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My Favorite Ways to Save Money

My Favorite Ways to Save Money

I’ve been writing so many articles about ways to save money on specific items or events, but I haven’t really written anything listing several ideas on the same page.  So today I’m going to outline my personal favorite ways to save money.

I have to preface this by saying that this list is probably a little influenced by what I’ve done recently, but I guess most ideas are, right?  That’s why reading articles like this is useful – because they give you ideas that you can adapt to your own lifestyle, and they help you brainstorm new money saving ideas.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite ways to save money.

Saving Money on Internet Access.  We have a vacation property that we needed to have Internet access so that we could get work done while we were there.  The only Internet service was ultra slow and very expensive DSL.  Not only was it $50 a month for near dial up speed (anyone else remember dial up?), but they charged a fee to activate and inactivate it each Winter.  We would go months without using it and it was costing us $600 a year.  My solution was to upgrade our phones to the Verizon iPhone (the day it came out).  The plans have an unlimited data plan.  We have the option of making our phones into a wireless hotspot, but then you need to pay $40 for a few gig of data each month.  And if you’re streaming videos for a family, that’s not that much bandwidth.  Plus, sometimes the Windows software updates at our vacation home would take up 800 meg or more.  Anyway, to make a short story long, I jailbroke my iphone and bought a $20 app that turns your phone into a wireless hotspot, tethering device, and a bluetooth Internet connection, all while using the unlimited data and not having to activate the service with Verizon.  Now, not only do we have free Internet at our vacation home, but we can stream movies or such in the car or anywhere else that 3G is available for free.  Note:  As far as I can tell it is not illegal to jailbreak an iPhone, even though Apple and Verizon obviously don’t want you to do it.

My blackberries, saskatoon, raspberries and asparagus

Growing My Own Food.  I’ve already written an article about saving money with a garden and how to save money on gardening by planning ahead.  Obviously, gardening is something that I enjoy.  I enjoy gardening because I like to watch things grow, get satisfaction from making my own stuff, and of course, enjoy the monetary savings that accompany a garden.  The actual size of my garden is pretty small, but I’ve started planting a bunch of stuff at our vacation home to expand our vegetable selection.  During the summer, we have an unlimited number of tomatoes.  Something that we eat fresh, on sandwiches, make sauces with, and freeze for the winter.

My main garden, small but effective

To take things one step further, I started transforming my yard with edible landscaping.  For example, why not replace a flowering crabapple tree with a real apple tree?  Then, I replaced the shrubs with blueberry bushes.  We had an old playhouse in our backyard.  I removed it and put in a blackberry, raspberry, saskatoon berry and asparagus bed.  I even dug up all the evergreen trees in the front of my house and replaced them with slow growing fruit bushes.  I have cherry bushes, jostaberries, loganberries, honeyberries and gooseberries.  They all grow pretty slow so there isn’t a lot of pruning needed each year.

Some of my blueberry bushes used as shrubs

Getting Rid Of Our Second Car.   A few months ago, we got sticker shock at what the maintenance costs of a BMW are.  We bought the car when we were doing much better financially and the maintenance program just expired.  $950 for rear brakes, $1900 for new tires, $200 for an oil change!  We said enough was enough and put the car for sale.  It took a few months to sell it, but we were able to get a reasonable amount of money for it, considering it needed brakes and tires.  Anyway, every day since I’ve been pleased with how much money this is saving us.  We didn’t replace the car so our monthly savings are the $700 car payment plus the $100 a month in insurance, and of course, the maintenance and cost of premium gas.  We save at least $30 a day and probably close to $1,000 a month.  So far, since blogging is my job, and my wife is a stay at home Mom, we haven’t needed a second car.

