I like to do a lot of things that cost money. And because I choose to do these things and spend money (instead of saving) I don’t consider myself cheap. I consider myself frugal. Our money goes towards traveling and experiences that will give us memories. And believe me, I have many. Because there are so many things I have done, and so many things I still want to do, I have had to adopt quite a few strategies to enable this stuff to happen for me. Below I’ve listed some tips that have helped me. Hopefully they will help you too.
1. Never, ever buy anything if it is not on sale. This goes for food, for clothing, for…whatever. I have come to the conclusion that maybe I want chicken breasts, but if they are not on sale, I will wait. If not the next week, the week after that they will be on special. I never pay full price in a store that I know every other week puts their items on a percentage off cost. Even in a thrift store, I will not buy anything unless it is the half-price color of the day.
2. You need to use coupons for everything you buy or do. Search the Sunday newspaper inserts, look online at sites like Groupon, even check the back of register receipts from grocery stores. We have been trying (yet not always succeeding) to only go out to eat at restaurants that we have coupons for.
3. Always have individual portions of leftovers in your freezer. This eliminates buying lunches at work. If you take one out before you leave in the morning, by lunchtime it is ready for a quick whirl in the microwave and there you go – homemade lunch. Better than a $5 sandwich from the cafeteria.
4. Do not overlook the “day old” or “damaged” racks at supermarkets. Especially when you notice it seems full, go and investigate. I have done very well there.
5. Shower fast and only do full loads of laundry. You can save quite a bit of water this way.
6. Keep your thermostat reasonable. This winter, we have it set low and if we are cold, we will put on a sweatshirt. Or we will curl up under a blanket on the couch to get warmer. Of course, a cat or two on top of you adds to the warmth too. I will do this now, because once summer comes and it is hot, I cannot tolerate the heat so my AC will be running harder than our heat was.
7. Buy generic brands of everything. And I mean everything. Unless you have an allergy or a particular allegiance to a certain product, there really isn’t much of a difference between name brand and store brand. I did find that I do not like store-brand Frosted Flakes, however.
8. Keep the lights on in your house to a minimum. I do like to keep one or two on when we go out. I just don’t like the look of a house being all dark, because to me that makes things look unoccupied. And I don’t want to buy trouble if I don’t have to.
9. Save all the change, all the coins you get. Everyday. Just put it in some sort of container and forget about it. After a certain time (of your choosing) you can cash it in. I am always pleasantly surprised about how much my changes comes out to be.
10. When you are at a hotel, take the amenities given to you. I do not take unused rolls of toilet paper, and if I use the shampoo I leave that behind too. But if there are unused little bottles of conditioner, hand cream, a pen, some sugars and sugar substitute – I take them home. I have a nice little supply for myself. Some of the sugars I keep in my car in case someone I’m out with needs a little extra.
11. Do not pass up anything used. Anything at all. No matter where it is or where it comes from. Our beautiful dining room table came from the curb. It was a leftover that didn’t sell at a garage sale.
12. Try to ditch the paper towel and paper napkin habit. Of course you will have a bit more laundry, but overall it makes more sense to have something you can reuse. Since it’s just Jeff and I, we only need a few napkins. A family of more than two can each have their own color. They are very reasonably priced at thrift stores. I also have a lot of kitchen towels that have seen better days that I can use as rags.
13. I won’t ever get rid of cable (or satellite). I am a television person. With the cable package we have, there is always something to watch. I am never at a loss to find a program. Search and you will find. Since you’re already paying a cable or satellite bill, it’s free entertainment (well, kind of).
14. If you belong to a gym, GO. I currently belong to a gym that is very reasonably priced at only $10 per month. Because it is that cheap, I tend to make excuses why I can’t be there. My main reason is because I hate the place, but I know I need to go. If I don’t, I really should cancel the membership.
15. Always use a lid when boiling water. Saves gas or electric, and you’re ready to cook quicker.
16. Check all of your bills to see if there are any charges that aren’t right. See if any charges can be reduced or cut out completely.
17. Buy clothes pins – not so much for laundry (unless you like to hang things) but as bag clips. You can get twenty five in a package for a dollar, compared to three or four of the colored plastic clip kind. Clothes pins work just as good keeping a bag of chips fresh.
18. Share clothes with friends. Borrow. Rotate them back and forth. My cousin and I did this as young teenagers. There is no reason this can’t be done by grown adults also.
19. When your birthday is coming up, or someone you celebrate is having a birthday – google things in your area for free birthday perks. There is a local restaurant here that if you go on your actual day, the birthday boy or girl gets an entire free meal. It’s a really great deal, and that’s why we usually celebrate just about all of our birthdays there. There are a lot of birthday deals out there, you just have to find them.
20. Wash your car yourself. Or at the very least, use one of those stations that have the pressure hoses. My car is very tiny. It’s a Chevy Spark, and I love it. It is so tiny that unless it is filthy dirty, I use a spray bottle with water and a bunch of rags to clean it.
21. Try to cure yourself before going to a doctor. This of course involves minor issues. I once had a nurse tell me if you take the correct dosage of cold medicine at the perfectly timed intervals (not missing a dose, or delaying it) and drink plenty of fluids – more than you think you even need – you will end up feeling better. If after a day or so, you are not getting better and in fact are getting worse, then it’s time to maybe see your doctor.
22. If you go to the movies (we really don’t go too much) make sure you bring a big purse. Now I’m not saying to bring something like a small suitcase – just something that can hold a bottle of water, maybe a box of movie-theater size box of candy, and maybe a ziploc bag with popcorn. That should be enough to snack on during a two-hour movie.
These are some of my tips. I’m always looking for more. Have any ideas?