Blog Rewind: 25 Ways I Save Money

by Julie on March 15, 2013 · 25 comments

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, so let’s talk a little green.

25 Ways I Save Money

Six years ago a blogger named Dawn wrote a list of 25 things she did to save money on her blog, Frugal for Life. (It appears Dawn no longer blogs at FFL, but the blog remains up if you want to check out the archives.)

Dawn asked those of us who were both readers and bloggers to create our own lists so I did. The blog post that I wrote still gets occasional visits from people who find it via Dawn’s blog or the search engines.

I thought it would be a good exercise for me to re-visit my list. Below is the list as I wrote back in 2007. I updated it for 2013 in italics. It was interesting to me to see what I was doing back then and how it has (or hasn’t) changed.

25 Things I Do to Save Money

1. Except for a few products to which I am brand-loyal, buy generic whenever possible.

This is still true. I still have a few things I buy name brand (I like seeing that Campbell’s soup label in the pantry) but I buy a lot generic.

2. Buy magazine subscriptions and dog food coupons on eBay.

I’ can’t remember when I stopped doing this. I should look into it again.

3. Use the library and request gift cards to book stores at holiday time to feed my book habit.

If anything, I use the library now more than ever. I have my “request a book online/drop in and self check it out/drive through and return it when I’m done” library routine down to a science.

4. Keep a price book.

I don’t do this anymore. I think it’s because my priorities are different now. I value convenience and healthy eating more and rock bottom prices less than I did in 2007. 

5. Frame free artwork for my home.

Yes, yes, yes and yes. See:

familiy photo wall

6. Save on prescriptions with Rx coupons and mail-order pharmacies.

We still use a mail-order pharmacy for the two prescriptions we take daily. That gives us a 90 day supply for the price of 60. I occasionally use Rx coupons, but this was more for when my kids were smaller and came down with childhood ailments (ear infections, strep) more.

Save money on prescriptions

7. Combine errands and plan my route carefully to save money on gas. (Okay, I do this because I’m OCD, but it does save money on gas.)


Still OCD. Still plan my route. :)

8. Use less than the recommended amount for things like laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, etc.


It’s a habit now.

9. Rarely shop for entertainment.

This was poorly worded. I should have said “rarely shop as a form of entertainment.” That’s still pretty much true, although shopping for the house is still a lot of fun for me.

10. Carry a high deductible on our health insurance policy.

We still have a very high deductible, which saves us money. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) our plan’s benefits include co-pays, which means our policy doesn’t qualify us for a HSA. As a self-employed family we pay a LOT for health insurance, so it’s hard to look at this as a way we save money. It is what it is.

11. Get cash only at my bank’s ATM to save on fees.

Yep.

12. Pay more than the required payments to get our debt paid off ASAP.

We’re no longer in debt reduction mode. Yay! We have a 15 year mortgage and a car loan at .9% interest and we’re letting both of those pay off on schedule for now. If we ever decide to accelerate the payoff on those we’ll go back to doing this.

13. Donate unwanted items and use It’s Deductible to take the tax write-off.

I still do this. In fact last year I blogged about what this looks like. See: A Simple System for Donating Household Items and Valuing Them for a Tax Deduction

how to use its deductible

14. Track all our expenses in Quicken so I know exactly what we’re spending.

I still do this because I like having the information. But I’ve learned that tracking your expenses is not the same thing as smart spending. It’s helpful for identifying patterns, though.

15. Clean my own house.

We currently have a housecleaner who comes twice a month to give the house an all-at-one-time onceover. It’s wonderful.

16. Own less stuff.

I’m always trying to simplify. Always.

17. Read blogs of other frugal folks to get ideas and stay motivated.

Yes, and there are so many more blogs to read now.

18. Turn off lights when I leave the room.

I’m the self-appointed light monitor in our house and I’m always turning off lights or asking someone else to turn off a light. It’s part of what my family loves about me, I’m sure. ;)

19. Only run full loads in the dishwasher, washer & dryer.

Yep.

20. Buy used whenever possible.

I wouldn’t say “whenever possible” but I do find satisfaction in shopping for used items for a number of reasons, including saving money. See: 5 Great Reasons to Buy Things Used.

Dining room by Craigslist.

Dining room by Craigslist.

21. Avoid buying trendy clothing.

Honestly? I don’t like clothes shopping much anyway, so this is a bit of a copout. But I do prefer classic over trendy in just about anything, and not chasing trends does save money.

22. Keep detailed records and to save on accountant fees.

Still do this. I’m enough of a nerd to actually enjoy it. Hopefully it saves us money with our accountant at tax time.

