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Zwan asked how a person with a modest-paying job could grow wealthy. In response, several of the forum's marquee members stressed the importance of living frugally. This is a key point that hasn't received much discussion in these forums, so I thought I'd start a list of specific strategies for living frugally while still living well. Stonevill and others suggest defining "without hardship." I mean (roughly), not feeling like you have to make a noticable sacrifice for small savings, or a significant sacrifice for big savings. tooshy offers another good definition, "not giving up the intended purpose or pleasure of an activity."

Please add your own suggestions, or offer constructive comments on other's suggestions. Please do NOT post ways to take advantage of generous friends, unknowing neighbors, or lenient/dim merchants. This includes items like pirating signals, bandwidth, etc., along with returning items that a person has used in order to gain free "rent" of them.

Also, please keep the focus on the ways to be frugal without giving up stuff that makes life worth living. So, a post about "not eating out," while frugal, would be off-topic, UNLESS you have an argument for why there are good substitutes that bring similar satisfaction for less money.

Thanks for your patience with these "ground rules!"

Along with my own ideas, I will try to summarize the most widely applicable and best received ideas at the top of this thread. Please don't take it personally if I missed yours.


-Getting rid of unused items. I've had to learn this the hard way! Clearly, using garage sales, classifies, online selling forums, etc. raise useful cash. Less obvious is how much we lose in depreciation on many items (especially computer stuff and electronics), as well as the amount of money and time that must be spent storing everything. Donating to charity avoids the effort of sales, while resulting in tax savings if you itemize deductions (Thanks Boilerfan, thegretchen and HalfHitch.)


-Give public resources a chance. While they vary in quality, many public libraries, parks, pools, paths, etc. offer a great deal of satisfaction, while costing little or nothing.


-Share meals out, and omit boring fixins'. My spouse loves to eat out, but like many women, she rarely finishes what's on her plate. We've taken to often splitting one entree, which is just enough for two of us (I eat about 2/3 after she's taken what she wants.) We waste no food, and cut the bill almost in half right there. (I say almost because we still tip as if we ordered two entrees--it's not the staff's fault we're trying to be frugal!)

We also tend to order "the main attraction"--an entree we've wanted, a great dessert, etc...but also generally omit $2-$4 Cokes, domestic beers, etc--things we can get all the time at home for almost nothing.

And sometimes lunches out (which often run until 4pm) offer a way to eat cheaper than dinner (thanks Spjegues.) If it's the main meal of the day, it's better for your body to eat it earlier anyway, rather than go to sleep full.

Even though we eat out maybe 10-15 times a month, including many decent places, we save probably $200 a month eating this way.


-Look for opportunities to "go in" with others more generally. Janna offered the great idea to do this with double prints on developed film. Rental cars or trucks for transport, vacation homes, entertainment like kid's clowns or trampoline rentals, etc. offer other examples of this.


-Watch for opportunities to negotiate on price or service. As TJ2002 suggests, just about everything can be negotiable. Whether it's worth the effort or potential discomfort in a given circumstance is another issue, but it rarely hurts to ask.


-Downgrade to Basic Cable I like and fully subscribe to SN's basic cable idea, as suggested in Zwan's thread. In Spokane, expanded basic is $34, while basic is just $11 a month (with either getting you a $10 break monthly on cable internet access.) I keep basic cable (which can be split several ways--I have connections to Replay TV, a VCR, a computer, etc), and am able to use the savings to get a new Columbia House DVD club membership every 2-3 months (8-9 DVDs.) Not only do I love everything about DVDs, but they can be easily sold for more than they were purchased for, or traded for other titles.


-Consider the used market. Not just cards, but used furniture, durable goods, electronics, and clothing can often be had as good as new for a fraction of the cost. Consignment shops are an excellent resource here (thanks sandyausi,) and even dumpster diving works for some (thanks brokestudent).


