Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How do you save money?

Here's a quickie post, but hopefully it will get a lot of comments for people to learn from. Aside from just not buying stuff you don't need, what's your favorite money-saving tips?

My favorites are:

• Reducing energy and water usage
• Refinancing our mortgage
• Planning our meals in advance so we rarely eat out
• Spending little on entertainment (which means lots of free outdoor activities)

If you need some advice of your own, check out this list from The Simple Dollar.


Margo said...

Growing some of our own food - particularly stuff that's expensive, as well as making our own green cleaners, soap, hair and skincare

Robj98168 said...

Along with these fine items
Reducing energy and water usage

Spending little on entertainment (which means lots of free outdoor activities)

Plus got my credit cards under control years ago.

Grow my own food as muxh as possible...

Wear things out before replacing them (cars, clothes, House)

Bout the only thing I spend too much on is my dog!

Sonja said...

I save a bit of money in the longterm by using a menstrual cup (another brand than the Diva Cup) and by using mostly cloth panty liners.

Mine are now about 6 months old and have been washed repeatedly. They're still looking good and I'm looking forward to finding out how long they last.
Got my panty liners here:
because all the local ones close with a little clip which is a)plastic and b) darned uncomfortable on a bike, and I bike daily

Anonymous said...

Aside from what has already been mentioned ...

*/ GoogleVoice though the computer for telephone calls allowed me to lower my phone bill

*/ bar shaving and laundry soap instead of liquid products

*/ volunteering in order to gain entrance to events that otherwise would have a high ticket price

*/ MegaBus instead of planes and trains

*/ walking whenever probable

*/ potlucks with friends to save on food costs

*/ coop buys on anything and everything possible

*/ learning the skills necessary to do my own repairs (sewing, basic car mechanics, basic plumbing, basic electrical, basic carpentry, etc.)

*/ establishing a lending circle with my friends for those useful things that you use once a year (I lend a 10x10 canopy shelter in exchange for ladders, carpet cleaner machines, power washers, etc.)

*/ sending a postcard from vacation in place of any other souvenier

I'm sure there are more, but I just can't think of them at the moment.

Unknown said...

-cooking from scratch (especially things like crackers, broth, and bread... those really add up but then of course when I buy, I buy expensive whole versions so that probably wouldn't help people who eat cheap food)
-cloth menstrual pads
-solid shampoo and plain vinegar for the hair
-elbow grease instead of cleaners
-having our own chickens (eggs plus waste disposal)
-walking the dog and gardening instead of the gym
-the library
-combining errands thus fewer trips in the car
-cloth diapers
-buying used

El Gaucho said...

- Having zero credit card debt.

- Growing and preserving as much of our own food as possible.

- Realizing that buying things or shopping isn't going to bring happiness.

- Having only one car in the household, it reduces insurance, gas, repairs, etc and compels use of bicycles and walking.

Bootzey said...

I use all the grocery bags I have accumulated through the years as garbage bags. I just can't pay $4 for something designed to be thrown out. It seems like I can't make a dent in the plastic bags Now that I recycle.

The Haphazard Countryman said...

Not eating out is a big one for us. It is a lot easier now that we live in a rural location with very few if any fast food restaurants around. In Phoenix, there was a restaurant on every corner and only a mile from home. To easy made us lazy.

Also, I am just always looking for a deal. The trick is to only take the deal if it is something you need.

I hate the advertising thought, "Buy more to save more!" Yikes!

Unknown said...

Nantucket has a reuse exchange--like Craig's list I guess, so we rarely buy anything new. Island folk are notorious for reusing everything: Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.
School lunches get wrapped in cloth, not ziplock bags
Cut each others' hair
Soap nuts for laundry, not detergent
bike rather than drive
Check the internet for how to fix things rather than call a repairman-I'm getting pretty good!
Borrow and Loan rather than buy

Sue Sullivan said...

A lot of my thoughts are already posted -- great comments so far!
-We also canceled land line and got a skype phone number with voice mail ($60 for a year's service and it works for us about 95 percent of the time -- sometimes the caller can't get through to our voicemail if we don't answer). We will be cancelling monthly cell phone and getting a pre-paid cell phone. No need to spend more time flirting with brain cancer than necessary and the damned headphones I buy to keep the phone away from my brain keep breaking all the time anyway.
-Reading the grocery store sales circulars every week and stocking up on the loss leaders that we would normally buy, getting a 3-6month supply (it is important to know what is the mid-range sales price and what is the rock-bottom, once-every-few-months sales price for a given product).
-Cooking double batches of breads or meals that can be easily thawed/reheated to save energy.
-Not changing the sheets on the bed until they are truly dirty (I grew up being told they had to be changed every week. In fact, it's usually the pillowcase that needs to be changed every week or two and the sheets themselves can go a month or more, unless one gets exceptionally dirty and doesn't shower before bed.)
--Grow almost all my own veggie starts from seed (gives me something to do while I wait for maddeningly late last frost date in Spring.
--Make my own potting soil from 45pc peat moss, 45pc compost and 10pc vermiculite). Saving 32 oz yogurt containers to pot up seedlings. Gathering 2" square starter pots and black plastic flats from the pot recycle bin at my local nursery.
--Make my own self-watering containers from this wonderful website's instructions

