I have been doing a bit of computer surfing lately. I don’t even know why. I have found myself viewing videos and reading all sorts of things. The other afternoon I stumbled upon episodes of Extreme Cheapskates. This show used to be on (I think) the TLC Network. I’m not sure if it is still on the air. This program showcased people who went to extreme lengths to save money. And extreme lengths they were! There was a woman who no longer bought toilet paper, one woman who peed in a jar and put it on her lawn once a week (to use as a supposed fertilizer) and a woman who cooked an entire dinner for two friends entirely from items she scrounged from area dumpsters. These people were very intense cheapskates.
I started thinking about the things I’ve done to save money. I’ve stated before that I have purchased what could have been used underwear – even though it looked new, yet it didn’t have tags or come in a sealed package. I’m proud of the things I have done, knowing I didn’t have to resort to measures taken by those extreme savers.
You should “shop” your neighborhood and other areas on their Trash Day. I am not advocating going inside closed cans with lids or opening up garbage bags, but if you see something interesting that is obviously being put out to be taken away – there is no law against and no shame in taking what is there. If I only needed children’s large toys – I frequently see things like this. I’ve seen those little beds that look like kid race cars, play doll carriages, all sorts of items like this. I’ve seen storage bins, storage units with drawers, mirrors, golf clubs, tracks for race car sets – you name it. You may see a random chair or two. Keep your eyes peeled, and if you spy something – take a chance, stop your car and walk over to the pile – you may be very glad you did. What have you got to lose?
As a big fan of thrift stores, I say to always consider second hand furniture. Unless you get very lucky with finding an entire set at once (my cousin had this happen in Florida), your guide to redoing your home and/or certain rooms is usually on a piece by piece basis. We have a nice bedroom set (new) and a nice dining room set (table given free at the end of a yard sale) with thrifted chairs. Last weekend we picked up the EXACT drop leaf table we had been looking for, and for the time being we will use two of the dining room chairs with this table. What we really need to replace is furniture for our living room. We do however go back and forth with this, because some of our cats are still young and tend to scratch. I am not sure if we want to spend a lot of time yelling and scolding them to stop, yet I know the furniture we have is in bad shape – and we can’t keep it forever. Even so, with cats in the house (in many ways it is like having small children) we will probably be buying used or second hand furniture. We will need one couch and one love seat. They can be bought at the same time, or at different times – we will take them whenever we find a deal that we just can’t pass up. We have a coffee table and an end table that will look much better when we repaint them to match the television stand we have. All of this furniture was given to us by my cousin’s boyfriend as we were leaving Florida – for a very nice price. He didn’t charge us much at all.
I am not now nor will I ever suggest you eat road kill. I will however give advice to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to different cuts of meat. There are so many articles and tips online about how to tenderize a lesser expensive cut of beef. Chicken is very good, and not just boneless breasts. You can make a dinner that comes off very expensive looking by just baking chicken legs and split breasts. You can season them and bake them, and when served with a green vegetable and a yellow vegetable and a starch (and of course some gravy) you have got a nice, deluxe meal to serve. Open your mind to other kind of meats besides ground beef – buy what is on sale, what is on special – I have been able to tell the difference if we made burgers out of these different kinds of meat, but if you’re just going to brown it and add it to a kind of sauce, we have found that you really cannot tell the difference. With any of these tips, it goes without saying that if you try them and don’t end up liking the results, the answer is simple – you just don’t have to ever have them again. If you are lucky, you will end up with a few more meal choices for a good price.
These tips involve saving water. Do your laundry whenever you think you need to, but really figure out what your load size should be. You don’t want to over stuff your machine to the point that the clothes don’t move around freely, but there is no reason to have a small load washing on the large setting. If you can get away with cold water, use that – it will cost you less in the long run. And then there is this – to save water, flush your toilet less often. I’m just going to leave this one right here for you to figure out if this is something you would like to do.
What about going meatless? You can save money by going meatless once or twice a week. Unless you’re a hard core carnivore, this shouldn’t be too hard for you. You can eat healthy and nutritious meals without consuming meat. A simple meal like this for me is a plate of spaghetti with pasta sauce, and a lump of ricotta cheese on the side. I enjoy the taste of the cold cheese with the warm sauce, but I have also put the ricotta on top of the pasta and then whirled it around in the microwave. Complete with a sprinkling of grated cheese, it is a satisfying and filling meal. Sautéed spinach in your sauce, over pasta with some shredded cheese is also a good meatless meal. You can make a nice meal of rice and beans – it can be any kind of beans, and you can use whatever kind of rice you’d like. You can make the dish Mexican style, Chinese style or even Italian style – use your imagination, the possibilities are endless. There’s also the old standby of Breakfast for Dinner – without the bacon, of course. You can serve different kinds of eggs, you can include French Toast, waffles or pancakes and have some toast also. This meal, paired with some milk, juice and fresh fruit would make a delicious choice, and a different alternative to dinner should you want to change things up a bit.
Speaking of eating, some of us do enjoy eating out from time to time. And those of us who do enjoy this also know that it can cost money – sometimes more than we want to spend. A way to get around this is to clip and search for every coupon you can get. This way, when you do go out, you’ve got a bunch of places to choose from that you know you’re already going to be saving at least a little bit. Take advantages of all the special clubs, etc. that certain restaurants offer. From time to time, you may get a buy one entrée, get the second one half price. Another good tip for eating out is to go for lunch – who’s to say a proper celebration or just a treat for yourself has to be dinner? Lunch portions might be smaller, yet they might not be. In general, it costs less to eat lunch out than to eat dinner out. Get used to the idea that good food outings can happen before dark!
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – saving money really is for the most part a personal decision. Some cannot and will not give up, say…cable – and others could give it up without a care in the world. It comes down to what’s really important, what you can live with and what you can’t live without.