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Saving Money When There's Nothing Left to Cut

Liz's advice on finance, credit, frugal living practices, & anything monetary is from the 'school of hard knocks,' research, & experience.

I've Read All the Saving Money Tips, But...

When the tips you see all the time just don't seem to apply to your situation, or you really feel there are no other places to cut, you can still save money.

In many cases, it amounts to mere penny-pinching, but pennies add up to dimes which add up to dollars.

The most common advice you'll read online has to do with giving up things like purchased coffee drinks, making your own lattes and mochas instead. That's all well and good, and at the price of such beverages in the coffee houses,it is a valid savings.

However, suppose you have already cut such luxuries from your lifestyle; you're already brown-bagging it to work instead of buying lunch. There just doesn't seem to be many more places you can squeeze more from your hard-earned dollars.

Ah, but there are!

Pretend You Were Raised Yankee

I was. Even though a California native, both my parents were from New England, and both lived through the first great Depression. (Yes, I said first!! We are in, and have been in a depression for some time; the politicians simply do not want to call it what it is, and insist on saying 'recession' instead!)

Here is the Yankee motto:

"Use it up; wear it out; make it do, or do without."

The last part is the hardest for this modern, spoiled-rotten generation in which we and our children and grandchildren live, to deal with. "Do without." Today's kids need to learn what the word "no" means, and as parents and grandparents, we need to learn to say that two-letter word far more often.

We, and our children, have become far too accustomed to instant gratification. The pull-out-the-plastic shopping method removes the awareness of our income level, and allows us to spend ourselves into mountains of debt faster than you can sneeze.

Too Much Plastic in the Wallet

If you can get through a whole month without using credit cards, you've proven you can live without them

If you can get through a whole month without using credit cards, you've proven you can live without them

Do An Experiment

For one solid month, put away the credit cards. All of them. Pretend you do not have any. Put them away someplace where they will be inconvenient to get to, such as in your bank safe-deposit box.

Now, look at your expenses for day-to-day necessities. This includes:

  • food
  • rent or mortgage
  • utility bills (heating/lighting/water/garbage service)
  • necessary replacement of worn-out (or outgrown) clothing
  • insurance
  • car payment(s), if any

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."

— Oscar Wilde

Necessary expenses include household phone service (that means a landline; ditch the cell phone(s) and the super-pricey monthly charges. If you are running a home-based business, probably also a fax/computer line.

Not included are unlimited text and Internet plans on a cell phone. Kill the cell phone habit altogether, or at least kill off all the extras

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, on this planet so all-fired important that either you or your kids need to spend 24 hours a day with a cell phone glued to your hand, talking and/or texting. What about emergencies? A $20 pay-as-you-go phone will fill that niche nicely.

Those 'must have' shoes or jacket or other clothing? Too bad. Don't be everyone else. Be yourself!

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Food? Select the bargain brands or house brands instead of national brand names. Don't buy expensive gourmet items. Buy block cheese and slice it yourself, instead of pre-sliced. Things along those lines are what you must learn to do.

In short, you must live for the entire month of this experiment as if you have no credit cards at all.

And a "biggie" there: NO shopping for this, that and the other online! Learn the huge difference between 'want' and actual need.

If you do not have enough cash or money in the bank after your necessary bills are paid, you simply don't buy whatever item it is you want, because you cannot afford it.

That is your economic reality. The credit cards are a dangerous buffer, blinding you to your actual income level; they create a steep slope to disaster by allowing you to live beyond your means. At least until the credit limit is reached.

Frugality and New Skills

How to live like a real Yankee: fix it!

You may be used to tossing a pair of socks because a hole got worn in the toe or heel. That is wasteful because there is probably nothing wrong with the rest of the sock. New socks cost money--remember, this is cash money you may not have during this experiment.

Your grandmother, and possibly even your mother, engaged in a practice called "darning socks." It is not difficult, and can even be therapeutic, soothing your financial soul as you sit patching in the hole while it is still small, and saving the socks.

Oh, I almost forgot--if the sock is too far gone to save, keep it! They make great dustrags, for free! Don't buy special-purpose disposable dusting "cloths." Use old socks or old torn undies-- (nothing with hooks or snaps, though)--and wash them with the rest of the laundry. Ch-ching! More dollars stay in your pocket!