-Split a membership to a quality wholesale club. Costco, the highest rated wholesale club in the nation, has a couple of outlets here in town. A basic membership is $45, but my father and I share a $100 annual executive club membership due to the money-saving extras (including GCs amounting to 2% of one's annual spending, meaning on that alone we'd break even once we spent $2750 in a year.) Up to 2 can share memberships: normally they want it in the same household, but they let dad and I split it. Their quality and selection are exceptional, and include many of the same products available in high-priced grocery, office-supply, and furniture stores. Together, our two families spend probably $4-5K a year there, and get very nice stuff worth much more than that. Since we live close, we will often take turns buying for each other, too, requiring the 5-mile trip only half as frequently.


-Use ATMs strategically for cash. If you have an online bank that rebates fees, like FirstIB.com or bofi.com, OR if you use your credit union's ATM, you should be able to enjoy the speed and convenience of ATM cash withdrawals without ever having to pay for it. Moreover, fewer, larger withdrawals will save money too. ATMs charge the same fees whether you take out $20 or $300, so unless all your withdrawals are free, limiting them (ideally to the number of reimbursed ones) is an easy way to save money. Thanks switch.


-Only buy the lowest octane gasoline recommended for your car's engine Thanks Alcibiades. Higher octane gas offers NO improvement over lower octane, unless your car needs it--and it runs 7-35 cents more per gallon. I just this year discovered that my wife had been paying up for "premium" gas, supposing (reasonably enough) that it might be good for the car, when it made no difference.


-Comparison shopping for large or recurring items. Items like insurance (thanks Yeldarb) are significant expenses that can can vary a great deal by provider. An annual check might be boring, but needn't take a great deal of time and could save significant money.


-Learn about, watch, and take care of your credit rating. With each passing year, credit ratings play a greater and greater role in determining what kind of lifestyle can be afforded at a given cost. This is obvious and well known in areas like home loans, but also true for insurance rates, credit card and other rewards programs, and even job and rental applications.


-Experiment with brand substitution. Sometimes, generic or off-brand products aren't a substitute without hardship (i.e. notably lower product quality.) However, they are surprisingly similar a high percentage of the time, and can save big money, especially spread out over many months.


-Selective use of coupons and rebates. These promotions can save a person a great deal. The key here is (a) not to buy items that wouldn't be purchased but for the perception that one's getting "a deal," and making sure that the benefits are worth the costs. For instance, I've greatly cut down on the number of coupons I cut personally, because I discovered that I was only redeeming about 1 in 10 before the expiration date. I also don't bother with most rebates below $10-$20--the effort and time to cut the UPC, fill out the forms, make copies, and track increasingly unreliable rebate houses isn't worth the effort and time. (Then again, I'm surely less organized and efficient than many of you in matters like this.)


-Selective stockpiling It's easy to make the mistake of buying too much in order to save a modest amount per unit bought, wasting space and money. But some products are especially well-suited to stockpiling because they are non-perishable and sometimes sold at great discounts. For us, that includes items like cereal (often 1/2 the regular price, and if kept sealed it generally stays fresh for a year or more) and soda.


-Frugal phone use. Competition has made frugal phone options more plentiful than ever, even as the phone has become a more Crucial tool in all our professional and personal lives. SN mentioned using pre-paid long-distance cards rather than paying for a plan--a great idea. We primarily use onesuite.com for similar reasons. But the possibilities are endless here. My latest favorite is a little-publicized service called "busy call forwarding," which most local phone services offer for less than $1 a month (not a typo.) Rather than paying $7-10 for voicemail, you can forward calls to free online voicemail, or to voicemail on a second line. Other suggestions involve leveraging one cellular plan's cheap long distance, using vonage.com if you make or receive many calls to an outside area code, or buying a flat-fee long-distance plan. Onevoice (1.800.659.1400) offers 3.9 cent calls with no dialing codes. For fax, try efax.com's free service, or callwave.com's faxwave (thanks Maxmojo.) The possibilities are endless.


