Five Ways To Stretch Your Money

We could all use a little extra spending cash in our pocket these days. Help wring a little more cash into your savings account with these five tips from Wisebread…

  • 1. Go In Together: Remember how your mother always told you to share? She was right. From buying to bulk to carpooling, sharing makes things cheaper.
  • 2. Do It Yourself: Yes you can! Before rushing out, see if you can’t solve the problem yourself, from a leaky faucet to cleaning supplies. Read through our D.I.Y. archives for ideas.
  • 3. Barter! Despite what your ex-boss or ex-wife may say, you have valuable skills that can help other people. Don’t just give them away for free, trade them for other useful services you might need. Don’t try this at Best Buy.
  • 4. Buy From The Source: Sorry middlemen, there’s no room for you in this economy. Track down the source of your goods and buy direct from them.
  • 5. Repair, Reuse, Repurpose: And you thought the other two R’s involved reducing and recycling. Nope! Learn to stretch the things you have and reduce the amount you need to spend on shiny new things. “Clothing is a key example – it can often be repaired, handed down, altered, made into a quilt or even used as rags. There’s rarely clothing that really ought to be thrown away.”

Five Frugality Hacks Straight Out of the Great Depression [Wisebread]
(Photo: naitokz)

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  1. Ajh says:

    A friend of mine lost his job and apartment and is currently staying in a spare room in my father’s house. He is helping with the yard work my father can no longer handle easily, building him a new shed door, walking the horse sized dogs he can’t walk himself anymore and doing a lot of the other heavy cleaning that couldn’t be done unless I went out there to help..which I can’t generally do as I have my own place to take care of as well.

    Bartering is probably the most valuable tip here as it saves both sides money and makes things easier for everyone.

    • N.RobertMoses says:

      @Ajh: And irresponsible spenders who love pork don’t get a cut of it!

    • Anonymous says:

      @Ajh: @Ajh:

      This is a great way to save a ton of money, especially for single people. When I first came out of college I lived in a basement apartment in an elderly woman’s house. She let me live there for free just in exchange for simple maintenance work that probably took me less than an hour a week. A basement apartment doesn’t sound great, but it was one of the best apartments I’ve lived in, I liked it better than the one I live in now which I pay $2k per month for. I had a big living room, full kitchen, nice bedroom, an office, storage, etc. Even though it was a basement it got a lot of natural light. I saved a ton of money living there. Housing is most people’s biggest expense, if you can make a cut to your housing cost its the best way to save a lot of money.

  2. shepd says:

    4. Buy From The Source

    Um, no. Seriously, no. Nobody with even a 1/4 of a brain would shop at The Source.

    Yes, I’m taking advantage of a capitalization error, sosumi! :)

  3. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    “Buy From The Source”

    We have a restaurant supply store in town that’s open to the public. Some things are silly to get there, but other things — flour, yeast, tri-color spiral pasta, cocktail napkins — keep forever and are much cheaper in the industrial sizes (& ugly industrial packaging).

    Not as useful for, say, meat and dairy, since I can’t go through that much of it, but a lot of people actually do go buy perishables for parties there. (Biggest. Shrimp wheels. Ever.)

    There’s a little hit-and-miss since I don’t know the brands/generics and sometimes I get an icky one, but especially for dry goods it’s an excellent savings.

  4. GildaKorn says:

    A bunch of the people being laid off are middlemen. If they’re only taking a small cut, I don’t see the harm in throwing them a bone if you can afford it.

  5. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i’ve been bartering my computer repair skills [a hobby] for ages. in fact i just had a friend who called in his half of the deal – he helped me move some furniture into storage a while back and i pulled 5 hard drives out of deceased older computers and recovered the data for him.
    i used to trade for food when i was REALLY broke all the time. i’d just tell the person who wanted me to fix their computer that they had to feed me while i was working on it. depending on the difficulty of the repair sometimes there were multiple meals involved. but i’m cuter, make housecalls and provide WAY better customer service than a retailer – i actually make sure the job is done right!

    oh, and parts. i keep any useable parts that they don’t need any more. because then the next time someone needs an emergency back up hard drive, a spare 30G drive is better than nothing at all and gives them time to save up for a better one

    • Con Seannery wants the azure F back! says:

      @catastrophegirl: I harvest the organs of children, erm, old computers. I use these parts to keep the old machines in the house ticking long after the parts cannot be bought. I break into these supplies in times of need and sell them to others with old equipment. I think I have become an occasional specialty parts dealer…

  6. penuspenuspenus says:

    Bartering works at some hotels. Trading food goods, water cooler service, etc for a room or two per month isn’t unheard of. :)

  7. rpm773 says:

    4. Buy From The Source: Sorry middlemen, there’s no room for you in this economy. Track down the source of your goods and buy direct from them.

    Well, I scored a truckload of potatoes from Idaho for $7000 freight + the cost of the product. Should arrive in my driveway next week.

    Who wants home fries?

  8. HogwartsAlum says:

    Cute stretchy kitty pic!

