Penny Pinching

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130 Replies - 8113 Views - Last Post: 08 February 2012 - 01:13 PM

#1 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 02:39 PM

I've been reading a lot of articles lately about saving money... cuz, let's face it, we all be broke... Regardless, they all seem to give the same pointless (to me at least) advice:

1. Get rid of your credit cards. I haven't had a credit card in 10 years.
2. Cut your cable TV. Did that. Cable == gone.
3. Cut your landline phone. Did that. Landline == gone.
4. Refinance your mortgage. Can't. Don't have a mortgage.
5. Stop buying $4 lattes every day. Not a problem. I don't buy lattes. I buy K-cups.
6. Cut your cell phone bills. Did that. It's the lowest plan we can get with the Family Share thing.
7. Stop using the dry cleaners. Not a problem. Never used one in my life.
8. Don't put premium gas in your car. Didn't do this in the first place.
9. Use less water to lower your water bill. I have a well. I have no water bill.
10. Use coupons. I've started this, but a quarter here and there isn't exactly yielding amazing results.

What I'm looking for are actual ideas - relevant ideas - to save more money. So I'm wondering if any of you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions for socking away more cash - other than stupid shit like "Use one square of toilet paper" or "Eat nothing but dollar store rice for the rest of your life".

This post has been edited by BenignDesign: 01 February 2012 - 02:41 PM


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Replies To: Penny Pinching

#2 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 02:53 PM

My wife is pretty big into couponing and over the last 6 months she has managed to save us about 2000 dollars or more on groceries and other household items. It's all about matching as many coupons as you can per item with whatever is on sale that week. One week she bought me 30 2-liter bottles of Dr. Pepper, since it's my drink of choice for something with flavor, for about 30 cents each and I've yet to have to buy another one. Our second bedroom in our apartment has become a grocery and personal hygiene stockpile of non-refrigerator/freezer items including around 100 or so disposable razors that she uses that she got for free.

Coupons work, when you know how to use them.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, we also haven't had to buy groceries beyond milk, meat, eggs, and bread in about 5 weeks or so.

This post has been edited by Kilorn: 01 February 2012 - 02:55 PM

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#3 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 02:56 PM

Well there's always the adage of "if you are not making money you are spending money". Face it - eventually you'll hit some point where pinching a penny isn't worth the hassle/self pride/life altering side effects/quality so then you need to look for alternative sources of income.

You already touched on it in the OP.. to have coupons really be effective (like that coupon hoarders show on TLC) you need to dedicate some serious time to it. The crazy people that get five hundred dollars in groceries for under a buck requires more dedication and more time than I would to that pursuit. Let alone the stockpile effect to have it work right.

Medical research comes to mind.. so as selling bodily fluids or eggs. Home gardening... or finding a local bartering group and joining up. Secret shopper programs tend to let you keep what you purchased. Perhaps joining a click per pay program like 'mechanical turk'?

Then there's all the "going green" options.. low flow toilets.. insulation.. new windows.. etc.
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#4 creativecoding  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 03:55 PM

Get a bike. Ride it everywhere. It's a good workout and will save you gas.

Track down everything you spend. Cross off things you don't need. Repeat every now and then.
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#5 Choscura  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 04:05 PM

Green stuff is worth a look. Even just inspecting your house for air leaks can save quite a bit on your heating bill, and there are certainly plenty of things besides that that you can do (upgrade insulation, install solar-thermal heating, which can be done for both air and water, etc). Also, give up on paper books and get a tablet or e-reader and download your books (no, not advocating theft- kindle store, scribd.com, etc). Resell old items that are useless but still valuable (old electronics, etc). It's pretty easy to get set up to sell things on ebay, for example, if you have some supply of something that will virtually never run out but which is valuable enough to cover all costs and a bit more. Ship stuff out once a week (put it in the terms and conditions that that's the deal) on your way to work and you're making something for a few minutes of work. might not be much, but something.

</ramble>
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#6 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 05:21 PM

Grow your own veggies and herb.
Supplement your meat by going fishing now and then.

Don't leave the house. I know that's funny, but I find its not possible to go to a store for one or two items: Somehow it is always $50-$100. So only go at the designated once a week trip and only for the items on a list.

Don't carry cash. A dollar in my pocket goes in the soda machine. No cash less impulse purchasing.

