112 Ways To Save Money

You guys are some thrifty freakazoids. We asked you to submit your money-saving secrets and you dumped like 35 elephants on our heads in comments and emails. We’ve trimmed that down to 112 . Here they are! Enjoy your savings.

TRICK PEOPLE OBSESSED WITH BRAND-NAMES

My wife is all about brand-names. She wants Tide – nothing else. Tide is $12 a bottle and Purex is like $7. When we are almost out of ‘Tide’, I go buy Purex and pour it in the Tide bottle. We have had the same bottle of ‘Tide’ for about 7 months. They change packaging now and then so occasionally I still need to buy the real stuff.

THE ZEN OF CONSUMPTION

Don’t buy more than you can use; use everything you buy.

HOST A SWAP PARTY WITH FRIENDS

Trade with friends. Hold a swap and give away stuff while you dig through someone else’s stuff, too. FREE rocks!

KILL YOUR CABLE

Cut loose that sacred cow of budgets: your cable TV. Use sites like http://www.hulu.com and watch shows on network websites for FREE. Sign up for http://www.redbox.com and get one free movie on Monday. Every week. For FREE.

STICK PENS IN MICROWAVE TO GET LAST INK

When your pen ceases to write, it probably still has a great deal of ink in it that is just stuck temporarily. instead of throwing it out, stick your pen in the microwave for 10 seconds to get that ink running again.

BECOME A HAGGLE-MONSTER

Negotiate everything! You’ve got the money, and they have the service. So always ask if that’s the best they can do. I’ve had a lot of success with the cable company, and when buying things at big box electronics store. At J Crew the other day, I found out they offered student discounts. So my advice is to always try to negotiate. My next target: Verizon Wireless.

PRICEBOOKING

Rough pricebooking. I know, I know, really frugal types keep actual price books and note the tiniest fluctuations from store to store on every product. I don’t have that kind of time. Instead, I look to general indicator products I buy frequently and many stores carry in order to gauge which stores are generally the best deal. For example, Kraft Mac and Cheese fluctuates in my area between 50c and 75c a box, but there are two stores of the same chain near me, and one has it between 50 and 60 cents and the other between 65 and 75 cents. Stores in more affluent areas often jack up prices, so it’s worth keeping an eye on that sort of thing.

CREDIT CARDS ONLY IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Credit cards are only for cash not on hand, not on-the-spot loans. Use them online, use them in stores instead of carrying cash, but don’t rack up charges you can’t immediately cover. Don’t assume that the money will come, because you never know when catastrophe will hit and a job will be lost, a car will need sudden repair, or a medical bill might hit.

DON’T BUY KIDS’ CLOTHES NEW

Do not buy children’s clothes, especially infant clothes, first-hand unless they are a gift or some kind of special souvenir.

DIY OR DIE 4EVA

When possible, make instead of buying. But don’t be suckered into spending a fortune on craft tools you don’t really need. For basic home crafts like knitting, sewing, etc., you can easily get away with just a few bucks on inexpensive supplies and tools and then delight your friends and family with home-made gifts.

DIY EYE GLASSES LENS CLEANER:

Just mix 50/50: Rubbing Alcohol and Sterile or Deionized Water. Pour into travel hand pump containers.

Eye glasses lens cleaner is 2.99 for 4-oz. Sure, soap and water works, but not if you’re our-doors or when it’s not available. This recipe is so cheap, and it works great.

CHEAP TEA

When I make a pot of tea (after letting it steep) I pour a cup of tea and then top off the pot again with more hot water (leaving the tea bags in place to continue steeping).

CHEAP WARMTH

It was a long, brutal winter. Instead of cranking up the thermostat on cold nights my husband and I invested in a very nice electric blanket.

GET THIS BOOK

Borrow a copy of “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn from your local public library. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. You may even be able to pick up a free copy from Freecycle.org (another useful site forsaving money and doing good).

