Friday, March 25, 2016

105 Ways to Save Money

I wrote this for a freelance client who evidently changed her mind as she never paid for it, so I thought I would share it with you. She hired me via Freelancer but never deposited the money, and it looks like her blog hasn't had any action since then either. Luckily, I have a use for this list. Can you think of any additions?

1. Weatherproof your house. If money is tight, even simple things like rolling up a towel and placing it in front of leaky door thresholds or windowsills, can help.

2. Make sure you aren't running money down the drain. Make sure your toilets and faucets aren't leaking. 

3. Cut your own grass. Not only do you not have to pay the yard service, you also get exercise. 

4. Turn off lights when you leave a room. The monsters under the bed prefer it to be dark. 

5. Replace incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency LED or compact florescent bulbs.

6. Dress for the season, and adjust your thermostat accordingly. Long underwear in the winter means your house is comfortable at a lower temperature; wear shorts in the summer, and keep the air conditioning close to 80 degrees. 

7. Use vinegar and water as a multi-purpose cleaner. It's cheap and works well. 

8. Plant a garden. 

9. Make friends with someone who has a garden or fruit trees. 

10. If you don't need it, don't shop for it, either online or in stores--and turn off QVC. 

11. Give your time, not just your money. Many charities need volunteers as much as they need contributions. 

12. Garage sales and second hand stores are great sources of kids' clothes and toys.

13. Convince your mom that watching your kids is a privilege, not a chore.

14. Join a babysitting co-op, or start one. You get a night out, and your kids get friends to play with. 

15. Carpool to work. 

16. Call around to price insurance coverage. Another company may beat the price you are now paying; but don't cancel your old coverage until new coverage is in place.

17. See if you can get discounts for receiving your bills electronically. 

18. Increase insurance deductibles, but not to the point that you can’t afford them. 

19. Start (or have your kids start) college at the local community college. Not only do they cost less, but classes are taught by people whose job it is to teach these classes; not by graduate assistants.

20. Keep your tires properly inflated; not only does this save wear and tear on the tires, but gas as well. 

21. Learn to change your own oil -- or at least use coupons when you get your oil changed. 

22. Change your own air filter in your car. I mean this job is dead simple and does not even require tools. 

23. Sign up for your grocery store's loyalty card. 

24. Check the weekly ads for your favorite grocery store and/or drugstore. Plan your meals around items that are on sale.

25. Meal plan before you shop, make a grocery list and follow it.

26. If things you use regularly are on sale, buy enough to last six to eight weeks (the average sale cycle for grocery stores).

27. Make a price book to track prices of things you buy frequently.

28. Buy a crockpot. Slow cooking makes even the toughest meat tender, and being able to put dinner in the crockpot in the morning and come home to a cooked meal removes the temptation to drive through the fast food place.

29. Do batch or freezer cooking. It is not much harder to make lasagne or sloppy joes or chile for three meals than it is to make them for one. Double or triple recipes and freeze the extra. 

30. Make contributions; don’t buy fundraisers. When the kids bring chocolate or wrapping paper home from school know that the fundraising company probably makes as much as the school does. Send it back, along with check to the school--donation in lieu of fundraiser. 

31. Enter blog giveaways. You can use the prizes, sell them or give them as gifts. Living Well Mom has a list of giveaway link-ups. 

32. Try generics at the grocery store; if after trying them you don’t like them, you don’t have to buy them again, but at least give them a try.

33. Seek out low-priced extra-curricular activities for the kids. Start with your church, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and community recreation departments. Karate lessons from our community department of recreation were one-quarter the cost of a private studio because our tax dollars were paying the utility bills and insurance premiums. 

34. Use your public library, not the bookstore.

35. If you really like to read and write, become a book blogger; you will have more free books than you can read.

36. Use your public library, not the Red Box. Most public libraries not only lend books, they lend DVDs as well.

37. Check out the children’s programs at your public library. 

38. If you live in an area with several local stations, drop your cable and buy an over-the-air antenna. 

39. Match your cellphone plan to your use--or better yet, match your use to a low-priced plan. 

40. If you must eat out, eat out at lunch when prices are lower.

41. Print drafts on the back of all that paper the kids bring home from school.

42. Use the draft mode on your printer to save ink.

43. If you have lots of carpet in your house, buy a steam cleaner. Not only will you save money in the long run over renting or paying a carpet cleaning service, you will have it handy to clean up small spills when they happen.

