Using just a few of these simple ideas can save almost anyone hundreds of dollars every year. Feel free to share your best frugal spending tips in the comment section. [Let's keep these blog "secrets" between MHS friends.]
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1 Mortgage: Double your money! Add just $1 per month to your principal payment (Examples based on $100,000 loan, 30 yr. [360 months] @ 5.00%). It’s an easy formula–those extra $12 earn you another $16/yr. Adding $1 a week would earn you $60/yr.
Here’s a calculator to plug in your own numbers: http://www.hsh.com/calc-amort.html
(Adding $2/mo. = net $31 annual savings)
2 Lower thermostat only 1-degree in winter months
(Annual savings: $25 gas…or $74 electric)
3 Beacon Journal: Paying by automatic monthly debit is $72/yr. cheaper than being billed.
4 Car insurance: Increase your deductible by $500 (Save: $25/yr. — varies )
5 Homeowners insurance: Increase your deductible by $500 or $1,000 (Save: $25/yr. — varies )
6 Pay one monthly bill online: 44-cents x 12 = $5.28/yr.
(Paying 6 bills a month online = $31 annual savings)
7 Dentist: Visit every 8 months instead of every 6 months
(Over 2 yr. span, you save cost of one visit: $50)
8 Razors: Razor blades now cost between $7 and $29. Here’s how to extend the life of a disposable razor from one week to one month! Buy a bottle of cheap mineral oil at the drugstore, and pour about ½-inch into a small container. After you shave, dry off the razor and store the blade in the oil. (Shaving cream contains a corrosive that dulls the blades; oil will neutralize it and keep the blade sharp.) You may be able to use one razor for a full month.
My savings on Gillette Good News: Over $50 a year.
9 Lose the telephone land-line. Saves $192 a year. (If you don’t use a phone much at all, consider a cheap TracFone with pre-paid card minutes.)
10 Cut the cable. I canceled basic service ($17.18/mo) and switched to free over-the-air digital TV. (Annual savings: $206) Most cable subscribers pay over $70 mo., so their savings would easily quadruple.
11 So long, ridiculous Roadrunner rates. When Warner Cable raised the internet price from $30 to $40 overnight, they lost my business. Search for a cheaper provider—I’m trying AT&T hi-speed, with no land-line required. Advertised at $14.95 for first year. (Savings would be: $300 the first year)
12 “Standby” electricity is costing you money. Unplug everything possible, when not in use. Especially washer, dryer, dishwasher, entertainment centers, microwave, appliances, all chargers…anything you can reach. I have trimmed 1/3 off my electric bill.
(Here’s how one family saved $11.25 a month, or $135 a year:)
13 Lower your refrigerator temperature gauge by one notch, and your hot water tank gauge by one-half notch. Every little bit helps, and you probably won’t notice the difference.
14 Milk: “Double it.” Here’s the basic formula: If you normally use 1%, buy 2% instead, etc. Then, when using the milk, use half milk and half refrigerated water. This essentially gives you two gallons for the price of one. If you use one gallon a week, this will save you $104 a year (based on $2 per gallon). You can also adjust % ‘s to taste, but you get the idea; there is little difference. I have also combined the water and milk in one jug, but it seems to stay fresh longer in separate containers.
15 Mouthwash: “Double it.” Buy $1.98 bottle of Swan at Marc’s. At home, pour one-half into an empty bottle. Then fill up the remaining space in both bottles with water. Voila. Mouthwash still does the job, and you just got two-for-1. (Based on one bottle per month, you save $24 a year).
16 Laundry detergent: “Double it.“ Use a cap full of liquid per load, then, when the soap has mixed with the water, dip out a capful of soapy water and dump it back into the bottle. Most people use too much soap per load, anyway. This will extend your bottle for a long time.
17 Replace standard light bulbs with CFL (compact florescent light) mini-coil bulbs. They can be found cheap, and First Energy is offering them free or at discounts to customers. PUCO says that replacing 6 bulbs with CFLs can save an estimated $49 a year.
