Monday, March 9, 2009

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems

Okay, here we go. This is a list of obtusely obvious (very obvious, as in "duh"-inducing) dough-saving tactics Matt and I have employed. I'm looking to go five steps further. Please let me know of anything you can think of! I'm talking full on, money saving tips (like even making our own detergent!).

No cable (but oh, how I miss Bravo, I mean, no Top Chef, no Project Runway…what’s a girl to do?!)
No landlines (I was even going to ask my work for a Blackberry, but then I rethought it since they’ll be getting more cheap labor out of me, and I’m all about dodging additional work.)
Always generic – or cheapest available (Nutty Nuggets in lieu of GrapeNuts, anyone?)
Limit restaurants/bars (This is easy because we don’t have much of a life, but we only go out to a restaurant once a week at most, and unfortunately, Matt now considers Panera Bread fine dining.)
Stay at home more – board games / internet / reading (We just made a very smart investment in Scattergories – no game library is complete without it, I dare say!)
Books – library / used books on Amazon (Why buy new? Even with the $3.99 shipping on the used books on Amazon, books often run below $2!)
Drugstore and generic beauty projects (Don’t even get me started on that zany La Mer cream.)
Target (NO Wal-mart) (I am a huge advocate of Target. When I go to career fairs to promote my own company, I often salivate when I spot the Target table. They’re always SO HAPPY as they joke and jostle one another in their bright happy red sweaters. But I digress…I buy 2/3 of everything at Target. Home stuff, clothes, personal hygiene products. One word of advice, though: avoid the cardigans. They always lose their buttons.)
Limit take-out to no more than 1 x / week (We only do take-out if we haven’t actually had dinner out that week. I should add that, in addition to Panera Bread, Matt also fancies Panda Pavilion down the street. He is a man of fine taste...and after my own heart.)
Take lunch to work 4 out of 5 days (YUM! A ham sandwich…..again.)
Cheap, fuel-efficient cars (Don’t approach me if you own a luxury car or a SUV. Yes, I’m exceedingly judgmental. Do you have somethin’ to say ‘bout it?)
Wait for movies to come on Netflix (Okay: Matt and I don’t go to the movies too frequently. It’s always full of 14-year-old girls. But, if we do go, we go in the afternoon and….wait for it…..see two. As in sneak into the second. I’ll come clean…we once had a very close call at Ratatouille. (Again, we’re bad asses.) The theater was filling up fast and we were afraid it was sold out, meaning we stole two seats from two paying patrons! But, like good little petty crooks, we sweat it out and ha! If there weren’t only a couple remaining seats in that theater. Yes, we are THAT BAD. And I won’t even go into all the sugary contraband I’ve stuffed in my purse throughout the years.)
Make baked goods for gifts (My parents are almost 60. Hi Mom! What the heck do they want that they didn’t already get for themselves? I mean, they’ve had almost 120 years between them to accumulate all the material desires their brains could concoct. So, since I’m “po” (see last post) and I think they have everything their hearts could desire, I often just bake them something. Usually this works out well, except for last time when my mom said our gourmet cookies were “hard”. Umf!!)
Boxed wine (Like we can even tell good wine from bad wine. Pah-leeze.)
Buy only used video games (I do not condone video games, but Matt is under the impression he has his own free will or something, so often buys them. Thank god the lad only buys used.)
Make soup and freeze it (My god is soup cheap. I wish I followed this more, actually.)
Install CFL lightbulbs (If only the lighting could be more flattering.)
Low temperature at all times - and shiveringly low when we’re not home (I mean, that’s why a dog has a fur coat, am I right?! Poor Penny…)
Almost always use our credit card on purchases to get “cash back”, which tops out at a respectable $600 a year between us (The only downside? Looking at my startlingly huge statement. Which is weird, since I’m cheap and all.)
Moderately-sized home (Please see previous post.)
Ditch red meat (This is easy because I never was a huge advocate of red meat. It rarely agrees with me and again, it’s pricey and I’m cheap. It’s also positively atrocious on the environment. However, that doesn’t mean a girl can’t enjoy the occasional burger and spaghetti and meatballs, right?)
Making own beer (Matt makes and bottles his own gross beer. You know how Guinness is a dark stout? Well, Matt’s beer is an uber, uber stout. It’s the real deal. And a heck of a lot cheaper than the mass-produced stuff.)
Low-key vacations (I’m going to a work conference in Las Vegas in June. Since I am nothing but an opportunist, Matt decided to tag along and we’re flying into Arizona and visiting the Grand Canyon before heading to Vegas. You know, see the awesomeness that nature made before seeing the tackiness that man made.)
Online bill pay (Stamps are gettin’ up there.)
Magazine subscriptions - a few - to avoid the temptation at the checkout line (Not that I subscribe to anything remotely frivolous. No, not me.)
No printer at home (I don’t have a kid doing school projects, so why do I need a printer? We just print the few things we need at work. SHHH…)
Limit dry cleaning (This comes naturally to us since 2/3 of our clothes are from Target, and well, Target clothes do not require fancy smancy dry cleaning.)
Online news sources (I do feel guilty about this one since I’m contributing to the downfall and all of print journalism…and I was a journalism major. But a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do! Why buy a newspaper when it’s free online? And the print won’t smudge on your fingers to boot!)
Mull over all pricey purchases (Matt bought a $130 keyboard that he mulled over for TWO MONTHS.)
My father-in-law cuts Matt’s hair (and who are we kidding? Guy hair is guy hair, it’s all the same.)
Adopted our dog (We saved her life and she was free; can it get any better?!)
Always check for free shipping online (In this economic climate, every retailer is offering it. Google online free shipping or promo coupons before hitting the electronic check-out.)
Cheapo wedding (I will, never ever EVER understand brides who want a “fairy tale” wedding that is fifty or a hundred grand. Your wedding is over in mere hours! I mean….WHY?! Matt and I went totally cheap on our wedding: my dress wasn’t a wedding dress and it was $120 (and totally appropriate for our garden-style intimate soiree), and we really took full advantage of the sweat equity Matt’s parents and aunt graciously provided. (Thank you Hopkins!) And it was beautiful and simple and above all, affordable.)