BRUSH WITHOUT TOOTHPASTE

Clean your teeth with a combination of salt and baking soda. Doesn’t taste as good as toothpaste, but is much cheaper and better for your gums (my late husband was a dentist and I owe this one to him – he died at age 89 with all his teeth in his head!)

TURN DOWN THE HEAT

Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. 120 deg F is hot enough and you save a lot by not heating to 140 deg. F.

BUY A $5 ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

My wife and I buy a $5 rotisserie chicken from the store ($3 if it is one day old), and eat the white meat for a dinner. Next, we pick off all the meat we can, and cook the skin, bones, etc in a stockpot or pressure cooker. This garners about 2 quarts of wonderful broth, which freezes well. $5 can make the basis for 6 meals in our household.

Even cheaper is frozen chicken, but who has the time!

DIY BROTH

Making your own broth or stock needs a comeback. We currently have 4 quarts of broth in our freezer, plus a gallon of chicken soup made from some other broth, in addition to 2 quarts of chili, all in Foodsaver bags.

SAVE BY DELAYING

Consider the future: most new release movies are between $18-20, wait a couple months and most will drop to $10-12. Walmart’s $5 bin!

The obvious one: If you don’t NEED it, or you can live without it, then don’t buy it, at least right now. Wait on it and see how badly you want it, and when you have a little extra, go for it. That way you’re not just spending on impulse, you know you really want it and it will be worth the money.

DON’T BUY PRE-CUT FRUIT

Don’t buy pre-cut fruit, buy the whole fruit. You save a couple dollars every time.

EDITED BLUE-CHEESE DRESSING

If you like blue cheese dressing, but find the price in grocery stores a bit too much ( a bit too blue cheesy), do what a lot of restaurants do- cut it with mayonnaise. A regular sized blue cheese dressing cut with equal amount of regular mayonnaise will literally double the amount you get, and the flavor is much better. I reuse old mayo containers to mix a batch up each time I buy a new blue cheese dressing.

REFILL YOUR OWN HOT SAUCE

Also, if you’re a fan of the hot sauce with the whole peppers in vinegar, you can simply replace the vinegar 5 or 6 times with regular white vinegar, and stash in it the fridge for a few days. The result in exactly the same thing, less $3 for a new bottle.

DIY PAPER TOWELS

I saved a few of the cardboard tubes from paper towel rolls. I bought two yards of white cotton flannel (about $8) and cut it into paper-towel-sized squares. I did a fast zigzag stitch around the edges of each one (cutting and sewing took about two hours total) and rolled them up onto the tubes. I use them for anything you’d use a papertowel for. When they’re dirty, I wash them in hot water with bleach, dry them in the dryer without a dryer sheet (so they’ll be more absorbent) and roll them onto another tube. I’ll never buy paper towels again. Cheap, and better for the environment, I think.

TREAT STAINS RIGHT AWAY

Use stain treatment sprays to prolong the life of your clothes. Treat stains right away. Laziness will lose your fave shirt….

PLAN YOUR MEALS

Plan your menu for at least one week at a time. This will prevent you from over-buying. Planning accounts for every penny.

DIY BREAD

Make your own bread. Not only will you feel super accomplished, but your bread will taste better than anything you can buy. Seriously….store bought bread sucks….Some to my house and have some of my bread. It’ll make you slap your momma and leave home.

CLOTHESLINE

Use a clothesline. If for nothing else, then jeans and towels which take FOREVER in the dryer. Saves me about $50 a month.

SERGE YOUR SOCKS

My husband buys long tube socks for work. When his safety shoes’ metal toe causes holes in the toe of the sock, he asks me to serge (sew and cut) the toe section off. When they finally become short as anklets, he then uses them for rags in the garage. I’ve been doing this for him for the last 20 years.

DIY WHITENING TOOTHPASTE

Instead of a whitening mouthwash, use a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide ($1.99/32 oz bottle) and water.

USE FARMER’S MARKETS

I like to go to farmers’ markets and hunt for deals on certain foods that when purchased in moderate bulk can be very cheap. Also, if you get to know the vendors they will often give you a deal if you come back week after week. Trader Joe’s is good too. I basically don’t buy any prepared foods whether it’s fresh or frozen. That can really drive up the cost.

