Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saving the Moola: Tips and Tricks You Haven't Heard Before


We all know borrowing books, CDs and DVDs from the library is a cheaper way to go than buying, and buying coffee at Starbucks every day is a crime of money sense - just buy a great coffee maker and make your own!

When you've already implemented the basic ways of saving money into your life, how do you find new ways to save even more money? The research for this post has been years in the making, and while I'm still researching and still learning, it seems every article I read has the basics. Well, here's my list of creative ways to save money, and I promise you haven't heard them all before or chosen to implement them into your life... yet.

  • Use microfiber towels or rags for virtually everything you use paper towels for now. You may need to use paper towel for oddball things (like wrapping up freezer burritos so they are moist when microwaved later), but for almost everything, you can stop buying paper towel and spend $20 or so for several microfiber towels that will last for years and years and years. Using microfiber versus paper is also great for the environment. Potential cost savings: $16 per year
  • In the hot months, who wants to cook in an oven? Use a slow cooker instead, and not only will your house stay cooler, but you'll save money on your electricity bill as well. Also, slow cookers make meal planning simple. Pop the food in the cooker in the morning, and have dinner ready 8 - 10 hours later. You can buy cheaper cuts of meat as the meat will be more tender in a slow cooker than oven cooking. Potential cost savings (based on switching to slow cooker cooking 2 times a week and cheaper cuts of meat): $60 per year
  • Fifty percent of Americans now regularly take prescription pills. I agree with that statistic - out of the 2 humans in my family, one of us takes prescription pills (Jason for his narcolepsy). His pills are not available in a generic form, so the copay is $50 per month. But, by purchasing his drugs through a mail-order company, he pays just $100 for a three-month supply. This is incredibly easy to do - just take the mail-order form to your doctor (you do not need an appointment do this, although a call ahead to let them know you're going to stop in might be a nice thing to do). Your doctor fills out the form, mails it in, and you'll get your drugs about 2 weeks later. Just mail in your payment or pay online, and you're good to go. Potential cost savings: $200 per year
  • I technically cheat on my husband. His name is Boyfriend (his name has been changed for this post to protect the guilty!), and he sells the most wonderful strawberries at the Flint farmers' market. The thrill I get when I see his berries is... well, let's just say, I get tingles. The Flint market is incredibly busy, so we tend to be the first customers there on Saturday mornings at 8 AM. However, if you enjoy going later in the day or a later time is just more convenient for you, that actually can work to your advantage. Boyfriend, and other farmers, don't want to haul their produce back where it came from, so if you arrive near the end of the day, offer to purchase the produce at a lesser cost. Most farmers will likely take you up on that offer, and the worst they can say is no. Potential cost savings: $55 per year
  • Clothes can get worn out if you tend to purchase clothing in classic styles - v-neck t-shirts, polos, Oxford shirts, etc. But if you like to buy a few pieces of trendy clothing, they may become out of style before they're actually worn out. You can choose to donate or garage sale these items, but I think an even better idea is to repurpose the fabric for another item. A tank top, a quilt, a backpack, or a purse may be fashioned out of your out-of-style clothing item. Potential cost savings: $20 per year
  • I find it quite rude when people ask Jason when he's going to stop shaving his head. A. We both prefer his head shaved (I think it's an incredibly sexy look) and B. it's cost effective. For the cheapest barber around, including tip, you'll pay anywhere from $12 to $17 for a haircut. About five years ago, we purchased a hair cutting kit from Meijer for $20. That one lasted for two years, and the one we currently have (which is identical) has lasted for three years. For the first two haircuts, I probably didn't do the greatest job as I was still learning, but I'm a great head shaver now, and I do an even better and more thorough job than the barbers he used to go to! And if you want a look other than a shaved head for the men in your life, you can probably figure that out, too, in a couple of haircuts. If you trust the men in your life, you can also have them cut your hair (although I prefer to see a stylist for my hair!). Potential cost savings (and this is what Jason and I save in one year's time): $136 per year
  • When Jason and I first moved in together, I had no clue what I was doing. I was attending school full-time for my BS and working anywhere from part-time to full-time and anywhere from one to three jobs. But over time, I became more knowledgeable with how to run a household (although Jason runs the household these days!). One thing Jason introduced me to was using cloth napkins. I grew up only using paper, and my parents, as far as I know, do not even own any cloth napkins. Cloth napkins can be made for probably $0.25 per napkin, or they can be purchased for about $1 per napkin (or more if you want fancier napkins). We have 12 cloth napkins and use cloth for all mealtimes. Paper napkins, on the other than, typically cost one cent. Using cloth will not only save you money, but it's great for the environment as well. Potential cost savings (assuming cloth napkins are used twice a day for 2 people): $15 per year
  • This last tip is somewhat baffling and I still don't quite understand it all (I'll leave the chemistry smarts to my sister, Cathy!), but if you fill up your car's tank with gas when it's cold outside (late at night or early in the morning), you will get more bang for your buck. Potential cost savings: $25 per year
If you implement all of the ideas listed here, you could save, at the least, $527 over the course of a year. That's a nice chunk of change!

Share with us: What ideas will you implement into your life? And most importantly, what could you do with an extra $537?

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