Friday, May 09, 2008

Cheapskate Friday

Growing up we pinched every penny until it screamed bloody murder. Looking back now, it wasn't easy but I thank my lucky stars because I can make fifteen dollars last for a week of meals!

Since the economy is going into the ditch, we could all use a few extra dollars to get by. I thought I'd share some of my favorite money saving tips and I asked my friends to share some too.

Laundry - My latest and greatest discovery is Sudsy Ammonia - you can find it in the cleaning products. Use 1/4 cup along with HALF of your normal amount of laundry detergent and your clothing will come out smelling fresh and sweet. This is especially good if you are washing something particularly smelly like gym clothes or dog beds. This stuff is a miracle!

Grocery Bags - It takes 1000 years for a simple plastic bag to decompose. Buy cloth bags and reuse them over and over again.

Coupons - don't be afraid to clip coupons! Thanks to the Internet:

you can find coupons for almost anything you want to buy. Mom is the Queen of the Coupons and it isn't unusual for her to save 50.00 or more every time she shops.

Milk - buy powdered milk and mix it with half regular milk. If you serve it ice cold then no one will notice. This is also good for cooking.

Ramen Noodles - Hey, love them or hate them, they are a college student's staple. Here are a ton of recipes to use for Ramen Noodles:;_ylt=A0geu.FqcCRI.WwAOGlXNyoA?fr2=sg-gac&sado=1&p=101%20ramen%20noodle%20recipes&fr=slv8-msgr&ei=UTF-8

Turn down the thermostat - In the winter we keep it around 66 and in the summer 74. Not only are we saving money but we also help the planet.

Cooking - Learn how to Braise meat. You can buy the cheapest cuts and create a masterpiece with a good braising liquid.;_ylt=A0geu8pucCRI2k0Bn19XNyoA?fr2=sg-gac&sado=1&p=braising%20recipes&fr=slv8-msgr&ei=UTF-8

Postage - pay everything online. I think I send out maybe 2 checks a month now. :)

And now some suggestions from my friends:

Jennifer Dunne - I bought a refrigerator negative ionizer that was recommended by my cooking club. It keeps foods from going moldy in the fridge, so I don't have to throw out fruits, salad greens, and vegetables because they've gone bad, or make multiple trips to the grocery store each week to buy foods right before I use them. Plus, it also gets rid of food odors, so I don't have to throw out foods because they're "off".

Kate Douglas - We got rid of the extra car that just sat in the driveway...with hubby retired we realized we almost always go places together and he’s got his motorcycle if I need the car. Saved us on insurance and registration. The only one we have is an economy pickup that gets good mileage—with gas up here already $4.18 a gallon for regular, we’re definitely watching the number of trips we take!

Sharon Horton - I highly recommend garage sales and visiting those antique/junk stores that have popped up all around. Last weekend, I went to a garage sale and saw a carousel horse that I recognized as being worth a pretty penny. I collect them, so I knew this horse probably retailed for a few hundred dollars. The tag said "make offer", but when I asked about the cost, the woman said she was hoping to get between $30.00 and $40.00 dollars. I offered to split the difference at $35.00 and she (happily) took it.
In addition to my carousel horse, I've saved lots of money by purchasing lamps, tables, wooden furniture and even decorative faux plants by visiting garage sales. Also, I like the idea of buying used items because it feels like I'm helping in the recycling effort.

JL Wilson - I also endorse Freecycle (a yahoo group) or Craigslist. I've sold 3 handheld computers in the last 2 days on Craigslist and since they were sitting around gathering dust, anything I got for them was a win.
Don't forget Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I got an excellent end table at Goodwill for $8 -- it's supposed to be one of those decorative flower pot holders, but I use it to store my TBR stack, thus freeing up space on the real end table for other things. And I've gotten some great clothing at Salvation Army for $2 - $3 each -- oversized men's shirts that I wear over a tank top in the summer time.
I also score big at K-Mart, which is my first stop shopping place. They've merged with Sears and Lands End, so the quality is really pretty good (Craftsmen tools, etc.)
Really, though, the best tip is STOP AND THINK: do I need it? will I use it? is it essential? do I have something that will work? We just rennovated our house, redesigning our home offices. I reused just about every piece of furniture (with some painting and some 'editing') and only added new bookcases from IKEA where needed. We added trim pieces of molding, and the $300 bookcases look custom-made and built-in.

