It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, so let’s talk a little green.
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.
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.
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:
- 9 Frugal Things to Hang and Frame
- Steps and Tips for Creating a Family Photo Wall Display
- Frugal Things to Hang and Frame: Plates and Platters
- Fast, Fun and Frugal: A Themed Rotating Family Photo Display
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Greg’s list of 25 at ThriftGenuity
Eva’s list of 25 at Teens Got Cents
List at KrantCents.