-Making your money work for you. Many withhold more than they need to from Uncle Sam every year, giving the government an interest-free loan. Better to pay off debt or invest that moeny during the interim. Similarly, avoiding impound/escrow accounts is a FREE option with home mortgages--and it means that YOU are able to use that money in the interim. (Thanks Yeldarb.)

Taking care not to pay non-promotional credit-card interest is another huge strategy here. By stretching just enough to pay the full balance--or by buying fewer items in the first place through the "pause and think" methods suggested by our posters below--a buyer can save substantial costs on interest alone.


-Minimize overhead for side-businesses and other activities. My spouse is a self-employed lawyer and soon-to-be broker who resisted the peer pressure of her colleagues and set up a very tasteful office here at home, rather than leasing out space somewhere else. The rest of her business overhead is similarly modest. With a good broadband connection, some frugal phone planning (see above), and the judicious use of bartering (for instance, borrowing a firm's conference room on an as-needed basis in exchange for a referral fee or a little backup on a case), essentially all of her earnings go straight to the bottom line.


-Vehicle shop with value in mind. Unless cars are a hobby and you're fairly savvy about obtaining and reselling them (like SIS is), they will be one of the biggest money drains in your family budget. While there are obvious ways to save a small fortune here (share one reliable car when practical, buy an older used car and take care of it, etc.) one does NOT have to forgo luxury to be frugal here. For instance, check with an insurer about different rates for cars of a similar class BEFORE buying. Also, if you want a nice car, consider buying a used luxury DOMESTIC car, which has often depreciated much faster than it's foreign siblings and can be had for a song (often with cheaper replacement parts too.)


-Think counter-culturally.Advertisers are paid big money to convince us that we want or need something we didn't previously want or need, and to spend resources on it. The ubiquity of ads suggests that their efforts have been wildly successful.


What are your suggestions, or refinements on mine or others'? Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with the forum!

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts

SIRSTAPLER (Jun. 03, 2008 @ 11:38p) |

I've just started buying some of my routine groceries on Amazon. Most of the items are sold in multi packs (2 to 12), an... (more)

blowout (Jun. 08, 2008 @ 6:03p) |

Eating one meal a day is very unhealthy at any age. It could slow down your metabolism causing you to gain weight.

SaulHudson (Jun. 08, 2008 @ 7:42p) |

How to eat for less thread.

Good online book: Possum Living. Try to read it with a west virginia accent.

Another thread
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Stop getting cash from ATM's

Only buy the lowest octane gasoline recommended for your car's engine

Cut coupons and do rebates! Yes, it can be annoying, but the payoff can be amazing. There are people who frequent the Grocery Coupon forum who save up to 98% on groceries every month. If you can realize savings of even half of that, you'd be doing great!

If you are a very low minute or emergency mobile phone user, sign up for prepaid w/o the recurring monthly charge.

When grocery shopping, try to buy generics. The grocery store I shop at sells their own cereal brand at a lower price than Kelloggs or Post, for example.

Spend 5 minutes to be organized enough to pay your bills on time. That means

1) No late fees

2) No higher rates because of low FICO scores

Use an answering machine instead of paying for voicemail.

Do rebates, as the poster above me said.

Try to use a debit/credit card for everything. If you have to take $20 out of an ATM to pay for a $15 meal, you'll end up wasting that $5 on something unnecessary.

DIFFERENTIATE between your NEEDS and WANTS

Saved me a bundle! Also, a lot of "small" purchases, add up! So watch those little purchases.

while it does require a time commitment, grocery coupons and stockpiling -- all outlined very well in the grocery coupons forum

If you have kids and you live by any amusement park..get an annual pass

Here in so cal we have one for Disneyland. With out an annual pass for a family of 3, you can spend over a $100.00 with food and ticket purchases. The 2-park premium runs about $225.00 for the year and it includes parking. you can go 365 days...OUCH
Food is expensive, just bring snacks, drinks etc. Better yet, go after dinner just for a couple of hours.
Go during the week, since you have a annual pass you can just take your time and not worry about standing in long lines. just to get out of the house is nice...Good exercise too.

