This Is What I'm Spending Less On

I decided recently that I’m spending too much money and decided to cut back on some discretionary items. Here are a few things I reduced, or changes I’ve made in my spending habits:

Monthly Reductions
Took off text message packet from cellphone (I only had added it for a now defunct text/cellphone pic heavy project). Savings: $10/month
Cut piano lessons from weekly to bi-weekly.
Savings: $100/month
Reduced Netflix plan from four-at-a-time to two-at-a-time.
Savings: $13/month
Eating out less, cooking more.
Savings: ~$100/month

Fought harder for Commerce Bank fees than I might have normally.
Savings: $45
Had to replace broken cellphone. Opted for cheap model on eBay instead of getting the same semi-nice one.
Savings: $140
Going to hit up WaMu for their one per year courtesy fee waiver.
Savings: $35

One-time savings total: $215
Monthly savings: $223
Yearly savings: $2,891

Going to hold a tag sale this Sunday as well. Have you adjusted your spending habits lately? What are you doing to save more or spend less money?

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Here_we_go says:

    I installed a tankless water heater.

  2. newlywed says:

    where on earth are all of those bank fees coming from, ben? :-D

  3. Charybdis says:

    Wait a minute… you bought something off eBay? Isn’t that kind of like Ed Begley Jr. buying his solar-powered car from Monsanto?

  4. RBecho says:

    Carpooling now, which is nice, also modifying my driving style, so far I have noticed a 10% increase in fuel economy. In general my spending wasn’t wild so there wasn’t a lot there to cut but these two have helped.

  5. jamesdenver says:

    Kudos to anyone trying to plug some leaks – but I realized a long time ago little things DON’T make a big difference.

    Rather – how you live your overall life in general is the biggest factor. Those who live above their means, dress to impress, and need to drive a fancy car will always be at a loss if they can’t afford it (or even if they can) despite the fact they take the advice of a pithy top 10 list telling them to cut out your daily Starbucks and save $50 a month.

    BUT – a family who consistently judges their wants vs means, lives debt free, shares an older model reliable car, feels proud to bike around town, and doesn’t need to live in a castle they can’t afford will not even HAVE to worry about a few dollars misspent here and there because in the long run money is stacking up in their savings and 401ks.

    I try to live the latter – which gives me money for things I consider pleasures in life like lattes, travel, and more free time for nice dinners with friends and family.

    So yeah – in some cases the little things DON’T make a diff. Logical?

  6. laserjobs says:

    I am eating more beans and converted my car to natural gas.

  7. Truvill says:

    Finding cheaper and cheaper foods for self-made lunch.

    Otherwise, save for emergencies, I’m doing fine.

  8. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Haven’t really changed my spending habits. If anything, I’ve increased my discretionary spending (granted, I did just pay of a couple of college credit cards, so that helps).

  9. Zombilina says:

    My partner has a big appetite, and so I’ve just let him eat what he wants to eat and I eat what he doesn’t want to eat. Seriously. We’ve already saved money by me eating soups, Boca burgers, etc., but he’s decided he likes hummus now. So much for that.

    I have a feeling I’m not explaining this well. I buy stuff I know he won’t want to eat so there’s food left for me. Then he can eat the stuff we BOTH like.

    This is the weirdest comment I’ve ever written, anywhere.

  10. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I limit my restaurant outings to McD’s and BK. Plus, I only order from the $1 menu. This saves me a lot of money.

  11. skittlbrau says:

    @Assimilation: Doesn’t sound weird to me… but my husband is a BOTTOMLESS PIT.

    We’re cutting back on the takeout a bit, but partially because I’m planning on gradual school, which unfortunately is expen$ive.

  12. outinthedark says:

    Dropped my land line for Skype – $114 savings/year
    Dropped my TV [Hulu/Netflix FTW!] – $540 savings/year

    Renewed my XBL subscription not through MS and in a bundle deal with MS points – $20 savings

    Doubled payments on 3 small student loans – $430 savings
    Doubled payments on Bike – $240 savings

    I’ve been taking a lot of advice from here and from our good friend that owns his own debt consolidation firm. Been knocking out student loans, consolidating and just absolutely trying as hard as I can to wipe my debt clean. Raised my credit score almost 150 points and working the reward card deal now and it’s working out great!

    Only 2 years to go and all my student loans will be gone!*

    *of course permitting I don’t get married, have a kid and/or not limited to moving out of the states for work.

  13. Sudonum says:

    Stopped buying crap I really didn’t need. Cleaning out a flooded house after Katrina helped, I saw all the junk I had accumulated and never really used. I had a few choices, throw it out, clean it up and try to save it, or buy another one. My wife and I had a rule, if we hadn’t used it in the past 12 months then it went into the trash. If we used it, but infrequently, then we tried to clean it up. If it was something we used a lot, we replaced it. I’m still using a few tools I cleaned up, compressor, wet saw, pressure washer, and a some others. It really changed my perspective.

  14. Yoooder says:

    My big saving come from carrying my hPDA again to track my credit card spending and keep my allowance (loosely) enforced. I might go 25% over what I tell myself I can, but it’s way better than what I spend if I spend if I just tell myself “I think I’ve skimped enough to buy this this month!”

  15. GoPadge says:

    Ditch your Mega-bank altogether. Switch to a credit union or a local bank. When we first moved to Texas we deposited our money at our local small bank. Two weeks later they call because our first round of bills were coming in to be processed. We had $25 in checking and several thousand in savings. The local branch called to ask if we wanted them to transfer some money over to checking. Do you think Chase (You Down) Manhattan would have called?

  16. samurailynn says:

    @skittlbrau = baa: “…because I’m planning on gradual school, which unfortunately is expen$ive.”

    Gradual school, eh? I guess that’s what you’d call what I’m doing – one class per term.