NJ Walters - One of the best ways to save money is to ask yourself if you really need something before you buy it. Look at the clothing in your closet before you actually buy new. Be realistic--how many pairs of shoes or purses do you actually need. I know it's tough, but it's better to have two or three fabulous purses, or pairs of shoes, you love then to have a closet full of ones you don't use. If the clothing item or accessory is still good, but you're just tired of wearing it, then donate it before you buy more.
Shop thrift stores and yard sales. There's not a new dish in my cupboard. They're all yard sale. My every day dishes are from the early 1900's. It's cool to eat off vintage dishes every day.
Use public transit when possible.
Use reusable bags.
Once every six months, live off what's in your cupboard before you go out and buy new. If you're inventive, you'd be amazed how many days you can go before you have to buy much food. That way the food that is stored in your pantry doesn't expire and have to be tossed.

Ann Bruce - I did a TT on Saving Money at:

So what things do you do to save a few dollars?


Carolan Ivey said...

Take my library books back on time. :)

Buy music and movies at a resale shop. This is a great way to try out new artists.

Turn the TV off! I'm guilty of keeping it on during the day just for background noise. The radio uses much less power. Better yet, look for streaming online radio stations you can play on your computer while you're working.

Make your own cosmetics like lotions, soaps, scrubs etc. for pennies compared to what you'd pay at a cosmetics counter, using ingredients you may already have in your kitchen or garden.

Mary Winter said...

We've been using the Angel Food Ministries. Mom is an uninsured diabetic (meds running from $250-400/mo), and since she does laundry at my place, we split the cost, and then I cook for her off the angel food on the days she comes over. It's good stuff and only $30.00. (I think). And it's for anyone regardless of income level.

I work from home which saves on the gas.

Shop thrifty grocery stores like Aldi's (Fareway is also really cheap here in Iowa with an awesome meat counter) and the day old bread store.

Kate Douglas said...

I should have mentioned when I said that we went from two to one car that it was after a big tree fell down and smooshed BOTH our cars--we both got rentals and that's when we realized that one just sat in the driveway all the time. When it was time to replace the vehicles, we decided one would do, and it does!

Another way to save money is to stay FAR AWAY from book stores...but it's easier said than done!

Janet H said...

We all take our lunches to work. We have a big garden, so I can lots & lots of veggies. (Notice it's all we until I hit the canning part?) We hunt and fish.

Uhm..We put a timer on the water heater, and use energy star appliances. We replace blown light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.

LOVE a garage sale, and the goodwill store.

Crystal Jordan said...

Making your own coffee in the morning instead of stopping at Starbucks saves a TON.

Beth said...

I'm really into Freecycling right now. I like helping others while decluttering my house, and send a post before buying something I think I can't live without.

Larissa Ione said...

My grandma was a SERIOUS penny-pincher -- I swear, she'd re-use toilet paper if it weren't for the fact that it shreds.

One of her (and my mom's) big things is to wash and re-use Ziploc baggies. I do that too if the baggie only had something like bread in it.

Use a cheap kitchen timer for timing your shower. You'd be amazed how quickly 5 or 10 minutes goes...and you quickly see how you've probably been spending MUCH longer in the shower.

Splurge on some items, especially when it comes to food. It's better to buy a more expensive item you know you like and will eat, than an inferior product that'll make you miserable. Sometimes you just have to go with the good stuff. (My splurge is Plugra butter. More expensive than other butters and margarine, but I'd rather pinch pennies elsewhere.)