23. Buy meat in bulk and freeze in smaller portions.

Not so much anymore. I buy most of our meat from Costco and a lot of it (ground beef, chicken breasts, salmon, tilapia) comes in individual packets, so I guess they’re doing this for me now.

24. Keep the books and do the payroll for my husband’s business so he doesn’t have to hire out.

Yes. And I use the salary to save for college.

25. Use Mr. Rebates for most of my online purchases.

I’m still a big fan of Mr. Rebates. It’s part of my found money strategy.

Next week I’ll be back with a list of more ways I’ve started saving money since 2007.

In the meantime, I’d love to know some of the ways that you save money. I hope you’ll share them in the comments.

(And if you’re a blogger who wants to write your own list, email me a link to your post and I’ll share it here on the blog.)

Note: This post contains my referral links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

This post is part of Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

See also:

Greg’s list of 25 at ThriftGenuity

Eva’s list of 25 at Teens Got Cents

List at KrantCents.






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krantcents March 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm

One of the most overlooked is taking lunch to work. I usually use leftovers from dinner for that purpose.

Julie March 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

Great money-saver, KC, and probably much healthier too.

Gayle McLaughlin March 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I love lists like this. It gets me to thinking how I save money. One of mine is I never buy coffee or coke in a drive through, I usually bring my own.
I like to always have a coupon when we eat out. I check the internet for prices of big items, so I know what is a good price.

Julie March 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

LOL Gayle. I’ve bought many 99 cent Diet Dr. Peppers at McDonald’s drive-thru. Good suggestions.

Julie March 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I love your list and I am in the process of creating my own list. All of your suggestions are great ones, when I finish my list and post it on my blog I will let you know so you can check it out.
I use Mr.Rebates too and I also use Ebates too, especially when they have double rebate days!
Thanks for all your hard work!
Julie

Julie March 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

Julie, yes, please let me know when your list is up.

Vanessa March 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I started keeping a weekly list of all the small things I do each week to save money and it has really encouraged me to find little ways to save each week. I recently started buying much less cereal and making homemade oatmeal packets instead and this week I made my first batch of homemade laundry soap.

I post my weekly list every Saturday on my blog if you are interested: http://www.vanessasvalues.blogspot.com/search/label/Simply%20Saving%20Saturday.

Julie March 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

Thanks for sharing, Vanessa. I’ll check it out.

Paula @ Afford Anything March 17, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I love the pointers that are habits — like using less-than-recommended laundry soap, or turning the lights off when you leave the room. Habits like these don’t take up any extra time or brain power, but they translate to extra savings.

I’m cautious about “savings” that eat up your time (which is why I applaud your decision to get a housecleaner!) but I’m a big fan of savings that don’t require time/energy.

By the way, I have the same health insurance situation as you …. I have a high deductible, but its not HSA-compatible. :-P

Julie March 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

Ugh. I like our co-pays, because they keep our costs down, but I would really like to be able to make use of a HSA.

Great comments, Paula.

Little House March 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

Great list! I do quite a few of these and also take my lunch to work and brew my own coffee 4 out of 7 days. As much as we (and when I say we, I mean Mr. LH) clean the house, I’ve been thinking we might want to hire a house-keeper to clean twice a month to minimize the time it takes us. Time is money!

Julie March 18, 2013 at 11:28 am

We’ve gone back and forth on the housekeeper several times over the years, LH. The bottom line is that our house just stays much, much cleaner when we have one and we both value that.

Greg @ ThriftGenuity March 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

I went ahead and put my list together. Looks like we have some similar tendencies! I also stick with the high deductible and agree with you about shopping for entertainment. I only go out when I need something.

Julie March 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

Thanks for sending over your list, Greg. I’ve linked it up above.

Pam@Pennysaverblog March 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm

You sound a lot like me. As I was going through your money saving list, I was like, “I do that. I do that, too.” :-) Those things really do work to save people a ton of money. Keep it up!

Julie March 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

Great minds, Pam. :)

Connie Lipton March 19, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Great list, and I do many of the same things you do. That made me happy! I take lunch to work nearly everyday. I work part-time at our business so we don’t have to hire another employee. We go out for happy hour when we need a night out. It’s inexpensive and fun. We go to the beach with a picnic and watch the sunset and avoid paying for an expensive meal out.

Julie March 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

If only I had a beach to go to here, Connie. I would love that.

Eva April 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Thank you for including my list! It was so hard to come up with 25 but I really enjoyed working on it!

Heather M April 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Love your list. I need to make one myself. Great way to critique where I am spending money and where I can cut too. Thanks for linking up with Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

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