CUT YOUR MEAT

I also cut down on my meat and fish consumption and try to eat meals with lots of veggies. Stews and soups are the most economical because it makes the most of a little meat and you can make a ton of it and freeze half.

EAT EGGS

Eggs. They’re so cheap yet you can make so many delicious high-protein meals with them!

JACK ALL THE FREE SOAP IN A HOTEL ROOM

I travel for business A LOT. Every month or so at minimum, and sometimes I can be gone for most of an entire month. Therefore, I’m always at hotels. Most hotels give out free soap, shampoo, and conditioner, with maybe some lotion or mouthwash if you’re lucky. I say that because I take them ALL and hoard them.

REACTIVATE YOUR SHAMPOO

When shampoo or bodywash is empty, place opening near showerhead and fill it with a little water. Swoosh it around a little and walah, you have more left and it seemingly works just as well.

“DISPOSABLE” RAZORS CAN LAST A LONG TIME

I get my disposable razors to last for 6+ months just by making sure they are wiped clean and dry when I finish shaving and it still doesn’t nick me.

PUT A MASON JAR IN YOUR TOILET

Put one or two 1 quart mason jars in the tank of your toilet. If you keep the lid off the jars there will always be fresh water flowing into them and they won’t get nasty, but they will save a quart of water for each jar you use everytime you flush the toilet.

REPLACE SCRUBS WITH HAND MITS

I used to buy an apricot scrub for my face. Instead of buying the scrub, I now use reusable hand mitts, whose texture exfoliates my skin. I bought them at a local pedicure place for $3. They work better and the cost of one bottle of the scrub is about the same for a pair of mitts.

YOU CAN ONLY FIT ONE EYEDROP IN YOUR EYE

If you use eyedrops for any reason, there’s NO need to use more than 1 in each eye. My doctor told me recently that more than one drop cannot physically fit within the confines of your eyelid, and only one drop is enough to cover the entire surface of the eye. He said that drug companies always encourage you to use 2 or more in an effort to reel in more money at twice the rate necessary. So, whether it’s an antibiotic drop for a pink eye infection or seasonal allergy drops, one in each eye is enough.

Mouth rinses (like Listerine) tell you to use a full capful. Half a capful is perfectly sufficient for me, and it might be just enough for you, too.

You’ll cut down on sugar intake AND save money by watering down your juices halfway. This might sound disgusting at first, but after doing this for a few years, full-strength juices are way too sweet for me. A half cup of cranberry apple juice + a half cup of water = perfect. (Oh, and don’t let Mott’s assist you in the process and make you pay for it — do it yourself by only purchasing 100% juice.)

Do you love the scent of super-expensive laundry detergent but hate the price? Buy some of the cheaper unscented store-brand detergent, put about 1/3 of it into another container temporarily, and then replace the lost amount with the good-smelling expensive kind. Blend, and use. Your laundry will still smell the way you like it & it’ll cost less over time.

SAVE 50-70% ON HOME IMPROVEMENT

If you’re planning a home improvement project, check with Habitat For Humanity’s “ReStore” Facilities in your area. Prices are 50-70% lower than they are elsewhere. http://www.habitat.org/cd/env/restore.aspx

Also, check with local builders for any properties that are going to get demolished. Old fixtures, tubs, etc. can sometimes be scavenged and sold at a profit or used in your own renovations.

INFLATE YOUR TIRES

Make sure your car tires are inflated to the proper pressure and tune up your car as per the manufacturer’s specifications. Today’s computer controlled cars do not operate at peak efficiency unless all of the sub-systems are in good working order.

KILL ANTS WITH BORIC ACID

Use boric acid instead of high-cost pesticides or traps to deter ants from coming into your house.

SAVE EVERY $5-BILL

I save every $5 bill I’m given. I collect them, deposit them into the bank, and then I put them into a high interest savings account. The result? I’ve saved almost $3,000.

