Monday, January 24, 2011

Green and Frugal: Some Clever Ways to Save Money

Another great post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...

Some Clever Ways to Save Money

Now that 2011 is here, we’re on a serious money-saving crusade. In just a couple of weeks we’re going to be a one-income family, which is a scary and exhilarating prospect.

As you can probably imagine, I’m looking for any clever trick I can find to reduce our expenses and lower our spending.

I wanted to share with some of the ideas I’m already using, and some others that I probably will start using, to save money.

And, before we begin, I know that picture of forsythia doesn’t have anything at all to do with saving money, but, it’s January. And I needed a cheery boost, which means maybe you do too!

Clever Ways to Save Money

1. Opt-Out of Your Favorite Store’s Email Alerts\

You know all those emails you get from J.Crew, PacSun and L.L. Bean letting know that “TODAY ONLY: 75% OFF!”?

They just make you spend money. Avoid the temptation, and get off those mailing lists.

2. If You Go to the Laundromat, Consider Buying a Portable Washer

Our new place in Detroit doesn’t have a washing machine. Which means we had been going to the laundromat once or twice a week to do laundry.

Not only was this time consuming and annoying (especially lugging laundry around during a Michigan winter) it was also expensive. We were spending around $8.50 per trip on laundry. At one trip per week, this was $34 per month. On laundry.

We decided to invest in a Haier Portable Washing Machine, which we bought off Amazon. We paid $175 for it. Here’s what it looks like:

According to our calculations, we’ll have earned our money back in less than six months with this thing. We’ve named her Tubby, and she works great. We put her in our basement and hooked her up to the sink down there. But she’s so small, you could easily keep her in a kitchen or a closet and wheel her out when you need her.

So after six months, Tubby will help us save money every month. If you live in an apartment without your own washer, investing in a portable washing machine would be a great way to save money (as well as time).

3. Know Your Problem Areas, and Avoid Them

If you asked me what my biggest spending weakness was, I could tell you in one word: Etsy. I love Etsy from the bottom of my heart. My favorites page has almost 450 items listed.

Whatever your spending problem is, try to cut it out of your life. If you’re addicted to shoes, don’t go to the mall. If you have a problem buying stuff on Amazon, avoid the site.

This takes work, and self discipline. Trust me, I’m there. While it’s important to splurge once in a while, don’t make it a regular occurrence.

4. Make a List of Frugal Fun Things to Do

There’s nothing worse than wanting to do something fun, and not having any idea of what you can do on the cheap. So what happens? You end up spending $30 at the movie theater for lack of anything better to do.

Before that fateful day gets here (which, surely, it will) have a backup plan. Create a list, right now, of fun things you can do on the cheap, or even for free, so you’re not tempted to go splurge when you’re bored and out of ideas.

For instance, we have a membership to the Detroit Institute of Art, which is 2 miles away. This is a free fun thing for us to do. This weekend, the Detroit Historical Museum has free admission (savings: $12). We’ll be there bright and early.

Need some ideas?

Check your local community calender, newspaper or local magazine. They always have lists of free events.

Find out what day of the month your local museums has a “free” day.

Learn a new craft, like making wine bottle glasses or origami.

Hit up your local library for free community events.

Find out what activities are available at your local state park. You likely live within miles of hiking and biking trails. Picnic, anyone?

5. Threaten to Cancel Your Service

Want to save money on your cable TV, internet, or phone service?

All you have to do is call up and say “You know, I’m not really using this service anymore and we’re really trying to save money. I need to cancel my service.”

And you know what the customer service rep will do practically every single time?

They’ll trip over themselves to get you to stay. Suddenly, rates will fall by 25%-50% for another year as they try to talk you in to sticking it out.

Trust me, this works.

Last Word…

Do any of you have any clever or unique tricks you use to save money? Since we’re watching our dimes right now, I’d love to hear them, and I’m sure other readers would as well!

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1 comment:

  1. Every year for the holidays I end up getting a bunch of beauty products, like make up, shampoo, body wash, lotion...and every year I end up buying my own products because I like particular brands and what not. this year, however, i am not allowing myself to buy anything until i use up all of what i have, even if it's not the best product!