General Question

stemnyjones's avatar

How to save money?

Asked by stemnyjones (3974points) December 19th, 2009

In recent times, we all need a little help saving money… especially us single parents.

Do you have any tips on saving money in general? What about in specific areas of costs (such as saving money on the electric bill, grocery shopping, etc)? How about ways to make money (other than working, of course)?

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28 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Never leave a television playing to an empty room. cut it off. cut out unnecessary lights when you leave the room. never go grocery shopping hungry. you will buy twice as much food as you need. pretend there is an egg underneath your cars gas pedal. avoid jackrabbit starts with your car. going 10 miles under the posted speed limit on the interstate will save gasoline. buy your clothes at Goodwill. destroy all credit cards.

gailcalled's avatar

Lower the thermostat a little, wear warmer clothes indoors, turn off all lights when you leave a room, leave all small appliances unplugged except when in use (i.e.,toaster over), clock radio in guest room, stop buying and eating animal protein and switch to vegetarian and organic dairy, save up errands so you aren’t driving a car all the time, buy all clothes at a used clothing store.

edit: Buy dried beans and brown rice in bulk, and as Thoreau said, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

justmesuzanne's avatar

Here are a few articles I have written on the subject:

Advice On Driving An Old Clunker

Living On A Wish And A Prayer

Advice On Managing Your Money

I hope they are helpful to you!

stemnyjones's avatar

@gailcalled It seems to me that a vegetarian diet and organic groceries cost more. Am I wrong?

missingbite's avatar

Pay yourself first. The first bill I pay out of every paycheck is a deposit into a retirement fund. I budget my month with what is left over after I pay myself.

MagsRags's avatar

@stemnyjones I think you’re right about organic, but eggs and beans and nuts are cheaper sources of protein than meat.

gailcalled's avatar

@stemnyjones: It balances out and is money well-spent. No hormones, no chemicals, no mercury, no BPA, better for your child. I also buy steel-cut oatmeal in bulk and freeze much of it. I just made a cauliflower, cilantro, curry, coconut milk soup and egg salad with dill, mustard vinaigrette and celery.

My outfit is 5 years old, however, but not terrible enough to scare the horses.

absalom's avatar

Don’t purchase cable.
Shop at Aldi.

stemnyjones's avatar

@gailcalled Trust me, I know all about the horrors of the food industry, and I’ve already decided that once we start getting more money coming in each month, we’re going to stop buying processed foods and only buy organic or grass-fed.. but right now we literally have money for the bills, plus maybe $50—$100 left over. We have applied for food stamps and I have not started getting any kind of money to help with the baby yet.. so for now, we literally don’t have the money to buy organic.

gailcalled's avatar

@stemnyjones: Do your best. Just wash the fresh produce several times. I know you have a lot on your plate.

NUNYA's avatar

No eating out at fast food restaraunts or going out to dinner period. For what you spend on going out, sometimes you could cook a meal and have leftovers. With the exception of the McDonalds $1 menu.
No cable because it isn’t necesarry to live.
No renting movies either though. Purchase used movies from pawn shops. The VHS these days are at $1 each and the DVD goes for about $5. Might get old watching the same ones over and over but it is “something” to watch.
Save those free condiment packages, they come in handy when you run out of say ketchup and it isn’t pay day yet.
Buy 2nd hand clothes at used stores if you need more clothes. Most of them will not put out torn up or abused clothing. And they are ⅓ of what they are in stores.
No alcohol or smokes or drugs. (not saying you do that, just a thought)
The $1 stores are great places to shop for things that you need around the house. Laundry Soap, bandaides, dishes, candles, gift wrap, kitchen cleaners, mops, brooms….......etc.

Brian1946's avatar

Give high priority to reducing credit card debt.

Minimize income tax withholding because you can’t earn interest on withheld income.

Combine as many errands as you can into one trip.
If you have any errands that you do weekly, try to do as many of them as you can biweekly.

