Money Saving Tips
October 28, 2005 10:47 AM   Subscribe

SaveMeMoneyFilter: What are your best ways of cutting costs/saving money but still maintaining the lifestyle you love?

I'm looking to save as much money as possible before I deploy to Iraq so I'm sending a shot out to the community - what are the best ways to save money but still maintain a good quality of life?

Here's an abbreviaed list of what my wife and I have came up with:
- Use netflix instead of going out to the movies (though we've been know to use Blockbuster still...)
- Use a cellphone for long distance calls and only use a landline for local
- Use an electronic thermostat to cut costs when not at home (but still make our dogs happy)
- Buy high efficiency equipment (ie lightbulbs, washer and dryer, etc)

I know ya'll have got better so send them this way!
posted by roundrock to Work & Money (46 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Join Costco. My house is just me and my wife, and we figure that our annual membership ($45) almost pays for itself twice yearly just in what we save on milk-- and we only drink a gallon a week. So all the other items we buy there are pure savings.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:00 AM on October 28, 2005


Eat at home (actually cook your own meals), drink water with meals, get rid of cable tv (it's a waste of time anyway).
posted by letterneversent at 11:01 AM on October 28, 2005


Cook from scratch and limit eating out. Stock up on staple foods as much as you practically can (given the amount of storage space you have and the amount of money you can comfortably spend ahead of time).

We save a fortune because I've learned to grocery shop more carefully and even though my cooking has become more labor intensive, it's also healthier and better tasting.
posted by padraigin at 11:02 AM on October 28, 2005


Here are some that have worked for me ...

-- Look at the" little" jobs you pay people to do around the house and do them yourself ... i.e. replacing a faucet or an electrical fixture, cutting your lawn, etc.
-- Get yourself on a fixed payment plan for electricity and heat, if your utility companies offer it, so you can avoid seasonal spikes and better predict monthly costs.
-- Exploit the Internet to shop around for the best deals on your purchases.
-- Avoid convenience stores, which charge a premium, and try to buy consumables in bulk where it makes sense.
-- Cancel magazine subscriptions for rags you really don't need or read.
-- Get a VoIP phone and cut your phone charges in half, at least.
-- Perform light duty servicing on your car yourself -- i.e. oil changes, washing, headlight replacements, etc.
-- Depending on how often your dogs need to visit the vet, consider buying pet insurance.
-- Empty your change in a bucket at the end of each day -- you'll be amazed at how much you can accumulate in just 3 months.
posted by terrier319 at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2005


I asked a related question last year and got some good answers that you might be able to use.
posted by boomchicka at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2005


- Carpool, bike, or walk if they're options - good for you, good for your wallet, good for everybody.
- Cut and use coupons, if you don't already. I used to turn my nose up at using coupons, until I saw that I was paying 3.00 for something that everyone else in line was paying 1.20 for. Now I use them all the time, and save about 60.00 a week, just on food.
posted by iconomy at 11:07 AM on October 28, 2005


Go to your local public library to check out books, dvds, and movies instead of buying or renting them. Many libraries have very extensive (and up-to-date!) collections of music and movies. And it's free!

Shop for fruits and veggies at a farmer's market instead of a grocery store. (Although most markets seem to be winding down...alas.)

Avoid buying single cups of coffee or tea and make your own; you can buy a whole box of tea or bag of coffee for the price of one or two single cups at your coffee-house of choice.

Take turns making dinner for each other instead of going out or ordering in; it's easy and fun and even if you make a disaster (hey, it happens :) ) you can laugh together about it. (But yeah, keep the number of a pizza place on hand. Just in case.)

If you drink alcohol, try to cut back. Even just one or two drinks a night add up over the course of a month.

