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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Prudent Penny: 20 Quickie Saves

People are always saying it's too hard to save money. Baloney! With ketchup on it!

We haven't done a Prudent Penny post in a while. I think we're overdue, so I've compiled a list of twenty (mostly) easy things you can do to save a few bucks.

  1. Trade down. Instead of that sporty new desktop computer, take the time to discuss with your local geek what exactly you need for your purposes.
  2. The Joneses: Fuggetaboutit. You're not minion. Make your own rules.
  3. Make your own food. Start a garden. Don't have a lot of time? Pick out one or two veggies or herbs that are the MOST expensive in the grocery store and just grow those.
  4. YARD SALE: Have one. Get that nice clean feeling of getting rid of your clutter. Believe me, it's cathartic.
  5. YARD SALES: Go to 'em. You've seen pictures of my house. I've bought 70% of my furniture and almost all my knick-knacks from yard sales. Bet I spent less on my stuff than you did on yours. And I have a cute home. Yard sales work.
  6. Nothing New: Buy nothing new for ONE month. You can do it!
  7. Bag It: Brown bag your work lunch and eat dinner at home for an entire week. Want an incentive? Add up what it costs you to eat out for a week. Don't forget to include that coffee and donuts. Yeah, it's that much.
  8. Pay in cash. I do this all the time. If I don't have the cash, I don't buy it. Keeps me from overspending or splurging.
  9. Negotiate in cash. Nothing says sold like negotiating in cash. This works at flea markets, appliance stores and car dealers.
  10. Speaking of car dealers: Wave the guy off if he asks you how much you want to pay a month. Ask him, what the total price is--then ask him to lower it. Do your homework. Don't let the dealer tell you the price.
  11. Addictions: When I was at the gas station, they were selling cigarettes for 50 bucks a box. A box!! I can do a lot with 50 bucks, can't you? Besides, you know it's bad for you.
  12. Bottled Water: Got this from Greg. He always refills his water bottles with filtered water from home. Pennies instead of dollars.
  13. Chickens! A good layer will lay once every other day. A great layer will lay everyday. You don't need a rooster either.
  14. Turn it off. If you're not watching the tv, turn it off. Same goes for lights, A/C and heating. There's a reason your father went from room to room shutting off lights.
  15. Cook several meals at once. Our biggest expenditures happen when I don't plan ahead. A lot of times we're working on a project that is dirty, draining, and down right hard. The last thing I want to do is cook after I've quit for the day. If I have a few meals already prepared, all I have to do is stick it in the oven.
  16. Go to the library. They have books, CDs, and DVDs. All you need is a library card.
  17. Research potential discounts. Before you buy anything expensive, Google it thusly: Item, coupon --or-- Item, discount.
  18. Have a book addiction? Consider an e-reader. Many books are cheaper as an e-book. If you add up what you normally spend on print books, an e-reader quickly becomes a more cost-efficient means to feeding a (good) addiction.
  19. Keep a change jar. Toss in any loose change or bills into the jar.
  20. Try the $50 Rule. This is what Greg and I did to buy and pay off two of the three houses we've owned. It works.
What's your favorite way to save money?

For More Prudent Penny posts go here.


Jennifer Shirk said...

Paying in cash would probably help me a lot. I'm a big charger. It's a bad habit.

Jannette Johnson said...

Excellent post!

I think 1 and 2 are the main reasons people can't save money. It's a mindset, once you break that, saving is easy.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: My husband says it's easier for him to pay one bill at the end of the month than to carry cash.

But credit cards are too easy to use. Cash keeps me honest. :grin:

Joanne said...

Definitely pay with cash. Don't studies show that if you pay on credit card, you're more likely to buy more that you don't need? Cash, all the time.

Maria Zannini said...

Jannette: If I were to pick one thing, it would be #2.

We need to stop comparing our lives to others. It's not a competition.

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: Totally agree. It's too great a lure.

Sherri said...

We got rid of all our credit cards years ago! We have a debit card of course but use cash for most things. I'm one of these people who will find something I just HAVE have if my wallet is empty but if I've got even $5 in it I won't spend *g*

Planning ahead is huge too...I'm like you Maria in that some of our worst over spending happens when we don't plan, be that meals at home or a trip to the movies as a family.

