Money-saving tips for the Great Recession

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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Money-saving tips for the Great Recession

According to our local paper, the everage family is spending $122 a month more on gasoline and food than a year ago.There are ways to cut costs. I think none of us is as smart as all of us. So if anyone has a way to save money, however small, let's share it here.

I will go first. We had a 1995 Ford Explorer with 250K miles on it, and the guy who totalled it did us a favor as we now have a 1999 Subaru Forester. So we went from a vehicle that got 17 MPG to 30 MPG. That (and the fact that my husband has a company van for work) helps. What also helps is that I make a menu and a detailed grocery list for my food shopping. I make ONE trip a week. Sometimes I shop for food every other week and we just buy milk at a local shop (we get eggs from a co-worker.)

Shopping is also done with an eye to filling any weak spots in our pantry. A pantry has pulled us through many small fiscal emergencies: unexpected car or bicycle repairs we cannot handle on our own, dental bills, traffic fines, or a broken appliance (like this computer) were all outside our budget. While we have small savings, what really helps is to have a pantry, so the money can partially come out of what would be our food budget. When the expense is passed, we build the pantry back up again.

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Eat before you shop
safewrite wrote:

What also helps is that I make a menu and a detailed grocery list for my food shopping. I make ONE trip a week.

Eat before you grocery shop.  As a young man I learned that going to the grocery store when I was hungry was deadly to my budget.  Cool

Travlin 

elsinga's picture
elsinga
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Take advantage of things on

Take advantage of things on sale or coupons. If the before-date is way ahead in the future (or there is no before-date), stockpile those groceries. Toilet paper, canned stuff, all those things you want during TSHTF-era.

 

In supermarkets look at the upper and lower shelve(s), since they put all things they earn the most money on at eye level and within easy reach.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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fish hook savings

I just found out that fish hooks are much cheaper if bought plain and not threaded with fishline on a loop. Especially if bought in packages of 40 or 50,  and that way they take up less space in my tackle box, too.

I've always been lazy and bought my hooks pre-threaded. That was $1.99 for six; this costs $3.99 for fifty. And you--yes, you--the person who is looking at me like I'm an idiot for not realizing this sooner? Stop it now. I feel dumb enough as it is.

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joemanc
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Tag Sales

I shop at Tag Sales almost every weekend. There are some tremendous deals out there on very useful things. There's also freecycle and craigslist.

Drive with cruise control when possible. I've been able to get almost 35mpg highway on my car, even though the sticker has 29mpg highway.

Make sure you don't have any phantom loads consuming electricity for no reason. Buy or borrow a Kill-A-Watt to measure your appliances if your not sure if they are still on when they are off. My electric usage last month was a "whopping" 75kwh!

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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A great San Francisco prophet once said/sang...

"One man gathers, what another man spills"

Never underestimate the local community wide yard sales.  There is tremendous potential for two-fold benefit.

You get paid for someone to haul away your junk and you can find some really good deals.

We now have two new potting tables that used to be tool benches.  A whole box of garden tools for $3.  Who cares if I threw away half of them?  The stirrup hoe alone was worth it.

And I still have dreams of stumbling across some old, white bearded hippie with a box of 7" reel to reel and cassette tapes containing previously unknown Grateful Dead soundboards from the late 60s and early 70s.

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
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This and that

 set fishing  bank lines . Put the bait on in the evening  and check them in the morning   =  30 to 70 pounds of fish  each day  until you get your freezer full .    It is  nice way for the grand-kids to spend time with Grandpa .   Everyone here eats fish in the morning instead of bacon .  Fish and bacon in the store is over $3 a pound .

 Do the couponing thing until they put a whoa on it .  Stock up on TP, soaps and such .

  When you get the local grocery adds   buy the sale items by the case . Example  Pudding not on sale $1.03    on sale  2 @ $1.00 .     The store gets a bonus and you do not have to pay the 20% markup  that they charge for having to shelf it .   Save a lot of gas from making the trips to town ..  When you get  your storage built up and your place more self reliant you will be amazed at how few trips to town you have to make .

  Figure out how much time it takes to do things .  Example 5 gallon of cherries = 7 hours of work  = $13 an hour . .40 pints in the store is under $100 on sale   I will only do what I want for pies for the year and the rest will be made into juice that  I do not have to pit .     For many people it will be better to stock up on the canned from the store .