Anna Marie said...


- Rent out rooms in our house.
- Grow a lot of our own vegetables, and nearly all our eggs.
- Cook from scratch and limit eating out.
- Use a lot of elbow grease instead of cleaners
- Use just enough soap to get the job done
- Don't use A/C in summer, only heat the house to 64 degrees in winter
- Try to get plant roots good and strong so we don't have to irrigate so much in summer
- Stopped going to movies!
- Don't use credit cards, or debit, just cash instead
- Buy nearly everything second hand
- Yuuki cup, like a diva but I like mine better.
- Learning how to do basic repairs in the house and car (big money saver there!)

Anonymous said...

Downsizing in every way possible (driving, house cost/size, purchases, energy use).

Inspiration here:

Rachel said...

I turn off the shower while I wash my hair. I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week. Make B-I-G batches of soup for lunch every day.

Thanks for the simple dollar website, and for giving Dan the idea of legitimately peeing in the shower.

Aimee said...

if we average it out over the year, the biggest ways we save money are, in no particular order:

-keeping the thermostat at 62 in the winter (we don't have AC for summer)

- not eating out more than once a month or so

- buying groceries in bulk and cooking from scratch (NO processed foods other than pasta, occasional sliced bread, etc)

- SECONDHAND EVERYTHING! I haven't bought new clothes (except for underwear) in many years. Furniture also bought used. No reason to buy new stuff, which is usually shoddy and made by slaves.

- Homemade biodiesel for the cars

- Minimal debt. If we can't pay cash for it, we can't afford it. Period.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Well, based on everyone's comments, we've decided to cancel the basic cable TV we never use and get rid of our land line. I'm still working on getting rid of our NY Times subscription, but that's my husband's deal.

I'm also letting a lot of magazine subscriptions lapse.

I need to get back into cooking large batches of food for freezing now that the kids are back in school and I'll have less time during the week for cooking.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

- We run a cash only ship. The only family debt we have is our house and an unexpected car payment (the previous car was way too much to fix as we planned.) Sometimes after saving for a big ticket item, we realize that its the desire we thought and don't buy it. That saves even more money!
- I'm a big DIYer and like to reclaim materials. I put in a front yard farm and porch redo for $260 this summer. Most of the money was spent on good local organic dirt.
- We do reusables over disposables was much as possible.
- We take advantage of local street fairs and festivals during the summer. We carry water bottles with us so that's one less thing to buy (and the beer they sall is usually swill so it all works out.)
- I coupon and shop sales for green products and organic, ingredient type foods. I can't get everything we use for less but saving money on canning necessities means I can slide that extra money over to buy more organic produce and items that don't go on sale but are worth it for our health and the planet.

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

I do a lot of the things mentioned above too but one thing that I've not seen being mentioned is keeping a spending diary.

Since I started tracking everything I spend money on, the amount of money I spend on frivolous stuff has dropped dramatically. I know that chocolate bar, or that book I'm only buying so I can read something-anything on the way home, is going to end up in my monthly totals and I'll regret it later.

I also do a lot of bookmarking when I see stuff I want to buy online: see it, bookmark it, then come back a few days later to see if I'm still interested in it. I'm invariably not.

Linked to that, I've also deleted my credit card details from my Amazon/Paypal etc accounts online so I can't complete a transaction without physically having to get up to find my card details -- even something small like that, just a hesitation, can be enough to stop me impulse buying.

gloria of Veghead etc. said...

Love this question and all of the answers. My biggest money-saver ...

I took a no-hard-plastics pledge about 3 years ago after a nightmare I had about swimming in the ocean (for more about that, go to for "I had a dream" and "Plastic, plastic everywhere").

My pledge means that my buying habits have changed radically.

Where I used to spend without thinking on all kinds of prepared foods in plastic, such as hummus, cottage cheese, yogurt, salsa, pesto, etc., now I need to make them from scratch or find sources in other packaging, like glass.