18 Greeting cards: Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Nice cards can cost $2.50 and up. Postage is 44-cents. Do the math, then buy and mail cards only when necessary. The savings adds up. Will a free phone call, email or online card suffice?
19 Free “air-conditioning.” I run the A/C an average of two weeks a year (only unbearable, humid days), yet the house stays comfortable. I leave the windows open all day (cats love it), and keep them open at night (all the “safe” ones). Temps often drop into the 60s at night, so keep a blanket handy…but you’ll enjoy savings in the hundreds. In the daytime, lower the shades where the sun beats down to keep heat out.
20 Never order soft drinks at a restaurant. They cost an average of $2, while water with lemon is free. Make it a family policy. Are you buying pop for home or work? If you spend even $5 a month, that’s $60/yr. in ‘luxury’ liquid.
21 Avoid fast food, but when it’s absolutely necessary…only order from the dollar menu.
21 Gas savings: Keep tires fully inflated (find a gas station with “free” air). I change the oil on my 16-yr-old car only twice a year. Together with a clean air-filter and keeping your speed at 55 or under, you can save 30-cents per gallon.
22 Coffee, donuts, muffins, bagels and, especially, eating out for lunch…how many hundreds are these luxuries costing you per year? Try to cut back or cut out altogether. Make coffee, breakfast and pack your lunch at home. If you currently spend even $5 every weekday on these drinks & food, you would save $1,250 a year.
23 Laundry savings: First, as soon as you get home, change into sweats or casual clothes. Can you get a second “wear” from your shirt before it needs washed? Whenever possible, wash clothes in cold water (saves gas on water-heater), and tumble dry for only a couple minutes, to help get wrinkles out. Keep dryer running, as you shake and hang clothing items one by one. (Saves electric, not running complete dryer cycles). Clean dryer vent before every single use.
24 Place a brick in your toilet tank, far away from the trap opening. You can save over 500 gallons of water each year. (Some people also save the first gallon of “cold” water when they’re warming up bath or shower water. This daily bucket could total another 365 gallons in water savings. Use it for your pet’s water, watering plants, or for a flush.)
25 New printer cartridges are very expensive. Call around for the best price on refills, instead.
26 Gasoline discounts (that we’re aware of):
Speedway 10-cents off per gallon / pre-paid cards at Marc’s
Get-Go 10-cents off per gallon / Every $50 spent at Giant Eagle
Circle K / Acme Fuel Rewards for select items purchased
27 Utilize gift cards at Giant Eagle or Acme for big purchases, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Southwest Airlines, Marriott hotels, etc. Any building project!! There are cards for clothing retailers, restaurants, bookstores, you name it. All of your card purchases help earn you free gasoline.
28 Over 65 and own your home? Make sure you’re getting the $25,000 Homestead Exemption from Summit County. Ex: If your home is valued at $100,000, you are only taxed on $75,000. Call the Summit Co. Fiscal Office and check…my relatives in Manchester missed out on it for six years before I alerted them.
29 Dollar stores! Dollar Tree and Deals, in particular. It’s shocking how many household items you can pick up for a buck…things you’d normally pay twice as much for at the grocery or drugstore, including shampoo/conditioner, soaps, cleaning products, utensils. Don’t pass a Big Lots without browsing, either.
30 Create a personal grocery price book. This helps you recall how cheaply you can get items you buy…and where. Set limits on what you’re willing to pay for an item, and when it crosses the line, stop buying it–unless it’s on sale. Ex: Cereal $2, TP $1, eggs $1, milk $2. More on this in a later post.
31 Register on Restaurant.com (using one of your secondary email addresses). Near the end of each month, you can get $25 gift certificates for $2. Also browse thru iShopSummit.com or iShopStark.com for big savings on restaurants and much more!
32 Panera Bread discount: Keep an empty cup in your car. The travel refills on coffee are 50-cents cheaper than a small regular coffee.