44. Make your own laundry detergent. Here is a recipe. 

45. Use a solar clothes dryer (clothes line) rather than the electric or gas model. 

46. Make sure the washer is full when you run it.

47. Wash in cold water.

48. Only run the dishwasher when it is full.

49. Keep your freezer full, even if it is with blocks of ice. A full freezer uses less energy than an empty one.

50. Keep wrapped snacks in the car to soothe the beasts in the back seat without resorting to the drive through.

51. Especially if you plan to have more than one child, use cloth diapers.

52. Match your device to its use. You can play Candy Crush just as well on a $99 Kindle Fire as on a $499 I-Pad. If you only use your computer to type and surf the web, you don’t need a $1,000 machine; a $300 one will work just fine.

53. Don’t buy mostly duplicative subscriptions. Amazon Prime provides free shipping, free movies and free music. If you have Prime, drop I-tunes, Pandora and Netflix.

54. Consider whether you really need to buy a new device; a used one may meet your needs.

55. Drive an older car, particularly if it is paid for. If the car isn’t worth much, you do not have to carry comprehensive or collision insurance.

56. Buy your cars used; look for an “old person’s car”--those uncool big American cars that were driven by an older person who did not drive much in the many years she owned it.

57. Drink water from the faucet--or if that does not work for you, water from gallon or five gallon jugs. Individual servings of water are expensive.

58. Don’t eat between meals. Most snacks are expensive, high in calories and low in nutrition. If you must snack, make sure it is on nutritious food.

59. Wash your hands regularly. Don’t laugh, being sick is expensive and the easiest way to reduce the incidence of illness is hand washing.

60. Color your own hair. If you skip the highlights and just go for an overall color, it is as easy as shampooing your hair.

61. Do your own nails. The nail salon is a luxury, not a necessity.

62. Eat naturally meatless meals--those featuring beans, or cheese rather than meat.

63. Use online banking to pay your bills; there are banks that do not charge for this, and you save the price of a stamp.

64. If your bank charges fees for your account, look into changing accounts or banks. There are no-fee options out there, especially at smaller banks. (I’m talking about account fees, not overdraft fees).

65. If your employer offers a flexible spending account for healthcare, use it. Estimate your healthcare (including dental) out-of-pocket expenses, subtract some for safety (because if you don’t use it you lose it) and put that money in your flex account so that you don’t pay taxes on the money.

66. Eat right and exercise regularly. While this doesn’t immediately translate into dollars in the bank, many healthcare expenses can be avoided by taking care of ourselves.

67. Use ceiling fans to make rooms feel cooler so you don’t have to spend as much on air conditioning.

68. If you are looking for a new home, keep all the costs in mind, not only the rent/mortgage but your commuting costs as well. If your family has a stay-at-home parent, the right neighborhood may make it possible to live with one car for even more savings.

69. If you are buying your teen a car, buy an older, larger car. The question isn’t whether your teen is going to wreck this car, it is when. 

70. Buy in-season fruits and vegetables, not those flown in from across the country or world.

71. Check the tax assessor’s value of your home. If home values have dropped in your area, it could be too high, and appealing could get you a lower tax bill.

72. If you like to knit, crochet, sew or otherwise make things, let friends and family know that you will make things for them if they provide the materials.

73. Ask to see the mis-tints or returns at the paint store. They can color-match to make more paint that color and choosing that paint will save you a few dollars on your first gallon.

74. Instead of going out with friends, invite them over for a themed pot-luck. 

75. Pay those credit card bills off every month and pay them on time.

76. Get a no-fee credit card.

77. If you have the discipline not to charge more than you can pay off, charge everything to a no-fee rewards card (I love my Discover Card). 

78. Make your vacation accommodations match your plans. If you “do Disney” by being there for the rope drop and not leaving until after the fireworks, do you really need a fancy hotel room?

79. Buy your Walt Disney World tickets from Undercover Tourist and save. 

80. If you need a rental car, check Hotwire.

81. When reserving a rental car (including when you use Hotwire) reserve the smallest car you could tolerate. When you arrive they will probably try to upgrade you. Hold your ground, insist on the car you reserved. If you are lucky they won’t have it and they will have to upgrade you at no additional cost. 