  17. thwarted says:

    I sort of accidentally started spending less on clothes. New job that requires suits 5 days a week = 5 suits = no need to buy jeans or casual clothes anymore, sadly.

  18. jodles says:

    i started making some of my own beauty products from stuff in my kitchen–they work better than the expensive salon stuff!

    also started bringing snacks with me on long outings so i won’t have to stop and buy food while i’m out.

    oh! and checking out free stuff up for offer on craigslist. most of it’s junk, but sometimes you catch someone who is moving or doesn’t have room to keep something really cool.

  19. billbillbillbill says:

    Downgraded cable = $40 a month
    Added insulation to attic – hopefully some off the gas bill
    Planted a big ol Garden- hopefully will save some money at grocery store

  20. amyschiff says:

    packing lunch for work and not buying bottled water works

  21. CubFx says:

    I have made a number of changes, though it seems my bottom line isn’t any bigger.

    – shop around for my cell phone plan: 20/month
    – cut caller id on my land line: 9/month
    – cut long distance on my land line: 5/month
    – stop eating out so much: 350/month
    – trade in truck for fuel efficient car (keep payoff date): . Payment: +100/month
    . Fuel: -200/month
    . Insurance: -60/6-month
    . Maintenance: -400/year
    . TOTAL: 143/month
    – Shop with grocery lists: 150/month
    – Lock up all credit cards: 50/month
    – switch from netflix to “redbox” when I want to see a movie (only really watch couple a month, if that): 12/month
    – Dropped the “everything” pack on DirecTV: 40/month
    – Reduced driving (biking more, combining trips, etc): 50/month

    I still eat out too much, but in January I charged 800+ at restaurants on my AMEX, feeding just my partner and myself. Last month, that was $250, and I have lost weight in the process.

    The little things begin to add up, and I can definitely see a difference in my savings account.

  22. spinachdip says:

    I pack my lunches instead of eating out. That saves at least $50 a month. But I stopped going out for drinks, and that’s saving me untold millions a week.

  23. Jackasimov says:

    I just begged a nice lady at a hotel to give me back my non-refundable room reservation. I’m definitely not too proud to beg for my own money. Morally, I’m against the idea of them taking my money and giving me nothing in return if I can’t make the reservation – I’d allow it only if they could prove they weren’t able to rent the room out in the 21 day interim. Anyway, nice lady gets a thank you card. Made my day.

    Also, I’m rehabbing a termite infested, squirrel-ridden house and I’m finding it a lot easier to negotiate prices with the contractors. Screw just giving them their asking price anymore.

    Also, switching to $1 menu at McDs. Living off fat stores between meals.

    At new house, will be dropping land-line, insulating with closed-cell foam, and hopefully installing tankless water heater.

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    I never took piano lessons because I couldn’t fit the damn thing in the shower.

  25. mac-phisto says:

    i stopped buying gas & instead just pull up next to a parked car in a dark lot, puncture the tank with a pick, & dance & laugh hysterically as i save ~$200/mo.!

    ok, not really b/c that would be a really assholic. instead, i pack all my calories into one (maybe two) meal(s)/day, stopped hitting the bars, canceled my poker games every friday & i don’t go to the casino anymore.

    oh, & i solicit in back alleys instead of on the main drag. j/k.

    i’ve lost twice as much in fun as i’ve saved in money. :(

  26. loudguitars says:

    Mooching three meals a day off of work. Of course, I work 10-14 hours a day and will probably be working at least 2 six day weeks next month, so they owe me. :)

  27. bleh says:

    No more HBO. I didn’t watch it all that much anyway. I’m considering dropping a tier in channels and dropping my cable modem speed to the next level downas well.

  28. ptkdude says:

    Switched from diving to work to taking transit. I used to spend $120 a month in gas, and now spend $20 for a MARTA card (my employer subsidizes $35 of the cost).

  29. umbriago says:

    Getting rid of cable television and hooking up an old computer so I could use netflix was the best idea I had last year.

    You’re paying for channels you mostly don’t watch. Why are you doing that?

  30. Pithlit says:

    We traded in our minivan for a Toyota Camry Hybrid. In addition to saving on gas, I find I enjoy the Camry much more. I love watching the display that tells me what mode it’s in, and trying to drive to maximize the efficiency is almost like playing a video game. It tells me how well I did at the end of the trip. The kids griped about losing the DVD player in the minivan at first, but they’ve adjusted. We also did little things, like reducing our Netflix.

  31. Alexander says:

    My wife and I have begun using cash all the time now. We were (well, my wife was) spending so much money on lunches for work. So we put ourselves in a sort of allowance for lunches. She works Monday through Friday so we agreed that $40 for her lunches would be enough. Funny thing, after the 1st week she had like $12 left of the $40 and I asked her why? She said because by paying cash she realized just how much money she was spending on lunches without even feeling it. It was so easy to just swipe the card and not even look at the receipt. So the first time she bought her lunch with cash that week, she felt bad when it was like $13 for a sandwich/salad/soda. So she has been buying less expensive stuff, ordering from “value” menus and just drinking water. As for me, I need to lose weight anyway so I just buy 5 salads from Trader Joe’s (the ones I like are no more than $4) and drink water from work.

    The two of us used to spend about $120 in lunches together a week (yes I know, HORRIBLE), now we only spend about $60. I realize it could be much better, but we don’t have the time or energy to make our own lunches. It’s a good compromise. That plus we have been cooking dinner at home for over 2 months now. We are definitely seeing the savings.

    Honestly though, the biggest savings was moving just 2 blocks from her job. We got rid of one car and spend less in gas/insurance/maintenance. That one was the best but of course, not everyone can do that.

  32. RinaldoNumskis says:

    One thing I am trying to do is eat out less.

    Other than that, I live pretty frugally.

    I own an old, reliable car that I drive for trips out of town or if I am
    going mountain biking.