Best of luck to you and your family.
posted by fuzzbean at 11:07 AM on October 28, 2005


Drop the landline completely and only use your cell phone for calls. Assuming you have decent cell reception in your house.
posted by arco at 11:13 AM on October 28, 2005


If possible have a part of your paycheck direct deposited into an account at a different bank. Cut up the ATM card for that account. By never seeing the money it's easier not to spend it.
posted by Mr T at 11:22 AM on October 28, 2005


* Bring water along instead of buying a cold bottle at the convenience store.
* No buying candy/sodas out of vending machines, no matter how bored I am doing laundry. Then I cut junk food altogether.
* I cancelled my cable in lieu of Netflix. I do splurge on the occasional movie out, but only on the discount night.
* Use library instead of buying novels.
* Stopped using the dry-cleaner as a glorified ironing service -- take off work clothes, hang up immediately, air out. Reduces the number of times that stuff has to taken in for cleaning.
* Buy used CDs. Actually, wait 'till friend buys CD, listen repeatedly, re-assess need, then buy used.
* I find business clothes way above my station by hitting upscale consignment stores.
* Generic/homemade cleaning products, and avoid the trap of a different type of cleaner for every surface.
* I've got enough fresh bread to last for months -- at the end of the day the bakeries sell two-for-one. I slice, wrap tightly in foil, toss in the freezer. A few minutes in the oven makes it good as just-baked.
posted by desuetude at 11:29 AM on October 28, 2005


Make your lunch and bring it to work instead of buying. I saved probably $150/month doing that.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:39 AM on October 28, 2005


For one month, track every single expense down to the nearest dollar. Figure out where your money is going. How much is rent/mortgage? Electricity? Eating out? Gas? Clothes?

Once you know what percentage each category is, you'll have a better idea where you'll get the most savings for the least sacrifice.
posted by justkevin at 11:42 AM on October 28, 2005


* If you drink wine, check out the clearance carts at the grocery store. Seriously. I've gotten some great bottles for around $5.

* If you really like to read and/or listen to music and are a capable writer, start reviewing them for a weekly alternative newspaper. Many, many, many, many prospective writers cannot meet weekly deadlines so there's almost always a need. You'll get free books and CDs (the main benefit) you can keep or sell back and, if you're lucky, some money for your writing.
posted by Atom12 at 11:50 AM on October 28, 2005


Keeping track is the first step. Sometimes you can feel deprived by not buying something for yourself, but if you know how much you actually spend in a category, you'll be better able to resist temptation and perhaps even see a constant need to spend money as an emotional issue that may need addressing in other ways.

Television is such a timesuck (as well as a wellspring of temptation to buy things). We started turning ours off a month ago, and now we make dinner and actually *do* things instead of veg out in front of the tube. My husband and I get more done and have tons more time to spend on worthwhile pursuits -- some chorelike, others that are, I guess, "active enjoyment," like making cookies, reading more, doing the Times crossword together, taking walks.... all these things are so cheap, yet so satisfying. We get more and better sleep, too.

It's important to replace Not-Spending with fun stuff. Ditch the mall or cineplex and go to a farm to pick a pumpkin instead.... Simple shifts like these will make you love your life again.
posted by mdiskin at 12:10 PM on October 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


Cooking instead of eating out really is the big one.

Perform light duty servicing on your car yourself -- i.e. oil changes, washing, headlight replacements, etc.

Not the oil changes. I can always find some place that will do it for the same or less than me doing it myself. And they take care of disposal, and time is money. So many reasons not to do it yourself unless you love to.
posted by justgary at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2005


Make sure you seal up your house for winter. Making sure your hatches are all battened down can save tons on your heating bill.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2005


This may not apply to you, but make sure you're not using any credit cards for all those "little" expenses that add up surprisingly quickly (such dry cleaning, lunch, prescriptions, etc.). If you use credit cards at all (and of course, ideally you should pay them off and not carry a balance from month-to-month, but that's a different discussion), reserve them for emergencies or for larger-ticket items you've budgeted to pay for at the end of the billing cycle. A good trick to force yourselves to do that is to take the credit card(s) out of your wallets, and put them away somewhere that's not immediately accessible.