82. Save your “gray” water--water from bathing or handwashing--and use it to water plants.

83. Form a “lunch bunch” with co-workers; take turns bringing lunch for the whole group.

84. Brush and floss regularly; it’s the best way to reduce the chances of big dental bills.

85. Make friends with people who live simply; keeping up with them will save you money; keeping up with the Joneses will cost you.

86. If you are paying for a storage locker, empty it. There are few things worth paying monthly storage fees to keep. Sell the contents, give them away or throw them away.

87. Make your next vacation a “Staycation” and explore your hometown and nearby attractions through the eyes of a tourist, while sleeping in your own bed.

88. Learn to mend your clothes. Sewing on buttons and hemming is not difficult and does not require any equipment beyond a needle and thread. 

89. Watch those recurring charges on your credit card bill, and cancel services you don’t use. 

90. If you are paying for a service (like Netflix) research free alternatives (like Hulu). Depending on how often you use the service and how important it is to you, the free alternative may be just as good.

91. If you need software, consider free versions. Instead of Microsoft Office, consider Google Docs, Kingsoft WPS or Open Office. Instead of Photoshop, consider GIMP or 

92. Make your own chicken broth. When you eat chicken, gather the bones and throw them in the freezer. Once you have bones from two or three chickens, put cover them with water and put them on the stove until the water boils. You have now killed the germs left from whomever ate the chicken. Put the bones, the water and some onion, celery, parsley and other herbs in the crockpot and cook overnight on low.

93. Be aware of devices that use electricity even when they are off. These include many modern electronics like televisions and game systems. Plug them into power strips and before you go to bed, or leave home, turn the power strip off.

94. Use your primary care doctor whenever possible. Most insurance companies have lower co-pays if you see your primary care doctor than when you see a specialist. While it is tempting to self-refer to a specialist to avoid double co-pays, most of the time a primary care doctor can fix what ails you.

95. Don’t go to the emergency room; it is the most expensive place to get care. If you suspect a broken bone or a serious illness then you will have to go to the emergency room; if you are simply sick on a weekend or don’t want to have to miss work tomorrow, try the drugstore minute clinic or the urgent care center.

96. Consider high-deductible health insurance. Run the numbers on what your total healthcare bills would be (premiums, deductibles, co-pays) if you and your family never got sick, with the usual amount of sickness and with sicknesses that made you pay the maximum out-of-pocket. 

97. Consider all your health insurance options. Do your children qualify for CHIP? Would it be cheaper for you to cover your spouse, or for him to get his insurance at his job? Who should cover the kids? 

98. Don’t buy adult pajamas. Sleep in your underwear or in an old t shirt (or in nothing at all). 

99. Remind your kids that broken crayons work just fine.

100. When your doctor writes a prescription, remind her that cost is an issue and ask for generic. 

101. If you take medication regularly, (such as for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, arthritis etc.) research the drug(s) you are taking and the cost thereof. Then research alternatives. If you find some that are substantially cheaper, ask your doctor about them at the next appointment. There may be a good reason he didn’t pick them--or maybe the detail rep for the expensive drug bought him lunch the day he wrote the prescription. You won’t know unless you ask. 

102. Why do you still have a landline phone? No good answer? Get rid of it, and the bill.

103. Call your phone/cable/internet provider and shop rates. 

104. Are you carrying a balance on a credit card? Can you get a lower interest rate elsewhere, like Prosper or Lending Club, or will another credit card give you interest-free balance transfers? If you have decent credit, shop around. 

105. Do your own taxes with online sofware from H&R Block, Tax Act or other providers. Unless your finances are far more complicated than most people’s these programs will work just fine, save you a trip to a tax preparer and save you money.
Disease Called Debt


  1. That's 105 good points you made! Some are obvious, some very creative (and some even funny: convince your mom that babysitting is a privilege:-)).

    Sorry to hear your client didn't pay you, but at least you didn't write this for nothing.

  2. What a great list! One more I'll add is for prescription medications. If it's a brand name and there's no generic, look on the manufacturer's website for coupons. You may get a month free or a reduced co-pay.

  3. Just called my cable company and got our bill reduced $30. They recommend calling back periodically to see if they are running any promotions. Great list.

  4. Pinning! The track lighting in our apartment hates LED bulbs, but we use them everywhere else. Also love the solar clothes dryer... Lol!

  5. Pinning! The track lighting in our apartment hates LED bulbs, but we use them everywhere else. Also love the solar clothes dryer... Lol!