And best of all...your kids will luv ya !

I shop my car and home insurance at least one a year. If I can, and I usually do, save a couple of hundred bucks a year that buys a lot of meals out (which I like to do).

I don't have escrow on my home. I take that money and put it in a MM account (currently net bank 2.0%). I find it just as easy to pay myself as it is to pay someone else, plus I make a little money and it help me with cash flow if I have to use it.

I don't give Uncle Sam an interest free loan. I make sure that I don't overpay my taxes.

I know the cheapest gas stations to/from work and I make sure I always go there. It saves me a least .05 per gallon, which really adds up over the year.

I probably make $200-$300 per year opening bank/brokerage accounts, changing phone companies, and changing electric providers (deregulated in TX).

DaveHanson said:

<< -Split a membership to a quality wholesale club. Costco, the highest rated wholesale club in the nation, has a couple of outlets here in town. My father an I share a $100 annual executive club membership (up to 2 can share this.) Their quality and selection are exceptional, and include many of the same products available in high-priced grocery, office-supply, and furniture stores. Together, our two families spend probably $4-5K a year there, and get very nice stuff worth much more than that. Since we live close, we will often take turns buying for each other, too, requiring the 5-mile trip only half as frequently. >>


The Costco Executive membership has worked out very nicely for my parents. My dad spends upwards of $3000 per year on Rx and the Rx spendings to count towards the 2% Executive rewards! That's more than half of the executive membership covered right there!

Executive members get some nice perks once in a while, like a $50-gift card for the AMEX financial consultation (vs. $25 for regular members), free roadside assistance on AMEX auto insurance, etc.

DaveHanson said:

<<
-Downgrade to Basic Cable I like and fully subscribe to SN's basic cable idea, as suggested in Zwan's thread. In Spokane, expanded basic is $34, while basic is just $11 a month (with either getting you a $10 break monthly on cable internet access.) I keep basic cable (which can be split several ways--I have connections to Replay TV, a VCR, a computer, etc), and am able to use the savings to get a new Columbia House DVD club membership every 2-3 months (8-9 DVDs.) Not only do I love everything about DVDs, but they can be easily sold for more than they were purchased for, or traded for other titles.

-
>>


Ditch cable alltogether
Put up an antenna.

Take good care of your belongings and fix things rather than replacing them when possible.

Buy quality clothing in conventional styles. If well cared for you can wear them for years without age showing.

Cook and bake with natural and scratch ingredients rather than frozen, pre-cooked, convenience foods. Much healthier too.

Don't buy new vehicles very often. One of our cars is now 18. A 2nd is 9, as is my motorcycle. Our small power boat is 14. They all run great and have been long paid for.

Only use credit cards when you could be paying cash and only use those that pay you to use them. Pay in full and on time monthly and don't pay finance charges.

Borrow books, videos and music from the local library rather than buying new.

Quit smoking.

Stay home more often. It's cheap and satisfying to spend time with family and friends.

Buy large quantities only when it's really cheaper to do so and excess won't go to waste.

Pay yourself first. Save, save, save. It's very easy to spent extra money that hasn't been earmarked. Don't tempt yourself.

As somebody already stated. Use coupons for shopping, but only when it's for something that you would have purchased anyway.

Take public transportation when possible rather than taxis, driving and paying for parking.

Make your own espresso/coffee/tea rather than going out for it.

Brown-bag your meals rather than eating out.

Exercise at home rather than a gym membership. If you don't own equipment yet, it is plentiful and cheap on the used market.

Don't pay fees for things that can be had for free with a little effort such as ATM transactions.

We don't grocery coupon, but it looks like we should explore it.

Eating out I like DH's tips. We enjoy eating out, but try to follow most of those tips to reduce to overall bill. We almost always share the salad and desert, and often split the entree. Some waiters have given us grief about the order, but that's really their problem, not ours. We also use the Entertainment book.