Great post!

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: We keep credit cards since we travel so much, but we never carry a balance. That's where the trouble begins.

Sherri said...

We kept one CC while hubby traveled but that stopped once we moved to Vegas ... thank goodness! ... so we've been CC free for almost 3 years now.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: Good for you! CCs are the devil's playgrounds. LOL!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I don't have a lot of penny-saver techniques. I absolutely hate to cook, so we do end up eating out a lot. I've had exactly one yard sale in my life, and it didn't turn out so well. Now, if we have a clear-out, I usually donate everything either to goodwill or a local charity.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: I hear you on the cooking. I am NOT a domestic goddess in the least.

My meals are very simple. And while I dislike cooking, I dislike being poor more. LOL! My need to save outweighs my contempt for cooking.

Ref: yard sales
That's too bad. We've had very good luck in the past. Though now that we live in the boonies, I don't think we'll do as well. We just don't have the traffic for it.

But your way still saves money. You can deduct it on your taxes when you give to charities.

catie james said...

In addition to the library, I've become a huge fan of trading in my old paperbacks at used book stores. Granted I try to "support" my favorite authors whenever possible (buying during the first two weeks after release, in a book store), but most days the dollar stretches only so far. A quality secondhand book store is priceless i.m.h.o.

Loved this post Maria! :)

Maria Zannini said...

Catie: I know some authors frown on used books, but I don't. The author has already made his royalty on that book, so if it gets resold, the benefit is the chance to be introduced to someone new.

That said, I've never been a big fan of reselling to bookstores. They give you very little for that book. I prefer to donate to women's shelters. That way, not only does it do someone good, but it's also deductible.

jacabur1 said...

Maria, their are only a couple that is a problem for my household #3, eat canned veggies as cheaper than growing and throwing!! #7 I do not work and eat at home, the DH on the other hand {We won't go there}!
#19 as do not use "green money" but our checks and debit card when too lazy to write a check or just pumping gas no change jar anymore{Money is a no no because the DH is liable to need a candy bar and soda and waste it}

I did a very long drawn out comment hours back on each and every point, will not do so again but did link and post it on my blog so people may stop by from that, I hope!!!

jackie b central texas

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: That was so nice of you to link the post. Thank you!

Ref: comment
I've seen comments delayed for as long as a day, so maybe it'll show up later.

If it does, I'll shoot you an email.

jacabur1 said...

You might as well just have said "I'll shoot you" because when it does post it is LOOOONG!!!


Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: LOL!

What am I going to do with you?

Diandra said...

We're doing most of the things already (except for the chickens and the vegetables - no garden! But we do have our share of herbs on the balcony).

Two things I do (and try to have the BF do) to at least keep track of the money we're spending:

- Collect all the receipts and, once a week, sit down to see how much you spent and on what.

- Give yourself pocket money. This may sound strange, but it works. Really. Each month, give yourself a specific amount (for me, it's something like 50,-€, which should be a little more than 50,-) I can spend on my fancy stuff - books, coffee (or dinner) with friends, fun things I want to do. Just as back when I was a teenager. When the money's spent, it's spent. (Clothes and stuff don't go in this category, since I work at an embassy and need to look presentable. But I'm not good at clothes/shoe shopping anyway, I hate it.) And if I want to buy something expensive, I'll have to save for it.

Maria Zannini said...


Good job! We used to give ourselves spending money back when we were young, but that's not necessary anymore. We're well trained. LOL!

But collecting receipts reminded me of something else we do every couple of years.

Every 2-3 years, we collect every receipt for every item we buy. At the end of the year I add them all up and sort them by category. It gives us a snapshot of what we're spending.

Good tips, D!

Diane J. said...

We bought our truck new in 2001. I did my homework and we got a fantastic deal. Yes, it was a new vehicle and we could have saved, but we wanted to splurge and buy at least one new vehicle in our life.

Love paying in cash, especially when grocery shopping (it adds up quickly).

Glad I found your blog.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Diane, and welcome!

I've put you on my reader and have made myself a follower of your blog.

Thanks for stopping by!