General Question

Just_Justine's avatar

What simple little lifestyle changes added up to bigger savings?

Asked by Just_Justine (6501points) February 25th, 2010

Many years ago, I remember seeing a program on how this family cut corners in clever ways and saved millions. Their methods were so effective and well liked they even started a Magazine called something to the effect of “One Million Ways to save a Pound”. I made that title up but it was along those lines. They would for e.g. buy their kids clothes in bulk at sales, and box them. They had a few kids so they would buy ages ahead of them, and the clothes were already “filed away” by age in order to suite the child. I’ve always fancied to do that just to see how much I can save. Have you got any great tips, or different ways to use one item in an innovative way. Or simply ways to cut down costs. I might even start a blog to see how much I do save when I start this project. Obviously universally understood methods might be easier to use.

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30 Answers

mattbrowne's avatar

Everything that has to do with energy saving. Turning off light bulbs when we don’t need them. Using the bike instead of the car for short distances. And so on.

Cruiser's avatar

I always review all my set expenses like insurance policies to keep those policy increases in check and one that many overlook is credit card interest rates. I call my credit card company every 6 months and ask for a rate reduction and get one at least once a year. That 1–2% reductions adds up to some real savings for me some months.

Steve_A's avatar

Keeping track of your cell phone bill and plan. I have heard some people getting huge bills for ordering and having features they don’t even need on there phone.

john65pennington's avatar

This change has saved us a bundle: wait for a sale(watch the papers) on Coca Cola. instead of paying a dollar a can for Coca Cola, buy the fridge pack of 12 cans for $2.50. place the fridge pack in your fridge and now count your savings. this fridge pack on sale, means each can of Coke costs about 20 cents compared to a dollar. thats 80 cents a can you are keeping in your pocket.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

One interesting thing I’ve learned recently is to avoid the allure of those individually packed “snack sized” treats, like 100-calorie packs of mini Oreos or something. They’re extremely convenient, but you’re paying WAY more when you think about how much food you actually get. You’re much better off getting a regular box of Oreos and individually bagging them yourself for lunches.

wilma's avatar

The last few years, things have been very tough financially for my family.
The credit cards were starting to add up and about a year ago, my husband and I decided we would put a stop to the debt and do whatever it took to get out of it.
We stopped doing nearly all the extras.
We did not go out to eat, even fast food.
I started really paying attention to the grocery bill and buying bulk food on sale.
Oatmeal for breakfast almost every day, made in the microwave. Not the instant packets.
No more convenience foods of any kind.
I stopped using my clothes dryer and use the clothes line and drying racks in the house.
There are so many small things that really add up.
We paid off one credit card at a time and now, one year later, we are almost completely out of debt, except for our mortgage, and that will be paid off early.

tedibear's avatar

Take your lunch to work instead of going out every day.
Make your dinner instead of picking up fast food.
Use a generic or store brand product if the quality is equal to that of the name brand.
Buy in bulk when it makes sense. Especially on products that won’t spoil.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Here’s one I’ll throw out for comments: Learn how to cook like the Eastern Europeans. They have some great ways to take inexpensive items and make multiple meals out of them. One of my favorite cookbooks is a German, Polish, and Russian cookbook. Cuts out the prepared foods.

Just_Justine's avatar

@wilma that sounds fantastic. It just shows it can be done. Thanks for the inspirations all of you loving them.

Just_Justine's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe so true and indian food too with vegetables

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Just_Justine I like Indian food. Chinese is good as well for inexpensive meals, but it’s like sex. As the old joke goes, as soon as you’re finished with the meal, you want some more.

susanc's avatar

Don’t ever eat out, never travel, cook with your family as entertainment, grow a little garden (a “little” garden 4×8 feet will give you salad for a whole summer and some cookable vegetables too; and you can grow all the potatoes you can eat in two old tires) as further entertainment; line-dry your clothes, absolutely, they smell beautiful when you do; use the library, not the grocery store, for reading material (and try to improve your reading material at the same time; the grocery store mostly has crap); and get out of credit card debt in these ways as fast as you possibly can. Keep your car in order by doing your own tuneups, and keep it going for 20 years. Never, never buy a car on time payments.
These devices put you back into a more physical life. Read Wendell Berry and Barbara Kingsolver.
If I weren’t already living like this (except for the travel) I’d envy you.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That don’t eat out one is tough though. Someone takes your order, makes the food, serves you, and then cleans up after you.

janbb's avatar

@susanc If you could use the library for groceries too, think of how much more you could save! :-)

It’s been said before, but I find brown-bagging my lunch to work really cuts down on the money I spend during the week.

tedibear's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe – Absolutely right on with the multiple meals from one product. My MIL throws out her turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. I almost cried the first time I saw that. Since then, she gives it to me so I can make stock. Stale bread products become croutons. I’m sure I could think of others if I had had more coffee.