Do real shopping around. For example, I'm looking at a SigSauger p238. Its $619 at the local gun store but $430 at a store in PA. Free shipping and $20 FFL fee and I'm still laughing. My wife is the master of this one. She will shop for something 6 months before buying and know every feature, option, comparable model anything from shoes to clothes washer.

Change your living arrangement. My house was costing me a grand a month between utilities etc. etc. on top of the $1000 mortgage. But moving to a 43' Fifthwheel RV saved me tons:
$ 400 - Space rent
$ 480 - RV loan
$ 0 - Internet provided
$ 0 - Water and sewer provided
$ 0 - Laundry (Washers and dryers provided)
$ 0 - Gym membership - Workout room provided
$ 880 - Total
$2200 - House cost
$1320 PER MONTH SAVINGS
Smaller refrigerator means the wife spends less in her desire to keep it full.
And now I can live a month at the beach and a month in the mountains if I want.
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#7 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 06:30 PM

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Yeah, none of your list would actually do a thing for me.

Cut your cable TV: I disagree. Divide this by a month and it's the cheapest entertainment bill you're likely to find. Leaving the house for entertainment is always more than you expect and just a few times will equal cable bill.

Use coupons: They're a scam. They only have value if they save you on something you planned to buy anyway. If they make you consider things you weren't going to buy, which is their plan, they cost you. People who save on coupons usually do a gross calculation, what they paid on X produces versus if they bought all the same stuff without the coupons. This is misleading. Most people wouldn't have bought all the stuff were it not for the coupons.

My honest suggestions.

Real savings would be real food: Kind of the antithesis of coupons. Buy base ingredients and make something. The more crap between you and those ingredients, the more you're paying for that you don't need. About two dollars worth of grain or beans can feed a small army. Protein, your largest expense, can last a while when balanced with other elements.

New is crap: Last year's model is just as good as the new shiny and much cheaper. Products made before you were born are generally better than stuff they're making today.

Cheap is crap: This may seem counter intuitive, but saving money often costs you. You do get what you pay for. If you buy the best you can afford and it lasts ten times longer than the bargain basement version; well, do the math.

Cash is king: The danger of credit cards is that they don't feel real. Green backs feel real. Set a budget, weekly or even daily, and make that live in your pocket. When you run out bills, you're done. If you don't run out, save them and reassess your budget.
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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:00 PM

Quote

Track down everything you spend. Cross off things you don't need. Repeat every now and then.


This is the big one for me. Just writing down every cent that you spend, when you spend it, is a great exercise. Do it for a full month before you try to change anything. A 59 cent notebook that you keep in your pocket/purse/sporran/whatever will save you a lot of money. It's partly the data you gather - this is the financial equivalent of "don't optimize until you have benchmarks" - but it's mostly the simple awareness that you get from writing it down.

Once you know what you're spending your money on, you can start thinking seriously about where you can save money, and where it's not worth bothering.

There's some other good advice here. Spring is coming along, if you can get some vegetables in the ground, it's good food for cheap. Just make sure you don't overdo the tools and toys. You don't need much by way of tools - a spade and a fork and a good pair of gloves will get you through the heavy work, and a trowel and hand fork will cover you for the smaller stuff.
But maybe you don't have ground to plant - I don't these days. So I have a farm share. Weekly delivery of good, locally-grown vegetables, and it means I don't have to stop to pick stuff up for dinner - as tlhIn`toq says, each time you don't go into the grocery store, you save a lot of money.
I get my rice from the Indian grocery - it's about the same price as anywhere else, but I get a ten pound bag of good Basmati that lasts a good long while. Again, limit the opportunities to shop. Same deal with flour and such, I buy them ten pounds at a time. I bake my own bread, which is a lot easier than you think and comes out a lot better than the stuff from the store.

You can actually live very well for very cheap - in fact, I think you can live better when you're paying attention to what you're spending your money on, because you're paying more attention to what you spend your time on. So good luck - and if you need books, join bookmooch.com and let me know what your ID is, I'll send you some points to get you started.
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#9 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:06 PM

I turned ten bucks into forty six bucks at poker tonight.
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#10 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:09 PM

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View PostKYA, on 01 February 2012 - 11:06 PM, said:

I turned ten bucks into forty six bucks at poker tonight.


That's a pretty good trick, but I did a better one. I was walking down the street, and I turned into a liquor store.