Lots of other good suggestions above -- the number one thing I'd echo is cooking/eating at home (and using coupons and/or going to Costco, farmer's markets, etc. for groceries). On a couple of other notes:

- for prescriptions/over-the-counter meds, use generics whenever possible
- if it's an option for you or your wife, use flexible spending accounts (if they're available through your employer[s]) to set aside a certain amount of money tax-free every paycheck for medical/dental or childcare expenses. I started setting aside $1000 every year for medical/dental, and it does make a nice little difference in terms of my taxes. (note: make sure you set aside an amount you know you'll use -- if you don't use it, you can't change your deductions later in the year and the money doesn't roll over.)
- use Dryel as a dry cleaning substitute for certain items (I find it works better for woolens than for silks)
- Shop around for gym memberships. I go to the Y, and it's cheaper than the local health clubs, there's no contract, and the equipment and pool are just as good.
posted by scody at 12:35 PM on October 28, 2005


Ditch the cell phone. Is "Honey, I'm going to be a little late for dinner" really worth $50 +tax every month?

Turn off the heat when you aren't home.
Unless you live somewhere very cold, your dogs aren't going to freeze to death.

When you are home, keep the heat set below 70(my house is 62, but most people find that a little too chilly) and put on a sweater. Bonus - You can both snuggle under an afghan.

Buy a high quality, high capacity drying rack and use that instead of the dryer.

My wife and I like to get a hot chocolate from the stand and stroll around the neighborhood, rather than cut out completely something we really enjoy, we started to get one large (rather than two) and split it. It cut the costs in half and we don't really notice a difference.
You can apply this to a lot of things:
One popcorn at the movies instead of two. Down at the farmer's market, one pretzel instead of two, etc.

Split the cost of Netflix with a neighbor. Just make sure that one of you is the "inventory clerk".
posted by madajb at 12:38 PM on October 28, 2005


Make use of FreeCycle.

Add something like IngDirect or EmigrantDirect to your savings account.

Thrift stores, thrift stores, thrift stores. You don't have to buy everything secondhand, but check around in them once in a while for good stuff.
posted by schroedinger at 1:05 PM on October 28, 2005


Grocery tips (aside from the obvious, like coupons and loyalty cards):

Put an end to brand loyalty on most items. Buy whatever brand is on sale or is cheapest, including the store brand. (Most store brands are pretty good.) A few things I'm brand-loyal on -- I mean, Heinz is ketchup, other brands are merely catsup -- but Coke vs. Pepsi? Please.

Set a price over which you will NOT buy something. For example, I won't pay more than $1 for a 2-liter bottle of pop. If it's not on sale, I just don't buy it that week. (It used to be that store brands always met this criterion, but some stores seem to believe their brand of pop is worth $1.50 now. Sheesh.)

If it'll keep or if you can freeze it, buy in bulk. For God's sake, what is with all these people buying pop in 12-oz cans? You're paying many times what you'd pay to buy it in a 2-liter bottle even when it's not on sale. I see they have 6-oz cans in packs now. Who the heck drinks half a can of pop at a time?

A great tip I saw on a Web site the other day is to keep a price book that lists the lowest price you've ever paid for something (on sale and not), when, and where. That way when you see a sale, you can tell whether it's a good deal and you should stock up.

If you use the self-checkout, always look at the point-of-sale coupon printer to see if the last guy left something you can use. A couple weeks ago someone left me five separate coupons for 50 cents off any item.

If you have a friend with a Costco card, be aware that they don't check to make sure the membership card you stick in the pump actually belongs to you when you buy gas. (They do in the actual warehouse.) Easy way to mooch cheap gas.
posted by kindall at 1:07 PM on October 28, 2005


Check to see if your hot water tank is cranked to full heat, as mine was. Turn it down to med or so.
posted by jikel_morten at 1:08 PM on October 28, 2005


Some of these have been said:

Plan what you spend your money on. You'll go out/eat out less if you plan for it, look forward to it, and thus value each time out more. It's not just a casual time filler.