33 Plan errands with gas cost in mind. Driving 20 or 25-mi. round trip costs about $3.60 in gas, so avoid special trips.
34 Open a new savings or checking account at Chase or Huntington…and earn $100. Those ‘junk’ mailings with offers really work. I’ve made $200 recently. Here are two links which advertise occasional deals; use with discretion.
35 Apply for a new credit card, such as Discover, which advertises a cash bonus. Just don’t overdo with your spending. Try to use it only to get your bonus $100. Here is a link which advertises occasional deals; also use with discretion.
36 Have a yard sale: Get rid of things you really don’t need, and convince a couple neighbors to join your event. Ever met anyone who didn’t make at least $100?
37 Credit card debt vs. bank savings at 1.5%. Combat low interest rates at the bank–by paying down credit cards. Chances are, you’re paying double-digits in finance charges every month. By avoiding or reducing those, you’re “making” more money than if you let your cash sit in the bank earning pennies. Try calling and asking for a lower credit card finance rate. I’ve done it successfully.
38 PetSmart will price-match. Take proof (ad, receipt) of a lower price, and they’ll honor it. They’ll also accept your Acme and Giant Eagle print-out coupons, the clerk said.
39 Free directory assistance! Call 1-800-411-SAVE. What’s your phone plan charge for this service? Now it’s free, for both residential and business info.
40 Stock up! When you find a great sale on something you know you’ll buy a lot of over the next year, don’t just buy a couple…really stockpile. When I’m able to get cereal for $1.25 or tuna for 30-cents, for instance, I’ll buy dozens. Spending a little more NOW will save you a LOT overall.
41 Bottled water. Manchester well water “can” be unpleasant, but keeping it in the fridge makes it more drinkable. If you’re spending a lot on bottled water, try filling some bottles from the free tap and chilling them. Add a little lemon juice for flavor, if needed.
42 Add a pinch of salt to your gallon of milk. It’ll stay fresh longer. By the way, you can freeze milk when you find a good deal. (I prefer half-gallons.) Just notice how many days (say, 12) it has til the expiration date when you freeze it; then, when you thaw it, just know you have 12 days for freshness.
43 Make charitable donations work for you! If you itemize on your taxes, be sure to round up everything you didn’t sell in your yard sale–plus a lot of other things you’ve outgrown–and take them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Make a list of everything, and ask for a receipt from the clerk. You can then attach your own values.
44 Hair color: “Double or triple it!” Most products used to hide gray hair come in two vials, which are to be mixed and used as one treatment. Products like Just For Men, however, cost about $8. So…get an empty bottle, and (depending on your hair length) decide how many treatments you want to get out of the bottle. Then pour 1/2 (or 1/3) of each vial into the empty bottle and use it. “Some” folks get 4 treatments.
45 Movie savings. Paying $9.50 for a theatre ticket is crazy, but teen dates happen. Entertainment books are now discounted online at $15 (as of 4/1), and include a couple 2-for-1 ticket coupons (Lake 8, Linda). Pop your small bag of popcorn at home and/or Stop at Marc’s or Deals and buy your candy and/or pop for $1, then hide it well. (If you eat out much, those $15 books are a steal.)
46 Energy drinks. Are you hooked on them? They cost over $2 each. Try drinking half, and saving the other half for the next time. Or try giving them up altogether.
47 A few easy food tips: Instead of overspending on a box of tiny instant oatmeal packets, buy a large container of Valu-Time quick oats for $2…and divide it into your own baggies. It’s all the same, and you’ll get four times as much for your money. // Orange juice: Buy frozen cans instead of cartons. You’ll save about 50%. // Do you like the expensive Greek yogurt? Buy the regular cheap yogurt and stir in a spoonful or two of the Greek stuff. //
COUPONS are a big source of savings, but we’ll cover it in a separate post that includes links to download them, if you don’t get the Beacon.