On TV I'm hooked on satellite and HBO, so that bill's a bit higher than I like. But we do avoid all pay per view and do agressively shop Columbia House, joining and quitting frequently. Another source of DVD is to buy 'em used from your local video rental shop. Our small local shop will cut a real nice deal if you buy 5 or 6 DVDs at the same time, about $7 each.

For fax reception we use callwave.com's faxwave. This is a great free service that gives you your own fax number, and then forwards all your faxes to your email account. There is no downside and plenty of upsides to this service. Get it!

For electronic toys I've done real well checking ourt the FW hot deal forum. Then after a year or so of owningthe toy I start looking for a great deal on a replacement. When I find the deal I eBay the old one. Doing this with digital cameras I'm at the point where my last one (a canon s400) was pretty much free. It's amazing what people will pay for used stuff on eBay!


Avoid buying a new car! And if you must buy a new car, or even if you only buy used cars, keep them for more than 3 years! If you buy right and maintain it well there is no reason why you shouldn't keep your car for at least 7 years. This alone will save you thousands.

Keep in mind it's not about spending the least amount of money and being cheap. It's about getting the most value in exchange for your limited resources.

On all your expeditures, remember WWFWD? --- "What Would FatWallet Do?"

Woowoo: if you can put up an antenna to obtain TV reception, good idea!

Living in a condo, I did try several indoor antennas to obtain reception without success. The only channels I can reliably receive in my condo were PBS and Fox - and in fact I did without cable TV for two years and had almost no TV programming to watch. One appreciates it so much more after doing without!

A few years ago, as part of political compromising to pass another round of telecommunications deregulation legislation, Congress and the FCC required cable operators to offer the lower-cost "basic cable" service. Cable companies don't readily advertise this lower-cost service since the "basic tier" price is regulated by your local government, while "expanded basic" is unregulated.

If you use your cable provider for high-speed internet or telephone services, the "basic" level still provides you the multi-product discount.

MaxMojo said:

<< For fax reception we use callwave.com's faxwave. This is a great free service that gives you your own fax number, and then forwards all your faxes to your email account. There is no downside and plenty of upsides to this service. Get it! >>

EFax is a similar service that I've used with good results for many years.

If you love music in your home, purchase some great used high-fidelity gear instead of buying a brand-new "bookshelf stereo".

There is a steady flood of high-fidelity components from the 1970s and 1980s on the used market, at thrift stores, yard sales, and at specialty shops specializing in used hi-fi components.

Look for high-quality, durable equipment from makers such as Marantz, Harman/Kardon, Sansui, McIntosh, Yamaha, Dual, and Advent.

You might be pleasantly surprised at how much more satisfying music is when it is played through an accurate, musical audio system instead of through a cheezy mass-market glorified boombox. You will enjoy and re-discover your existing music collection again, and wonder why on earth people spend so much money on "new" bookshelf music systems that don't sound nearly as good as your 25-year-old audio components.

Locate a clothing consignment shop in your area. Not only can you find decent clothes there for cheap, you can sell your unwanted clothes there as well (instead of giving them all to Goodwill).

Bring your own sodas and candy to the movie theatre. Pop a bag of microwave popcorn and bring it with you. There are plenty of tote bags/ purses that are large enough to bring in with you that don't look too suspicious.

By reading the grocery store ads, and buying products that are on sale that you regularly use (even if you are not out yet, ex. tuna, canned goods, etc) can save alot of money in the long run.

And don't buy produce at the grocery store. Find the local produce mart and you will save tons of money. If you can't use it all yourself, split the items with someone (I split mine with a lady at work).

jazzhands said:

<< Cut coupons and do rebates! Yes, it can be annoying, but the payoff can be amazing. There are people who frequent the Grocery Coupon forum who save up to 98% on groceries every month. If you can realize savings of even half of that, you'd be doing great! >>



So glad to see multiple references in this thread to couponing and the GC forum. It is actually fairly easy to save thousands on groceries.