    It’s usually less expensive to repair your old car than buy a new one every
    3 years (trust me, I was a car salesman and saw it a lot)

    I ride my bicycle to work.

    I cook things that I like at home instead of going out to a restaurant and
    ordering the least expensive menu item. I end up spending less and getting
    more leftovers.

    Cooking doubles as entertainment, so I cook large batches of things and make
    it as interesting as possible

    Pick berries in the summer and make lots of jam and pies

    I have the Netflix $9 a month plan, stream movies to my laptop and play them
    on the television.

    Play pick up soccer games and board games instead of going out to movies or
    mini golf

    I buy most things second hand, If I can’t get it second hand I buy at a
    discount store (Marshall’s, TJ Maxx etc)

    I avoid drinking at bars

    I have an inexpensive cell phone plan

    I scrutinize my cell phone, credit card, and bank statements for extra
    charges and can usually get them removed

    I don’t buy brand name foods at grocery stores

    I avoid pre made foods (frozen dinners,

    I fix my old items and keep them in good working order

    I don’t buy things on impulse. If I think about buying something for a week
    chances are I probably need it, so I keep my eye out for a good deal on one.
    I rarely buy the first one that comes along.

    There are a lot of little steps you can take to save money, rarely do you
    come across one that saves you a very large amount of money. Save a little
    everywhere and you end up saving a lot. Patience saves me more money than
    coupons ever could.


  33. Alexander says:

    Also, I signed up for the and I was amazed when the first time we tried it at Walgreens and Ralphs we saved something like 60%. I’m sold.

  34. marsneedsrabbits says:

    lately, we’ve: stopped eating out except once every week or so.

    Dropped the local newspaper subscribtion, dropped most magazine subscriptions.

    Bought some used exercise equipment and dropped the gym.

    Planted tomato and pepper plants, plus sunflowers for the birds this coming winter.

    Cut out almost all non-essential groceries.

    We aren’t doing it for any specific reason, just a continual sort of thing to simplify & use less.

  35. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Heh. We just signed up for AT&T’s fiber-optic TV/internet/phone package, which means we’ll have TV now for the first time ever. Screw the recession, let’s spend some money! :)

    Funny thing, though? The internet and phone bill will be less than it was for DSL/traditional phone, for far better service (flat rate on all calls, bandwidth that actually resembles advertised speeds). That, and we’re getting a month of TV free and $200 cash back. So hey.

    We’ve always lived pretty cheaply, anyway, since we’re a one-income household — he bikes to work and eats microwave soups for lunch, I bike to the grocery store when I can and cook bulk meals for the freezer. The mortgage and utility bills are low and there’s only one student loan to pay off. When you keep your basic/recurring expenses low like that, there isn’t much to worry about.

    Also, our ’98 Ford Escort gets 30 mpg city/40 highway. I don’t know why Detroit’s whining so much about fuel efficiency standards when they clearly were capable of making an efficient car ten years ago.

  36. chewiemeat says:

    Not changing one damn thing.

  37. midniteslayr says:

    My Office is moving ~3 miles from my home, so I am going bicycle to work during the summer (only during the times that I don’t have class, as that is about 60 miles away). Our current office is ~11 miles from my house, and it is way to far away to bicycle there (in general, I only bike no more than 5 miles from my house, because I am really needed at my job. It sucks to work in IT sometimes).

    This will save me about 100 – 150 bucks a month (with an estimated 100 bucks a month for gas still being used). Also, not eating out and eating at home has saved me about another 100 bucks.

    Also, after all of my saving, I should be debt free by the end of this year.

    Wow, this year is going to be HUGE!

  38. spoco says:

    Does MARTA still stand for Moving Assholes Rapidly Through Atlanta like it did when I lived there?

  39. rdm says:

    Switched internet provider when uverse came to the area – $20/month
    Switched cell phone to SERO (I know, Sprint sucks, but it’s cheap) – $15/month
    Canceled boyfriend’s cell phone since he gets one for work anyway – $35/month
    Canceled DirecTV box in a room we barely use, cut out HBO all over the house – $18/month

    Next up is car and home insurance. We can’t refinance the car that is at a highish interest rate – yet, but will be this fall.

  40. BlackFlag55 says:

    ptkdude – no, but you’re close. Asl Lenox Square how their shoplifting rate exploded after MARTA got a station at the mall.

  41. teapartys_over says:

    @jamesdenver: I think Elizabeth Warren wrote a book about this – that its not the “latte factor” but the basic expenses of life that were bankrupting people. I do think it’s very hard to get by with wages not going up but all basic expenses going up. I live in an area where housing was expensive, and even living as part of a two-family, collecting rent, not buying any furniture, etc. our basic monthly housing and heating nut leaves very little left for savings. I do cut where I can but when I do a monthly budget it’s just laughable what that would save us. We just keep doing what we’re doing, living our lives and hoping not to run into too much financial trouble. I think a lot of people are in the same boat. We’re not poor, and we don’t deprive ourselves of every little thing. But basic costs are tough to keep up with – It’s not always about your frivolous values, as your post implies.

  42. balthisar says:

    I put in a geothermal heating/cooling system. Massive energy bill savings.

    Used the cordless electric mower for half of the front yard instead of the tractor, which was also good exercise. I’ll charge the battery and attempt the whole front yard next time. (That’s gasoline savings.)

    Can’t cut back the eating out — we always go out once per week, and that seems like a luxury. Who really goes out to eat several times per week? And by “going out” I can only imagine you don’t mean fast food, right?

  43. opfreak says:

    I dsiagree with on of the posters here. little things do make a big difference.

    My triming.

