Cutting the Big Stuff
A sudden and unexpected illness forced us to have to tighten our belt quickly. We had bills to pay, and I was very motivated to make sure that we were able to pay our regular bills and still have money to pay our new medical expenses.
I called the electric company and learned of our electric rate, and asked if there was a rate difference between daytime and evening hours. There was, so I began to do all of my energy consuming tasks after 9 pm. This included using the washer and dryer, running appliances, and what time we chose to turn on the television and other electronics. I ran the slow cooker at night, putting the food in the refrigerator in the morning and then heating individual portions up.
I unplug all electronic devices that are not necessary as soon as we are done using them. Toasters, mixers, blenders all get the plug pulled. So do car chargers, laptops, tablets, anything that does not need to be plugged in all of the time. Of course, the refrigerator and the clock stay plugged in, as well as the washer and dryer. (I do flip off the fuse box switch to the washer and dryer when they are not in use, though)
Using a gas application, I search for the cheapest gas around me. I have saved as much as 30 cents per gallon! (There are times when it really pays off to be alert as a gas saver!)
Call the Phone Company!
I telephoned my local home phone service provider. We were using a land line, but we were hardly using it. By cutting all of the features that were on the phone, we saved over 35.00 per month. The phone company tried to get me to save call waiting and caller ID, but I never got calls on the land line anymore, so there is no need to worry about features I do not use.
At the end of one year, I finally eliminated our land line when I determined that as low as our use was, we were paying about $3.00 per minute to merely have a land line! That usage rate is more than the per minute rate of an international call!
I also monitored the use of our plans. For some who hardly use the phone feature, getting a plan with limited minutes but unlimited texts may be the best plan of action. For those who phone more, unlimited phone use but no or minimal texts is the way to go. Decide on a plan based on your use. My family and friends overseas all have free online services to be able to stay in touch with each other and they can even visit online via camera!
If you are low income or elderly, there are special programs that will help to reduce your bill. Call and see what features you may qualify for or what programs exist in your area.
Compare Home Security Plans
I was paying a large sum for a home security system and monitoring. One of my friends shared with me that they use internet security now. For less than 200.00, she has cameras in her home, motion sensors as well as alarms that alert her via cell phone to intruders or a tripped alarm. Best of all, when a child comes in and triggers the alarm, she quickly knows who it is, with no fee from the security company for a false alarm. (An added bonus is that she is able to see who comes in and out of the house with the kids!)
When my friend called her security company to cancel, they kept offering her lower and lower price plans. She declined, wanting to save the money. Savings? Could be as much as $150.00 per month.
Take the Time to Compare Car Insurance
Yes, you may have been with your car insurance company for a really long time. Even more of a reason to comparison shop. I have had the same insurance company for a very long time, and I love my insurance company and the service that they provide.
I called around and found that there were plans out there that cost a lot less. They also offered much less less coverage.
When I called and shared this information with my insurance company, we made changes to my plan that saved me a lot of money. Some examples to consider are: I had rental car reimbursement on my plan. In the event that my car IS involved in a fender bender, I will shop online for a cheaper rental car deal than what I was paying my monthly insurance premium for. The plan I was paying for was calibrated with a 40.00 per day rental car fee! I can do better, and so can you. Another thing I had in my plan was glass coverage. By calling around to several different places in my area, I quickly determined that I could set some money aside every month until I had a savings account to cover a glass damage. That money, set into a savings account now earns interest for me, instead of a premium being paid with no return to my auto insurance policy.
If you are worried about not being able to afford some of the things that you are paying coverage for, then set aside money in a savings plan yourself. Don't spend that money, though!!!
Compare Health and Life Insurance
If you and your partner both have insurance benefits, it may be very worthy of your time to sit and look over both policies to see who has either better coverage or less costly coverage. A friend reviewed her and her partners' coverage and discovered that if they both only were on their own workplaces' offered health care plan, they would save over 3k per year. That is a lot of money!
The same goes with life insurance. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, same coverage, benefits, deductibles and cap levels when you compare prices.
A dear friend of mine gets a reduction in premium paid if she wears a pedometer and allows the insurance company to track her fitness levels. Another friend receives an annual bonus if she keeps her blood pressure levels in check following a heart attack. Research and learn if there are any premiums or hidden benefits to you through your insurance company.