Here's the latest thread detailing some sample GC member's savings for June and the first half of 2003:
GC member savings thread

MaxMojo said:

<< Keep in mind it's not about spending the least amount of money and being cheap. It's about getting the most value in exchange for your limited resources.

On all your expeditures, remember WWFWD? --- "What Would FatWallet Do?"
>>



After orignally finding FW a few years ago and getting over the initial wallet shock of getting in on a few "deals", the above comment has more or less become my mantra.

I look forward to reading and contributing to this thread - people are often suprised where they can save and cut corners easily without impacting them much. Perhaps better yet, the types of things that can make folks a little money on the side.

You can buy your bread items from a local bakery thrift store. Instead of a loaf od bread being 2.19 you can get it for .70 or sometimes they have them 3 for 1.00.

They are a day old. However, I take them home and freeze them and they taste great.

Hope this helps!

I agree with the consignment shop idea. I went today and bought over 80.00 worth of closthes for 27.00.

Coupons & refunding too

1) Make your own lunch and bring it to work rather than going out to eat every day. For me, this was a hardship (I'm a lazy arse in the morning), and since this thread is for living frugally without hardship, I did the next best thing. I buy frozen meals on sale and microwave them for lunch. I pay about $2-$3 each instead of the $10-$15 that my co-workers pay every day for chinese, pizza, italian, etc.

2) Be a cultural rebel. American culture is geared toward massive consumption and living beyond one's means for status. Once you start looking closely at advertising, it's easy to see why the public keeps buying stereos, televisions, cars, and imported beer. Most adverts hit on the sensitive nerve of "status".

Start thinking the opposite way, and get a cheap thrill by scoffing (internally) at advertising and the media.

If you're only looking for BBBJs, high-priced escorts are usually no better than the much cheaper streetwalkers. Plenty of savings opportunity there.

MyTwoSense said:


<< Here's the latest thread detailing some sample GC member's savings for June and the first half of 2003:
GC member savings thread
>>



Never been to grocery forum before but it is crazy savings.May be it is time to ask my wife to spend time at Grocery forum.

Post in the link says:
====
My June and 1/2 year totals:

June:
Total before card/coupons: $803.23
Total actually paid: $21.81
Total savings: $781.42 (97%)

1/2 year:
Total before card/coupons: $2,668.98
Total actually paid: $95.52
Total savings: $2,573.46 (96%)

Wow! Some great ideas already. Here are three which come to mind immediately:

1)Get baby & kids clothes, books & toys at garage sales - exclusively if you can. It's astonishing how quickly they outgrow (or destroy) these expensive items. If someone offers you their kid's old stuff, take it! Even if you don't use it, you can sell it at your own yard sale, which brings me to #2.

2) Get together with a few friends to hold periodic yard sales. Split the cost of advertising and sell stuff cheap near the end of your sale. It's rarely worth keeping since clutter wastes time & money. (Searching for something, not finding it, finally going out to buy a new one - finding your old one the next day.) This has been one of my worst faults - a character defect, really! but I'm working hard to mend my ways.

3) I know it's a cliche, but attend to your health and your relationships every day. For me & DH this means a vegetarian diet which in and of itself is a huge moneysaver. I do coupon shop but I don't realize huge savings because I'm not willing to eat a lot of the processed, artificially flavored slop which passes for food in the American diet. (I haven't seen the inside of a McDonald's in 10 plus years!) I figure I'd rather spend the money on good nutrition now than on doctors and prescriptions later.

Relationships: let go of anger and resentments rather than holding on to them. Anger in particular will eat you alive. Marry your best friend and you'll really enjoy finding ways to build your future together.

Can't wait to read more of these ideas!

Rent expensive "toys" that you will use only occasionally.

If you haven't actually touched something that belongs to you for 6mo(arbitrary), get rid of it. corollary: don't rent storage

And I second the idea: learn the difference between need and want.