People have said “why don’t you just move a lump sum from checking to savings every month?” The problem is that human beings are bad at doing this. But we’re good at saving small amounts – I hardly notice that my purchase “cost” an extra $5. And since the money goes through my checking account a second time so quickly I never am tempted to spend it.

RECORD EVERYTHING YOU SPEND

Feel the pain every time you spend $$$, no matter how small, by opening an account at xpenser.com (free) and getting into the habit of recording EVERY time you use cash or credit by sending them a text. you can also use email, twitter, etc. however texting would work best for most people since it takes a few seconds and they carry their cell phone with them everywhere. this system allows you to be completely honest about your expenses and lets you tag and track categories of spending. just logging into xpenser reminds you how wasteful (or frugal!) you are and can be a great tool.

GHETTO ICED LATTE

In the summer when you want an iced latte, but don’t want to spend $5 order an ‘iced doppio’ which costs $2 and add your own milk. In the iced drinks they don’t steam the milk, so you’re paying $3 for them to put it into your glass for you.

MAKE THIS YOUR NEW CREDO

“If it’s not on sale, it doesn’t exist.”

APPLE TV FTW

One way I saved money was to get rid of my satellite TV service and replace it with an Apple TV. The satellite was costing me $50 per month and now I budget $12 per month to rent movies over the internet.

BECOME THE CAULK OF THE WALK

Another way to save money for me was to buy a bunch of tubes of clear caulk (88 tubes) and caulk the heck out of my all electric ranch house. I caulked around the electrical outlet boxes, wall switch boxes, air registers, recessed ceiling lights and underneath the baseboards (behind the carpet). It took me a few days to do it all but Duke Energy’s online analysis of my bill showed that it saved me $100 in January.

MAKE A GARDEN

I garden, starting my seeds indoors (not buying plants from a store/market). I also learned how to harvest seeds from my mature plants last year, so I didn’t even need to buy seeds.

CAN IT

I learned how to can/preserve. So any surplus produce gets turned into sauces, or simply gets canned on its own.

RIDE YOUR BIKE

Ride your bicycle to work. No need to pay for gasoline or added depreciation, wear, and tear on your car. Your auto insurance company may also reduce your rate if you reduce your annual mileage.

DILUTE WINDEX

When Windex bottle is half empty, fill to brim with water — diluted Windex works just fine.

DAY OLDS

Buy day-old (price reduced) bread, rolls, pies and freeze.

FREEZE YOUR BERRIES

Buy on-sale berries in summer and freeze for year-round use.

CUT YOUR OWN HAIR

Do your own haircuts and coloring — not as hard as you might think!

GROOM YOUR OWN DOG

Learn to groom your dog yourself — we learned from an episode of “Dirty Jobs.”

REUSE AMAZON BOXES

Re-use shipping boxes from Amazon.com to ship back items sold on Ebay.

GET A BIIIIIIIG BOTTLE OF KETCHUP

Buy industrial size ketchup containers in cans for $5 and then refill your individual bottles. These cans can be found at restaurant suppliers typically but can save a lot of money on ketchup, especially name brand like Heinz!

BUY NEARLY SPOILED MEET, THEN FREEZE TIME!

I’ve heard of people buying almost expiring meat products from the deli with the sticker reduced to 50 cents. A friend of mine grabs all of these, sticks them in the freezer and carefully eats them each week. He says once its frozen the ice prevents spoilage of the deli meat products.

MAKE SALADS LAST 10 DAYS

People I’ve shared this with don’t seem to know that if they make a whole green-salad and put it into a ziploc-style bag as opposed to a tupperware-type container, the salad will last about 10 days! The trick to it is: 1)never, ever use a metal knife on lettuce- it oxidizes it and it turns brown. Use a plastic lettuce-knife, or do what I do- pretend it’s a rich Wall Street exec and rip it to shreds. 2) You have to squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag as possible- simply lay it on the table, use your arm to push out the air and the other hand to zip it quick. Works like magic, and who needs stupid green bags, vacuum-seal bags, etc!

