General Question

ronski's avatar

With the economic hardships of today, what do you think is the best way to cut down on expenses?

Asked by ronski (727points) February 10th, 2009

Do you have any secrets? I don’t want to hear just about not going out as much and using coupons, but I would like to hear about creative alternatives! Do you eat differently now? What do you and your friends do to save money?

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23 Answers

Grisson's avatar

I think the best way of cutting down on expenses is to be aware of what you are spending. If you don’t track your expenses well, consider investing in a copy of Quicken or a similar home accounting software. It really opens your eyes and lets you see not only how you have done to-date, but what your spending will be in the near future. (In time to adjust it).

eponymoushipster's avatar

Get creative with what you cook, cook several meals at one time. rent music and dvds at the library (if possible).

and keep track of what you spend.

seekingwolf's avatar

Make your own coffee in the morning. Stopping by McDonalds or Starbucks nearly everyday really adds up.

dynamicduo's avatar

I don’t have any secrets beyond this: don’t buy crap you don’t need.

The only recurring monthly bills I have are my rent, my electricity, my car insurance, my internet, and a very cheap ($15/mo) cellphone. The only things I spend money on regularly are gas and groceries, and all the groceries are fruits/veggies/bread/raw meat.

I do not regularly spend money on these things: clothes, take out or restaurants, makeup, jewelery, impulse purchases, premade food, Starbucks, fancy rims, a new cellphone, video games, movies, beer, pizza, cable TV, etc.

If you don’t spend the money, it becomes saved. It’s as easy as that. Spend a week recording every single thing you spend money on, then sort it into a few categories and observe where your money is going. Then, you can begin to cut back on things you’re spending too much money on.

laureth's avatar

One of the best moneymakers for the food industry is “value-added.” What this means is that the more they do to the original, fresh ingredients, the more they can charge. Example: A bulk pound of oats costs less than a bunch of rolled oats in a Quaker canister, which costs less than a bag of oatmeal cookies, which costs less than a single-serve oatmeal cookie (on a per-cookie basis).

This is why cooking with the original ingredients will save lots of money, especially if you eat good food. (Yes, there are situations where you can buy, say, a half-dozen frozen burritos for less than what the ingredients would cost, but I guarantee that the ones you make will be better for you.)

tennesseejac's avatar

don’t be wasteful

Baloo72's avatar

You should continue spending money to stimulate the economy. . . xD

cyndyh's avatar

I decide what I’ll be cooking that week after I see what’s fresh, in season, and on sale. You’d be surprised how many great cuts of meat are on sale these days because people don’t want to spend on it. These end up being half price often. It’s really worth looking at these days.

seekingwolf's avatar

@dynamicduo

I commend you for having such a low cell phone bill per month.

I find that many people often go over their minutes and spend a lot on their phone bills, or either have ill-matched plans and are paying a lot for minutes they don’t use.

My phone bill is fixed and I don’t go over but it’s still pretty high : /
sigh I guess that’s the price I pay for technology…

DrasticDreamer's avatar

My mom has a garden every year – vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc. She has one simply because she loves to garden, but it definitely comes in handy when you don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on fresh food at the grocery store.

cheapsunglasses's avatar

I truly believe today it is very important for all of us to direct our thought towards where money flows easily to us. This could be as little as finding a quarter on the street. Also pay attention to the gas prices going down. We get more of what we pay attention to. I personally do not watch the news. There is still money out there but people are scared and not letting their money flow. Spending your money (not borrowed) is the only way the economy will be stimulated. This outside the box. There is always plenty of money to be made in a recession if you brainstorm.

Snoopy's avatar

@seekingwolf I have a plan that is $20 every 3 months….so less than $7/month.

There are really great plans available if you don’t text or use your phone beyond making an occasional quick phone call. I pick up messages via a landline to access my VM.

laureth's avatar

Gardening can save money if you know how to do it, keep it up, and already have all the stuff you need. If not, well, you have the $64 tomato.

Sorceren's avatar

Hanging my clothes out to dry because dryers use more energy than the fridge, freezer and TV combined.

I wrote a column about this concept, spartaneity

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Mug a Wall Street executive and pull his underwear up over his head.

seekingwolf's avatar

@Snoopy

Wow, that is cheap!

Unfortunately (in the cost sense), I have a Blackberry. I text a lot, email, and use the internet on it. I’m with T-Mobile so I do save on voice minutes.

