General Question

Haleth's avatar

What money-saving behaviors have actually worked for you?

Asked by Haleth (19538points) November 26th, 2015

I’ve been trying to incorporate basic money-saving advice into my life. A few of them are pretty simple, like canceling monthly subscriptions, asking for a lower price on insurance, or cutting out convenience food. I’ve been trying to bring leftovers and drink more instant coffee instead of going out to lunch and starbucks during the workday.

What do you do to save money on a daily basis?

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29 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Eat more eggs and home cooked chicken thighs with back and legs attached. Buy canned fruit in bulk. Learn to love warm tap water instead of cold pop and hot coffee.
Cook meat in slow cooker so you can eat the parts that you would normally throw away. Use credit card for taxi trips so you don’t get the “sorry I don ‘t have change” scenario and get ripped off. Pay all bills on or before due date. Snack on mixed nuts from a stores bulk food bins.

Jeruba's avatar

One thing I did, @Haleth, when things were really tight for us, was to keep track. I collected receipts for everything and put odd expenses (such as cafeteria lunches at work) in a little notebook. I was really compulsive and thorough about it. And before long I was able to see where the biggest wastes were occurring. In our case there was way too much ordering out for pizza and picking up fast food. We changed our eating habits drastically and for the better.

I found myself thinking about purchases before I made them, and refraining from the ones that I didn’t want to have to write down. So just the act of recording made a difference.

There were also a lot of impulse purchases that we didn’t reckon when we thought about our expenditures but that really showed up when I tracked them. And I learned that there were some stores I just couldn’t go into at all.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I try to save money by being conscious about my utilities. I do not waste heat.
In the dead of winter I vent my dryer into my basement. It saves the heat and does not suck cold air into the house. I burn wood and burn my paper trash in my stove. 20 pounds of paper is worth $3.00 in heating oil.

Cosmos's avatar

(Some of these may not be practical depending on the climate where you live).

Stop heating water for showering / clothes washing or adjust your hot water thermostat to a lower temperature. Barbecue food using wood instead of gas / electricity. Stop using a clothes dryer and air your clothes on a rack or use an outside hoist. Look for the cheaper brands when shopping and always keep an eye out for specials on foods that you either like or can tolerate. Buy foods that don’t need refrigeration. Also foods that don’t need cooking.

Seek's avatar

I buy meat in bulk at the butchers’ and separate it into meal size packages myself. If I shop their advertised specials, I can end up with chicken for $0.20/lb.

Coloma's avatar

Cook a lot of healthy crock pot meals like soups and spaghetti sauces and chili, whole chickens with veggies etc. I love home made split pea soup and have several other great soup specialties that are healthy and very satisfying with a side of garlic bread or with home made croutons.
Saves on gas by using the slow cooker and makes budget meals easy and satisfying too. Completely quit impulse shopping, no more ” Oh, I’ll just go browse around ” whatever store, knowing I will find something I will end up buying.

Shop at Grocery Outlet stores and the dollar store for lots of canned goods, spices, and other over priced regular grocery store items, with the exception of fresh fruit which is always best from the regular stores. My local grocery Outlet has a great selection of fresh veggies at good prices. Squashes, cabbage, potatoes, etc. ( of which I eat a lot of in the winter especially, grilled, baked, in soups etc. ) I make this baked dish of chopped potatoes and cabbage with caramelized onions, to die for andi is a meal in itself.

I also try to do a big grocery haul to save on gas so I am not running out to the store every few days. Turn the heat down or off at night and use an electric blanket. I get my haircuts at the local Super or Hot cuts and save on salon prices too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I hope you already know about paying off credit card interest charges. Pay the highest rate first. Do it as quickly as possible. Before you buy something ask yourself if you could wait a week without purchasing the item. Can you manage without it?

Before going out food shopping of any kind shop from your own cupboards. Is there something that has been sitting around for a long time? Now is the time to eat it. Eat from your freezer. So if you can last one week without food shopping. How about 2 weeks?

JLeslie's avatar

My baseline is living pretty modestly when it comes to money, and then as money is more plentiful I spend it more freely. Some things that people cut back on to save I just don’t do anyway, or very rarely.

I always pay off my credit cards every month

I don’t get regular mani-pedis.

I don’t go to Starbuck’s.

I don’t buy new clothing often.

I usually cook my own food, I only eat out about twice a week.

I leave appliances I rarely use unplugged.

I turn off the lights when I’m not in the room.

I plan errands to save on gas.

I adjust the thermostat when appropriate to save energy.

I coupon a little.

