Tag Archives: how to save money

How to Save Money the Easy Way

With the economy still struggling and many people still in very difficult financial situations, everybody is looking for how to save money. Unfortunately, many people don’t quite know where to start, as it is very difficult for most of us to prioritize costs and know where to spend, where to save, and where to invest. The good news is that these problems do not arise due to any shortage of opportunity – people who carefully plan and keep their eyes open can find endless opportunities to save in their daily lives. Here are some excellent money-saving tips which will help you keep more money in the bank.

Ignore brand names

This tip can apply to everything from buying new clothes, new appliances, or groceries. Those store brand products are usually just as good as the ‘name’ brands, and often sell at a fraction of the price.

Minimize Your Transportation, Minimize Gas Costs

While the best money saving tip would be to leave the car behind and choose public transportation, this is obviously not a choice which can be made in most areas. When possible, try to use your bike or even your feet. Instead of making the special trip to the gym, take a walk around the neighborhood. Remember, you are trying to save money overall, and every little bit that you don’t spend, you can save for later.

Cut Back on Bad Habits

Bad habits are expensive, and you are spending large amounts of money to sustain those habits. The average price of a 2 liter bottle is $1.50. The average price of a pack of cigarettes is $5. The cost for good alcohol is enormous. Minimizing, or even cutting out altogether, these bad habits will both save money and reduce the instance of the bad habit.

Get Stable Investments

The stock market is a roller coaster. The real estate market is in shambles. Give some thought to investing in gold, a more appropriate and stable safe haven for your money.

Sell Your Stuff

Many people have attics, basements, and storage units that are positively crammed with goods that are just collecting dust. Have a good garage sale, look toward one of the selling sites, or simply sell some of this to friends. You’d be absolutely amazed with the amount of money that you can earn, and you’re clearing the way to a more minimalist, frugal household. If you clear out your storage unit to the point where you don’t have to have it anymore, that’s an additional savings per month.

Keep your eye out for coupons and deals

There is nothing so tasty as a meal which is bought with a coupon. There is nothing which reads better than a book bought at a significant amount off of the list price. Keeping those deals in mind is easier than ever these days – there are sites, apps, the tried and true local papers, and more which have the frugal person in mind. Before you purchase something at retail, think about the deals which you can get on those products.

Photo is courtesy of Epsos.de and is used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

How We Saved $600

After writing about The Best $500 I Ever Lost, I wanted to give you a success story.

The Unlikely Mage and I had been battling with our clothes washer for weeks. It was pooling water on the floor, not draining properly, and otherwise being a nuisance. Our emergency fund had taken a few hits, and it would be several months before there would be any kind of money available for having a professional fix it. Neither of us particularly enjoyed the prospect of taking our clothes to the laundromat (I’m not even sure where it is, actually), so we were weighing our options.

1. Go to the laundomat

This can cost up to $20 each time, not including the costs of detergent, travel, and time taken out of the day (not to mention having to find something to wear to go to the laundromat). Despite the comparatively low cost each time, those once a week trips add up in the budget and are highly inconvenient.

2. Get a New Washer

The washer and dryer are stacked, wedged perfectly into their space. If we were to get another washer, we would more than likely have to get another dryer as well. New setups can cost $600 on the low end, not including the delivery costs and other necessary accoutrements. It’s a serious hassle to get new things, sometimes.

3. Pick up a Used Washer and Dryer

The same concerns apply to this one as they did for picking up the new washer and dryer. The price would be less, but there would still be the matter of delivery and making it actually work within the tiny space that we had available. Used appliances are sometimes flaky and need research. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there’s no ‘washerfax’ like Carfax.

4. Wash Clothes By Hand

The jury’s still out on whether this is indeed cost effective. I’m prone to believe that it isn’t, because the dryer has to work harder to get the moisture out of the wrung but not spun clothing. The average bathtub can hold 42 gallons of water, and the average washer uses around 20. Besides, hand washing my clothing with a wringer and a LOT of elbow grease was not how I wanted to spend a Sunday.