Can You Get There on Public Transportation?
Yes. It will take longer to get there. You can bring a book. You can listen to audio books. You can learn a new language. You can knit. Sew. Embroider. All sorts of hand crafts can be done when you are not driving. The last time I was on a bus, I used the time to map out where some things are that I had always wanted to see, but never seemed to have the time to see them.
Public transportation saves gas, saves contributions to smog and other pollution, and it reduces the congestion on the roadways. Additionally, users of public transportation report having a higher self esteem by saving gas and insurance money.
In cities where they have a strong public transportation system in place, certain citizens never have to even bother owning a car because the system is so well done.
Even if you only do it one day per week, public transportation will save you money and wear and tear on your car.
Can You Borrow or Rent What You Need?
Digging post holes is no ones' idea of a fun time. I was not looking forward to it, and I was not looking forward to buying the post hole digger. Renting a post hole digger, I was going to have to wait for the middle of winter as they were all rented out. I could hire someone to do the work, but I was confident that although it was not going to be a fun chore, I could do it myself. I asked around through my friends, and a kind friend had one I could use.
After I used their tool, I returned it with a small homemade dessert as a thank you for their kindness. You will be amazed to learn all of the things that you can rent, borrow or barter for. Start with your friends first. If you cannot find what you need from family and friends,look to rent or barter. From party supplies and construction tools to clothing, there are businesses whose entire focus is rental products.
Bartering with friends is also useful, because it just feels good to do in addition to saving money. When I recently needed a tripod, a friend was willing to barter with me. A tripod for my pickle recipe as well as showing them how to can food. We had a great time, and I got to use their tripod for an afternoon. Before you splash out for it, is the item you are longing for something that you will use one time, or is it something that you will use constantly? Saving money is so much fun for me. The first time that you barter something, you will feel elated for days in reflecting on the money that you are saving.
I Would Like to Barter With You
Bartering is a trade. Either services or goods are traded. An excellent example was when I saw a man advertising his fishing boat in trade for either a storage shed or canned goods. Many offers online will say something along the lines of "Offers Considered".
If you want to barter, have an open mind. Sometimes, what you get back is far more than anything you thought about ever having. I once bartered portraits of a family for homemade pistachio ice cream. Completely wonderful!
A friend had a wedding and reception venue that cancelled on her at the last minute. It was less than two weeks before her wedding. She had over people coming in from all over the world. She bartered with a small local bar and dance hall. In exchange for her wedding reception to be held there, to be provided with non alcoholic mixer and ice,use of the tables, the venue,and the music, she would strip and refinish the floors before the big day. She also agreed to prep the area and either clean up or arrange for clean up after her event. Both sides were really happy, and she saved a lot of money.
Do I Need it, or Do I Want it?
When trying to save large sums of money, the day to day mundane can get in your way. When I was saving for a major foreign trip, my sister and I went shopping for some items that I would need. She showed me some permanent markers that were on sale, and I started to put them in my shopping basket. I set them back onto the display hook, though. Why? Because I asked myself the question "Do I really NEED permanent markers right now?" By saying no, I saved $15.00. I still have permanent markers, so just because something is on sale does not mean that you need it.
If you are looking for something that you need, do shop and comparison price shop. Don't get something at the first place you look. If there is no urgency, compare local and online prices. When shopping between online and local, remember to factor in taxes, shipping and handling costs. Some states now collect taxes on shipping and handling charges, too. Don't forget to read return policies as well. A restocking fee, mixed with a shipping fee and the issue of waiting for an item to reach you can quickly negate the original lower price.
By deciding whether something is a want or a need, you can save a lot of money. I had to convince myself that if something is not on the list of items that I am currently shopping for, then I don't get it. No matter how "amazing" the price is.
This week, I was at a well known chain store. A woman was shopping with her pre-teen daughter. The child was loudly and repeatedly haranguing the mother to make a purchase of expensive beauty products. She looked at her mother and said "This eyeshadow is on sale. I promise I will pay you back. I need it." Her mother was wise. "Cosmetics are not a need. They are a luxury vanity item. Put them back. When you can afford them, you can ask me then. I am not a bank, and I don't extend credit for luxuries." The statement got me to thinking. Am I asking myself for loans by putting impulse items on a credit or a debit card? Am I buying things without being mindful of my bottom line? Am I putting things in my house that I want, but I don't need? By asking myself these questions, I am able to make less purchases, and that means less money is being wasted.