STOP DRINKING

I quit drinking for a month, and by a rough estimate, I saved probably $300-$350. Maybe I’m kind of an alky, but even people who drink moderately can save money by cutting down on drinking, or just drinking at home. Also, buy the cheap stuff. Booze tastes exactly the same with any mixer in it. Like, you probably won’t notice the difference between Pinnacle vodka (12 bucks a bottle in WA, where I live) and Ketel One ($27 a bottle) if you’re putting cranberry juice in it. Just a thought.

GET SCISSCORHAND ON YOUR CARDS

My buddy cut up his debit card. he has the info memorized so if he needs to order something online he can but he has to go to the bank to get $ to spend. this way unless he really needs it he doesn’t feel like taking the time to go to the bank and also it completely curbs his late night spending

YOU REALLY CAN FIND IT ALL ON EBAY

If you know what you are doing, you can buy almost anything on Ebay cheaper than a store (be careful of shipping costs, but remember there is no sales tax). Ink cartridges, razor blades, clothes, shoes (all new and unused), sporting goods, electronics, car parts, etc. Many items are one-fourth to one-half of what you would otherwise pay.

LOSE THE LANDLINE

If possible, get rid of your landline telephone. Replace with VoIP, or cellphone depending on your needs. Getting VoIP has saved me several hundred dollars annually.

CUT YOUR PAPER TOWELS IN HALF, USE TWICE AS LONG

Cut your paper towel rolls in half. I know, short-sheet versions are sold now, but they cost more.

JUMBO BAG OF POTATOES

3 lb. bag of potatoes FTW! Seriously. Potato is the most flexible food in the world. A little garlic, milk, butter, salt and pepper… voila.

VISIT MUSEUMS ON FREE DAYS

Go to museums on “free” days, which are generally in the beginning or middle of the week, when people are less likely to take a day off. They also won’t be as crowded either, especially if it’s cold right now. Tourists only come when it’s warm.

ALWAYS CHECK THE UNIT PRICES!

Look at unit prices every time you shop. The bigger package isn’t always cheaper… and sometimes it was cheaper last week but not this week.

MAKE MULTIPLE MEALS AT THE SAME TIME

Cooking more than one meal. People who live alone complain “they don’t want to cook for just want person.” So I say don’t. Cook, but cook several meals and portion them up into tupperwares.

If you’re making chicken, rice, salads, etc – bake or grill a whole tray of it (or include other meats for variety) and save it. If I make something good, like barbecue chicken or green chili I certainly don’t mind eating the same thing the day after for lunch.

On Sunday afternoons I usually grill some meats, hard boil some eggs, boil potatoes and rice and put it all in various size tupperwares. Then I have full meals I can grab, and stuff to snack on that isn’t junk. (like cooked chicken with mustard.)

Great for at home, taking to work, and on the go. And I rarely eat fast food or junk food.

REUSE YOUR ZIPLOCS

I wash out my ziploc bags. You can turn them inside out and throw them in the wash when you do laundry. Hang ‘em to dry and you’d never know they were in the washing machine.

DON’T BUY STUFF YOU CAN’T AFFORD

Seriously, 50% of the things people buy are not necessities. The way I’ve done it is to only spend cash. Yes, I carry a debit and credit card for emergencies, but I only spend cash. That way, if I want to buy something I either have to make a special trip, or I have to consider buying it, get cash from home (when I reconsider buying it), and then reconsider buying it again at the store. Most of the time, by the time I get home I’ve talked myself out of buying whatever it is I wanted because I don’t really need it. If more people started using cash for their day-to-day expenses rather than just throwing that latte, lunch, and dinner on the debit or credit card they would save a ton of money.

WE LOVE COSTCO

Join a warehouse club like Costco or BJ’s — or both. (I refuse to endorse anything related to Wal-Mart). The membership fees can easily pay for themselves… they do for us!

DID YOU FORGET HOW TO BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH?

I’ll put in a plug for the Lunch in a Box blog [lunchinabox.net] , especially its FAQs and lists, for helpful lunch-bringing tips. The bento-esque approach is also useful for maximizing leftovers, because a tablespoonful is enough to stick in a lunch along with other stuff.