Zipper broken on your pants? Many dry-cleaners will replace zippers and do other minor alterations on clothing, for those who do not have the sewing skills to do so themselves. It may cost you $15 or so, but that comes under the necessary clothing maintenance, and is far cheaper than new pants.

Or, if you have a friend or neighbor who is a sewing whiz, perhaps you could trade services with her; she mends your pants while you pull weeds from her flower garden (for example). It's called bartering, and it used to be a way of life. Maybe, in this economy, it's time for a revival of bartering.

But the Kids Will Scream

Oh, well. Let them scream. They will survive, and learn something in the process. Instead of allowing them to participate in the blinding, dazzling have-it-all world of the dangerous, imaginary wealth of credit cards, let them see exactly what your take-home pay is. Let them do the math.

Younger children may whine, throw tantrums, etc. when first told "no, we cannot afford that today." Make the statement, stick to it, and ignore the tantrum. Slightly older children, who have learned addition and subtraction, can be given the task of finding the cheaper brand in the grocery store, for example. They may even get a kick out of "helping."

Middle School and High School kids are plenty old enough to be made privy to the actual income. Allow them to see all the bills and the take-home, and have them plan a no-credit-cards-allowed budget, and see where they can come up with cuts.

There are calculators online that can show you how much extra you are really paying for that "adorable outfit" that was "on sale for 20% off," once the credit-card interest is figured in.

If the the kids helped, and with that eye-opener in place, there is less likely to be grumping about it. The older ones may even get motivated to seek out a job after school for their own extras.

As the saying goes, "just say no," and set an example by saying it to yourself as well. Keep a log of how much you are saving. Denied yourself lunch out? Write down how much it would have cost. Stuck to your guns in telling the kid they could not have a new skateboard? Write down the price. At the end of the month, add it all up, and you'll be quite amazed at how much money you've saved.

Now, it may not be actual money in your pocket, because you've been paying by cash or check for everything instead of using plastic. But, adding up that amount that has not been tacked onto your (probably already large) credit-card debt, and accruing interest, should be quite a motivator to change your habits permanently.

The Baby Trap

A new baby in the house, whether the first, or a later arrival, often seems an excuse to spend money on fancy new gadgets and gizmos to entertain the child.

STOP! Let the infant learn from day one that they don't need the latest whiz-bang to be amused and entertained! Far better that they have the personal interaction of their parents, holding them, singing and talking to them, than an impersonal 'baby gym" hung with miscellaneous objects for them to look at. Show the baby various objects personally, while holding the child.

Diapers! Do not buy or use disposable diapers. Not only are they horrifically expensive, they are also an ecological nightmare! Human waste is supposed to go down the toilet into the sewer system; not end up in landfills!

Cloth diapers can be rinsed in the toilet, then washed in hot water with bleach. The savings over the diaper-life of a baby will be staggering! Just remember not to use chemical fabric softeners, which can irritate sensitive skin.,

The Car Trap

Finding A Less Expensive Car:

Again, learning the difference between what we want and what we actually need is crucial to saving money. It applies to the adults, as well, and possibly nowhere more significant than in shopping for a replacement car. We may want a brand-new, envy-of-the-neighbors state-of-the-art SUV, (for example), but do we need it? Chances are excellent that the truly honest answer is a simple "no."

Buying new cars is a great way to throw perfectly good money down the drain. The instant the tires roll off the dealer's lot, that fancy new car loses 10% - 20% (depending on make and model) of its value in depreciation. Buy a newer-model used vehicle instead. Someone else has already taken that depreciation hit.

And no, buying a used car does not necessarily mean taking on someone else's problems. Shop carefully, do research on the resale values, both through private parties and dealers, and go in armed with a firm price in mind. Be fully prepared to turn and walk out the door if the dealer won't work with your price.

Available as newer model used cars are returns from leases (check the mileage, and ask about warranty certification); also, some rental agencies sell off newer models from their fleets. Again, ask about warranties and mileage.

If all you need is to get to the store and appointments, you can do well with these. While they do get a lot of mileage, and driven by many different drivers, it is in the rental company's best interest to keep their fleet well-maintained.