Project expenses forward twenty years or so to appreciate how much difference a few changes can make.

Think lifestyle to make changes, change the behaviors that lead to spending.

<<1/2 year:
Total before card/coupons: $2,668.98
Total actually paid: $95.52
Total savings: $2,573.46 (96%) >>

sick sick puppy. thats not couponing, thats stealing!

Don't keep up with the Jones

Don't get a new car every year or even every other year.
Don't buy a new house if your present house takes care of your needs (not wants).
Don't buy a timeshare but rent one if you have to have it.

Keep good records - organize your finances and you will save. Some mentioned always send in rebates and never pay late fees - organization of finances is paramount to all these things.

Always ask for the deal. Is this your best price can be used just about anywhere. They may laugh at Wal Mart, but look at all the YMMV stories in Hot Deals - many are a result of people asking. They never raise the price for asking this question, but they often lower it.

Take advantage of deals at restaurants and other establishments in your area. Many offer family night deals and other coupons or specials that make eating out very inexpensive.

I differ a little on the garage sale philosophy of some. I personally think they are a pain in the arse. I donte everything to Charity, but I always write it down in an Excel spreadhseet i created and always get a receipt. The tax write off is often more than I could get at a garage sale without the hassle of people wlaking into your garage or property, talking about your bad taste in clothes, and haggling over a nickel in 100 deggree heat.

Never buy a soft drink at a restaurant. It is the highest margin item on the menu and water is much healthier and free - do leave a tip for the water though so your waitperson doesn't hate you.

Don't carry a credit card balance if you have cash sitting in a MM/Bank account. Paying off credit card debt is the best investment available right now.

Very few people actually know that dress, purse, shoes, whatever is last season. Your wallet will.

Plan an annual budget and stick to it. Review it at least once per month and make sure you are on track. Commit to at least 20% savings. Never carry consumer debt.

And on the other side of the equation...

Educate yourself. Have a 1/3/5/10/20 year plan for your personal life and career. Find a job you love/are good at/pays well. Keep your career and personal life seperate.

It's easier to have extra money if you make 150k per year than if you make 25k per year.

- Refinance when ever it is possible. Biggest saving per month comes from this.
- Look for deals and do your research before buying any item for household.
- Use credit cards with % cash back or mileage and pay in full if possible.
- Look around at construction sites for your household work. I go talk to the workers and most of the time they do work on the side which is 50-60% cheaper than going through a company.

e.g Sprinkler system: Cheapest quote from companies $3800 DONE on the side by worker: $1800
Fence estimate: $5000 DONE on the side for: $3000
Carpet fixes: $100 DONE for $25 on the side by a worker
Plumbing needs: $250 DONE on the side for $50

possibilities are endless and these are the skilled workers. By going through them dirctly you are cutting the overhead cost/profit of the company.

These tips are especially useful if you have kids.

Get a credit card that gives you cashback.

Visit your local farmers' markets. They have great produce and you can bargain too. Most of all you support the local farmers and get the best fruits and vegetables. This also makes for a great outing with kids and they learn about and sample a lot of fruits

Make milkshakes, smoothies, iced coffees etc. at home. They are really easy to make and involving kids while making also keeps them occupied and interested. This works for cooking anything together as well.

Visit you local library. Get books, videos, music. Also inquire about the library's programs for kids. These are free and fun. Try to visit other libraries in your neighborhood to get into more library programs.

Take walks, Play with your kids.

Always carry a snack bag for your kids filled with snacks from home. This could be boxes of raisins, cut up fruits, juice (not juice boxes), sandwiches etc. Anything you have at home. Kids always get hungry as soon as you leave the house. (Mine always does)

This is a great thread.

My mortgage and child care (2 kids) expense amount to 60-70% of the total. I have refinanced 3 times within a year with less than $400 out-of-pocket $. But I find there is not much I can do to cut the child care expense.

Any idea? (read: I do want 2 little creatures to go to a decent daycare facility.)