    A friend gave me her old washer and dryer when I bought my house. She had bought a new set. There was one of those all-in-one units that came with the house (the old Kenmore kind that only washes one sweater at a time). It worked fine, but it was too small.

    The handyman I hired to haul the washer and dryer over here and put it in took the old unit in trade instead of charging me for the work. He was looking for one of those units. It saved me money and the trouble of trying to sell it. :)

    • Con Seannery wants the azure F back! says:

      @HogwartsAlum: What you can’t use, others surely can. It’s bad for the economy as it reduces the flow of goods and services, but it’s good for the planet and sometimes, you just have to look out for yourself, in which case it’s great, or if the thing you’re trading can’t be bought new or have a suitable replacement bought new.

  9. c_c says:

    If everyone did everything D.I.Y. and cut out the middlemen, wouldn’t that prolong the recession by putting even more folks out of work (plumbers, mechanics, grocery stores, etc.)? I’m willing to spend a little extra to do my part in “stimulating” the economy.

  10. Ryan Cooles says:

    Great post! Im moving next weekend and just finished building my bed today. A nice platform bed that took me two weeks would have cost 300$+. I have also been slowly stocking up on all the things I need, only buying stuff on sale and craigslist. Most stuff on craigslist can be fixed or re-finished. I have even found 1.00$ plates at west elm in dallas that are normally 12$ a piece. Just gotta look look look. Any one know of a nice couch in the dallas area?

  11. sabrinad says:

    You know, the rags tip is a killer. My mom always used to have a rag bin in the kitchen for cleaning things up — old cloth diapers were the /best/. But it seems to be sort of a lost art. It seems to draw surprise when I direct someone to the rags under the kitchen sink, now. Too bad, it really does save money and waste fewer trees — I use a roll of paper towels maybe in six months, and mostly for throwing over things in the microwave so they won’t explode. Rags rule!

    • Con Seannery wants the azure F back! says:

      @sabrinad: We keep purpose made rags on hand, and if an old shirt or sock can be salvaged, it becomes a rag. Everyday-wearing shirt -> dirty work shirt -> rags. It’s a wonderful process that takes about 15 years in many cases.

      • PirateCaptain_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @Con Seannery wants the azure F back!: I used to use old socks to blow my nose when I was sick. They were actually quite good. They were easy on the nose, didn’t fall apart under heavy use, and could easily be tossed in the washer w/some bleach to be cleaned+disinfected. BTW, they were CLEAN old socks when I started.

  12. alternatestory says:

    What can I barter to get that kitteh in the picture?

  13. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    There are a few things that are really handy when it comes to repairing clothing. First is finding the best place to do it. A simple repair might be $10 more at another place, but if the cheaper place consistently screws it up, it’s not where you want to go because you’re not getting the best deal. And don’t forget repairing shoes. Any cobbler can generally make an older pair of shoes look practically brand new with some shine and polish. I’m thinking of getting an older pair of heels resoled because they’re one of the most comfortable pair of shoes I wear to work. I paid $45 for the shoes years ago, and it’ll probably cost $15 to resole them – but I think with some patching up, I’ll get another four years out of them.

    • formergr says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Cobblers are awesome! I have a good one near my office, and frequently get shoes re-heeled (brick sidewalks in my neighborhood tear up shoes).

      I can’t remember how much he charges, but I don’t think it’s more than 10-12 dollars, and he gives them a nice polish at the same time, so totally worth it!

  14. Chachoregard says:

    We just had my brother’s girlfriend move in with us to help with the rent and whatnot, and she brought a whole lot of things she has no use for, but ARE needed for our House. We’re creating this family-wide garage sale next week and all of us are pooling our useless crap for change! Even if we make like 30 dollars, at least it’s something.

  15. EdenBabararacucudada says:

    “Buy direct” would be valid advice if middlemen didn’t make deals to keep themselves in business. The middlemen usually have some sort of savings on their end (between 10 and 15%, usually) when dealing with the “source”.

    Say you’ve got some apples. You sell five apples a day for $1 each. One day, conglomoco says that he can probably get some people to buy some of your apples too, and he’ll do it if you let conglomoco sell them for 90 cents. You agree, and conglomoco gets 15 extra people a day to buy apples (though two people switch to conglomoco from buying direct, so it’s more like 13 extra). Everyone’s selling more apples and making more money, so it sticks.

    Add on top of that, conglomoco has deals with lots of different companies, allowing you to compare various fruits from various sellers easily, and in this world of absolutely everything being online, it is just a lot easier, and often cheaper, to buy from a middleman.

    Yes, check out the direct prices, as some middle-men will try to rip you off, but middle-men exist /knowing/ that people will usually go for the cheapest option, so they will usually try to be the cheapest option.

    – A filthy corporate worker-bee who’s overheard a conversation or two

  16. vermontwriter says:

    Be careful of bartering. I once traded babysitting services to a neighbor. She then turned around and declared child care expenses on her taxes claiming the value of her service compared to mine (there is actually space in the Federal Taxes having you declare the estimated cash value of any bartered service/item.

    Because of her actions, I then had to fill out that stupid space on my taxes.

  17. SWBLOOPERS says:

    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

    - My Father