Also, check for dealer demos. These are likely as not to be current model-year vehicles that were used by the dealer for short test drives. They may have fewer than five-thousand miles on them, but because they have been off the lot and driven around, they can no longer be sold as new. That depreciation hit has been removed.

How Many Cars Do You Really Need?

While we're talking about driving, don't forget to examine whether or not you actually need more than one vehicle, or if it is merely a convenience. Are you paying double gas and insurance just for your kids to have a car to drive? Stop.

Sell the extra vehicles. Kids generally do not appreciate what is just given to them. Let them know they are free to have a car for their exclusive use again when they have a job and can buy their own car, gas and insurance. Until then, walk, ride your bike or take a bus. It won't kill them. Honest.

Do both of you work in opposite directions? Find out the cost of public transportation, and compare it to the cost of maintenance, gas and insurance on your cars. If public transit or a carpool is a workable option, sell off the second car. If you honestly and truly must have a separate vehicle for each adult, keep them well-serviced to avoid costly repairs and towing for breakdowns, and improve your gas mileage.

For example, we do have both a car and a truck. I must have the truck for picking up raw materials for my business, as the load weight (1-½ tons) is far too much for our small compact car to handle. It simply would not fit inside, the weight burden is well over the car's capacity, and also over the tow-load capacity, so even a trailer is not an option.

So, we leave the truck sit until we need to pick up supplies, and use the car for daily errands, as it gets better gas mileage around town than the truck. One recent year was not a good year for the business, and we could not afford the registration on both vehicles, so we let the car sit, filing a non-operation paper, and licensed only the truck, which we had to have for the business. It was a rough year at the gas pump!

A Used Car is a Better Deal All Around

Do you really need to have a brand-new car?

Do you really need to have a brand-new car?

A Few Other Tricks

A "must have" that's really an extra you can't afford? Try swap meets or flea markets to sell off some of your items no longer used or needed. It's a good way to get rid of cast-offs and make a little extra cash on the side. This works for video games, household décor, outgrown bikes, duplicate or triplicate tools, and so forth.

Teens and "Must-Haves"

Kiddo just has to have a glamorous dress for the prom? Let her earn money by babysitting or other service chores, for at least part of the money. Then, check out second-hand stores, clothing consignment shops and the like. True, it won't be a 'brand new dress,' but it will be nearly new, often only worn once for just such a special night out. It will be "new to her," and I can pretty much guarantee that she won't suffer the "horror" of ending up with the same dress as her arch rival.

Many consignment shops specialize in formal wear, and their items are professionally prepared for resale. These clothes can be anything from prom dresses, bridesmaid's dresses (also good for prom wear), and even an evening gown worn one time for dinner with the captain while on a cruise ship.

Try Consignment Shops For Prom Dresses

Very lovely dresses can be had at thrift shops.  No one has to know

Very lovely dresses can be had at thrift shops. No one has to know

Grocery Brand Names

Don't be a "brand-name snob" in the grocery store. Read labels, and compare ingredients. 90% of the generic or 'house-brands' of basic foodstuffs like soup, tomato sauce, biscuit mix and so forth, contain identical ingredients, and you really cannot tell the difference in taste.

You may think you can, but in a blind taste-test, no, you would not know. Besides, many times, the name-brand companies are producing the house-brand labels on the same production lines.

The same goes for milk. Given the same type of milk, whether whole, 2%, 1% or skim, they are truly alike save for the prices. Buy the cheaper brands, and you may save enough to splurge on some ice cream!


What about "couponing?" Well, let's just say I remain skeptical. Most coupons these days come with specific limitations prohibiting "doubling" and other such devices that used to be popular. Also, in my experience, the house brands are still cheaper, even after taking into account the 'cents off' from the coupon.

Coupons serve one purpose, and one purpose only: to insure brand loyalty. You'll notice you rarely, if ever, find coupons offered for store brands. If they were truly interested in saving you money, the prices of their products would be in line with those of the store brands

Watering the Yard

Watering the yard. You can even save on your water bill. Any of us who have ever lived through a drought can tell how to keep from using so much water. I won't go into the "navy" shower routine, as that is one thing I refuse to do. However, while waiting for the water to get hot, run it into a bucket instead of down the drain, and use to water your plants. After it has sat for 24 hours, the chlorine has evaporated out, making it even better for the plants than straight tap water!