Excellent idea DH. Lots of good advice already.

Drink water (not just when eating out)... if you must drink bottled water, bottle it yourself.

Bring a lunch to work. If making a lunch before heading to work every day is too much hassle, take a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly to work at the beginning of the week. Make it while you're at work.

Many excellent tips here!

This trick has probably saved me thousands in the past year alone:

I am a purely recreational shopper. I just love being around merchandise, and I used to be one of those people who would come out of Macy's with three overflowing shopping bags glowing "look how much money I saved!"

I still go shopping. But now I've added one more step. Before I head to the register, I find someplace where I can sit and catch my breath, be it in a chair, on the edge of a display or somewhere quiet and away from the rush. I will just sit quietly for a minute, people-watch or chat with my friend about anything BUT the merchandise we've piled up. If I'm by myself, I read or play a game on my cell phone.

After a few minutes, it's "moment of truth" time. I look at everything I've picked, and ask myself: If I don't buy this today, will I be sorry a month from now? I was initially astounded to discover that 90 percent of the time - or more - I put the items back and never think about 'em again.

I do the same thing shopping online. I put the items in my cart, then browse another window for awhile and then come back. Most of the time, I dump everything and back out of the site. (Though I still go a little nuts from time to time - the famous Coldwater Creek sale comes to mind.)

These tactics sound so gimmicky, but for someone who's a semi-compulsive shopper, they really do help!

lovedisneyland said:

<< Visit your local farmers' markets. They have great produce and you can bargain too. Most of all you support the local farmers and get the best fruits and vegetables. This also makes for a great outing with kids and they learn about and sample a lot of fruits >>


This is generally good advice, but sometimes the asked for price can be greater than what you'd pay at a grocery store. Most farmers are willing to bargain or barter. Bargaining and bartering are both still great money-saving skills to hone for many transactions.

There are so many great ideas here, and I have tons, but I will add my .02 on the subject of eating out.

My family is very frugal, but we enjoy eating out 4-5 times a week. A lot of people will say "don't do it," but there are strategies that can often make it cheaper than eating at home...
    Buy restaurant coupon books with B1G1F coupons. This can be very effective on vacation if you get a coupon book for the city you are visiting (or buy Gift Certificates on ebay).


    Take advantage of dining coupons in your local paper.


    Take the kids to restaurants that offer free kids meals.


    Go to restaurants that serve larger portions of types of food that reheat well, and take the leftovers for lunch the next day.


    Go to restaurants that offer cheap add-on buffets, order a meal that reheats well, fill up on the buffet and take the actual meal home for supper or lunch the next day.


    Share meals at restaurants with larger portions and no plate-sharing fees.


    Go to takeout buffets and fill your containter with items that are expensive at the stores and either serve them at home as the main course (i.e. shrimp, prime rib) or make many meals out of them (i.e. seafood salad).


    Combine eating out with entertainment (i.e. kids night, japanese steak houses, live bands)


    Get "Family Meal Deals" or quantity deals (i.e. 5 sandwiches for $5, 10 tacos, etc.) and go in with friends to share them.


    If your local fast food place has a .99 night for kids meals, go through the drive-through and buy enough to feed the whole family- bonus, free toys!






    Even if you are on a PB&J budget, you can use these once in a while for a treat without breaking the bank.

    Skipping 987 Messages...
    whodini said: Want to save money? And live longer? And healthier?

    One thing you can do right now, right where you are.
    Simply eat less -- very less. As in one meal a day.

    If you feel hungry, drink water. Still hungry? More water.
    Tap water will do, even if it smells bad where you live.

    How does it work? The body requires only a small portion of food
    to keep going. It's the mind that craves for more. Dumping all
    that extra food in the stomach forces the body to overwork. Anything
    that overworks must break down sooner rather than later.

    This suggestion is for adults. Children should eat three meals or more.


    Eating one meal a day is very unhealthy at any age. It could slow down your metabolism causing you to gain weight.



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