Shopping at Aldi.  Personally, I don’t enjoy shopping at Aldi but I do enjoy the money we save by doing it.  Specifically, we load up on the fresh fruit and vegetables from there about once a week.  Our kids could literally eat a few hundred dollars a week in fruit.  Things like blueberries and grape tomatoes are like candy to them.  Buying them at Aldi is like getting them for half price.  Several times this Winter pineapples were on sale for 99 cents!  The same brand (Dole) were on sale at our local grocery store at the same time, but they were on sale for $3.97.  Sometimes we hit some bad fruit, usually because it is underripe, but it’s worth the gamble for such a good way to save money.  You can also read our article about saving money on food while still eating healthy, more ideas to save on food, saving money on fast food, and eating healthy on a budget.  We’ve written quite a bit about food.

Doing Home Projects and Repairs Myself.  Another of my favorite ways to save money is by doing things myself.  When we bought our house, I tore apart some of the basement, planned and created a new kitchenette/bar area, complete with fully plumbed sink, built in ice maker, microwave and pizza oven stand and full size refigerator.  I worked up the design myself and had Home Depot help me order the cabinets.  I was able to build the walls and counter, install all of the cabinets, tile the floor (thanks to my father in law for teaching me how) and even help with some of the plumbing.  I’m guessing my DIYability probably saved us several thousand dollars on this project.  Since then, I have done hundreds of projects without using a contractor.  Also, for jobs when you hire a contractor, it is easy to do a lot of the demolition and prep work yourself to help you save money.  Need I mention the satisfaction you get from doing these things yourself?

Buying Gift Wrap at the Dollar Store.  Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make you happy.  When a gift that we have doesn’t fit in one the many gift bags that we recycle, we need to find some inexpensive gift wrap.  At Christmas time the best deal is buying one of those huge and high quality rolls from Costco, but for the rest of the year it pays to make one trip to the dollar store and stock up on wrapping paper for all of the other occasions.  Granted, the quality is cheap, but who cares?  It gets ripped up in a matter of seconds anyway.

Add to Our List of Ways to Save Money

Give us your ideas by filling out comments below.  What methods of saving give you the most satisfaction?

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • S.O. Price May 30, 2012, 9:11 am

    I do try to save money in a lot of different ways but there does seem to be a few ways that warm the cockles of a frugal heart a little bit more than average! I think my favorite way to save money is taking advantage of free items that are offered by many stores through the use of their rebate programs. I suppose it is the idea of getting something for FREE that makes it so satisfying. Menard’s always has at least a few items every month that are free after sending in rebate slips. They make it very easy by printing out the rebate slips right at the cash register and they usually allow a person to submit all the paperwork in one envelope which saves on postage.

    Walgreen’s and Rite Aid usually have a least a few items every month that are free. Rite Aid will send a check upon on-line submission of receipt information and Walgreen’s will print out coupons right at the time of purchase which can be used at a later date for other purchases. In the town where I shop, they have two Walgreen’s stores, so I usually try to make a trip to both stores during the week, purchase the “free” items I’m interested in and then use the coupons printed for on sale staples such as toilet paper, shampoo, and face wash. If I have a manufacturer’s coupon that I can use, then I’m even happier with my purchases. Occasionally, I allow myself a splurge and use the coupons for make-up or perhaps a can of iced coffee. A free splurge now and then can really hit the spot!

  • Lisa Jean Haawkins October 18, 2012, 2:02 pm

    I enjoyed reading this article. I help my Mom with a garden each year. Not only do we have the benefit of doing something together we also have food stored. I am a penny pincher and anyway I can find to save money I will. Here are some of my favorite ways to save:
    1. If I have left over vegetables after dinner, I will freeze them and save them for vegeatble soup or a stew.

    2. Instead of using my dryer I hang my clothes out to dry. They smell great and it saves money. I have been known to hang towels and bed linen over the furniture in the winter time.

    3. I buy Christmas decorations at the Goodwill when I can find them in good shape at a good price. This allows me to decorate the way that I want at a price that I like.

    I hope my favorite ways to save will help you. Since your kids love fruit, here is an idea. Find someone you know that has fruit trees like apples; ask them to allow you to pick the apples. I know many people who grow apple trees but do not use the fruit. This is an excellent way to save and it’s fresh and yummy.


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