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Friday, February 12, 2010

Fabulessly Frugal Friday: Top Ten Tips

Say that title 5 times fast! Whew. Alliterations aside, we here at Fabulessly Frugal know there are so many ways in addition to couponing that can save you money. We also know how dang smart our readers are. So today, we are combining that knowledge and turning to you, our brilliant and frugal readers.

All couponing and shopping talk aside, what are some money saving tips you have adopted? Have you been given any good advice when it comes to trimming your budget? What frugal practices have you implemented in your life? 

We want to hear from you!  

Leave a comment or send us an email with your ideas. Over the next week, I will sift through them and cram them into the Fabulessly Frugal Friday post next week.

To get your minds cranking out those helpful hints, I've compiled my top 10. Love 'em or hate 'em, if you incorporate them into your life, you WILL save money!

1. Brown bag it. Give up cafeterias if possible. Pack lunches for your kids, your spouse and yourself. Not only will you save a bit, but statistically you will eat healthier too!

2. No impulse buying. Period. If you are dying to have something, if it is screaming your name, wait for it. Walk out of the store. Think it over for 48 hours. If you still absolutely cannot live without it, then buy it (and promptly hide it from your husband. Unless of course you think #3 is important).

3. (In honor of Valentine's Day) Stay married. Now before you attack, hear me out. I understand there are circumstances that merit divorce. I'm making a blanket statement in regards to saving money, because a divorce is costly (and we aren't even talking about the emotional toll I'm sure it takes). The actual divorce will cost you. The lawyer will cost you. Dividing assets and paying alimony/child support and potentially losing money if you have to sell a house. And that multiplies if it gets nasty. Credit can be wrecked and the long term financial burden may be felt for years. 

4. Get a library card. I know we have mentioned it before, but this can save you hundreds each year. Possibly more if you are a book worm or movie junkie! Check out those books instead of buying them. Rent those movies at the library for free instead of paying to rent them at a video store.

5. Utilize your credit card's rewards program. While using a credit card is not for everyone, there are perks. Most credit card companies offer some type of rewards program. Miles, cash back or a points system are just a few ways you can make your money work harder for you. We save our rewards and then cash them in for gift certificates each Christmas. Our daughter's entire Christmas was paid for this way! If you have the will power to make all of your monthly purchases on a credit card, and then turn around and immediately pay the balance down, you can rack up rewards. If you lack the will power, try #6 instead.

6. Use cash. Hide the credit cards and leave your debit card at home. When the cash is gone, your spending stops.

7. Eat leftovers. If my husband read this, he would laugh. I HATE leftovers. But I also know how much money can be saved by doing this, and I do feel guilty every time I throw food away. Reheat an entire meal again, or use a leftover ingredient to create a whole new dish (leftover recreation recipes coming soon!).

8. Make it. Whether it be a birthday gift for a friend vs. a store bought present, or a home cooked meal vs. take out, you can potentially save a lot of money by making it yourself. 

9. Clean out your closet. If your old clothes are gathering dust in your closet (reality check: your pre-baby size zeros are never gonna fit. It hurts, I know), turn them into cash. Gather items for a yard sale. Take gently worn items to a consignment store. Or donate items and get a tax write-off in exchange. 

10.Surround yourself with frugal people. We tend to adopt many of the habits of those we spend the most time with. New cars, expensive dinners and designer jeans are all fine and good if you have the money to sustain that lifestyle (although even if you have the money, might I still suggest couponing?!). If your closest friends live well above their means, you might find your bank account is suffering while you try to keep up with the Jones'. I'm not saying ditch your friends, but be honest with them. And if necessary, help them adopt a more frugal lifestyle. My friends always check with me before we pick a restaurant for a lunch date to see if I have any coupons. I usually do, and I LOVE that they know me well enough to ask.

So there you have mine. Now it's your turn to dish your money saving secrets!

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lemontree said...

Great advice! I'll add a couple. Buy a used car you can afford. Try to find a car you can pay cash for. Learn to do basic repairs and maintenance yourself (or befriend somebody who'll do it for a plate of cookies). You will save tons of money on car payments and repairmen. While I'm on that vein, Learn to do basic repairs on a variety of things-- home repair, computer repair, etc.

lemontree said...

Oh, I also wanted to add a comment to your #2 item. If you set aside spending money for yourself and your spouse in your budget every month, it doesn't hurt to do an impulse purchase every so often (or a planned, just for fun purchase)-- but it has to come from your personal spending money. If you plan ahead for money to blow, you don't have to feel guilty and hide it from your spouse and it gives you peace of mind knowing you have some personal liberties with your money, as well.

jerisesh said...

To add to #4...take advantage of what your community offers. We have had a blast doing family activities in our community. From pumpkin walks to free art lessons for our kids. Look at the community calendar and take advantage of the programs people put on for the community.

Get a zoo pass!!! We love this from our zoo it is also reciprocal in other zoos so when we go on vacation we can go to the zoo and see different exhibits.

Dylan said...

Nice post! I wanted to pragmatically respond by adding a strategy for reducing another major drain on American households: cell bills. We shouldn't just monitor our wireless costs; we need to actively work to reduce them. For starters, check out the Houston-based company Validas, where I work in consumer advocacy. At Validas, we electronically audit and subsequently reduce the average cell bill by about 22 percent—equating to around $450 annually—through our website, http://www.fixmycellbill.com . From regular people to top corporations to huge entities like the State of California, an incredibly varied group of wireless customers uses Validas to slash their wireless bills.

Check out Validas in the media, recently on Fox News at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1uTCO16_ao .

Good luck to everyone reading at retaking control over your wireless expenses.

Consumer Advocacy, FixMyCellBill.com

Julie said...

I admit to being relatively new at the frugality thing, but at one point a few years ago, I stopped buying laundry detergent. Now, I make it. I know you can sometimes get great deals on laundry detergent, but for us, this has saved tons of money. I make it about four or five times a year (I make a 5-gallon bucket at a time). The ingredients for each bucket cost about $2, maybe less. I haven't actually figured out how many cups of borax are in a box and stuff. Anyway, we have a 4-year-old boy (always filthy, it seems) and a baby, and we find it gets our clothes quite clean. We do buy stain treater, like Spray n' Wash or whatever, but otherwise that's what we use.

Also, a huge one for us: we hang up our clothes to dry instead of drying them. It isn't just the electricity and dryer sheets we save. Hanging up your clothes to dry makes them last a lot longer (lint is just your clothes wearing away). I learned that in Japan--everyone hangs up clothes there, and they last forever that way. In our house, the woodstove is in the basement, so we hang our clothes up down there in the winter and let the wood heat dry them.

Julie said...

Oh, and I am absolutely with you on #3. There is all kinds of evidence that divorce leaves women and kids especially much worse off financially and much more likely to slide into poverty and so on. Plus, being married tends to keep people healthier over the long run, which also saves money. So, unless your husband (or wife) is a gambling addict or something like that, it definitely pays to stay married. It certainly isn't the only reason to stay married, but it's a good one.

Anonymous said...

Get on a budget and stick to it...may I suggest Dave Ramsey. It is nice to see how much we save exactly every month...makes you want to try harder every month to save more.