  However  if it keeps you from running all over the state wasting gas to watch a ball game   or thinking the amount of fuel wasted to haul the cherries it may well be worth the peace that you get to do them yourself . I guess it depends on your own conscience .

  Learn to say no. 

  FM

 

 

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
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This and that

 set fishing  bank lines . Put the bait on in the evening  and check them in the morning   =  30 to 70 pounds of fish  each day  until you get your freezer full .    It is  nice way for the grand-kids to spend time with Grandpa .   Everyone here eats fish in the morning instead of bacon .  Fish and bacon in the store is over $3 a pound .

 Do the couponing thing until they put a whoa on it .  Stock up on TP, soaps and such .

  When you get the local grocery adds   buy the sale items by the case . Example  Pudding not on sale $1.03    on sale  2 @ $1.00 .     The store gets a bonus and you do not have to pay the 20% markup  that they charge for having to shelf it .   Save a lot of gas from making the trips to town ..  When you get  your storage built up and your place more self reliant you will be amazed at how few trips to town you have to make .

  Figure out how much time it takes to do things .  Example 5 gallon of cherries = 7 hours of work  = $13 an hour . .40 pints in the store is under $100 on sale   I will only do what I want for pies for the year and the rest will be made into juice that  I do not have to pit .     For many people it will be better to stock up on the canned from the store .

  However  if it keeps you from running all over the state wasting gas to watch a ball game   or thinking the amount of fuel wasted to haul the cherries it may well be worth the peace that you get to do them yourself . I guess it depends on your own conscience .

  Learn to say no. 

  FM

 

 

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
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stirrup hoe

  DOGS  ,      Great  find , I love my stirrup hoe !!  Paid $15 for it   : (       My very favorite however is a hoe I inherited from  my grandad .   He has it angled just right and sharpened down to look like a  thin boomerang   Man can I get between the plants with that thing !!       We may find more and more tools on sale when people figure out that it takes physical labor to use them .

 FM

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
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stirrup hoe

  DOGS  ,      Great  find , I love my stirrup hoe !!  Paid $15 for it   : (       My very favorite however is a hoe I inherited from  my grandad .   He has it angled just right and sharpened down to look like a  thin boomerang   Man can I get between the plants with that thing !!       We may find more and more tools on sale when people figure out that it takes physical labor to use them .

 FM

Denny Johnson's picture
Denny Johnson
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compassion

Develop more compassion for all living beings.

The more clearly one sees that almost anything (everything?) we consume causes harm to other living beings (thru cultivation, extraction, processing, manufacturing, transportation, etc) the less one tends to consume, the more one saves.

When I leave the room for a while, am I more likely to to flip the light switch off to save half a penny or because I appreciate the harm that has been caused getting this magic at my fingertips?

catherder's picture
catherder
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Make money while stocking up at yard sales

Over the years I've developed a habit of supplementing my yard sale/thrift shop purchases with one or two things that I have no use for, but that I know I can easily sell on Ebay/Amazon - these items often cover the cost of the yard sale expedition, and sometimes they bring in far more than that.  Best bets are things that have very limited appeal, that are unlikely to find their ideal purchaser in the local community. Once I bought an entire grocery sack full of Dungeons and Dragons material, which I sold individually over Amazon over the next few years, and I made about $500 at least on that one purchase. If you're any good at this, watch out - it gets addictive after a while!

Johnny Oxygen's picture
Johnny Oxygen
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Full Moon wrote:   DOGS 
Full Moon wrote:

  DOGS  ,      Great  find , I love my stirrup hoe !!  Paid $15 for it   : (       My very favorite however is a hoe I inherited from  my grandad .   He has it angled just right and sharpened down to look like a  thin boomerang   Man can I get between the plants with that thing !!       We may find more and more tools on sale when people figure out that it takes physical labor to use them .

 FM

What's all this talk about Stirrup Ho's?

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Don't go there....

Is that your rifle cowboy, or are you just glad to see me?

Oops, I went there.  Cool

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osb272646
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Posts: 120
10 money saving tips

Here are some things that we do to cut costs and increase the fun factor in our lives:

 

  1. First, look at every expenditure in terms of the pre-tax dollars you have to earn to pay for it.  For example, a $100 item actually may cost you $135 if you are in the 28% federal tax bracket and you pay a 7% state income tax on your income.  If you can make the item yourself, or buy it used, or even better, do without it, then you can count the savings from the pre-tax level as opposed to what the price tag shows.