@susanc – the only things in your list that I couldn’t do are “never travel” and “line dry your clothes.” I could line dry mine but not my husband’s. The pollen allergens would kill him.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tedibear39 That stock trick works with everything, ham, chicken, beef. Whatever drippings you can save make a great base. Or a ham hock, bacon and beans, and you can make meals for pennies a pound.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@tedibear39: I respectfully disagree. Stale bread products become bread pudding.

tedibear's avatar

@EmpressPixie – LOL! Yes, they do that too, if I have enough of them.

@Adirondackwannabe – Yes, it does. Shall I send you some of the split pea soup that’s in my freezer? Happy to share the bounty.

Just_Justine's avatar

@tedibear39 oh my gosh, my son grew up on that, we had it tough those days!

susanc's avatar

@tedibear: I can’t line dry mine in the winter and don’t try. I don’t do any of these things all the time!
“Not travel” would be the hardest for me too – it’s what I make sure I have money for. But some of my travel involves visiting people who COULD come and visit me instead sometimes, and sometimes I ask them to. It isn’t fair to say “I’m saving money, so you should spend yours”, but
some kind of back-and-forth is nice.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I love split pea soup and bread pudding.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

Turn off lights that are not need, including electronic. Grow a vegetable garden that will help you save on vegetables. Dont eat out too often as this is very expensive. Fast food in the United States are not worth it anyways. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer to dry you clothes. This will save alot.

forestGeek's avatar

Here are some things that have worked really well for me:

• Brown bag my lunch everyday
• Make coffee at home in the morning and bring it in a thermos instead of going out for it
• Learning to cook and get creative so there was less of a need to go out to eat often
• Turning the heat down in the winter and wear warmer clothes around the house instead
• I ride m bike many places that I used to drive
• I get together with friends for dinners, movies or game nights instead of going out
• I explore the places close to home that I’ve never been, instead of traveling
• I got Netflix instead of going out to the movies all the time
• I found hobbies that don’t require spending a lot, like riding my bike, hiking, coding, art and photography

wilma's avatar

@forestGeek Yes, I do all of those things, except for Netflix. I don’t go out to movies, I just watch them on TV or get one from the public library.

Another thing that seems to help.
I try to keep my kitchen clean. Yes, think about it.
It is depressing to have to try and fix a meal, if you have to make room to work or clean up dirty dishes first, before you can even start to cook.
If you keep your kitchen clean and tidy then it isn’t so bad to fix a meal, it’s actually less work and faster than going out.
Getting dressed, getting in the car or other transportation, driving there, waiting for your order, eating was it really that good to cost that much? driving back home. How long did that take? You could have prepared an easy meal, eaten and cleaned up probably in less time, and it wouldn’t have cost nearly as much.

tedibear's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe – then you are always welcome for dinner! EmpressPixie can bring dessert.

Berserker's avatar

Personally, refraining from getting a coffee at Tim Horton’s every day saves me a whole hell of a lot. Now I just gotta stop buying seven dollar salads at the cafeteria alla time.

YARNLADY's avatar

Always check the website of the restaurant you want to visit for their savings coupon. on the rare times you allow yourself to go out.
Learn to do small home repairs yourself.
Buy clothes at the Charity thrift store. I also get my toasters and fans there.

forestGeek's avatar

As an additional note that is in no way based on fact, but I have cut down TV watching to maybe 2–3 hours a week and I feel that it’s helped my spending habits. I generally feel that not being bombarded with ads, makes me not “want” as much, and therefore not spend as much. The main thing I’ve noticed about myself in relation to this, is that I rarely see a movie trailer, and because of that I really don’t often have a clue what movies are out and therefore have little desire to go to theaters. Of course there is no way for me to prove this, but either way I feel better.

susanc's avatar

soooooo: in the hours I’d have been watching TV and gearing up to buy additional hair products and dinners at Applebee’s, I can study my home electrical item repair manual and invite friends over to fix all our toasters from the Goodwill…. sounds like a good time!

citygrlincountry's avatar

If you do eat out, go easy on the drinks – that increases the bill a lot. A glass of water with your meal is free.

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