TEAR SNUGGLE’S SHEETS IN HALF

Make the Snuggle bear cry: tear those dryer sheets in half. A half works just as well as a whole on static and you won’t go to work smelling like a field of chemical flowers.

PIMP YOUR OWN RIDE

Do your own auto maintenance. This requires a bit of up-front investment for some tools, but spending $75 on a quality socket set, an oil-filter wrench, and an oil pan will save you a lot down the road. For a filter and 4 1/2 quarts of oil I paid $18 as opposed to the $30 and up most places charge. I was quoted $500 for a brake caliper change that I did for less than $100 with some brake fluid and an aftermarket part from Checker.

SPLIT INTERNET WITH NEIGHBORS

Split your internet. This is a big one for apartments: If you can, hang up a flyer, set a secure WPA or WPA2 key, and charge them $5 or so a month. If someone abuses it, change the key and give it back out to those who are still using it.

LASER PRINTERS ARE CHEAPER

Buy a desktop laser printer, not an inkjet. Yes, the printer and toner are more expensive up-front but a typical toner cartridge pumps out 5,000+ sheets (as opposed to the roughly 500-100 that an ink cartridge can do). If a black cartridge costs $20 and the toner is $80, you’ve saved $120 or more. Plus toner cartridges don’t dry out and look a hell of a lot more professional.

SAVE 50% ON HEATING WITH PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS

Purchase a programmable thermostat and learn how to use it properly! This, combined with plastic on my windows, knocked my heating bill in my house down about 50%.

BUY FOOD ON FRIDAYS

I do my grocery shopping on Friday when the sales and specials come out. This means I have a fridge and cupboards full of food — no excuse to eat out, and on the weekends I have time to try new recipes or bake bread, make casseroles for busy nights.

LEARN TO SEW

Learn basic sewing – Doesn’t have to be anything fancy just some needle and thread to sew on buttons or repair small tears along seams.

GET A BIG OL FREEZER AND FILL IT

Buy a large freezer and buy in bulk – over the long term this can save a lot of money. Have some freezer bags and foil at home, go out to a bulk store buy a 10 lb container of hamburger and break it up into 1 lb bags. Savings will add up quickly and you don’t have to go out to shop as often. The more you go out to shop the more impulse buys you will make.

RICE IS NICE

Cook with Rice – rice is a great side dish or filler for almost any meal and it is VERY cheap it’s also very healthy. If you do this on a regular basis a rice cooker may be a good investment as most double as vegetable steamers as well (vegetables are also great to buy in bulk frozen).

CHANGE YOUR OWN OIL

Learn to change your own oil for your car – when you do this buy a reusable oil pan (one that seals) so you can take the oil to a drop of for recycling.

FLASK IT

I know this sounds ghetto, but…before I go out on the night on the town I fill my flask with the strongest stuff I have in my liquor cabinet. This why I don’t have to by drinks. Or if I’m going out to eat with friends, I try to eat something before leaving home so I just order a cheap appetizer when I’m out.

FIND THE CHEAP FAS

Use websites like http://www.gaspricewatch.com or http://www.gasbuddy.com to keep track of where the cheapest gas is in relation to where I am.

SAVE ON GAMES AND MOVIES WITH GAMEFLY AND NETFLIX

Gamefly and Netflix. I’ve saved hundreds in going to the movies and buying games cause of these services.
CEILING FANS

We installed ceiling fans in the bedroom and living room. They really help keep cooling costs down. Of course in the summer when it’s hot, we’ll use the AC at night but for just regulating temperature, the fans are perfect.

SAVE WITH PREPAID CELL SERVICE

Prepaid cellular is a great way to save money depending on you calling habits. The spouse and I average about $25 per month on calls, much cheaper than any standard post paid plan that I can find.

CLOTH DIAPERS

We just spent about $450 on diapers and wipes. How does that save any money? They’re reusable, adjustable (one size fits all), cloth diapers and flannel wipes.