On the rare occasion I go to the movies I don’t buy food at the movie theatre, and I usually go to the matinee.

Also, I don’t shop for clothing on any sort of regular basis. I can go months and months and not step foot in a clothing store.

My husband cuts my hair sometimes and I usually dye it at home, although very recently I spent a small fortune on extensions, dye, and cut.

When I was younger things were much tighter, and so it was very normal to me to really only spend on necessities. I wasn’t at the bare minimum, but I wasn’t spending on any extravagances. Now, because we have saved over time, I feel much freer to spend, because I feel we already built up a reasonable cushion.

I have never saved to buy something. I save save save, and then when something comes along that I need or want, I decide if I’m willing to part with the money.

jca's avatar

I don’t drink bottled water when I’m anywhere where there’s good tap water. I don’t understand why people buy bottled water and drink it at home or serve it to guests.

I make coffee at work instead of spending more than $2 getting it from a deli.

Things like garbage bags I try to buy in bulk from Costco. The outlay may be more initially but the cost per each is way less than getting them from a supermarket in smaller quantity.

I try not to buy food in movie theaters. I try to bring my own or not eat when I’m there.

Things like apples, if you buy them in 3 lb bags the cost per pound is cheaper than when you buy them loose.

I rarely buy beef to eat at home. I’ll eat it in restaurants but at home, it’s usually chicken.

jca's avatar

I should add @JLeslie‘s – I also almost never get manicures or pedicures.

cazzie's avatar

This year turned out things are going to be tight. I have a back injury. So I’m not heating one bedroom. I run the heater only when it gets to 16c in the house. I use the wood heater when I can physically manage it. We don’t take long showers every day. I don’t run a car. I never buy new clothes. I found canned corn and tuna really cheap. I no longer insist my son eat at home if his friends parents was to feed him. I never go out. We have maybe one big sit down meal a week if I can manage it physically.

jca's avatar

Also, pay cash when possible, especially on gas.

JLeslie's avatar

I almost never pay cash for anything, but cash and credit are the same prices where I live. I charge just about everything and get free flights or free hotel rooms depending on the credit cards I use.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: I wasn’t referring to hotels or flights, I should have clarified that I was referring to things like local shopping or a meal at a cheap restaurant, and gas of course. I feel like another advantage of cash is it’s less opportunity for someone to steal your credit card number. I had mine stolen once, from a credit card purchase on an oil change.

Seek's avatar

If you’re looking for extreme money-saving, I’m your huckleberry.

Play the stores off of each other. Learn who takes competitor’s coupons and who has BOGO sales. Don’t ever buy groceries at WalMart. It’s almost never worth it. The only thing they have going for them is cheap bottled water, and you shouldn’t buy that if you have decent tap water (I don’t. Not a fluoride thing, it’s a shallow well thing. My tap water isn’t safe to drink).

Fancy toilet paper? Forget that! Dollar tree – six rolls for a buck. Can’t beat it. Also use Dollar Tree for toothpaste, new toothbrushes, cleaning products, laundry detergent, deodorant, disposable razors, OTC medicine, all sorts of stuff. Why pay CVS prices for aspirin when you can get the same damned thing for $1?

Put your entertainment system on a power strip, and flip it off at night. Same for your microwave and toaster and coffeemaker. Vampire devices suck power when they’re not even turned on.

I do not buy furniture. I think the last thing I bought was my son’s crib, and he’s seven now. All of my furniture comes from Craigslist or was just found on the side of the road. People throw away good stuff all the time. I got a brand new computer desk last week – I’m sitting at it now. It’s missing one drawer pull – a $1 or less piece at Home Depot.

Invest in spices. With them you can make a dinner of beans and rice into an awesome meal.

If you have the space – start a garden. You can grow many plants you’re buying anyway from the seeds or roots themselves.

jca's avatar

Power strip idea is a great one, @Seek.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I wasn’t referring to hotels or flights either. I’m saying charging groceries, gas, drug store items, restaurants, and everything else, gives me free flights and hotel stays. It true using credit cards can open you up to someone stealing your number, but at least credit cards you have some protection against false charges. With the chip they can steal your credit card through your purse if you don’t store it in a protected wallet or wrap it in aluminum foil.