 

  1. Cut, split, stack, season and burn your own firewood.  This saves us thousands each year when compared to the cost of electric baseboard heat, which is what we would have to use if firewood wasn’t available.

 

  1. Bake your own bread, English muffins, and other pastries.  No preservatives and much less costly than store bought.  Tastes better too.

 

  1. If you have a hankering for a new lawn mower, tractor, power saw, or other rather costly item, write it down on a paper, and put it away for a week.  After a week, the desire may have dissipated and you can throw the paper away.  If you still want it, start looking for it used at flea markets, garage sales, Craigs List, and second hand stores. 

 

  1. Don’t go into Costco or Sam’s unless you have a list, stick to the list and get out as quickly as possible.  We learned this the hard way, and we’re slow learners.

 

  1. If you live far from town, like us, only go into town once a week.  Always have a minimum of three projects running at a time, so if you run out of materials on one project, you can switch to another.  Keep a list of the stuff you need to resume the stalled projects and then get that stuff on your weekly trip to town.  This is a huge time saver and much less frustrating than going into town to pick up a few things in order to keep one project running to completion.  We were amazed at how long a tank of gas will last us when we do this.

 

  1. When heading into town, check with your neighbors to see if you can pick up anything for them while you’re there.

 

  1. Buy dairy, produce, meats and poultry from your neighbors, if possible.  Even if these cost a little bit more, they are fresher and better for you.  And most importantly, this supports local production, community and resiliency.

 

  1. Work from home if at all possible.  Huge savings in all kinds of things, (including time) if you can pull this off.

 

  1.  Read “How to Survive without a Salary” by Charles Long.  Don’t buy it, get it at your library.
ao's picture
ao
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super Subie?
safewrite wrote:

I will go first. We had a 1995 Ford Explorer with 250K miles on it, and the guy who totalled it did us a favor as we now have a 1999 Subaru Forester. So we went from a vehicle that got 17 MPG to 30 MPG.

safewrite,

Are you sure you're getting 30 MPG from a 1999 Subie Forester?  That's way over their rated mileage.  The Subie flat fours are great engines but one thing they're not known for is their gas mileage.  I've had 4 of them, all more aerodynamic than the Forester, drive like I have nitroglycerin under my accelerator foot (well, on all except the STi), and I've never gotten 30 MPG from any of them. 

In terms of money-saving tips, I've mentioned some of these before but here goes again:

1) annual review of insurances to see if we can find a better deal (i.e. health, life, disability, homeowner's, auto, etc.)

2) annual review of credit cards to see who's offering the best deals (like 2% cash back)

3) use of lower viscosity motor oils that still meet standards

4) regular shopping online for cheapest gas sources

5) do own oil changes - easy to do and you know it's done right

6) buy clothing only on sale

7) dry clothing on racks or lines - saves wear and tear on clothing and electricity on drying

8) turn hot water down to lowest safe level

9) turn off any unnecessary lights - always

10) try to coordinate wake/sleep cycles with normal daylight to save energy

11) keep programmable thermostat at lowest level and keep very cool at night - have extra thick down comforters and for the past 2 years, for the first time in my life, I sleep with a T-shirt on rather than in my birthday suit (I know, you didn't need to know that)

12) take garbage in to work to building I own so I save on garbage costs

13) shave head - no haircuts and no shampoo (fortunately, my wife has not chosen this option)

14) have beans more often then before, gather wild foods, avoid buying processed foods, etc.

15) buy nutritional supplements from cheapest supplier (vitacost.com) - better health saves on doctor bills

16) work out with home equipment rather than gym - can have decent equipment for the price of 1 year's gym membership

17) get books and magazines from library rather than buying - only buy what I want for long term repeat reference

18) don't water lawn - it's mostly weeds anyway which are hardier and stay green during droughts

19) compost and recycle everything

20) barter

21) pick up good garbage - just recently, my wife picked up 2 heavy duty solid steel base formica top tables from a local restaurant that was renovating - they are excellent for everything from painting, woodwork, gun cleaning, repair work, etc.  I got 2 beautiful plants for my office in the same way.  It's amazing what people throw out.