5. Hire Someone to Fix It

Although we are not averse to hiring people to repair our stuff, we are leery of the costs which are involved. Between the two of us, we have very few friends who were likely not to fix it themselves and call one of the professionals. I assumed that the problem would take at least $100,, and that money could be spent more effectively somewhere else.

6. Trade Favors

We have friends who are rather handy, but getting them to come to our neck of the woods would have costed around $50. There would be gas, and feeding them, and the fact that we would be calling in favors. This particular crisis didn’t seem to be worthy of that type of attention.

7. Fix it Ourselves

This is where the rubber meets the road. Use all of the resources on the internet to discover the source of the problem, and eventually fix the problem. The best option, by far, as it required only a time investment, and the temptation of learning a new and improved skill. We ultimately chose this option.

Fixing the washer proved to be less hassle than originally planned. It took almost an hour to diagnose the problem of clogged hoses, clean out the lines, drain the lines and reattached. There were a couple of test runs made, and the washer was once again doing all of its washery things.

Ultimately, doing the research and doing it ourselves (actually, TUM did it) saved us $600 or more for an hour’s worth of work. This was absolutely incredible, and it came out of the necessity of being low on funds. You can save a ton of cash if you’re willing to do some research and experiment. We did!

One Pot Meals

Recently, TUM and I have decided to go Paleo (a diet which focuses on meats and leafy greens) and ditch a lot of the carbs in our diet. I was asked how I can feed the both of us and save money. The answer? One pot meals!

One pot meals are not only tasty, but they give the best bang for the buck. It’s easy to get 12 servings from a soup and break the cost down to under a dollar per serving. My goal has always been to get my meals under $5 a serving, but I believe that that particular goal is too easy to reach. Consistently getting under a dollar per serving is amazing.

Chili PeppersChili
Let’s look at your average beanless chili recipe:

2 pounds ground beef @ 2.98 per pound = $5.96
4 cans diced tomatoes @ .69 per can = $2.76
paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste.

Total Expenditure: $8.72 for staples, spices bring it up to around $9.50.

With this recipe, you can easily get between 4 and 8 servings. That’s without adding the beans or any other filler material.

With most of the meals that I prepare, I can get at least four servings out of the deal. I am a believer in the one pot meal that has the fewest ingredients possible.

Chicken Soup with NoodlesChicken Soup
One of my favorites is chicken soup:
4 pounds chicken @ $1.20 per pound = $4.80
2 bags baby carrots @ $.99 = $1.98
4 stalks celery @ $.25 = $1.00
1 container mushrooms @ $1.98 = $1.98
garlic, salt, pepper

Total Expenditure: $9.76 for staples, spices bring it up to around $10.50

Break it down and you can get around 8 servings from this. Chances are, depending on how much water you add, you can get up to 10 servings.

Last week, we had a one pan meal of chicken and greens. Essentially, we paid for around 12 drumsticks, and a bag of collard greens to put underneath.

A single pot Chicken One Pot
We make this one quite often, because it gets our greens in, as well as our protein. I know that I’m not including a bread product with this, but we’re working under the assumption that the carbs will happen with the leafy greens.

2 pounds chicken @ $1.20 per pound = $2.40
1 bag collards @ $2.50 each = $2.50
garlic, salt, pepper

Total Expenditure: $4.90 for staples, spices bring it to $5.40

You can get four servings from this one, making the price just a little over a dollar per serving.

Anything can be used in one pot meals. The key is to have as few ingredients as possible. The more ingredients that you add into the mix, the more expensive the meal becomes. If you’re opening a can of this or a can of that, the sodium not only gets you, but the price of the cans starts to become unwieldy (have you noticed the 20% jump in canned goods, too?). Simplicity is always the way to go.

Of the one pot meals that I’ve had, the consistent thing about them is that the total cost runs around (or less than) $10 for all of the ingredients. I usually get between 4 and 6 servings, which brings my total cost per serving below $2.50 each per meal. In many cases, as you can see, I usually get more than 4 servings.

Simple one pot meals always make the day at our house. We’ve stayed away from seafood and paid more attention to chicken, and eaten some great meals.

What are some of your family’s cheap go-to meals? The cheaper, the better.