Ditch the land line. Make whatever calls that can wait at night or on weekends. With a landline you're paying for calls at night and weekends that are generally free on a cell phone.

Manpower: walk and ride your bike to as many places as possible; avoid gas and using the car. Also use public transportation. Hey, just sell the car.

Eat for quality, not quantity. Meaning eating better foods will save you money since the salt in junk food just makes you eat and drink more. Only eat until you're full. Eat every part of everything; ex. carrot tops in soups, braised chard stems. Definitely bring your lunch to work.

Put all your electricity/gas on timers so they turn down or off when you're not at home.

Make a list of things to do in your area that are free. I have one.

BTW, I know it's spending money, but I've thought the magazine Real Simple is amazing great great for these kind of suggestions. It's basically all the magazine is.
posted by scazza at 1:19 PM on October 28, 2005


I just got back from running errands at lunch, and coincedentally saw this magazine on the stands (the articles says it's not being launched till next spring, but it's on the stands -- in L.A., at least -- right now). I flipped through it briefly and there seemed to be some more good tips in there, particularly about grocery and clothes shopping. There's also Budget Living.

Also, speaking of shopping: with the holidays coming up, draw up a budget/plan now and start looking around online for ideas. I've got an Amazon list specifically for gift ideas for family and friends -- it's early enough now that I can use it just as a reference to shop around in local stores to see if I can beat the price, and if I can't I still have plenty of time to take advantage of free shipping. It also prevents that last-minute panic buying of grabbing something -- anything! -- as well as the "just one more" strategy of piling on extra gifts (which is a bad habit of mine when it comes to my nephews).
posted by scody at 1:20 PM on October 28, 2005


For example, I won't pay more than $1 for a 2-liter bottle of pop. If it's not on sale, I just don't buy it that week.

Ditch the soda. Drink water. From the tap.
posted by scazza at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2005


Also, speaking of shopping: with the holidays coming up

Donate to charities instead of spending your money on stuff people don't need or won't like. That cuts out an entire season of unnecessary consumption. I'm buying everyone a pig or a llama or a bee hive from Heifer International.
posted by scazza at 1:25 PM on October 28, 2005


Ditch the soda. Drink water. From the tap.

Sure, that too -- that's what I do when they don't hit my price target -- but some of us like a wee bit more variety than water, water, water with every meal.
posted by kindall at 1:34 PM on October 28, 2005


Then kindall, I would suggest getting teabags. I get organic kukicha tea bags, where one single bag will brew an entire pot which also equals an entire pitcher which equals one of those 2 liter bottles, of iced tea. And kukicha is much yummier than conventional/black iced tea.

16 pitchers of iced tea for under $3 or
16 2 liter bottles of soda for $16
posted by scazza at 1:39 PM on October 28, 2005


I'm buying everyone a pig or a llama or a bee hive from Heifer International.

And I'm sure all the kids will love that. (I kid, I kid -- it's actually a very cool idea, scazza.)

The usefulness of gifts is a good point. If you'd still like to give something other than pigs (hee!), baking nice holiday breads/cakes/cookies (etc.) is of course a great option -- look for recipes for things that can be made in bulk. Also, if you and your wife really do want to make an effort to cook more at home, perhaps your gift(s) to each other can revolve around that -- getting a good crock pot, for example, or investing in a nice set of knives.
posted by scody at 1:44 PM on October 28, 2005


Ditch the land line. Make whatever calls that can wait at night or on weekends. With a landline you're paying for calls at night and weekends that are generally free on a cell phone.