I get my personal care products in the bulk section at my health-food store and reuse my existing plastic bottles or do without (except for sunscreen and toothpaste, but who knows, someday I might make them myself).

Mostly, it's been a great adventure ... and the next step is trying to wean off of soft plastics too (that will be much harder!).

Crunchy Chicken said...

@Louisa - A spending diary, I would imagine, is extremely effective. I'm not quite ready for that though! But, I do save a lot of stuff in the Amazon cart but won't buy it for a while. I usually end up deleting the items and/or just getting them from the library (if they are books are there isn't a 52 week wait).

@Gloria - I wish I had the time and gumption to do the no hard plastics thing. I'm stretched pretty thin but you've inspired me to step it up.

Sarah C said...

Growing a big garden, ordering bulk items for Azure Standard, line drying clothes year-round and mainly watching TV for free via Hulu. We have free local channels, but still prefer Hulu. Since we stopped using our TV for the most part, our power bill went down $15 a month!

Oldnovice said...

Most of our ways have already been mentioned, like "cash only", eating at home, entertaining via pot-lucks, having only one car. While I grow a garden each year, I'd have to say (particularly after this year's drought) that it's a money loser. I never get enough produce from it to make up for the cost of seeds and starts.

I don't sew anymore, getting everything save underwear and shoes at thrift store sales. Sewing (like gardening) ended up costing me more.

Some things I like to buy online, which saves gas money, tax money, and shipping.

My husband cuts my hair and on the rare occasions when we eat out, we share one meal. Since we're retired, we also take advantage of reduced prices at movies, restaurants, and utilize the gym at the senior center.

Anonymous said...

something i do that saves me bundles is using the library. i am a HUGE reader, and if i was always buying books to read, i would be in major debt.

gloria of Veghead etc. said...

One other way to get big savings: Through, we have received lots of amazing things—food dehydrator, buffet table, matching ottomans, corner display cabinet, decorative lighting, slow cooker, large ceramic vase, and more—all for free while keeping unwanted stuff from ending up in the landfill. We've also given away to good homes a ton of stuff that we no longer wanted. Visit to find a group in your area.

EngineerChic said...

El Gaucho already posted the biggie for me:
- Realizing that buying things or shopping isn't going to bring happiness.

In my case, it's that 90% of the time when I want to redecorate a room it's really that I need to clean it.

DH started the South Beach Diet which is saving us a lot of money since it's hard to eat out when he's on Phase 1 (very restricted processed carbs - only veggies & beans & lean meats & cheeses are allowed). So I've been cooking a lot.

Reading about all the feminine hygene options makes me think my hysterectomy 10 yrs ago was a real money saver (in pads and in birth control prices). (I'm kidding - do not have major surgery to save a few bucks).

Crunchy Chicken said...

OMG - You guys will love this. So, I tried to cancel my cable TV through Comcast yesterday and because we have the "multi-product discount", it would cost us the same to just have Internet. I did manage to get some deal where they reduced my monthly cost for about $25/mo for 6 months and we still have the unwanted cable.

In other news, I cancelled our home phone long distance carrier, but have to wait until Monday to ditch our land line. I also need to check with my Mom and see if she even uses her cell phone because we are paying $15/mo for it. I think we'll get her a prepaid phone.

Once we ditch the landline, we'll be saving about $55/mo.

I'm still working on the hubs about the NY Times subscription.

Dani said...

I buy organic bulk items like flour, sugar, beans, rice, etc. through a co-op and save a ton of money that I would otherwise spend at Whole Paycheck. ;) I also watch for sales there and stock up on freezer items. In the summer months, I freeze and can all kinds of produce. Haven't figured out drying yet, but that's next on the list. I owe this habit to Y2K - no kidding. My major motivation is to shop in my own pantry, rather than at the grocery store. It's not my favorite chore.

Ultimately Pure said...

We grow our own veggies and have chickens for eggs and meat.
Have cut out foxtel (cable) and a couple of subscriptions.
Try winning competitions either via the web or magazines or when shopping and then selling the prizes.
I sell on ebay too

RMF said...

We (try to) keep an on-going tabulation of all items in the deep freezer, pantry and kitchen freezer/refrigerator. With that we use a (Google) calendar to plan lunch and dinners throughout the week mostly using what we have. We usually leave Friday and Saturday blank, reserving them for leftovers or something special. Printing out the meal plan calendar in agenda view gives us room to write in our grocery list. Eating this way, we find that we rarely need much from the store for our family of 4 to cover all of our meals. It takes some planning but doesn't everything?