This one won't work for everyone, but if it will, you're ahead of the game. During the last bad drought, a friend of mine hooked up the drain hose from her washing machine to a garden hose, and ran it out to the yard to water her ground cover. At the end of the garden hose was a soaker hose, with some larger-than-normal holes poked in it.

The ground cover got watered, and she used the same water twice, saving money. This is "gray water," not "black water," so there is no health risk for watering ornamentals this way. Because there is some phosphorus from the soap, it makes a good fertilizer, but not for use on edibles or delicate plantings. It's just one more little trick than can save a few bucks here and there.

Watch Out For False Economies

Don't indulge in false economy. That means those little traps that would seem to save you money, but end up costing more in the long run. A perfect example can be found with toilet tissue. You know, the chintzy kind you find in public restrooms, where they serve such a volume of people that they try to save money by buying the very cheapest tissue they can find.

Ultimately, this backfires, because it is so thin that at least twice as much as usual is needed to get the job done, so there are really no savings at all; more money is spent replacing product more often. So when it comes to that kind of product, buy the one you like and that works best for your family. It will be cheaper over the long term.

Your Challenge

Now, it is up to you. Come up with your own tricks to find ways to add those pennies into dollars. We have yet to be as personally bad off as stories I recall my mom telling, of having to use cardboard inserts in their shoes because they could not afford to have them repaired, but we're not that far away, either.

I was raised with that 'save it; it may be useful' mentality, and I take recycling to heart, so here's one final tip: don't throw the money-back cans and bottles into the city trash pick-up or recycling collection. Save them separately, and cash them in yourself!

© 2011 Liz Elias


Abby Slutsky from America on July 14, 2020:

Excellent suggestions.

Micha ELa from Philippines on July 05, 2020:

I noted the store brand tip. Good read

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 21, 2020:

Hello Mary,

Indeed! I believe that's an ongoing reminder we all need from time to time. I still have to remind myself as well, and sometimes I slip, as with a T-shirt I recently bought, because I just loved the saying printed on it. Now really, I could just as well have put that saying on a placard made from found material, and hung it on my wall! Nope, I'm not perfect.

Marcy Bialeschki from Cerro Gordo, IL on April 21, 2020:

Thanks for reminding me of the difference between something I need and something I want. Solid advice!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 20, 2020:

Hello Carrie Lee,

I'm pleased you enjoyed my tips and tricks. You are correct about smoking and alcohol--people don't realize how expensive those habits truly are--and that's not counting the future medical expenses they cause.

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on April 17, 2020:

Thank u for all the little tips !! :) Also dropping bad habits like smoking and excessive alcohol saves a bundle. I remember when growing up we had one car until I was a pre-Teen then my mom got a small car. My parents were good with finances and I learned from them. I don' t recall them saying no a lot when we went to the store because I never asked for anything. Thank you for sharing:)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 02, 2020:

Thank you Dominique, I'm glad you found the article useful.

Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on January 02, 2020:

These are all really good tips. I'll definitely keep them in mind.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on March 26, 2012:

Hello, Springboard--

Thank you very much for your well-thought-through comment. I appreciate the time you have taken to leave your input and contribute to the discussion. You are so right about credit cards being crippling. They are designed to keep you in debt...forever.

Blowing the wad is, of course, unwise. But there are so many who've never realized an income level where there is anything left to save after the necessities have been paid for, and are, indeed doomed to working until the day they die. There was no "wad" to blow.

Wastefulness, on the other hand is indeed bad for the planet as well as one's personal economy. Only the greedy corporations like waste.

Springboard from Wisconsin on March 26, 2012:

All important points, and even though we are in a "recovery" mode, still important tricks to follow even in better times. Saving money quite simply means having money. And more importantly, people should be thinking about what they are doing with any money they COULD be saving. Isn't part of the reason credit is so convenient because people don't have money? To me that's crippling. A few maneuvers in the short term could lead to having more in the longer term, and people should be AS concerned about their financial house and what they do with their savings, retirements, and investments as they are about making sure to change the oil in their car, or making sure to winterize the lawn mower at the end of the mowing season. Blowing the wad will only lead to a lifetime of working, and put retirement far, far off into the future. By the way, many of these examples aren't just good for the wallet, they're good as well for the environment. We waste far too much in this world, and that can't be good for anyone, and certainly not the planet.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on February 02, 2012:

Hello, The Dirt Farmer--

Thank you very much--I'm delighted that you enjoyed the article. Yes, it is to some extent about outlook, and on another level, it is about letting go of shallow values such as "keeping up with the Joneses."