Can someone explain this to me? With a landline, local calls are always free, and cells don't usually include long distance in the free evenings and weekends deals, do they?
posted by jikel_morten at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2005


All calls on a cell phone cost the same except international calls if you have a national plan, which is the most common mobile plan (as far as I'm aware). Most plans also have evenings and weekends free. I don't think getting rid of the cell phone is easy, where getting rid of the land line if you get good reception indoors might be easier.
posted by scazza at 2:00 PM on October 28, 2005


Invest in a slow cooker. Then you can buy cheaper cuts of meat and make delicious winter stews. Brown the meat the night before. In the morning, throw it in the slow cooker with a sliced onion, some carrots or chunks of swede (rutabaga) and a cup of bouillon. Set it on low, and when you get home from work that night dinner's ready - just add rice, potatoes or veggies.

If you buy books, wait until the best sellers turn up in the charity stores, or start a paperback exchange at work. We have one in the the office where you can take a book out as long as you put one in. Start by bringing a dozen old books into the office, get a few co-workers to do the same, ask for a spare cabinet and send an email round. I've read all kinds of new stuff I wouldn't have bought, and saved money by not buying the best sellers I'd otherwise have spent a fortune on.
posted by essexjan at 2:02 PM on October 28, 2005


Don't be penny wise but pound foolish. I spend (waste) at least a hundred dollars each month on unnecessary items. That said, I save approximately $450 per month by living in an house share that's priced below market.

Try not to do the opposite. Clipping coupons is no good if you spend $100/month on cable and pay the going market rate on rent.
posted by malp at 2:07 PM on October 28, 2005


What justkevin said: actually track all your income and expenses for a month so you can get a good look at where it goes. I routinely recommend Your Money or Your Life in these threads.

Unless you watch a lot of movies every week, dump Netflix and rent. Dump cable too, if you have it (and can conceive of it.) Use your library.

I suggest keeping the landline (I think it's worth it just for failsafe 911 access if the cell network's having problems), but if you're paying a monthly service fee just to have long distance, dump that. dial 1-0-whatever if you really need to make a long distance call on it instead of your cell.

Keep your larder stocked, plan ahead for how much food and drink you'll need when, carry it with you. Don't eat out/snack out/buy $4 coffee drinks (except as special treats -- I'm not suggesting you deny yourself those, just make them actually special.)

Skip upgrading your drier and buy drier racks and air dry (if you have the space), or use a clothesline in nice weather. You have to plan your laundry further ahead, but the drier's a conspicuous energy sink. (This having to think ahead in order to save is a recurring theme -- the convenience of getting what you want without advance planning costs money.)

If you live in a metropolitan area, there are doubtless a bazillion free cultural events you could attend if you look for them. Museums often have free days once a month.

Get out of credit card debt it you have any.

Do you have two cars? Could you get by with one? Keep it tuned, and don't keep excess cargo in the trunk. Are there errands you could run by bike?

Are you paying money for things you don't really have the time to use? Gym memberships? Magazine subscriptions?

Sell crap you don't use on ebay and Craigslist. Look for things you need on Craigslist and at yard sales.

Keep remote-controlled devices and external power supplies unplugged when not in use.

Take good care of your things so they won't need replacing. A stitch in time really does save nine.

Don't skimp on paying for quality for your really important tools or the things that really make you happy.

Just by paying attention, you'll probably start saving a noticeable amount -- set an investment schedule and dump that every month into an Ing Direct account. It'll grow fast enough to keep you inspired.

Check out what rebates your power utility might offer for upgrading your appliances, or whether they do free energy savings analyses.

A humidifier can make colder temperatures more comfortable in winter (especially if you have gas heat that dries the air) at a net energy savings. Ditto the advice on sealing your house well.

And what mdiskin said in a big way -- make sure any old expensive habits you're giving up are being replaced by something fun. If you take on a bunch of things that end up feeling like a hardship, you'll end up just dumping them all. So don't try to take all of my advice at once, or all the advice on this page. Maybe you'll add more things as time goes on. Maybe you won't.