22) buy used cars - bought my last new car in 2004 - with modern cars, there's just no need to buy new anymore except for ego and status

23) got rid of cable TV - only junk on there anyway

24) annual review of phone provider

25) raised kids to get top grades so they get scholarship money (son got $45K)

26) eat out less and when we do, no drinks or deserts (unless the deserts are spectacular and then we split one)

27) go to more free events for entertainment

28) do more recreation locally since we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, lakes, rivers, streams, fishing, hunting, boating, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, etc. locally

29) use services like hotwire, etc. when we travel to save money (travel savings is a whole other thread)

30) stay away from air travel as much as possible though so I don't have to get groped and then pay a shrink to overcome psychological trauma (since I chose not to be irradiated)

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1988
super subie

Great mileage on our 1999 Subaru Forester? Yes we get 30 MPG; we got 28.5 MPG when it had four people in it going through the mountains of VA on I-81, when it was loaded down like a pack mule. It's tuned up very lean and we drive very carefully, and we make no unnecessary trips - so it will last longer.

If you live in a hilly area, put it in neutral and speed up a little going down hills. Let it go slower as it is approaching the tops of hills. Nothing says you have to do 70 in a 70 MPH zone - if the car wants to do 60 or 65, we allow time for that. Remember your brake uses gas - every time you step on the brake you have to use gas to start up again, so avoid sudden stops. This means staying out of the way of other cars. Let Speed Racer pass you. If you see a traffic light about to turn red in the distance, brake gradually. Accelerate gradually. And use an oil additive like CD-2 for older cars or for newer cars crankcase additives that help reduce wear and extend engine life. Keep your tire inflation where the manufacturer says it should be, and keep your oil changed every 3,000 miles.

If only it had a manual transmission - those really are good on gas!

 

Great tips in your post ao - thanks.

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SagerXX
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safewrite wrote: If you live
safewrite wrote:

If you live in a hilly area, put it in neutral and speed up a little going down hills. Let it go slower as it is approaching the tops of hills. Nothing says you have to do 70 in a 70 MPH zone - if the car wants to do 60 or 65, we allow time for that. Remember your brake uses gas - every time you step on the brake you have to use gas to start up again, so avoid sudden stops. This means staying out of the way of other cars. Let Speed Racer pass you. If you see a traffic light about to turn red in the distance, brake gradually. Accelerate gradually.

Yep. I get 43+ mpg from my Toyota Yaris by doing these same things. (within 10% of the mileage at half the sticker.) Manual transmission helps. Drive like a Jedi: patience; work the flow.

ao's picture
ao
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Posts: 2220
mileage tips
safewrite wrote:

Great mileage on our 1999 Subaru Forester? Yes we get 30 MPG; we got 28.5 MPG when it had four people in it going through the mountains of VA on I-81, when it was loaded down like a pack mule. It's tuned up very lean and we drive very carefully, and we make no unnecessary trips - so it will last longer.

If you live in a hilly area, put it in neutral and speed up a little going down hills. Let it go slower as it is approaching the tops of hills. Nothing says you have to do 70 in a 70 MPH zone - if the car wants to do 60 or 65, we allow time for that. Remember your brake uses gas - every time you step on the brake you have to use gas to start up again, so avoid sudden stops. This means staying out of the way of other cars. Let Speed Racer pass you. If you see a traffic light about to turn red in the distance, brake gradually. Accelerate gradually. And use an oil additive like CD-2 for older cars or for newer cars crankcase additives that help reduce wear and extend engine life. Keep your tire inflation where the manufacturer says it should be, and keep your oil changed every 3,000 miles.

safewrite,

You have an anomalous subie.  Driving correctly is definitely important.  I learned this over 30 years ago when I made a science out of this type of driving and began hypermiling before it became trendy.  I was eventually able to extract 62 mpg driving a 1980 Honda Civic hatchback with a 5 speed and more recently was able to get 32-33 mpg out of a 6 speed 2000 Audi S4.  I always get well over the rated mpg on my cars but your subie is a freak.  Sometimes cars like this car come along.  I had a 66 Mustang with a 289 2 barrel V8 and very tall rear end that got freaky high gas mileage that no one could believe.  

With regards to your tips, I would inflate the tires beyond the manufacturers recommendations.  Most of those recommendations are based on a smooth ride, not optimal gas mileage or tire wear.  Also, with regards to your oil change interval, I would have an inexpensive oil analysis done.  The analysis will tell you when you should change your oil.  Based on analyses that I've had done on most modern cars, your change interval is too frequent.  You'll likely save money doing the oil analysis if your engine is in good shape and you're using a high quality oil.

Oil additives on newer cars tend to be a waste of money despite heavy advertising and hype to the contrary.  Also, I would only spend money on CD-2 on older cars if there was a problem with excessive oil consumption.

Thanks for starting this useful thread.   

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