Thursday, November 8, 2007

Not a total spendthrift

The point of this post is to make myself feel better about my spending habits after Monday's post about my grocery-shopping woes. I in no way claim that any of these list items are original or earth-shattering, but they do ease my conscience.

In order to save money/not waste it/earn extra, we:

  • Usually order water when eating out.
  • Never pay retail for books without a gift card. (I find tons of good books at yard sales, thrift stores and used bookstores, and am a public library VIP.)
  • Get all of my magazines from friends or recycling bins.
  • Turn off the water while brushing my teeth and washing my face.
  • Turn all the lights out and turn the air way up or down (depending on the weather) when we aren't home.
  • Buy running shoes on eBay or on clearance at the outlets.
  • Buy store-brand groceries unless we have a definite preference for the name brand (e.g. Lipton onion soup mix, Kraft cheddar cheese, Dixie Crystals sugar).
  • Refill water bottles with tap water multiple times. (I've been using my current bottle since Amanda and I visited Lib in Charlotte in ... September? Has it really been that long?)
  • Won't buy a new-to-me car for me this year even though I could probably justify it. (Instead, I drive Matt's new-to-him car when I have clients in town.)
  • Sell clothes and household items at consignment stores (after offering them to friends).
  • Earn extra money editing and writing.
  • Have high insurance deductibles (and thus lower premiums).
  • Don't have long distance, caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, three-way calling or any other features on our home phone.
  • Use our credit card for almost everything so we earn cash back. (And pay it off every month.)
  • Make coffee at home rather than buying it at a coffee shop (with one very worthwhile exception: my weekly coffee dates with Mom).
  • Keep only enough money in our checking account to keep checks from bouncing, and let the rest of our cash earn interest in a high-yield credit-union money-market account.
  • Decided against a lot of upgrades in our new house (brick-and-vinyl rather than all-brick exterior, no irrigation system, no smooth ceilings, faux-marble rather than granite counters in the guest bathrooms, white cabinets rather than wood cabinets in all bathrooms, concrete rather than brick or tile porch floor, middle-of-the-line appliances and fixtures, etc.). It would have been easy to spend an extra $50,000 or more.
  • Pay all of our bills through automatic draft (saving lots of stamps and guaranteeing we never pay late fees).
  • Don't buy things we don't need just because we have a coupon.
  • Try to buy big-ticket items only when we have a coupon.
  • Never pay loan-origination fees for personal mortgages (a nice perk of being in real estate).
  • Put at least 20 percent down on our personal mortgages so we don't have to pay PMI.
  • Pay extra toward the principal on our personal mortgages every month.
  • Return movies and library books on time and avoid late fees.
  • Stretch out the time between haircuts (every 10 or 12 weeks rather than the standard six).
  • Never splurge on $70 massages, $35 pedicures or even $5 lattes (though gift certificates for all of these are very welcome!).
  • Get a discount on our electric bill because our house is energy-efficient.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Always ask, when renting a car, staying in a hotel, etc., "Is that the best price you can give us?" and "Do you have a Triple-A discount?"
  • And then we ask whether we can get an additional discount if we pay cash.
  • Belong to the local Freecycle group (best find so far: two Broyhill end tables that I refinished).
  • Unplug rarely used appliances and lamps.
  • Replaced our incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.
  • Collect rainwater and use it to water our plants.
  • Filled two water bottles and put one in each toilet tank.
  • Don't play the lottery.
  • Use regular unleaded gas in both of our cars (Matt's owner's manual recommends using premium, but we can't tell a difference).
  • Have "preferred customer" cards from everywhere -- Staples to Hallmark to Borders to CVS and, of course, all the grocery stores.
  • Use grocery bags as trash bags in the bathrooms.
  • Live in a town without a mall or any of my favorite stores.

What are your best money-saving tips?

P.S. A special thanks to the anonymous commenter who told me about The Coupon Mom as a (free) alternative to The Grocery Game. I'll be checking that out. Thanks also to Lib for posting her grocery-shopping strategy as a model!

5 comments:

Amanda said...

Nice! We do about 95% of these things, which make me feel pretty thrifty. I hope our kids follow in our footsteps. By the way, Harris Teeter is having triple coupons Thursday-Saturday if you want to buy the things you need. Last time I bought something I didn't really need, but after the triple coupons, mom and I figured out I actually got paid a few cents for buying it! (and I did use it, I just didn't "need" it)

jorge and libba said...

I think I do all of these except the last one (unfortunately).

I didn't know you use Lipton's. Should I switch?

I'm guilty of buying things like gum just because of a coupon. The coupons make it too cheap to pass up, and I know it will get used.

I'm so glad to have a frugal partner-in-crime. I've learned so much from you!

jorge and libba said...

I think I do all of these except the last one (unfortunately).

I didn't know you use Lipton's. Should I switch?

I'm guilty of buying things like gum just because of a coupon. The coupons make it too cheap to pass up, and I know it will get used.

I'm so glad to have a frugal partner-in-crime. I've learned so much from you!

Gail said...

Jeff was so impressed that you refill your water bottles with tap water.

jennifer said...

Amanda: Thanks for reminding me of HT triple coupons! I went yesterday.

Lib: I use that soup mix to make chip dip and the store brands I've tried are NOT the same. Used in other recipes you might not be able to tell much difference.

Gail: That's one of the easiest ones on the list! Most bottled water is just tap water anyway (http://www.azcentral.com/business/consumer/articles/0727aquafinatapwater27-on.html).