But do track your income and expenses.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 3:26 PM on October 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


And check this previous AskMe thread on cheap and free entertainment.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 4:16 PM on October 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


Some Pay-as-you-go Cel plans are cheaper than going month-to-month - Look at your usage patterns (min/month, remember to round every call UP - Your provider sure does!), and see if they average around enough to make it worth switching. (ex: in this market, T-Mobile's PAYG is $.10/min with $50 or $100 cards - Which is about the same price as their 300/$30 plan - YMMV)

Since I never have to worry about overages, and don't have to pay for what I don't use means that I usually average $15-$20/month for cel usage, including SMS. The free partial WAP service is something I only use if bored.

Good luck on your deployment, and I hope it's short.
posted by Orb2069 at 4:21 PM on October 28, 2005


Try watering down your drinks. This works with apple and cranberry juice, as well as bottled iced tea. I've even watered down my orange juice a bit. It makes the juice last twice as long, and the juice will still be sweet enough.

Instead of watching TV or going out to the movies, try playing cards or having friends over for board games.

Change your ceiling fan to blow air up in the winter. It pushes warm air off the ceiling, and back down towards you.
posted by hooray at 4:41 PM on October 28, 2005


You asked about saving money while still maintaining your lifestyle. It depends a lot on what you care about. I, personally, don't care about cable, so we don't have cable. But I pay to get my laundry done, because we don't have a machine and I really don't want to go to the laundromat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:10 PM on October 28, 2005 [1 favorite]


Stop buying stuff. I made a "no new clothes in '05" pact with a friend, and I've been able to stick to it. It makes you realize how quickly you can spend money on things you don't really need. And when you do really need something (socks!), you realize that it's probably okay to spend a little bit of money. Of course, you can always be bull-headed and hold out until the end of your pact. Like me. The point stands, though, that I would have spent money several times during this past year on things I didn't need, and that now I don't really remember — let alone miss.

I wouldn't get a new washer or dryer, even if it is more energy-efficient, unless the one you have dies and you need to replace it anyway. The more efficient one will probably cost you $300+ more than the economy one, and you won't be spending that much more in utility bills. Now, if you're looking at a longer-term solution, a more energy-efficient model makes sense. We're about to drop a crazy amount on a front-loading washer, because it'll be more efficient over time, and because it'll cut down on our drycleaning bills.

Wearing a comfy wool hat is a great way to stay warm, and to keep the thermostat a little lower.

Pay attention to how much you spend when you go out to eat. For most people, I would say "don't go out to eat," but I imagine that some dinners out would yield good memories before your tour of duty. Just be aware of how much you're spending, and realize that you can have good conversations and romantic, candle-lit dinners at home, over a plate of spaghetti.

There have been a number of comments in the thread so far about tracking your spending. My user account page links to a free Excel expense-tracking / budgeting program I wrote. Check it out. You can't beat the price.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:05 PM on October 28, 2005


I disagree with the philosophy of many of the answers in this thread. Expenses need to be examined starting with the largest ones, not the tiny ones.

Taxes:
- Make absolute sure you haven't paid more than you must. You can re-file if it turns out that you did.
Home:
- Could you get a more favorable mortgage?
- Could you do more of the maintainance yourself?
Car:
- If you're still paying, could you get a more favorable auto loan?
- Can you reduce your usage at all? (Driving has a very real long-term expense of 40-50 cents per mile, and a short-term expense that can easily be half of that)
Food:
- Can you source your food cheaper? (don't just think costco, but also farmer's markets, butcher shops, etc.)
- Can you eat different foods? (The "typical" american diet is not a particular bargain, even if you source the ingredients well.)
Entertainment:
- Play some games together instead of paying for tickets to something. (interpret this however you like.)
- Find out what your local libraries offer in the way of music and movies.

My best to you and yours.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:48 PM on October 28, 2005


Not really applicable to the OP, but may be for many reading this thread: Figure out how to make more money instead of how to spend less.
posted by trevyn at 11:25 PM on October 28, 2005


"Figure out how to make more money instead of how to spend less."

