make breakfast for dinner with pancakes and bacon.
Buy a cheap waffle iron and make your own waffles, and freeze the extra. Never buy frozen waffles or pancakes.
Make your own Rice Krispie bars for snacks, kids' lunches, etc.
$1.49 in Harker Heights - close to Ft. Hood.
Just air up your tires first, then all these other things will fall into place..........I have now returned control of your keyboard
“And when I was a teen, it was $0.17 a gallon in the Los Angeles area.”
It was $0.139 when I was in high school in L.A., good thing because my street racing hot rod only got about 4 miles per gallon!
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