We expect our son to be in diapers for at least another 24 months, and given that we easily spend $70 a month on disposables, we should save at least $1200 in the long run. Plus the resale value of the bumgenius diapers is high, we can probably get $200-300 back when we’re done, pushing our savings to $1400-1600.

DIY DRY CLEANING

Do you dry cleaning at home w/ a kit and an iron. You’d be shocked at how much you pay someone to do something this easy.

START A COSTCO POSSE

Create a “bulk club” – take 2-3 friends and split up bulk items (usually TP, paper towels, cleaners, etc) from Sams Club or Costco into usable amounts that won’t take up all your space.

RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUY

Avoid big purchases without researching prices on the internet first. If you know what it goes for in a retail location, you can ALWAYS find a better deal online.

CLOTHING SWAP SITES

Rehashclothes.com- this is a site where you can trade clothes, shoes, accessories, etc with others. All you do is agree on a trade with someone, and ship the items to them. So you get a new wardrobe for the cost of shipping.

DIVA CUP

For the ladies: Diva Cup. (Or Moon Cup)

BUY OUT OF STATE

Simply shopping online can be a huge money-saver. Since you can often avoid sales tax and shipping (which avoids gas cost of going to the store) you can save a lot.

Another option – especially for big ticket items and when you can’t avoid paying sales tax online — research sales tax rates of your neighboring states. I live in Maryland and often go to Delaware (0% sales tax) to buy things. If you plan to buy a lot of things, the gas is definitely worth it!!!

USE IT ALL

I see a lot of blog entries and articles on how to save money on groceries but not a lot of ink is spilled on how not to waste what you spent so much energy getting on the cheap. Paying $1.00 a gallon for milk doesn’t save you money if you end up throwing three gallons away because they spoiled before you could drink it all. And even the tiniest bit of something leftover – like 1/2 a cup of cooked squash or leftover oatmeal – can be saved and incorporated into another dish like muffins.

USE CFLS

Replace all the bulbs in your house to CFLs! A 20 watt bulb replaces a 75 watt incandescent and gives you 100 more lumens. Don’t use the 75-100 watt equiv. where a 40 watt one will work (porch, fridge, hallway etc…) Over a 5 year period EACH incandescent will cost about $70 in fees while each CFL is about $20! (Not to mention replacement costs for regular bulbs.)

BUY FROM A BUTCHER

When buying meat, find a grocery store with a butcher. Buying more meat than you need wastes money. If your grocery store sells only prepackaged meat and you can’t find the exact amount that you want, flag someone down that works there and have them check the back. The savings add up quickly.

DIY SWIFFER

Make your own swiffer cloths from an old flannel shirt (go to the thrift store if you don’t have one), old flannel works just as good as the throw away cloths, and they can just be washed in the washer with towels (and the swiffer is a necessity at my house with a dog and a cat and 2 boys on hard wood floors)

WORSHIP THE COINJAR

Collecting change is a good way. We saved up enough change to buy our Wii. The next thing we spent change on was a ski trip (paid for hotel stay.) Right now we have over $100 in our change bag from the last 9 months or so.

COUPONS!

Clipping coupons. No joke, I save anywhere from 10 to upwards of 40% of my total bill when I use coupons. The trick is to only cut them for the products you will actually (and usually) purchase. Don’t be tempted to buy something just because you have a coupon and it looks interesting. Chances are you will never use/eat it. The Sunday paper is my favorite source, but of course they have a slew of on-line coupon websites, only downfall is having to print them out. If and when you do print them out: go to the box marked “Preferences” and remember to select “Print in Grayscale” in the options and under print quality, select “Draft” so you don’t use any color ink and you minimize the amount of black ink when you do print them. Hope this helps!

SWITCH YOUR DRUGDEALER

Watch for those switch your prescription to a certain pharmacy deals. Pharmacies here during certain promos will give you $25 gifts cards for up to 2 or 4 prescriptions transferred to them.