(sorry...)
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#11 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:10 PM

And then what happened?
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#12 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:25 PM

Um, no, that's the whole joke, sorry.

Get it? I turned into a liquor store?

oh, never mind...
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#13 Slice  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 02 February 2012 - 01:14 AM

I've worked part-time in a supermarket for the past four years. Some of the best deals I've seen have come from out of date products. On days when say a 15 meat joint is due to expire (still looks fresh as all the others) my manager will instruct me to reduce it to 0.10p. Every shift there is at least 50+ items of meat being reduced, and you can grab some real bargains. Same for fresh produce too.
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#14 nooblet  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 02 February 2012 - 02:03 AM

View PostBenignDesign, on 01 February 2012 - 02:39 PM, said:

we all be broke...

Let's not assume everyone here is broke :winkiss:

Quote

1. Get rid of your credit cards. I haven't had a credit card in 10 years.

I love credit cards. They are awesome. Just don't use them the way the average consumer does. They can work to your advantage.

Quote

10. Use coupons. I've started this, but a quarter here and there isn't exactly yielding amazing results.

I've seen some crazy shit with couponing although I don't do it. See this example.

Quote

What I'm looking for are actual ideas - relevant ideas - to save more money. So I'm wondering if any of you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions for socking away more cash - other than stupid shit like "Use one square of toilet paper" or "Eat nothing but dollar store rice for the rest of your life".

What about making more money rather than just trying to save more. Assuming you don't do what most do i.e. spend more as you make more, its a good viable solution.

This post has been edited by nooblet: 02 February 2012 - 02:04 AM

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#15 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Penny Pinching

Posted 02 February 2012 - 07:00 AM

It's been said already but the number one thing you need to do if you want to get a stranglehold on your finances is to track what you spend over a set period of time. There is no way to formulate any kind of effective strategy if you don't know where you stand and what your own habits are currently.

Up until around 4 years ago, our finances were a mess. The wife and I had no idea what we were doing and we were regularly paying overdraft fees and such to the bank. I sat down one day and added up the fees for the previous 6 months and it came out to over $500. I was stunned...for a moment before "pissed off and fed up" took over. I took over the bills. We now have a strict budget on a Google docs spreadsheet. The wife gets a stipend (she's a stay at home mom with her own hobby/business on the side) and gets the grocery budget. In exchange, she has to add every bill to be paid on the day before each payday.

The overall result: we haven't been late on a single bill in years. We have drastically cut out expenses we could afford to do without (eating out was a big money killer). What happens is that when you know where you are money-wise and a suggestion comes up like "let's do X this weekend" or "let's go to X tonight" we can then have a conversation like "okay, we can do that but if we do we won't be able to do Y next week" or some variation of that. Basically, it controls impulse spending.

So, the items I can share from our experience:

  • Cut out dining out as often as possible. Treat yourself to go once per paycheck.
  • When you go grocery shopping, make a list and stick to it. Buy what you need, use coupons to save money, don't impulse shop.
  • We keep the thermostat in the house at 68 these days. It's surprising how much you save on heating by changing the temp just 2 degrees.
  • I've been slowly replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescents and bought my first LED bulb about 2 weeks back. No lie, when I did a mass swap out of about 10 bulbs in the most used areas of the house a couple years back, I saw the immediate result in the next electric bill.
  • Shop your insurances together. Auto/homeowners (or renters) rates can vary quite a bit. Last time I shopped ours, I was able to save around $100 month by switching.
  • Keep your car tuned up and the oil changed. I notice it a lot more in my '91 Jeep Wrangler but an oil change will tack on 15-20 extra miles per tank...and with gas around $3.50 a gallon, this is worthwhile.
  • For the kids: don't buy processed snacks like cookies, crackers, chips and that kinda crap. If they like cookies, have them make them. It's cheaper, gives the kids something to do and it's better for them than the chemical dump you find in processed foods.
  • Oddly, while she could afford to shop at better places, my wife swears by Goodwill and consignment stores for clothing. She has literally cut her clothing budget to about 1/3 of what it was.

Anyway, that's what's worked for us enough that I'm about to pay off the wife's vehicle loan tomorrow about 4 months early. It'll be nice to free up that payment for other things but the plan now is to bank half the payments into a family savings account for vacations and such and the other half gets set aside for the next car.

This post has been edited by Craig328: 02 February 2012 - 07:02 AM

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