People who can’t control their spending, or need to be really aware of spending and available cash in the moment should use only cash, with that I completely agree.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: Gotcha. The card I use the most, the payment is paid in full, pulled out of my bank account so I don’t get late charges from forgetting to pay it.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca We don’t autopay any of them, but that’s not a bad idea. The only thing I worry about with autopay is not only having to be vigilant about looking over my bill, but also my bank statement. It’s easy to become oblivious to it all.

jca's avatar

I autopay all the major ones because I tend to be disorganized when it comes to paying bills. I have all my bills auto paid now, after having had my power turned off twice (maybe 12 years ago, two years apart) due to non payment. After the second time, I decided this isn’t working. It’s not a money thing, it’s an organization thing, in my case. Now, they’re all paid and then I look at the bill and make sure it’s all correct. If it’s not, they make adjustments after I call, but I only had that happen once, about ten years ago.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Makes sense. I always say we have to deal with our reality. If being disorganized is part of your reality then it sounds like a good soliton. I can be disorganized too, and worse, I don’t look at the mail every day. My husband pays the bills usually though, so that’s his domain, although I pay my aunts bills and I probably should use autopay for that.

jca's avatar

With the power thing, it was a real disruption because the power company requires you to be home when they come to turn the power back on. That meant that both times I had to take time off work. The second time, it was the same guy as the first time. He smiled at me and said “You look familiar. I think I was here two years ago.” I said “it’s not a money thing, it’s an organization thing.” That got me to do the auto pay, and gradually I used it for all the bills.

For the credit card dispute, I had gone to a Yankees game at Yankee stadium. They had, if you applied for Yankees Visa, you’d get a free blanket. I signed up for the Yankees Visa. Shortly thereafter, I started receiving Sports Illustrated. I didn’t know why but figured it’s free since I didn’t ask for it. About ten months later, I looked at my credit card statement and saw that it was on there from ten months ago. I didn’t put two and two together and think that it could have been from the Yankee Visa application, because who would think of that. I called Sports Illustrated to find out why I was being billed for it and they explained it came with the Yankee Visa, six months free and then you’re automatically subscribed to it after that. I told them I never wanted it and they took the whole thing off the bill.

Cruiser's avatar

I refer to it as ‘out of sight out of mind’. This entails putting away money into an investment vehicle like a 401K, IRA or if you are still a youngin, a Roth IRA. If those funds are then locked away out of sight and easy access, you are golden. Whatever amount monthly you can sock away and adjust your lifestyle accordingly you will be well on your way to decent nest egg.

To do this meant lowering your ‘wants’ expectations which for me meant nothing lavish, shopping at Goodwill, buying generic everything, basic cable, coupon clipping, staycasions, hand made gifts and cards and so on. There are so many ways to live within your means and create savings in the bank…it only requires a healthy slug of discipline.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Every day, I try to avoid doing something that costs about $10 and, instead, put the $10 in a jar on my bedroom dresser. I might pass on a bottle of wine that I’d like to serve with a nice dinner, rent a $2 cable TV movie rather than buy a $12 theatre ticket, or simply walk away from any unnecessary purchase (not needed, just wanted).

At the end of a month, there’s $300 in the jar. Sometimes, I put the money into a savings account. If we have an unusual and unavoidable expense, such as a car repair or medical bill, I might use the money for that and not tap our other resources.

Jeruba's avatar

@Coloma “I make this baked dish of chopped potatoes and cabbage with caramelized onions, to die for and is a meal in itself.”

Recipe, please! Is this colcannon?

Coloma's avatar

@Jeruba, no, I just cut up cabbage wedges, chunked potatoes and layer thin sliced onions on. I then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and white pepper, with a sprinkle of italian seasonings and garlic season all. Cover and bake at 400 for about 55 minutes, or until cabbage wedges and potatoes are soft, then, uncover the last 20 minutes or so to get a nice browning on the veggies. I usually serve it with baked chicken but it’s great all by itself.

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you! I have to try this. How many potatoes? Are we talking a 3-quart casserole?

Coloma's avatar

@Jeruba Mmmm…I use a glass, rectangular, baking dish, probably 9×13, maybe a little bigger.
I arrange the cabbage wedges randomly and then put the chunked potatoes, cut about ½ inch thick or so, in between the cabbage wedges and around the outside of the dish then layer on a thin sliced large onion.
Maybe 2–3 large russets or potatoes of your choice, white, pink or the baby varieties halved. I leave the skins on too but you can peel them 1st if you so desire.

You can also put everything in a plastic shopping bag and shake up to coat with the olive oil, 3–4 tablespoons maybe, then turn out into baking dish for seasoning. I like this method as it coats all the veggies evenly. Just sort of turn the bag and massage, if you shake it vigorously the cabbage wedges will fall apart. haha
The garlic seasoning is optional but I like a little dash for extra flavor.

The white pepper is especially good IMO.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Cover or tent with tin foil to keep the steam in the first half or ⅔rds of the baking time.

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