Maybe, maybe not. In general, a dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. A dollar you save is tax free. A dollar earned is taxed at whatever your marginal rate is. Saving money is more efficient, particularly if you can save x dollars in less time than you can earn x dollars.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:19 AM on October 29, 2005


We've saved a ton of money shopping at Aldi, a bag-your-own cut-rate grocery store. If you have something like that in your area, it will save you at least 1/3, up to even 1/2, and the quality of their food is outstanding. I haven't found anything (except for some nasty frozen marianated fish fillets) that wasn't top drawer.

Eat good soup and chili till you're tired of it, then freeze the remainder for a nice surprise later on. Use canned milk for cooking. Eat a lot of eggs.

Meanwhile, best of everything to you and your family.
posted by wordswinker at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2005


I just downloaded Alt F4's spreadsheet and I love it already. So I recommend that.
posted by librarina at 1:16 PM on October 29, 2005


Cut and use coupons, if you don't already

Caveat on coupons: coupons exist for corporations to promote branded products. Rarely do you find coupons for real food. If you're eating a lot of things that come in shiny boxes and have brand names, you are probably already spending way too much on food. The more processing, the more packaging, the higher the food cost.

You'll make a much bigger difference by just eating more whole foods: fresh fruits and veggies, grains, beans, meats. Of course, these are things you have to cook. Still, my food budget is always under $40 a week and I eat like royalty.

The exceptions are that you'll sometimes find coupons for cheeses, dairy items, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, flour and baking goods around the holidays. But I'm always amazed at how I can pick up a fat coupon circular and find not a single thing in there that I would ever buy. Frozen meals, branded household cleansers, snacks and convenience items -- if a coupon makes you buy this stuff when you usually wouldn't, you're not saving money.
posted by Miko at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2005


Maybe, maybe not. In general, a dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. A dollar you save is tax free. A dollar earned is taxed at whatever your marginal rate is.

Nah, the dollar you saved has already been taxed and really represents $1.50 or so of earnings. Just compare post-tax to post-tax dollars.

One nice thing is, if you can find some way to make a hobby pay for itself, you can write off all the stuff you buy for the former hobby against your income from it, which can reduce the taxes you pay on that income significantly.
posted by kindall at 7:42 AM on October 30, 2005


***Thrift stores for clothes and household stuff. You can find amazing things for the best prices. You may just become a thrist shopping fanatic like me!
***Take good care of what you own. If you wash your clothes carefully (in cool water, with delicates in mesh bags) they last longer and that saves you money in the long run.
***Never wear your shoes two days in a row and they last MUCH longer. Shoes need to air out between wearings.
***I almost never dry clean anything...you can handwash most items that say dry clean only
***Don't be afraid to return something that doesn't meet your expectations...even if it's been more than 30 days, especially if the item is defective. For example, I had a coat with a broken zipper that I was able to return more than a month after I bought it.
***When you do eat out, don't get appetizers or drinks...you'll save a lot

***Take advantage of discounts. For example, if you want an iPOD, check with your friends. They might be able to get one on discount through their job. Buying something online? First do a search for "coupon codes" and you can often get a discount on your order. Order gift certificates from restaurant.com ($25 certificates cost only $10!) Getting your taxes done? You can always find coupons online for H&R block (if you're like me and can't use the software). If you're creative, there are ways to find savings on almost anything.
***Do your book browsing in the store, write down the titles, and then get them for a fraction of the cost on half.com. Then RESELL them when you're done and buy some more.

***Have a new extravagence you're dying to get? Think of a way to earn the money or something else in your budget you can cut. For example, maybe you haven't been home a lot and can cut the higher tier of cable channels...or maybe you can sell those expensive skis since you haven't used them in years.
***The best one of all is to pay down high interest debt...this will leave a lot of extra money in your budget...plus it feels really good to do it.
***An easy way to make good money is to help a friend or associate get a job at your job...usually for a hefty bonus. And everybody wins!
posted by mintchip at 5:51 PM on January 13, 2006


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