And just for the record, I was born and raised in San Francisco--I'm only a Yankee by proxy; the child of Yankee parents. ;-)

Jill Spencer from United States on February 02, 2012:

Great ideas--and very engagingly written. Saving (and doing it without "pain") is all about outlook, isn't it? Love your attitude, Yankee!

Shasta Matova from USA on November 18, 2011:

I liked your hub so much, I referenced it in mine:

Shasta Matova from USA on November 18, 2011:

This is great - I agree that we really can reduce our expenses if we try these great techniques. Voted up.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 22, 2011:

Hi, there, fpherj48,

Thanks so much for your kind comments. I'm glad you liked the article--thanks much for the votes! ;-)

Suzie from Carson City on August 21, 2011:

Wonderful! Raised by depression-era parents myself (and grateful!) I learned at a young age to WASTE NOTHING..and how to make things stretch, last forever and/or be passed on. You make perfect sense & I love this hub. Up & useful.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 23, 2011:

Thanks, poetvix!

Unfortunately, the government did not ask me for my advice! Make me empress for a day, and I can fix everything with a few strokes of a pen! ;-)

poetvix from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country. on July 23, 2011:

I love this DzyMsLizzy, it's good advice from a common sense approach, something that seems to be in short supply today. I find it highly ironic that if we and our government had only followed your advice to start with we would not be in our current national debt situation.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 19, 2011:

Thanks very much, lejonkung--I'm glad you found the article useful.

lejonkung on July 18, 2011:

That is some really good information that you have gathered here Lizzy!

There really is many ways to cut the expenses and those recurring expenses that comes every month are the most important.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 14, 2011:

Hi, there, wilderness--

Thank you so much for your additional suggestions. You make some excellent points. Making substitutions when going to the store is not an option is a valuable lesson. Our pantry is fairly well stocked, but if we were unable to go shopping, we'd be eating some oddball and not necessarily balanced meal combinations. :-)

You are also oh, so correct in that our kids should be taught to earn their own goodies!

Thanks for stopping by!

@visionandfocus--oh, my goodness! I am so sorry I missed seeing your post before. Thank you very much for stopping by and for your comment. You are so correct that many adults don't know the difference between 'want' and 'need.'

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on July 14, 2011:

I decided to add one more thing. When you buy the kids whatever they want you do them no favors; rather you fail at being a good parent.

When our grandchildren get an ice cream or something at the store it is a treat, not an everyday affair. They appreciate it far more. When older kids earn at least some of their own money, same thing. Whatever they buy is far more valuable to them than if Mom and Dad simply bought it. It is a lesson in life that most parents take away from them and one that they will sorely miss later in life.

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on July 14, 2011:

Some great tips here. As someone else said, I already use most of them, though. I finally got a cell phone this year because of my job. It is prepaid, no text, no internet, no extras and costs me less than $10 per month. I carry one credit card that I haven't used in years (so long they dropped the limit from $5000 to $500!). We have two cars - a Prius I found really cheap for the family and a small pickup for my work.

I'll mention a couple of other ideas. We grocery shop twice a month, knowing we will run out of milk and a couple of other items. Outside of those, though, there is no shopping except for exceptional sales. If we don't have it we don't eat it. Run out of mayo for a sandwich, use mustard (which I hate). You'll find you save quite a bit on "goodies".

And second, watch the energy bills! I spent a little money doing it, but have managed to cut my energy bill (total electric house) from $250/month to $135/month. The savings have more than paid for the costs in one year, now it's gravy and that extra $100+/month really helps. Little things like open the doors and windows when appropriate and CLOSE them when it's not. I've about hollered myself hoarse at the kids, but they DID learn eventually.

Good hub, I appreciate it.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 23, 2011:

Hello, wolf40901, Thanks for stopping by and leaving some input. You raise some interesting concerns, vis-a-vis "health risks" of generic branded items. However, I don't feel they are any worse than some of the name-brand stuff, which can be devastatingly full of things like salt--upwards of 880 mg per serving. Sure, read the labels, but all else being equal, make your choice based on price.