Strive for home ownership so that you can eventually stop paying rent.
In most cases, mortgage payments are tax deductible, whereas rent usually isn’t, and there’s the chance that with consistent home ownership, you’ll eventually no longer have make mortgage payments.

laureth's avatar

“Organic, vegetarian diet” doesn’t have to mean expensive soy-based fake meats and designer produce from Whole Foods. It could mean eating beans and rice from the bulk foods aisle, buying produce at the farmer’s market, and eating more (cheap) staple foods in season.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

First, only buy things you can afford—living within your means is the best way to go. If possible, only charge on your credit cards what you can afford to pay off each month. If you have to have a running balance… don’t just pay the minimim balance each month. That interest is a killer.
Use coupons, shop sales, make a budget and try to stick to it.

stemnyjones's avatar

Thanks, everyone.

Just a few things, to clarify:

-I don’t have any credit cards.
-Cable is included with my rent, and I don’t pay for internet.
-We buy what’s in sale when grocery shopping, especially in bulk (5 frozen pizzas for $10, etc).
-We don’t eat out, go to the movies, shop for things we don’t need… we don’t even get fast food on the road.
-We can’t lower the thermostat too much, because we have a newborn.

NUNYA's avatar

@stemnyjones sounds like you are doing all the right things. I’m not sure you could stretch it any farther. Keep up the good job you are doing. You can only do…....what you can do! CoNgRaTuLaTiOnS on the new baby! (((HUGS)))

laureth's avatar

One way to save money with a baby (once they’re weaned) is to avoid buying jarred baby food. Get a baby food mill and grind it up yourself – just make sure you’re using good, nutritious food to begin with. Also, instead of buying tiny “baby juices,” buy the same juice in adult bottles.

stemnyjones's avatar

@laureth Nice! I didn’t know that it was safe to process adult food into baby food to feed to babies, but I suppose that’s what Gerber does. ;) But, she’s still on formula (which we get free through the WIC program), so that won’t matter for awhile.. thanks though!

laureth's avatar

The stuff in Gerber jars is just regular food mashed into a paste, sold at a higher markup.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Babysitting other kids can help you make money as well?... maybe.. I just feel that babysitting is a great way to earn extra cash at home, but with a baby around…. that’s a bit iffy. But your choice!

stemnyjones's avatar

@curiouscat My girlfriend often suggests that I babysit kids… but with a newborn not only is it dangerous (she doesn’t have all her vaccinations yet, including the flu vaccine), but it’s not feasible. The only reason I can do this is when she’s in her bassinet next to me napping.

Surllio's avatar

You mentioned that Cable is included in your rent. Have you thought about asking if they will take that off and go lower on the rent? Its not needed, and there is no telling how much that is effecting your weekly/monthly rent bill.

Power is an area that’s easy to save on, but easy to forget about. Unplug TVs, computers, and other electrical devices which don’t need to be on at night. If its plugged in, even off, it still pulls a little bit of power. If there is nothing on a charger, unplug it! That charger is always pulling power. Change out your light bulbs to the compact florescent bulbs. They are more expensive starting cost, but last for years,and those that don’t generally have a warranty of 5 years if you keep your receipt. If you have windows, open the curtains instead of turning on the lamps and lights.

You said you can’t adjust the thermostat cause of a newborn, but 2 to 5 degrees makes a HUGE difference and isn’t noticeable off hand. Blankets help during the colder times to.

On the food side of things, do NOT buy water! 90% of bottled water or sold drinking water is straight from tap anyway, and, with a reverse osmosis filter put on your sink, you can actually make your tap water a lot better for you. The difference in cost? Pennies on the gallon for tap, compared to roughly a dollar a gallon store bought. Do not buy Tea already made, as making it yourself will save you a ton as well. Tea bags are cheap, sugar is as well. For the amount of money you spend making tea, you can make 3 to 7 gallons for what you pay for 1 from a store.

The thing about saving money is if you are willing to sacrifice convenience for money. Some of it sounds difficult, but trust me, people lived rather healthy without power, fast food, and cable long before we were here, and if we just monitor what we do and how we do it, we can live a lot cheaper than what we realize.

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