    Cut extra hd channels from cable. =$7/month
    Called cable co to lower the rate =$10/month
    Dropped post paid to prepaid. =$50/month
    converted vonage to cheaper plan = $5/month

    total so far =$72/month total = 864 dollars a year

  44. Landru says:

    Sorry, but I just finished years of paying off credit cards. I’m now putting a bunch of money into savings every month and I recently bought a new washer/dryer, a new tv and a new couch.
    I paid cash for all of them.

  45. spinachdip says:

    Sort of related – I’m thinking about switching my mobile phone plan to pre-paid. I figure I can go from paying $50+ a month to less than $10, since I don’t use my mobile that much. Question – can I port my number to a prepaid carrier (or within carriers, in the case of T-Mobile)?

  46. ahwannabe says:

    I’m in the same position. Finally got a decent job after five years of struggling, and now I’m actually able to afford non-essential items.

    That said, my spending habits have changed drastically since the booming 90’s. I’ve lowered my standards on clothes, buy things off the clearance racks, and pack my lunch most days.

  47. skittlbrau says:

    @spinachdip: As long as you’re outside of a contract, I think so. They may give you a bit of a hard time though.

    Do you qualify for any corporate discounts? Shaves a good $13 off my bill every month.

  48. ptkdude says:

    @BlackFlag55: Or how the shoplifting rate did NOT go up at Perimeter Mall after they opened the Dunwoody station in the parking lot. But this isn’t an article about MARTA or shoplifting. For the record, the buses are now much more utilized than they were a year ago.

  49. BalknChain says:

    1. not eating out every weekend, now only every other for just drinks and dessert
    2. no unnecessary driving
    3. more canned food, less fresh (sadly), planting vegetables to try to compensate
    4. also had to forgo our usual week shore vacation this year, just need more savings padding :(
    5. changed to a cheaper newspaper subscription, dropped mag subscription
    6. generic, generic, generic

  50. 51tiggy says:

    Dropped cable, watch NetFlicks.
    Dropped newspapers, get the news off my Mac.
    Dumped the landlines, use a cell.
    Schedule laundry, etc. 9pm -8am, lower electricity rates
    Rarely take the car out for fewer than 3 errands at a time.
    Gas up when it’s cool. Drive less competitively.
    Avoid vending machines.
    And on and on it goes. New life style altogether.

  51. planetdaddy says:

    Dropped LAN Line $50 was able to keep DSL by switching to “dry loop”

    Switched to Direct TV saved $50 a month

    Started air drying clothes

    Cut off the “heated” dry feature on the dishwasher

    Insulated water heater and installed timer

    Sharing car with wife

  52. wring says:

    I got you beat Ben, I removed “remain unlisted in phonebook” $1.25/month fee.

    Removed MyFaves plan, saved $9.99

    Still can’t avoid them morning deals tho :P

  53. Me - now with more humidity says:

    I started making more money — it’s a helluva lot more fun than cutting back.

  54. Coelacanth says:

    I prefer the “increase income” option. Seriously, most of the people here probably have marketable skills that they can turn into part-time jobs after work, or during the weekend.

    The upside, too, is that you’re prohibiting yourself from using that otherwise “free-time” buying merchanidise one probably don’t need.

  55. thelushie says:

    1) Cut back on cable
    2) Cut back on driving (as much as we can)
    3) Energy savings things: CFL lightbulbs, etc.
    4) Eat out less, cook more
    5) Pack lunches
    6) Use the library and not buy as many books. Cut down on non essential shopping in general
    7) More (in fact, alot more) store brands, use coupons.

  56. thelushie says:

    8) Dropped landline in favor of VoIP

  57. Rabbigrrl says:

    ptkdude: Switched from diving to work to taking transit.

    You’d think a submarine would cost a lot more than diving apparatus. Man, you learn a lot on these sites!

  58. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    I hate what I’ve had to do because of rising gas costs. My parents like about 30 miles away. I used to visit them once a week. Now, I rarely see them. 8 dollars per trip is a lot and I’m a poor recent college graduate.

  59. irfan says:

    bought some electronics i didnt need. bought a new mizuno driver. bought and xbox 360. signed up for blockbuster…

    im kinda backwards i think.

  60. katylostherart says:

    @opfreak: i just translated that as one trip in an ambulance.

    i really think in costs of what i think i can’t afford to go wrong rather than what i think i can afford.

    my favorite cost saving thing is waiting for my friends to give me old stuff they don’t like. otherwise i would probably be very very naked all the time.

  61. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    Bought PUT options on the SPX. =)

  62. overbysara says:

    stopped buying those delicious fruit spritzers from whole foods. actually… stopped shopping at whole foods period.

  63. heycorey says:

    Having more to do with health than anything else, about two months ago, I stopped eating/drinking anything that I know has refined sugar in it. As it turns out, I not only started feeling a lot more energized, I’m not spending $200-300 a month … on sugar.

  64. normandy7 says:

    Question – can I port my number to a prepaid carrier (or within carriers, in the case of T-Mobile)?

    I’d like to know the answer to that too.

  65. MaliBoo Radley says:


    If the view nice from you high horse?

  66. sarcastibitch says:

    I just got an extra part time job so not only am I making more money, I have less time to spend it. Other than that…

    I started driving less aggressively, watching the lights ahead so I accelerate/brake less. My last tank of gas went about 15% more km than usual. My work schedule doesn’t work for transit and at the moment my bike is out of the question until my broken arm is done rehab (hooray for nerve damage!).

    TV is a waste of money since I work nights and prefer to download than to use my VCR. The cable company tried to keep my business and gave me basic for $10/month until August (down from $47 for full) at which point I’ll scrap it completely.

  67. paperboy6645 says:

    I changed my cell plan because of unused minutes and it will save me $45 a month.

    CFL bulbs all around now- I really like going from 240 watts in my ceiling fan to 36 watts instantaneously.

    Eating at home more and shopping at ALDI instead of more expensive grocery stores. BIG savings! If you have ALDI in your town you should check it out- They own Trader Joe’s

    $5…..footlong ……subs. No soda or chips. Quizno’s has $5 subs too now.