Now it's your turn! ;-)


  1. Since you're asking for tips and considering the drastic step of making your own laundry detergent (!) I thought I'd chime in...

    - You should reduce your eating out even more. To like once or twice a month. This includes any take-out or fast food.

    - Bring lunch to work every day. Buy a soup-thermos to give yourself a break from those ham sandwiches- try bringing soup, stew or leftovers instead.

    - You can get CFL bulbs that are not so gosh-darned ugly, look for the soft-light, warm-light or yellow-light variety.

    - Use half the 'recommended' amount of laundry detergent. It gets the job done just as well and is less harsh on your clothes and skin.

    - Many clothes like dress pants that you think need to be dry cleaned can actually be washed in cold water and hung up to dry.

    - I love used video games & movies! Make sure they let you check for scratches before they finalize the purchase.

    - Do NOT use your credit card for purchases just to earn cash back. Many studies show that people spend more on average when paying with plastic. It's a subconcept thing. So it ends up not being worth it. And what happens if you can't pay it all off?

    - Home made soup rocks. ;)

  2. First off, let's get something straight. I AM NOT ALMOST 60. I am 57 (until next week). Now, onto saving money. Use cupons. But wait, you don't have cupons, BECAUSE YOU DON'T GET THE NEWSPAPER! Okay, just buy the Sunday paper, it's worth it for the cupons. Heck, Wegmans has 99 cents Colgate toothpaste if you use your customer card, and with the cupon, it's free!! Also, nothing beats sitting down with a cup of coffee (in your case, tea, decaf) and perusing the paper on a lazy Sunday morning. Next, plant a garden AND TAKE CARE OF IT! Or at least the herbs that I gave you last year! Dad already has onions and peas in. He has big plans for this year; he planted broccoli! Now, onto other things. I like cable TV. I watch that "18 kids and one more on the way" show about the Duggars. To me, it's like watching a car wreck, I am fascinated. They make their own laundry soap!! And yes, they cut their own hair, too. I think you should check out their website for tips on fugality. Why, you can even keep a couple chickens in your yard. Fresh eggs! Okay, did you sell that item--you know what I'm talking about--on ebay? Get going, and while you're at it, I'm missing a can of petite diced tomatoes and coconut milk, along with the Thai simmering sauce. Please return along with some banana muffins for the aforementioned upcoming birthday. Love, Mom

  3. I'm very impressed with the amount of money that you are saving already. You are paying off your house early and fully funding your retirement accounts? Wonderful! Along with all of your thrifty habits, I would say that you have already cut close enough to the bone. Live a little!:)

  4. Thank you for the comments!

    Bright Side: Thank you for your helpful comments! Use 1/2 the amount of laundry detergent specified? Oh my! I always used twice the amount (I just couldn't fathom how so little can clean a whole load, and well, I'm very dirty.) And I'm going to have to look for softer light light bulbs...ours are pretty harsh - like fluorescent harsh. It's going to be hard to curb the food habit. I love food and it's my social outlet! (Even thought it doesn't love me back at times.) I do agree with the credit cards...I'll tell you what's the worst: when online retailers save your CC info so it's one-click online shopping (well, I guess I opted that they save it). This probably adds fuel to the Amazon/Target fire.

    Mom: You'll be very happy to hear I've been considering having the Sunday NYT delivered (the $3.40/week is worth it to have the NYT Magazine and to gawk at the wedding section). I have visions of watching CBS Sunday Morning while reading the paper and while eating waffles Matt made (hint, hint to Matt); heaven! Also, I think maybe Matt and I can manage a herb garden and a couple tomato plants - I've been thinking about it. Chickens in suburbia? Not so much.

    Cyndy: Thank you for commenting! Our retirement accounts aren't fully funded, but we contribute an ok amount for our age I suppose (I just feel like our generation will be working until 80 to fund our retirements - it terrifies me). However, just like the rest of the world, we lost (what I consider) a lot of money. Which prompted this blog entry! ;-) And we figure now is the time to make extra mortgage know, before a kid comes along and really makes us poor! ;-) (And I must admit: I still have a none-to-healthy Anthropologie and sushi habit.)

    Thank you all for the comments (and those I've received in person); keep them coming!

  5. We saved lots on our electric bill by pulling the plug or buying clip strips and turning them off. Lots of appliances, like the TV, still use electricity even when turned off.
    I was also going to make the suggestion about growing your own--lettuce that is. It doesn't take as much time as other veggies, and is pretty expensive.
    Also--I'm sure David would be happy to cut your hair:)

  6. Nancy,
    You're right - we need to unplug our appliances when they're not in use...esp. that obnoxious t.v. we have!

    Quick question: do you have problems with rabbits / groundhogs eating the lettuce? What do you do to combat that?