Cable is NOT a Neccesity!
I know. I like it, too. But cable television or satellite television is not a necessity. If you are trying to cut costs, cut here because you can save several hundred dollars per month, depending on what plan you have.
Television is fun. We all like it. But when you want to cut costs, go to the library and check out movies. There are also many websites that offer free movies online, especially the classics.
Game night can be a really fun way to connect with your friends and family again, without the television.
Eat Out What YOU Take Out
We all like to go out to eat. When you are trying to save money, this is one area where people really do not want to let go. There are ways of saving money. A meal prepared at home and carried to a destination can be a lot of fun.
My friends and I carried our lunches to a local museum, where we ate outdoors in the sculpture garden, sitting among works of art. Afterwards, we went inside and enjoyed the beautiful paintings on a day where there was free admission.
Another time, dinners were carried in by us for a free concert in the park.
A group of us get together once a year, make "grandma's best" recipe and share a night of dinner, catching up, seeing one another and making silly photos of the night. Recipes are shared, and we all leave happy and with no major expense. Send out an invitation and see who turns up to your theme of fun. There is no need to call in for delivery dinners or drive through a fast food place. Eat left overs. You already paid for the food, why would you throw away food you paid money for?
Water From Home
A secret expense is the disposable water bottles that people buy when they are out. I now bring my own refillable bottle where ever I go, and refill from public water fountains. I have not become sick, my kidneys thank me, and I save a lot of money. If you were to buy one bottle of water every day while out of your home, paying as little as $1.00 per bottle, that is $365.00 per year. A lot of money. What can you do with $365.00?
I also freeze a small amount of water in the bottom of my bottle every evening so that every day, my water stays colder for longer.
If You Are Not Using Something Sell It!
I am not talking sentimental things. Let's not be silly.
If you have books that you have read and it has been more than a year since you have read them, sell them. I brought 4 bags of mystery novels to a used book store last summer, all hardback. They paid me $65.00 for all of those books!
People will tell you "Oh, I will never sell my books." I disagree here. Books I love, I won't sell. Books I read once and have not been read again, they must go. It is one more thing to dust! Same goes with magazines and other items around my home that people don't look at as sources of money, or sources of wasted space.
I have also sold clothing, costume jewelry, used shoes, houseplants when I was moving and could not care for them, tools, dishes, perfumes I did not like, and more. If it is not nailed down and I am not using it, I will sell it. The most I made in one day when I was moving house to another country? Over $3500.00!
If you are not using it, if you are not sentimentally attached to something, sell it. Sell seasonal items during their peak season for more money. Sell things.
A frequent lament I hear among friends with grown children is that they do not have empty nest syndrome because their home is still very full of their grown children's belongings! If you have grown children who are out of the house and they still have things in your home, give them a firm deadline to come and get all of their things. Inform them that you are having a sale and they you will be selling their things there and keeping all of the money. Either way, you are freeing up space. If your grown children then tell you to sell their things and split the money with you, tell them no, if you sell their things, then it is completely your money!
Look for Ways to Be Frugal
Always ask "Could I do this cheaper?"
If the answer is yes, then do! Never pay full price for something when you can discover where to get it cheaper.
Always comparison shop, and always let the place you have chosen know that it is through comparison shopping that you chose them.
If you find this Hub Useful, Funny, Interesting, or anything else good, please vote it up, thanks!
Catherine Taylor from Canada on January 14, 2013:
I love your frugal style! It definitely is a lifestyle choice and you've shown that it can be quite worthwhile in this hub. Great!
mattdigiulio from Los Angeles on June 26, 2012:
Many, many useful pieces of info here. What a wonderful compendium of cost-saving advice -- thank you for sharing! Voting up.
Sydney Spence from Texas on June 26, 2012:
Awesome hub ~ some of these things I've already started doing but you had some new ideas that made sense too! Thanks!
Audrey Surma from Virginia on June 25, 2012:
Great tips and not the usual obvious ones. I like the way you presented them too, keeping it interesting.
iefox5 on June 25, 2012:
Great hub, good example! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us and I should learn from you to save some money.