(Have you noticed, though, that the truly healthy foods are usually the highest-priced? It is as if the giant food industry is sending a strong message that only the well-to-do deserve to be healthy!)

This is why you often see severely obese people in the store buying a lot of unhealthy items, and paying with food stamps. The food-stamp allottment is minimal, and the junk is cheaper than the good food! It is truly criminal.

Goodwill is another means to save cash while helping folks. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.

wolf40901 from South Carolina on June 23, 2011:

some of these tips are good..but some are not doable for us. and while yes some things can be used generic many of those items carry health risks since they're loaded wth sugar, salt, and cheap fillers. i do agree with saying no but when my kids want to be spoiled a bit i take them to goodwill if they do all their chores. since we do know some disabled people who may not be able to work otherwise, they love the idea they're helping them and getting a steal at the same time.

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on June 08, 2011:

Great tips! And 'want' vs 'need' is something we should teach our kids as early as possible. Sadly, there are grown-ups around who can't distinguish the one from the other.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 23, 2011:

Hi, Maggie.L!

Thank you very much. Yes, we are a very wasteful society--it's become a very bad and entrenched habit.

Maggie.L from UK on May 23, 2011:

A very insightful hub, highlighting how wasteful modern society is. Lots of useful tips on budgeting too. Thanks for sharing your excellent ideas with us.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 21, 2011:

Hello, truthfornow--

Thanks much for your comment. I know how hard the credit card habit is to give up. Unless you are forced into it by maxing out your limits and being unable to afford even the minimum monthly payments, I'll wager it's a step most will be unwilling to take.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on May 21, 2011:

I think your tips are great. It is very hard to go without credit cards because we have become so use to them as a backup. It is a tough economy right now and thanks for reminding us all of ways to make it.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 13, 2011:

Hi, Nell!

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found something to take away. ;-) Cheers and best wishes.

Nell Rose from England on May 13, 2011:

Hi, these are great ideas! sadly some of them I already have to do because of lack of cash! I do sell somethings at boot sales and on amazon, and I always recycle socks etc, but there are a few ideas here that I am going to try as well! thanks for the great info, cheers nell

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 10, 2011:

Thank you,LRCBlogger! I'm glad you liked my ideas, and I also appreciate the follow! ;-)

You are quite correct about maximizing tax deductions...and it is another "perk" to being self-employed...there are many more deductions you can take! ;-)

LRCBlogger on May 10, 2011:

great tips, happy to be a follower (and I am a fellow New Englander).

I will add that maximizing tax deductions is a very important way of cutting costs. Keeping more of your money is key to having more!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 10, 2011:

@kafsoa--thanks much for your comment and votes! And remember--it's never too late to start! ;-)

@Docmo--Thank you! You are quite right, how many things are taken for granted these days. Thank you for the vote!

Mohan Kumar from UK on May 10, 2011:

Love the title- great write up- it is amazing how many 'essentials' soon become non essentials - great hub on not taking anything for granted and teaching 'value'. Voted up!

kafsoa on May 10, 2011:

Really great advices, if we've followed "me and my husband" we could have made a wealth :) Thanks for sharing. Rated up and useful!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 09, 2011:

Hello, there, L.L.Woodard!

You are absolutely correct. Economics as taught in schools has little basis in reality. It is all theory. As we know, theories are non-proven hypotheses, not facts. There may be some grains of truth on which the texts are based, but in large measure, a textbook "economist" is out of touch with reality.

Politicians, regardless of educational background, are always out of touch with reality!

Your observation reminds me of a tale my dad used to tell from his bachelor days. He used to work as a motorman on streetcars in San Francisco. The company wanted to make improvements, so what did they do? Called in "experts" from New York!

My father fumed about that for the rest of his life! "If you want to call in experts, talk to the REAL experts--the conductors, motormen and PASSENGERS!" He'd rant. "What in blazes does some book-smart college boy from New York know about San Francisco??!" I couldn't agree more!

Thanks for stopping by--I'm glad you liked the article.

L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on May 09, 2011:

I've always said, if you want to learn how to live on a budget, talk to someone who does. Our politicians would do well to talk to "real-life" people such as you, rather than Ph.D theorists.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 08, 2011:

Thanks, Cobra!

