Tuesday, October 10, 2006

25 Ways I Save Money


Here are some of my tips to share for Dawn and the readers of Frugal for Life. I tried to fill the list to innovative things that I do, as opposed to the usual "obvious things".
  1. Always make lunches. I have a small fridge at work which I load up on Mondays and make lunches during lunchtime. This way it doesn't take time in the morning and saves on baggies. Also, stock my drawers at work with healthy snacks so I don't hit the vending machine.
  2. Whenever making purchases, always ask the questions: "Is this something I want or something I need?" and "Do I have a place for it?". This not only saves wasteful purchases, but also keeps down on clutter.
  3. Use an Oil Buying Network cooperative for better heating oil prices. In MA, call 800.649.7473.
  4. While shopping online, always compare prices including shipping using CNET.com, Froogle, and eBay.
  5. Shop at a cheaper supermarket further away.
  6. Have a running list of which stores have the cheapest items between supermarkets, discount stores and warehouse stores, a mini price book of sorts.
  7. Only buy things on my shopping list and limit impulse buys.
  8. Using store reward cards to get extra discounts and store credit. Bob's Stores and Petco come to mind as stores that give good rewards.
  9. Buy holiday cards, ornaments and gift wrap after the holidays when they are 50-75% off.
  10. Use compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) of course - Dawn, thanks for giving it the number 1 spot!.
  11. Never buy clothes that aren't on sale.
  12. Encourage friends to give me hand-me-down clothes, toys and gear for the kids, and continue the mommy chain.
  13. Give haircuts to everyone in the family (kids and hubby but not myself, only get haircuts twice a year).
  14. Use Vonage for my home phone. Contact me for a referral for Vonage.
  15. Use ING Direct (4.40% interest) and Paypal (5.03% interest but not FDIC insured) for higher interest rates. Contact me if you'd like $25 from ING for opening an account.
  16. Use credit unions with NO account fees, never pay foreign ATM or debit card POS fees, and always pay online.
  17. Only use credit cards with no fees and 2% cash back benefits. Always pay in full so they are giving me money, instead of vice versa.
  18. Max out every tax advantage program from 401k, IRAs, FSAs and 529s (OK, I can't actually max out a 529, but I do regular deductions from my paycheck).
  19. Take the gas-saving car whenever possible.
  20. Always note gas prices while driving and arrange trips to hit the cheapest station.
  21. Combine trips for errands. Don't run an errand unless I have more than one.
  22. Ride my bike on nice days for exercise instead of driving to the gym.
  23. Shoveling the walk for "free exercise".
  24. Borrow movies from the library instead of renting them. Same goes for kid's books, but I can't seem to read books myself from the library on a time schedule.
  25. Buy used books, CDs and DVDs from eBay, half.com or Amazon and sell the ones I don't want or use.
fistful money


Dawn said...

Very cool! Thank you

Anonymous said...

Nice list...though I'm not sure what you mean by "Obvious things". (many of the things on your list are things I do too....that makes me feel good and perhaps frugal)

Here are a couple more, though I honestly have not thought too much about them.

- Insulation: Cheap investment....easy to install, and saves you year over year in summer and winter (and you probably could use an upgrade if your house isn't only a few years old)

- Tankless water heater: I'm actually waiting for my original heater to die, and it's going in. No heat loss for idle hot water. (if your stuck with a tank, at least go back to item #1 above and wrap it! :-)

- Repair rather than replace: Try to keep things when possible. My lawn tractor is about 19 years old....ditto for the snow blower. Rebuilt parts of both. (of course they are made for repair too) My cars all last over 10 years, and most have at least made it to 190,000 miles. I'm going to perhaps do this with my last pairs of US made shoes....but you really have to go to the cobbler before I would normally consider them unwearable! (but I know I could probably double their life...BTW: This is my last stand with respect to buy American....I'll go for hand made shoes if I have to :-) All of this boils down to "Buy things that last, and take care of them!"

- Fans and Keep house closed: Ok, that's a summer thing...use the houses natural insulation to keep heat out, and use fans to circulate air for cooling. We only have room AC in the bedrooms and generally only use it in the evening. I also want to get a whole house fan some day.....drawing through the cool basement. (but being the granite state, I would also have to increase my radon test regiment)

- Weatherstripping: Update it in any doors and windows. Drafts cause tremendous heat loss in the winter.

- Plastic "shrink wrap" window coverings:
Yes, I have double pane glass windows, but they are still cold to the touch. Airflow up against this cold transfers away heat, and these are fairly cheap when you buy them in the spring for the next year.

- High Efficiency Furnace:
OK, I'd much rather have a Geothermal well based heat transfer system. Pumping the earths heat into the house is a lot cheaper than propane or oil....but the system and well were going to set me back about $10K (probably $15K now) But the result is much lower operating costs....and given the increase in fuel prices, I bet the payback is much lower than the 12 years it was when I first looked at it.

- Self-Service: Perform as many home and car tasks as I can on my own. Oil changes, tire rotations, belts, fertilizing, simple construction. My father was the part-time mechanic/mechinist/builder....but he taught me a few things.

- Simple Dress: I'm not a fashion plate....err, I have one order of dress....almost giranimal in complexity. Only variation is for a couple of pieces of work clothing which come from old worn daily cloths (generally) and two old suits. (and I mean old :-) I have no idea where I got so many ties....but I didn't buy them!

- Luck out: Work at Sun and take advantage of all the T-Shirts we give out. Use them for everything, from wearing on hot days to buffing the paint on my car! (when they get old...OK, that's a bit silly)

- Care less about what others think: (regarding what I have and how I spend my money) Of course....do NOT even worry about keeping up with the Jones'...or even my brother in-law. :-)

- Cost per work hour?: When I ask myself "How much do I really need this item", I have always equated all purchases to how many hours I have to work to get it...and then how many hours of work worth of items I have bought recently. (in my recent memory) I'm not all that lazy, but I hate to think of working for something that I will just sit idle. I have thought about this over the years, and when I was younger, it made me really consider things that cost $1....not I think about things over say $10...so it has naturally grown as my income has grown.(I know...that's silly...but it is the way my mind works)

Ok, maybe those are all obvious, I am not sure.....a might be programmable thermostats, consolidating all insurance into one policy (and shopping it around), and even buying fuel in bulk on contract. (I think that is what you mention below)

So many ways...so little time. The key is to always think about how to get the best for your buck. (BTW: I like quality things, but I often ask myself if I need the biggest and best of a particular item...I often do NOT)

Anonymous said...

Set standby Temp on furnace as low as possible. Depends if you have tankless hot water.

Get dishwasher with heater so not to have to depend on high standby temp on Water heater.

Fix easy stuff on cars, leave long time consuming stuff for dealer.
Use 2 speed pump on pool.

Run tank as low as you can to save gas.

Always have mileage displayed on your trip computer to stop lead foot.

Insulate every water pipe that has hot water running through it.

Get block buster online (dirt cheap). You always have a movie to watch (you can choose ahead for months). You get 2 local coupons too.

Get an internet capable phone so you can check prices/reviews anytime.

Get one of these http://www.ahernstore.com/p4400.html to check how much power an appliance uses.

Put timers and motion sensors on appropriate lights, fluorescent can be put on motion sensors easily.

Make sure tire pressure is at max recommended level.

Anonymous said...

Yes, motion sensors are a good idea. (I have them on my outdoor lights...mostly for convenience)

As to the KILL A WATT energy measureing device....save even more buy getting it on EBAY! (the web site you pointed to has them on "sale" for $34...and Buy It Now on EBay for the same thing is running $25 with FREE shipping!

Anonymous said...

I vote for you Angela