TELL YOUR KIDS NO

Here’s a big one: STOP SPOILING YOUR KIDS! I’m always amazed at how otherwise sane and thrifty people will spend any amount of money on all kinds of unnecessary crap to keep their kids happy.

HOW YOU PAY YOUR BILLS

Use your bank’s free bill pay service to manage your bills. Never use credit cards to auto-pay for anything. Never allow a vendor to debit your bank.

CALL YOUR SERVICE PROVIDERS AND ASK FOR DEALS

Re-evaluate all your services every 6 months. Credit cards, cell phones, cable/satellite, utilities, etc. Often new deals can be had, but they will not give them to you unless you ask.

GET INK ON EBAY

Buy ink for your printer on eBay for about $1.25 per ink tank. They work for me and I save a ton of money.

SHARE RAZORS

My husband and I share razors – the blades we like are expensive but they nick his face long before they nick my legs. So, he uses them on his face and after a couple of uses he passes them on to me. We spend only half as much on the super-good blades.

MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE

This is so dumb, but I recently started actually measuring out how much laundry detergent I put in the washing machine, rather than just eye balling how much I pour in. It lasts so much longer now.

KILL THE ENERGY VAMPIRES WITH TIMERS

Get a few heavy duty, 3 prong timers ( [www.amazon.com] ) and put them on the power hungry things in the house. I plugged my TV, stereo, DVD player, Xbox and Wii into an power strip and then that into the timer. They all get turned off completely every night. Over the course of a month, it works out to the same time as if they were off for an entire week. I put another under my computer and the second monitor, printer, speakers, and chargers all get turned off at night. Saves at least about 15 bucks each month.

DIY DOG FOOD

I make my own dog food. It’s healthier for the dog than all the gluten filled food and we can usually just add all our leftover beans, rice and veggies to it. I buy the cheapest cuts of meat and marked down stuff then add whatever is on sale. Her allergies are improving and I don’t have to make an extra trip to Petsmart

HAVE ONLY 4 PERIODS

I use a form of birth control that limits me to 4 periods a year and reduces the length and severity of those which I do have. Since I naturally have very rough periods, it’s been great for my energy level and productivity. It saves me a good deal of money on sanitary supplies and over-the-counter medication for pain relief and upset stomach. I can maintain a smaller wardrobe because I don’t have to use my “bloaty clothes” very often. And let’s be frank – it stabilizes my mood and prevents a lot of emotional eating, impulse buying, and other costly, unhealthy habits.

CHANGE YOUR LIGHT SWITCHES

Change your light switches. Seriously. I have automatic dimmers in my house for most of my lights. I set the intensity to about 70-80% and with one push I am always at the lower usage setting. If I need brighter lights, just tap the switch two times. Here’s the really best part. By using a dimmer the light bulbs last WAY longer. This is because they don’t experience the sudden jolt of being turned on. Bulbs on dimmers in my house have not been changed AT ALL in over 4 years, while other bulbs have been changed 3, maybe 4 times at least.

MEAL-SHARE WITH FRIENDS

1. Have a meal-share deal with a friends. I’m single. I have a lot of single friends. We take turns hosting dinners at our places. It keeps us from going out and spending money, plus I get 2 homecooked meals for every meal I make. I also like it because I have issues with cooking too much food, so I don’t waste as much.

COMPOST HEAP

Start a compost heap. Not only do you get free fertilizer and it’s good for the environment, but you’ll probably save money when you see how much crap you throw out and adjust your buying patterns.

ORGANIZE YOUR CUPBOARDS

Organize your cupboards in a first-in-first-out order. Put the new stuff in the back so you use old stuff first and it doesn’t go to waste.

ONE-PERSON, ONE LIGHT

We have a one person, one light rule; if you move from room to room, you have to turn off the lights as you go. There’s no reason you have to light up a room you’re not in and once you get into the habit, it’s easy to maintain.

DIY LADIES SANITARY ITEMS

Sew your own reusable ladies sanitary items. Seriously. You can download the patterns free online and it is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying that disposable crap every month!

(Photo: darkmatter)