Glad I was able to be of some help. Best wishes!

Cobra on May 08, 2011:

So many good ideas here. I am always looking for ways to save. Since I am on a fixed income, and our government has seen fit not to give any of us a cost of living increase for over two years now. Every penny counts these days.

cardelean from Michigan on May 07, 2011:

You are very right. It's about simplifying our lives. Something that am working on doing myself!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 06, 2011:

Thank you so much, Mrs. Menagerie! I appreciate the comment and I'm glad you liked the article.

Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on May 06, 2011:

Lot's of good information here!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 06, 2011:

Hi, cardelean, thanks for stopping by and for your input.

You know, it's funny, how much you realize you can do without if you are actually faced with losing everything. The trick is to put it in balance.

For homeowners (at least those whose home is still technically owned by the bank), the decision comes down to this simple question:

"Would I rather use public transit (or kill cell phones, etc...) or lose my home?"

When the tsunami hit Japan, and there was a warning that the resulting backlash could come up the Sacramento Delta river system, we were prepared to evacuate. Everything essential was packed: my computer (all our business records!!) checkbooks, insurance policies, health records, some tools, blankets, sleeping bags, generator, food, camp gear, and all the equipment to care for our kitties.

What would have been left behind? EVERYTHING else. The house could have been gone, everything we've worked so hard to build up. Things of great sentimental value to me--some things with which I'm having trouble letting go of just on a practicality basis. But what was truly important? Shelter of some kind, food, and our pets--a connection to sanity. Luckily, it was an overblown false alarm, (thank you, sensation-seeking news media!), and we did not have to leave.

And you know what? It put a lot into perspective for me, and now it will be easier to ask myself, "WTF am I hanging onto THIS item for??!!"

Obviously, that incident had nothing to do specifically with saving money, but in the end, the questions you need to ask are the same. House and a nice or decent place to live, or lattes, cell phones and fancy car?

cardelean from Michigan on May 06, 2011:

Some of your tips are very tough to do for many people. They really believe that their lives would fall apart if they carpooled or used public transportantion. You are so right that we live in an instant gratification society and it is really hurting us. Great hub with great tips.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 05, 2011:

Hi there, carrie450--

Thanks so much for the vote! I'm glad you found the article useful. ;-) Cheers!

carrie450 from Winnipeg, Canada on May 05, 2011:

Thank you for this hub. This is excellent advice on how to cut spending. Voted Up!!!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 05, 2011:

Hi, Susan... :-D

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 05, 2011:

Thanks now why didn't I think of that.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 04, 2011:

Hi, Susan!

Thank you so much! I'm so happy you enjoyed my Yankee ramblings! ;-)

I have discovered that the little spools of "darning cotton" are nearly impossible to find these days, but embroidery floss makes a perfect substitute--just separate out 2 strands. And it comes in SO many more colors besides!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on May 04, 2011:

When I saw you posted this on the HubMob I just knew it would be a good one! It is better than good it is GREAT! I have always darned socks. My Grandmother taught me how to do it and I just hate throwing away anything that is still of use. I used to darn my nylons but have not been able to find the thread that I used to use. Up and Awesome.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 03, 2011:

Hi, Denise,

Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked the article, and thanks for the vote!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on May 03, 2011:

Excellent, excellent hub. Great job! Bookmarked and rated it up. :)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 03, 2011:

@Princessa, you are quite right--flea markets are great for unloading unwanted or un-needed items, and if you have to re-buy them later, try the flea market again, from the opposite angle! ;-)

@daisyjae, Thank you very much. Best wishes. ;-)

@chuckandus6, Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you found some useful tidbit here. ;-)

Nichol marie from The Country-Side on May 03, 2011:

Thanks we need to save as a family of 6

daisyjae from Canada on May 03, 2011:

Lots of great money saving tips here, i am always looking for ways to save more money.

Wendy Iturrizaga from France on May 03, 2011:

Everytime We've moved countries we have used flea markets to get rid off most of our unwanted staff (clothes, kitcken utensils, furniture, toys, small electric appliances, etc). it has been a very good way to make some extra money with all our unwanted things. Plus, buying all those things again wherever we move is cheaper than having to hire a moving company.

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on May 02, 2011:

Wow! Lots of great money-saving tips!!

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