    Buying less vinyl.

    Dropped my 800 number from Vonage that I have never used.

    I could go on and on. I drive a V8 Toyota. It was not such a big deal when I bought it in 2001. Now it SUUUUCKS! Cant sell it because no one wants it now.

  68. Mr.Ninethree says:

    I’ve started car pooling 2 days out of the week and have also down graded my cell phone plan by $40! woooot wooot!!

  69. plchan says:

    I have been double paying my car loan since beginning of this year. I have a 5yrs car loan and it has been 1.5 yrs already. I expect to pay it off by end of next year (5 yrs -> 3 yrs).

    I also purchase food from local supermarket rather than chain supermarket. They cost much less. We only eat out once a week, but it is just because we are on special meal plan.

    I noticed I have been shopping clothes / jeans / shirt from Walmart and Target, especially onces are onsale or clearance. I don’t buy much brand names clothing right now as I used to.

    I don’t know if I am saving much money on other things, but paying more on gas and healthy food (we consume 2 bags (around 15 lbs) of chicken breasts which purchased from costco. they are around $16 per bag. Protein powder from costco.. qunioa & almond butter from Trader Joe’s (they ain’t cheap).

  70. plchan says:

    I also notice the major spending at home is the cable tv, landline and internet. they are around 90 bucks a month. Too bad my wife likes watching tv at night otherwise, i might consider to cancel it.

  71. dollywould says:

    Oh, this was fun to read!

    * On Sundays I cook my lunches for the week. This is for money and health reasons.

    * I got rid of my Arrowhead water delivery and bought a Brita.

    * I love bargain shopping. ROSS, Marshalls and TJ Maxx are my first stop when I need stuff for my apartment. Their kitchen sections, especially, are pretty spectacular.

    * Instead of buying overpriced bags of salad, I buy a head of lettuce, chop it and put it in my salad spinner.

    * As a general rule of thumb, if I can get somewhere under 20 minutes by walking (weather and time of day permitting), I will walk. This is more for health reasons, but it does help conserve gas.

    * Costco! I love it. I just used their optical department for my way cute new glasses and saved a bunch. Also, check out their gift card section. I got $50 worth of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gift cards for $40 (or was it $45?). Since I only buy coffee on some weekends (during the week, I drink the free coffee at my office), this should last me a while.

    * And of course, The Consumerist, which is where I learned about sites like the Bargainist. So… thanks!

  72. Meisterjager says:

    Bought £900 of guitars this year.
    Bought an Xbox 360 + games – £500
    Bought a Live Subscription – £40
    I put £40 of fuel in my car a week, that gets me 250 miles.
    And on top of all that, managed to spend about £600 a month on utter crapola, with nothing to show for it.

    I do need to start cutting back some. I’d hoped to turn into a hermit, and stay at home constantly playing my Xbox and guitars, but that didn’t happen. I’m now spending even more money on more band rehearsals and more Xbox games.

  73. ignoring woot-off’s: Priceless

    (yeah right)

  74. kc2idf says:

    Taking the bus instead of driving to work. Savings: about $84/month and rising.

  75. toxbrux says:

    I’m in the eurozone, but things are still expensive;

    – Buy a yearly subway/bus pass for €200 rather than one a month for €28. (Save €80.)
    – Buy the cheap store-brand stuff (i.e. 27c “spreadable fat product” rather than the €1,49 “actual butter”.)
    – Check out street fairs for good deals on basics (€4 for a pack of socks rather than €12 at H&M.)
    – If I’m travelling, buy a 10-single-ride ticket (€46 for 10 single rides, €4,60/ride, €9,20 there-and-back) rather than pay €12 there-and-back on an ordinary ticket.
    – I don’t own any game systems or a TV, so I save on entertainment by watching rented movies (€2/pop, €5 for 4.)
    – I don’t use my own internet. (Ssh!)
    – I don’t buy paper/ink, I print at copy shops at the low-low price of 2c/page, that is, €1 = 50 pages.

  76. Changed Auto Insurance company: Saving of $985/year.

    Added Showtime/TMC package to cable: Saves $144/year. (I don’t understand it either, but cutting other COMCAST offerings would save at most $36/year. I don’t understand their system.

    Switched from Verizon to Comcast phone: saving about $30/month on LD.

    Expanding our vegetable garden this year: Unknown savings.

    NO prepared meals (Stouffers, Marie Calendars. etc.): Savings tied in with the next one.

    Tupperware weekend once a month–we make a bunch of stuff in the crockpot, dutch oven, etc. and store in Tupperware for the next few weeks — things like soups, stews, etc.–basically anything that we’d previously got prepared meals for: I’m estimating about a $100-$120/month savings.

    Quitting(Sigh, again) smoking. Savings of about $3000/year, minus the short-term(?) cost of Commit lozenges (subsidized by insurance).

    Getting rid of lawn service saves about $400 for the summer.

  77. azgirl says:

    I am spending even more than before. I got a raise and a bonus, and after I added half of the raise into direct deposit for each month, I decided to spend some more… No debt except a house and a car, which I pay extra on every month.

    Poor planning will always leave people in a lurch. Frankly I get tired of hearing about it.. I feel bad for folks that have real emergencies and serious health issues, but for the rest– why be suprised when you dont plan, that you are not prepared?

  78. ElizabethD says:

    It’s interesting to see how Ben’s small example of belt-tightening may have ripple effects that contribute to the recession. He’s saving $100/month by halving his piano lessons, but that means a piano teacher or music school loses that income — and then they presumably need to cut back on something. Eating out less: great way to save; bad news for restaurants and take-out places, which already are struggling with inflating prices of food and fuel.

    I can’t imagine Bush’s one-time “stimulus” check will go far to reverse this trend. I wish I knew more about economic trends so I could understand what factors actually re-start economic growth!