While some may say “that’s too much” and I don’t need that data, I really do. It keeps me up-to-date with my profs and assignments, events, and news. We’re also having an internet outage here at my college…the only way I’m able to use the net (and be on Fluther) is by tethering my cellphone to get internet on my laptop. That’s what I’m doing now.

I guess it’s a choice that one makes, and there are sacrifices that come with it.

dynamicduo's avatar

One reason my cellphone bill is so low is that I refuse to give in to the extortionists that are Bell and Rogers. Canadian data rates are similar to third world countries’ data rates. No joke. It’s ridiculous, it’s outright theft, and I refuse to give in to what they want. So I have a dinky cellphone which I only use to make calls. I have my iPod Touch to browse the web for free (that’s the price that’s right for me). And I’m glad to say that I will soon be moving off of my Rogers account and onto a PC Mobile pay-as-you-go phone which includes a bevy of features (three way calling, call display, voicemail, etc, all for free) for an awesome low price of $25 CDN every two months.

Yes, it’d be nice to have an iPhone and have the web everywhere. But I value my time and money, and the overall lifetime cost of an iPhone here in Canada (with the 3 year data plan, mandatory) is over $2,000. Two thousand dollars, and at the end all I’m left with is a locked device that I can’t even hack into and play around with. It’s simply not worth it. It’s a huge ripoff.

JonesIn's avatar

Slickdeals.net is how I save money. Also I try to buy items in bulk when possible ~ Costco, Sams Club, etc. are your friend. I also find craigslist & ebay a great way to save money on a variety of items, such as furniture, electronics, etc.

Another great way to save money, is to call your television/Internet provider and tell them that you are planning on switching to their competitors, this will normally knock off a few dollars on your plan just for calling. Rinse & Repeat every 6 months.

Snoopy's avatar

@seekingwolf I absolutely understand! I have internet at home….so a stripped down cell phone is no big deal.

Everything is about wants vs needs. The wants are further subdivided into how bad do you want it….

For example, I have no cable, but I now have Netflix. I love, love Netflix. I watch what I want….I flip the movies quickly, so I feel that the Netflix is a great deal.

I am constantly trolling for deals. My mom loves Bath & Body Works lotions. Just this AM I got a notice that they have some of the stuff she likes for over 75% off. Combine that w/ a free shipping code…..done!

TGI Fridays has a rewards program. You sign up and accumulate points w/ purchases. Additionally, they email me a coupon every other week or so for a free dinner, dessert, etc. Local radio stations offer gift cards to local restaurants for sale at 50% when purchased throught their websites. Both are great ways to save 30–50% on meals out….something we enjoy every so often.

These ‘deals’ only work to your financial advantage if you are getting deals on stuff that you would have purchased anyway….you have to be very careful not to overspend.

seekingwolf's avatar

@dynamicduo

Yeah, I have to agree with you, Canadian cell phone plans stink. :/ I have family there and I can’t believe how much they are getting screwed.

iPhones are total rip-offs. Seriously.

I’ve been with T-Mobile for a while, and I’ve lowered my bill significantly by calling in and getting special rates/plans for being a loyal customer. My bill’s still high, yes, but it could be worse. I utilize the data/messages to their fullest so dropping them wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me.

As for cable, the college pays for that. :) My roomie and I share a Netflx account for movies, because 8.99/ month for unlimited movies is a LOT better than 7 bucks per movie at the threatre, plus a soda. :)

dynamicduo's avatar

I imagine, due to the economy, it will be easier for anyone to call in to pretty much any utility that can be cancelled, threaten to leave, and negotiate a better deal. Cell phones, cable TV subscriptions, newspapers, and any other place that has a retention department will usually offer something to sweeten the deal and keep your money coming into them.

Netflix is one service I would be willing to add later on. But for now I’m satisfied with downloading movies and television, or watching things on the TV channel’s websites (there’s no Canadian Hulu sadly).

seekingwolf's avatar

@dynamicduo

Yes, that’s very true. T-Mobile is a great company because it can have wimpy reps and a great retentions dept. One can pretty much call in, angry as a mother grizzly bear, and get whatever rates they want. Like 2.99/month unlimited internet on a regular cell phone.

I am curious to see how the economy will affect wireless companies and their plans. We shall see.

talljasperman's avatar

I cook side-ribs with a crock-pot (slow-cooker) and i live at home with family

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