I sent out an email blast to my friends and family asking them for all their best tips on ways to save money. I got back lots of great responses which I have culled down to 43. Not all of them might apply perfectly to you, as, for instance, you might not wear overalls, but they’re good for getting in the spirit of pinching those pennies a little tighter.
1. Wear your overalls until they’re so worn out it’s indecent, i.e., your butt shows… too much. Only then get a new pair. (This is from my Aunt Linda, who I don’t think I’ve ever seen as an adult without her trusty overalls).
2. Vacation where your friends live. As in, in their houses.
3. Learn to make one thing yourself that you use on a regular basis, be it your own yogurt, your own kombucha, or detergent.
4. Throw away catalogs without looking at them.
5. Make a cappuccino at home, instead of going to France. (This is from my mother, who likes to go to France).
6. Probably the best tip is to never carry a credit card balance. Always pay your bill off in full each month. If you thought you got a good deal on something and then buy it with a credit card and don’t pay it off in full, a few months of interest charges can wipe out any savings you might have had.
7. Notice those Netflix packets starting to get dusty? Try dropping to one fewer disc per month. You can even switch to a “no-disc” plan and watch a wide variety of streaming movies instantly with their view it now feature.
8. Eat less meat and more vegetables. Price per how much it fills you up, meat is pretty expensive and cutting back while increasing veggies can be a healthier choice.
9. Making your own meals instead of eating out all the time is a great way to save. Cook and make a bunch of food on Sunday and use for lunch and other meals throughout the week.
10. Move in with your significant other or a friend and cut your rent in half.
11. Threaten to cancel cable and use it to negotiate a cheaper monthly rate.
12. Ditch cable entirely. Use Netflix and Hulu instead.
13. Shop only on the sales rack. For some reason, these are the clothes people compliment the most anyway. If you see something on the sales rack but it’s not in your size, go online and see if it’s on sale there as well.
14. Instead of buying books, use your local library, join a paperback swap club/site, or trade with friends. Any book you can’t get that way just add to your Amazon wish list and save it for Xmas/Birthdays.
15. Always search for free shipping and discount coupons before buying online. Better yet, hold off on purchases entirely until you get some kind of % off.
16. Got a tooth for high-end restaurant fare? Try going to them for mid-week lunch specials. Dine like a rockstar on pauper’s wages.
17. Negotiate your rent down. If your rent is out of line with the price other people are paying, you’ve got good standing to haggle for a discount.
Cite rising vacancies, any data you can get from Craiglist, Zillow or neighbors about falling rent prices, and your stellar payment history and credit scores. Allude to how you have other rental options you can take advantage of. Start with a phone call, but you may need to follow up with a letter to make all your points or if you have to escalate past a manager to a supervisor.
18. Drop the landline. Depending on your family size, you can save $80 a month.
19. Eat before you go to the grocery store.
20. Join Costco or another big bulk warehouse. They have a surprisingly good selection of cheese and vegetables, at 50% of what they would cost at supermarkets.
21. Pay all your bills in full and on time.
22. If you get a fee, contest it. Even if you deserve it, they might waive it if you’re a good customer.
23. If you get home and realize the furniture you just bought is damaged, call the store and describe the problem. They might give you a partial discount if you keep the pieces and just don’t bring it back to the store.
24. Before buying the new couch, check to see if they have one (or one that you can live with) in the returns section. I went to IKEA and they had exactly the couch I was planning on buying. It had a few scratches on the back but nothing I couldn’t live with and I saved at least $400.
25. Cut down on impulse buying: Don’t enter stores for fun. Either have a specific purchase purpose or don’t go in at all.
26. If you have to buy a lot of clothes, buy them all at one place and get the store credit card the day of purchase and put it on that card. This will usually net you at least 15% off.
27. Buy as much as you can used. Clothes, bike, books, and especially cars.
28. Use a clothesline instead of the dryer and cut down your electricity bill.
29. Make a shopping list before you go to the supermarket and only buy what you wrote down.
30. Drop the lawn care service and mow your own lawn.
31. Eschew credit cards with perks. They only encourage you to spend more than you normally would. People hate this piece of advice and hotly contest it, but the credit card companies wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t make them more money.
32. Start a vegetable garden.
33. Get music cheap at legalsounds.com. 9 cents a song!
34. Buy everything off-season. Get your winter coats in February/March, halloween outfits the day after Halloween, and bathing shorts mid to late August.
35. Find loads of good coupons at retailmenot.com
36. Butter your toast AFTER it has cooled and you’ll use less butter.
37. Install a programmable thermostat to turn the heat or AC down when you’re away and set it to kick in 30 minutes before you usually get home.
38. If you’re buying from a place that is not a chain, price is often negotiable.
39. Skip the ATM fees and make your withdrawals directly from the bank.
40. Food has seasons! Buy fruits and vegetables when they’re in season to save money and get better quality.
41. Write thank you letters to companies praising them on how much you enjoy their products. Their thank you note will often come with some decent coupons.
42. Close down heating vents in parts of the house you don’t use. Learn to like sweaters and wear them when it’s cooler instead of immediately jumping for the thermostat.
43. When you get a prescription, always ask if there’s a cheaper generic available.