  79. ElizabethD says:


    Well, la di da. Kudos for planning, but note that you also got a raise and a bonus. Many people have flatlined wages these days and thus have to cut back, not spend more as you are doing, and many other people have lost their jobs to downsizing…. like the 62 year old man I happen to be married to. Can you say “60% family income reduction”?

    But I’m glad you got a chance to spit in others’ faces. You go grrrl.

  80. -Switched to reel mower last year; no gas, no oil, no friggin’ NOISE. Maintenance takes 5 minutes in the spring and 10 minutes in the fall. But more to the point: No gas, no oil.

    -Got a Mr. Bento. I was a big lunch-taker, but some days forgot or couldn’t be bothered. I love Mr. Bento soooooooo much I pack him every day I’m working out of the house and everyone is now jealous of my food. Also lost 4 lbs in 6 weeks without doing anything else but taking Mr. Bento for lunch — and eating TASTIER than I normally do! Probably saving me $15 or $20/month in not having to get “crap I forgot lunch” lunch at the cafeteria.

    -Paid off commercial student loan early. Yay! (Did this by scrimping like crazy and not shopping for three months — assisted by repeated bouts of flu, I didn’t want to leave the house anyway) and working a little at a second job.

    -We only have antenna TV, but we’re moving towards the DTV upgrade, and I confess I’m kinda thinking about not upgrading. I bet I buy way less pizza if we don’t have TV at all.

  81. shockwaver says:

    Switched my credit card from 18.5% interest to 5.16% (For all the crap capital one recieves on this site, it’s been good so far.. of course I’m in Canada.).. saving of $150 a month or so, which means I’m actually paying down my balance by an extra $150 a month! Woo!

    Eat out less.. I still get a hankering for Quizno’s and what not occasionally, but I try to eat around the house.

    Take the bus.. During school semesters, we get discounted bus passes, so we use those.. but right now during the summer it’s 2.25 each way, so if I have to run to the store it’s $4.50, plus an extra hour of my time to wait for buses, so it’s cheaper to take the car. Sometimes transit sucks (like when it is -40 and you miss the bus, or you want to run a couple of errands, pick up some things and you realize it is a 4 hour long trip by bus, maybe 45 minutes to an hour by car)

  82. HIV 2 Elway says:

    Man, you can teach yourself piano. It’s a straight forward instrument.

    I save chedder by:
    car pooling to work (50 miles round trip)
    Friday night jams at home in lue of the bar ($50 a week)
    Cook almost exlusivly at home (may be spending more as we’re food snobs)
    Run more of my local errands on my bike (no gas used and a shrinking waist line)

  83. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    I only get hookers & cocaine once a week now.

  84. Chune says:

    Cut out Subscriptions.

    I try very hard to not subscribe to anything. Maybe I just don’t like committment. :) But I’ve saved plenty by cancelling the following subscriptions:

    – Cable/Satellite [Use HDTV Over-the-Air instead]
    – Netflix [Use Library]
    – Magazines [Use Library]
    – Cellphone [Work provides phone, permits personal use]
    – Gym Membership [Found local ‘work out room’ at half price, pay month-to-month]

    That saves me over $150/mo. It’s a fantastic savings that really does add up. I use my cellphone so infrequently that if I ever change jobs, I will just go luddite on that part of my lifestyle.

    I still buy what I want/need, so that might be a movie rental (iTunes), or a used DVD at Blockbuster. That cuts into the monthly savings but I feel better because I’m directing my money at exactly what I want and not a lot of other ‘waste’. (In that regard, I may reconsider getting back my Netflix membership in the winter)

  85. battra92 says:

    @COELACANTH: I prefer the “increase income” option. Seriously, most of the people here probably have marketable skills that they can turn into part-time jobs after work, or during the weekend.

    Yeah, that’s a good point. This time last year I was working 60 hours a week and making $7.50 an hour. Now I’m currently working 40 hours making much more than that. Of course, I graduated college a year ago.

    Unfortunately in the last year I went from having almost no bills (Credit card paid off every month, car insurance and cell phone) to now having to pay Student loan payments, rent to my parents (they let me live at home for free but now I have to contribute until I can find a good place) and to top it off last September my car died and I bought a new Hyundai.

    To me it’s not so much saving money and being cheap or frugal as it is making the best use of a limited resource. I know the company I work for doesn’t like paying me overtime so I am pretty much set on a certain amount every two weeks. I then make decisions on what I really and truly want and the rest that’s left over gets thrown into savings.

    I’m debating the second job option this summer or even the temporary patch of just selling off a good portion of the things I don’t need.

    What I do need, though, is new clothes. I lost 22 lbs since last May and all the trousers I bought for this job back last August are a bit big on me. The real irony is I kept all my highschool dress shirts and trousers in case I ever fit in to them again but sold them last summer at our tag sale for around $1 each. I don’t feel bad though as the guy who bought them told my sister he was so happy since he just got his first real job and needed a whole new wardrobe and didn’t have the money to go get new ones.

  86. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @Chune: I’m thinking of turning the cable off for the summer. Its too damn nice out to be watching tv.

  87. spinachdip says:

    @ElizabethD: “But I’m glad you got a chance to spit in others’ faces. You go grrrl.”

    No kidding. What the “don’t be frugal, make more money!” people here are missing is that for the most part, people aren’t exactly living like monks. They’re cutting back on stuff they’re not taking full advantage of (say, premium cable), or switching to a comparable service at a lower price.

    Also, in many cases, spending less has benefits. For me, packing lunches and eating in more means I have more control over what I eat. And since my cooking is better than at most casual restaurants and I like to cook, it’s a win-win-win.

    Plus, if you carpool, you’re contributing to a greater good. Or even better, if you ride a bike to work, you get yourself in shape.

    It’s not so much about cutting back, but about being less wasteful.

  88. Metropolis says:

    Shouldn’t it read cut piano lessons from weekly to bi-monthly? no bi weekly

  89. Metropolis says:

    @Metropolis: Opps nevermind. disregard my last comment.

  90. harryhoody says:

    I think it is sad this poster cut the piano lessons, won’t that adversely affect a local business person? Dude, go back to your piano lessons. IS it really worth making your poor piano teacher starve?

  91. theblackdog says:

    More cooking, less eating out.

    Consolidating my trips so that I’m not using the car so much.

    Taking public transportation or my bike as much as possible.

    I dropped cable about a year ago and just used Netflix with 3 at a time.

  92. battra92 says:

    @ElizabethD: I can’t imagine Bush’s one-time “stimulus” check will go far to reverse this trend. I wish I knew more about economic trends so I could understand what factors actually re-start economic growth!

    Well, keeping taxes low is a start. Balancing the budget, restricting government spending (Federal and state) and expanding trade.

    In short, bring back Reaganomics.

  93. battra92 says:

    @spinachdip: It’s not so much about cutting back, but about being less wasteful.

    Is this what my boss means by “Work smarter, not harder?”

  94. JanetCarol says:

    Hell yes for dropping cable for hulu and netflix. Although I do miss flipping. . . . it’s worth the extra $

  95. @spinachdip: “What the “don’t be frugal, make more money!” people here are missing”

    Also that “make more money” is ALSO a quality of life issue (as is “be more frugal”). You can only work so much before you work yourself into the ground, and if you work too much to ever have time for the important things in your life, well, that’s no good. (Ditto if you frugalize yourself out of things you truly enjoy.) It’s a balance.

  96. tastybytes says:

    if i pay my previous bill entirely, there are no cc interest charges on the current balance each month. (the grace period on charges) that saved me about 100 a month on interest.

    stopped eating out (but still budgeted a small amount so i dont go crazy)!.. saved $1500/month

    canceled and non-essential subscriptions (mags/porn/etc) saved $300/month.. plenty of good blog posts for trade info and plenty of good porn on usenet

    created a video game budget!! saved 300/month

    created a computer equipment budget!!! saved 1000/month

    started using CVS/coupons for household items. saved 300/month

    no land phone.. and sprint sero 500 plan.. saved 100/month

  97. spinachdip says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Tru dat. Or you could take a better job at a place you’re unhappy, or a job that doesn’t lead you to your goal, you’re not really better off.

  98. Alexander says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: “Also that “make more money” is ALSO a quality of life issue (as is “be more frugal”). You can only work so much before you work yourself into the ground, and if you work too much to ever have time for the important things in your life, well, that’s no good. (Ditto if you frugalize yourself out of things you truly enjoy.) It’s a balance.”

    Totally agree with you! Specially the last part about “frugalizing” yourself out of things you truly enjoy. Of everything we cut back on, eating out, weekday lunches, etc, my wife and I agreed that we wouldn’t touch our DISH subscription and our internet connection. Those are the two things we enjoy the most. If anything, we might look into getting the next tier of DISH to get more HD channels.

  99. Jabberkaty says:

    I also tend to live on the cheap as a general rule. No long distance, caller ID, or call waiting.

    Stopped buy DVDs recently ($25-50 a month)
    Have a cheap efficient car that’s paid off.
    Have a not efficient car that’s also paid off (We live in Maine and need 4 wheel drive 3/4 of the year)
    Went to a Credit Union for the Money Market accounts, making $25 a month in interest.
    Eating our leftovers.
    Oh, and we live in a trailer – which lets us save up for a house.

  100. LouM says:

    Been doing the following;

    – Consolidate car errands
    – Brown bag lunches
    – Cancel newspaper
    – Public transit work commute
    – Dining out max once or twice a month
    – Cut out drinking
    – Negotiate / shop everything: repairs, vacation accommodations, vet, etc.

  101. battra92 says:

    @tastybytes: canceled and non-essential subscriptions (mags/porn/etc) saved $300/month.. plenty of good blog posts for trade info and plenty of good porn on usenet

    I wasn’t aware anyone ever paid for porn.

  102. @alexander: “Of everything we cut back on, eating out, weekday lunches, etc, my wife and I agreed that we wouldn’t touch our DISH subscription and our internet connection.”

    For sure. We always ask ourselves, “Does this make us really happy, or is just a way we waste time when we’re bored? Does this fit with our values? (If no, but we can’t stand to let it go, are we lying about our values?)” We spend quite a bit more than necessary on our garden, but it’s something that makes us both truly happy. (We even do virtually all our entertaining in our garden, and people love to come over just to sit out in it and relax. It makes our lives better in so many ways.) TV, otoh, is just a way for us to fill time when we’re bored, so cutting out cable (while I miss it when I’m bored) didn’t impact our lives very much.

    Other times being frugal makes life quite a bit better — we both enjoy cooking, and we both like good food, but it was soooooo easy to be lazy and eat out or grab fast food instead of cooking something better at home. So looking at THAT expense we were able to say both “we can save money here” and “we can make our lives better at the same time.”

  103. quail says:

    @GoPadge: I remember a time when my parents would get calls like that. When I started bank accounts in the 80s I remember banks actually pushing you to sign a form that would allow them to automatically pull from savings if there wasn’t enough in checking. They did this without a charge. Now they don’t even mention the form and when asked will tell you there’s a fee for each instance.

    I’ve actually started a savings for the family for Disney. Anytime we do without we add money to the account. It’s amazing how quickly it can add up. PBJ night instead of ordering pizza. Play games at home instead of going to the movies. Etc.

  104. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Dropped services from my phone bill; use GrandCentral, email, and instant messaging instead. Savings: $10.00/month.

    Replaced one of our cell phones with a pay-as-you go plan: Savings: $35.00/month

    Convinced my partner to kick the Starbucks habit; make espresso at home and take it to work instead. Savings: $60.00/month.

    Stopped going to movie theaters; rent dvds instead. Savings: $30.00/month.

    Dropped all magazine subscriptions and stopped buying books; make use of the library or bookstore instead. Savings: $40.00/month.

    Order pizza only once a month instead of bi-monthly. Savings: $25.00/month.

    No more In n Out burgers :( Savings: $30.00/month.

    Switched to compact flourescent lightbulbs: Savings: $10.00/month.

    Reduced my shopping bills by only shopping at the “Big 3”: Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Amazon. This eliminates impulse buying at places like Target and other strip mall stores. Savings: unknown; I’m guessing at least $200.00/month.

    Drop DirecTV and HBO when my contract runs out in October: Savings: $86.00/month.

    One time savings:
    Paid cash for a used car instead of buying a new one. Savings: $15,000 plus thousands in interest.

    Paying slightly more per month on my mortgage: Savings: $5,000 over the life of the loan.

    The worst part about all this is, despite all of our reductions, it still feels like we’re just treading water because of the huge rise in gas, groceries, electricity and all of lifes other necessities. When something expensive breaks down for good, like our air conditioner did last year, we pay cash to fix or replace it — that eats away months or years of savings.

  105. iseemoo says:

    It was interesting reading all the comments and I justed wanted to add my 2 cents.

    During my college days, I used to buy CDs and DVDs almost every other week and sometimes every week. And I loved going to the movies and rock concerts. Another thing, loved buying books, but mostly from the flea market and second hand shops. Since then, I’ve been using the library like crazy. I’m there almost weekly and not just for books, but for CDs and DVDs as well. The only downside is that there’s usually a long waiting list for new movies and CDs and sometimes they may come to you a bit scratched up. This has saved me at least $100/month. I still go to the occasional movie and I go to more concerts than ever but I figure since I’ve cut back on buying CDs, I can support the bands I like by going to the concert and buying some merchandise (not cheap sometimes but a great way to have something to remember the experience). As for buying books that I love and know will read again and again, I still buy them used or let a friend know it’ll make a great birthday gift =)

    I just reduced my cell phone bill by $25/month, too.

    Other than that, I try not to go to Target or Costco w/o a list. It’s just too easy to shop impulsively there since most things are so reasonably priced.

  106. stevgex says:

    Cut my cable and now leech it from cranky neighbor.

  107. hallettoon says:

    Hey everybody,
    My wife and I took the Financial Peace University class with Dave Ramsey (see I wholeheartedly recommend him and his awesome debt snowball system! We’ve paid off $12,000 in debt so far and only have our car and our house left to pay off. And we should have the car paid off by the end of the year!

    If everyone followed his plan, we’d all be completely out of debt and all retire millionaires! He’s also on the radio all over the US and on Fox Business network.

  108. trunk666 says:

    Pulse and glide the car (look it up)
    dont go out AT ALL
    lowest dish package they got
    Sprint SERO Plan
    Shop at Aldi

    minimize everything that can be, simply said.

  109. katoninetales says:

    I sent my husband off to war. He doesn’t use any gas or groceries in the Middle East, so that’s extra debt-reduction and savings.

    I think I’d rather be broke.

  110. shmousie says:

    It’s hard to cut back when you don’t spend a heck of a lot to begin with anyway, but my new plan includes the following:

    – Not eating out more than once or twice a month unless social obligations dictate otherwise or the meal is being purchased for me. (I’m a busy graduate student who used to eat out constantly.)
    – Not buying new clothes unless the old ones have literally fallen apart. (A habit that was developing anyway; I’m not particuarly fashionable and have a glut of clothing from when I had a real job in Japan.)
    – No more fancy coffee and desserts (unless I make them). This has been a big blow, as relaxing in a coffee shop or dessert bar was a former favorite pastime.
    – No buying books–library only.
    – No buying music–downloading/trading only.
    – Using public transportation (free with my student ID)/my bicycle/my legs to get places more often.
    – Cutting back on unnecessary grocery items and working harder at comparison shopping. Will probably start frequenting the local PriceRite. I’m terrible at comparison shopping and need to learn.
    – Paid off interest on student loans.
    – Working to gradually pay down student loans.

    Old habits that I am carrying over:

    – Not drinking except for special occasions or when the alcohol is free.
    – No cable.
    – One-at-a-time Netflix account.
    – No land line. (Planning to use tips from Consumerist when I negotiate my next plan and hopefully get a new phone at the end of the summer.)
    – Paying bills online.
    – Own a fuel-efficient car that is already paid for and pray it will serve me for another 100,000 miles.
    – Moved to cheaper, smaller, more energy-efficient apartment. Probably saved $1000 this year on that alone.

    Another question: what are people doing to make extra bits of money? I sell old books on, I am planning a huge yard sale/eBay clothing sale, and I may take a part-time job if my schoolwork schedule can permit it.

  111. Mudpuddle says:

    Heres another one for lowering cable and getting netflix. Saved me $$

  112. darekkhort says:

    Here are some of my recent savings:
    1. Major reduction in eating out.
    Savings: $240-$300/month(yes, I ate a lot out each month before)

    2. Stopped buying confectionary (used to buy lots).
    Savings: $100-$120/month

    3. Only playing small-time games like Tekken and King of Fighters for $2 per week.
    Savings: ~$60/month
    Also saved a lot of time, helped with health and the money I got from selling all my games fattened several of my piggy banks.

    4. Bought a MIZONE bottled water. It’s the 750ml kind and I fill it up each day before heading off to Uni or whenever I go out. I’m starting to get used to drinking water again (used to just drink Milk and Coke) and so saved a lot in terms of water/soft drinks/etc.
    Savings: $60/month

    Total savings for the month: