Katy Wolk-Stanley’s Money Saving Tips for The Broke-Broke-Brokety-Broke

by Katy on March 10, 2014 · 62 comments

broke spot

I get frustrated with articles and blog posts about how to save money that never challenge the reader to do more than “skip that morning Starbucks run.”

It’s insultingly to the reader. Because, duh . . .

What about when you’re barely hanging on financially? What if you were never stupid enough to establish a daily latte habit in the first place? Are there money saving tips when you’re already financially strapped and have already taken the obvious steps?

Luckily, I am the queen of pinching a penny until it tells you where the microfilm is screams for mercy, and I am generous with my tips, so here you go!

Katy Wolk-Stanley’s money saving tips for the broke-broke-brokety-broke:

Cut cable and then share a Netflix account with a friend or family member. This is completely legal, and although it only saves you $4 per month, you are doing this because you’re broke. So take your $4 savings already! Each Netflix account gives you five different profiles, which means each of your chick flick+eco documentary+wacky comedy algorithms will stay intact. (Even better, get your parents (or kids) to give you their login information for free.)

Call your insurance agent and update them with everything they need to know. If you’re driving less, you should be able to get a discount for that. Simply ask them if there are discounts you could quality for. While you’re at it, take the time to call all your service providers to see about getting your bills lowered.

Give stuff you already own as gifts. Books, family belongings, cute decor items, jewelry and most anything else can be up for grabs. Think of your home as your own personal mall and go shopping. And if you declutter in the process, all the better!

Use less of your household products. When a new container of laundry detergent is major expenditure this tip will save your tuchus. Use half of even a third of the recommended amount of laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, shampoo, conditioner, etc. And when you think you’re out of a liquid product turn it upside down for a few days and then later cut it open when you think it’s finally empty. (It’s not.)

Speaking of your shampoo, it’s time to let go of brand loyalty. You are not Donna or Tom Haverford from Parks & Rec, and you do not need to “Treat yo self!” You will survive a demotion to Dollar store shampoo. (I use White Rain brand, and it is awesome!) This tip can be expanded to almost every category. Give off brands a chance.

Unless you’re exercising, you can probably switch to an every-other-day bathing routine. Wash the important bits with a soapy washcloth and save yourself the time and money.

Just say “No!”  Say “no” to expensive invitations, say “no” to group gifts and say “no” to charitable solicitors. (If you are broke-broke-brokety-broke, it is perfectly okay to pay your own bills before you pay the bills of others.) Say it with me. “No!”

Just say “Yes!” Don’t let pride get in the way of taking your friends and family up on their generous offers. Let your friend pay for the movies or a lovely lunch. You can return the favor when you’re in better financial standing. Maybe you can give them a bouquet of flowers from your garden or an evening of babysitting as a thank you.

Lower your cell phone bill. I am hearing good buzz about Ting, and there is no reason to overpay just because you’re in love with your smart phone.

This one may fall under the duh category, but make sure you’re taking full advantage of everything your library has to offer. Books, music, downloadable audiobooks and museum passes are just the beginning. Portland’s library puts on events for adults and children and clubs for everything from knitting to fans of The Non-Consumer Advocate. Okay, I made that last bit up, but go ask your reference librarian if there’s anything you’re not taking full advantage of.

Embrace cheap recipes. Whether it’s bean based meals or simple meals from everyday items, you need to avoid recipes that call for expensive ingredients. Yes, cooking at home will save you money, but not if you’re having to buy ingredients that only work for that one recipe. Say buh-bye to anything calling for saffron, and sayonara to pricey cuts of meat.

Lower your housing costs. Renting a room to an international exchange college student can be quite lucrative. Not only will you raise some much needed funds, but since the students are from another country they’re unlikely to bring a room full of furniture to your already furnished home. Contact the housing department of your local university, and they should be able to put you in contact with the right people. Plus, it’s fun.

Break your routines. Do you buy all your groceries or household supplies at the same store out of habit? Explore beyond your usual routine to find the best prices for the stuff you need.

Take advantage of any and all free entertainment opportunities. It sucks to stay home all the time just because you’re broke, so scour your local paper and websites for cool free stuff to do. Get out of the house already!

Consider sharing your internet service with a neighbor. Go ahead, ask them. The worst they can say is no.

Stop drinking booze. It’s expensive and not worth the expense. Sorry.

Borrow, borrow, borrow and then share, share, share. Need a whatchamacallit but only occasionally? Ask around to see if anyone in your circle has one you can borrow. We borrow a document shredder, loppers, and the neighbor’s pressure washer, and in exchange we lend out our rug shampooer, wheelbarrow, post hole digger, miscellaneous tools and snow shovel. It goes without saying how important it is to return everything clean and in working order.

Okay people, what did I miss? Please share your tips in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Megyn March 10, 2014 at 5:06 am

Yes on the sharing of accounts! My sister, parents, and I share info. about our accounts. My sister and I have Netflix that we share with parents, my sister shares HuluPlus with me, and my parents share HBOgo with my sister and me. As to the Netlfix accounts…that only works if you have a device that recognizes the profiles. Our 4+ year old Roku does not yet have that capability, so sharing in that way just wouldn’t work for us.

One thing I do is bake from scratch. My downfall is sweets, and when I see how much they cost from the bakery section of grocery stores, I know I can make the same thing organically, vegan, and tastier than the store option. It saves me a lot of money at birthdays too! Learning to bake with yeast saves us a bunch on pizza nights as a decent frozen pizza is $5+ and not close to enough for our family. For $2-4, I can make 3 pizzas and tailor them to all of our likes.

As for the booze, I think it depends on the person. I could live without every spending money on alcohol or tea or coffee or soda, but for people like my hubby, beer is his one treat (he’s a craft beer aficionado). However, we do get by a little cheaper by having him drink at home where a bottle is $1-2 over going out where a glass/bottle is $5+.

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Megg March 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I think the statement that drinking alcohol isn’t worth the expense is a matter of opinion. Yes, if you’re broke, broke, broke then it may not be the best thing to spend your money on, but it also doesn’t hurt to splurge. My husband and I aren’t totally broke, but we love to go to local breweries. We’re buying local, and we enjoy the beer so we don’t mind spending the money, within reason.

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Megyn March 11, 2014 at 8:46 am

@Megg–that’s what I was trying to get it. It would have been better if Katy has said “DRINK WATER ONLY!” If you drink anything else, there is a higher cost. Sure alcohol may be more expensive, but it’s not always…think about grabbing a bottle of soda or even a gas station coffee–it adds up! A lot of broke people I know LOVE their sodas/coffees/teas when they could cut those out and save some money.

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Denise March 10, 2014 at 5:12 am

I started incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet, and I buy whatever particular ones are on sale/priced low. I quit buying convenience/snack foods, and soft drinks. I drink water, brewed tea, and coffee. I even quit putting Stevia in my tea and coffee because of the expense.

I get free books on my Kindle. If there is a particular book that I want to read, but don’t want to buy, I’ll either check it out at the library, or my library will buy the book if they don’t have it. It takes a couple of weeks for them to get it in, but they are wonderful about ordering just about anything I want.

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Trish March 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

how do you get free books on your kindle?

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K D March 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm

There are a few ways.

1. On Amazon select Kindle eBooks, then Best Sellers, finally Top 100 Free and browse through those.

2. Check out Kindle Buffet: http://www.weberbooks.com/kindle/

3. BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/ebook-deals/latest
lists both free books and reduced price offerings. Always make
sure the price is $0.00 before you “buy”, as prices can change at
any time.

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AnnDenee March 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Just do a search for free kindle books or subscribe to pixel of ink or bookbub for a daily email of free and discounted kindle books.

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Carla March 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Often your library will have an e-book and audio book program where you can check out books for your Kindle, Nook, or to read on your computer. In our area, this is through http://www.mymediamall.net

The selection has really improved over the last year or so.

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WilliamB March 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm

1. Project Gutenberg – tens of thousands of books that are out of copyright. No DRM.

2. Celebration of Women Writers – not nearly tens of thousands of books, but all out of copyright.

3. Baen Books has several dozen (at least) free, on the “your first hit is free” theory. All their books are DRM free.

4. Many public libraries have a system by which you can check out (not keep) ebooks.

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Starr @ The Kiefer Cottage March 10, 2014 at 5:30 am

I, too, hate the articles on “Saving” money (Save $4000 this year with two easy steps! Don’t drink lattes and cancel your luxury gym membership!) as if we are all throwing money away on stupid stuff.

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K D March 10, 2014 at 5:44 am

This is an excellent post. The only things I can think to add are to walk/bike when you can as you will save on transportation costs and probably improve your health (which can be money saving). If you can’t walk investigate carpools.

Try to be healthy as you will be better able to accomplish all that you need/want to do. Get enough slepp, don’t let stuff stress you out, get regular exercise, maintain a normal weight, eat healthy. In the long run it is cheaper.

If possible grow a garden and/or plant fruit trees. I am looking into getting an avocado tree, even though it would need to be indoors several months of the year. I also plan to plant a fig tree.

See if you can get by with a laser printer that simply prints in black and white. It is so much cheaper to print using a laser printer.

If you need an item make a WANTED post on FreeCycle, I have seen people receive a wide variety of items simply for asking. By the same token, don’t forget to share your abundance, I have given away a multitude of items using porch pick-up.

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Kitty USA March 10, 2014 at 9:11 am

Just an add for printing:
Don’t print unless you really, really need it.
If you really, really need it, use DRAFT quality. When printing, hit print, in that box, upper right side, select Properties, then go to Color tab, drill down and create draft quality in both portrait and landscape versions. It saves a ton on printer ink.

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K D March 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Thank you for adding that, I realized after the fact that I should have included print less. Thank you for the suggestion to print in DRAFT quality mode. I will have to remember that.

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Frugal Nurse March 10, 2014 at 6:27 am

Great tips, I’ve tried them all and they work! As for the borrow & share idea, our community (West Seattle) has a fabulous “tool library” that some guys put together a few years ago. It’s a great service if you find yourself needing a chainsaw or power washer or whatever, and don’t want to pay a hefty daily rental fee.

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Katy March 10, 2014 at 7:21 am

Great tip, we have tool libraries as well.

Katy

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Liz March 10, 2014 at 6:41 am

I make my own coffee mix. This way I can control the ingredient ratio. I prefer my mix to going out to any coffee shop in town.

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Maureen March 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I’d love to see your recipe!

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Giviyah March 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

Great tip about Netflix! I will have to bug my brother to see if I can get a login!

I also use Freecycle and Kijiji to save money.

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Cindi March 10, 2014 at 9:17 am

I agree with you on almost all of this, except my Friday bottle of wine is staying! But cheap wine can be very good and a money saver if you can’t give it up…Trader Joe’s has a plethora of tasty wines under $5.00 a bottle if drinking that glass is what keeps you from killing people!

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Katy March 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

I guess you’re not “broke-broke-brokety-broke!”

;-)

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Linda from mass March 13, 2014 at 4:13 am

You could make your own from free wild grapes. In the northeast there are wild grapes everywhere!

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Katy @ Purposely Frugal March 10, 2014 at 10:34 am

LOVED this post!!
Also:
Eat from your pantry/freezer as much as possible.
Cash in any giftcards, swagbucks, or loose change to use towards groceries and other necessities.
Sell stuff
And lastly…read The Non-Consumer Advocate! :)

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Fangirl March 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

I think these are a good start but if you are truly BROKE you need to take things even further. 1. Do not EVER throw out even a bite of food. You cannot afford to be a picky eater. Eat every morsel. Every meal does not need to taste good or be your favorite thing to eat. You are eating for fuel. Have hodgepodge meals once or twice a week to use up those dribs and drabs of food. Make scrambles with random leftovers and an egg or two. Use ketchup or hot sauce to “enhance” the taste if necessary. Do not overeat. People need to be hungry occasionally. 2. Do not use electricity unless absolutely necessary. Many things can be done in the dark or near dark. Eat by candlelight. Do chores during daylight hours. Watch t.v., go to sleep or go to public areas, i.e. the library when it is dark. Eat by candlelight. Buy solar lawn lights and use them indoors. Unplug all appliances when not in use. They are vampires and suck/use electricity even when not turned on. 3. See how long you can comfortably go without washing your hair or taking a bath. Don’t over wash your clothes. I noticed that in Europe people do not wash their clothes as often as we do. One brand of jeans (very expensive custom made jeans) tell you not to wash them for SIX months. Really think about what is necessary versus what you are used to doing. Obviously, air dry everything. We are talking about being BROKE, BROKE, BROKE here.

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Deborah C. Williams March 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

Packing lunch..smacks..drinks when you will be away from home during mealtimes prevent you from eating out. I clip restaurant coupons so when we do eat out we can get two meals for one..we live on a farm and sometimes we do like to eat out so we go into town to run errands.. during the day(lunch is always cheaper than dinner). We do take showers only a couple times a week during winter(sponge bath between) and wear our clothes more than once unless really soiled. Our electric bill was only sixty four dollars for February here in Virginia(we heat with wood). If you need something put the word out among family/friends…my daughters crock pot broke and she did this..she had two friends offer to give her like new ones that they didn’t t use!!

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Melissa March 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I’m glad you brought up the “put the word out” idea. I remember Amy Dacyzyn’s story about her daughter getting her ears pierced and they put the word out to see if anyone had earrings they no longer wanted. She ended up with something like thirty pairs!

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Janice March 10, 2014 at 11:17 am

I lam a single person so my grocery bill is pretty small. In order to maximize my sa-ings at the grocery where we get gas discounts when we buy $100. worth of groceries, I do the following. I purchase a $100. gift certificate with my credit card, which earn a 1 to 5% reward and I can use the gift card at the gas pump to get my 5 cents a gallon off or for groceries.

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Kendra March 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

Don’t forget to enjoy what you DO have! When you are flat-out-busted-broke, resentment and frustration can spend too much time in your heart. Enjoying what you do have is a huge help in working through broke-broke-brokety-broke times.

Learning new skills is also fun — and can save money! When I was a grad student ($500/month living expenses that had to pay for everything from car and health insurance to books, rent and blue jeans) I learned how to make tortillas and bread from scratch because I figured out it was cheaper than buying them. I do the same with bread now, and batch-cook on some weekends. I learned these skills in grad school, and they’ve saved me thousands of dollars over the past decade.

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Janice March 10, 2014 at 11:34 am

I am a single person trying to spend as little $ as I can. I buy few groceries so I don’t spend the $100. a month that gets me 5 cents off a gallon of gas. Now I purchase a store gift card for $100.00 on my credit card which earns 1 to 5%, and also earns the right to take 5 cents off each gallon of gas that I buy. I use that same gift card to buy the gas or future groceries.
Since I am single ,am able to control the thermostat in my house. There is a basement in my house, so there is n0t a problem with shutting off the floor registers in the rooms that I don’t use. I keep the thermostat at 65 % and dress for it. I turn the heat up on Sunday’s when the kids come home.
I alternate using the battery on my laptop with plugging it in and unplug the laptop at night
. Check with the Y or your insurance company to see if they pay for Y membership. Mine did.

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Laurie March 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

What insurance pays this?

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Rosa March 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm

When I was in an HMO my HMO paid 40% of my Y membership if I went 8 times a month. Sometimes employers have similar wellness plans.

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Joanne T. March 10, 2014 at 11:55 am

Something we’ve found with the shampoo–when you think it’s *really* empty, add a tablespoon of water or so, shake it up, and let it sit for a while. There’s probably some dried/sticky shampoo clinging to the inside walls of the bottle.

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Lynda March 11, 2014 at 1:48 am

That’s a favourite of mine :D
Works for washing up liquid as well.

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Robin March 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Ask around if you can have some fruit or veg friends are growing (if they have extra). Last year I couldn’t get to our cherries and apriums in time for them to not rot on the tree and so I offered up to some friends to come and pick what they wanted. I’m happy to share what I have an abundance of. Many people plant and then don’t harvest or don’t need everything they have planted.

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Kim March 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I have saved a lot of money couponing at cvs, target and walmart. I pay for almost everything at these stores with swagbucks and shopkick gift cards. Every week, stores have some items for free if you use coupons. Toothpaste is often free or less than a dollar. CVS let’s you roll extra care bucks, and most stores accept store coupons combined with manufacturer’s coupons.

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Julia March 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Great tips! My family in 3 different states share a Netflix account, a hulu plus account and an Amazon prime account. I cloth diaper my kids and bike when I can to save money.

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Tracy March 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm

We have two family members in WA and one in Japan using our Netflix account. All three of us can’t use it at the same time but it doesn’t matter since Japan is 17 or maybe 16 hours ahead of us with dst.

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PoppyEcho March 11, 2014 at 7:23 am

Wow, I’m impressed you can use it in Japan! it’s supposed to be region specific.

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Michelle H. March 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Thanks for the info on sharing Amazon Prime accounts. I just signed up for Prime yesterday (free for one year with my new AmEx cash reward card) and had no idea that was possible!

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A. Marie March 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

So far, I don’t think I’ve seen trashpicking mentioned. Age and infirmity have forced me to retire from active dumpster diving, but I am still totally open to the lure of the promising curbside pile. And this also adds zest and excitement to the brokety-broke life: Call it Tightwad Extreme Sport!

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Diane March 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm

There are a few small luxury items I won’t give up…real maple syrup, dark chocolate with sea salt and wine. I live on a very limited budget and spend very little, yet having small luxuries bring me great comfort and keep me from feeling deprived.

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Carol September 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Agreed!

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Sara S March 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I’ve just started washing my hair with baking soda dissolved in water and conditioning with apple cider vinegar in water. I tried it as a way of using more natural things in my life and as a way of working to avoid some of the societal/commercialization pressures around us, but it is INCREDIBLY cheap.

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Megg March 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Stop drinking booze because it’s not worth the expense is a matter of opinion. I’m not suggesting going to bars every weekend, but a 6 pack of beer or the occasional mixed drink at home isn’t going to break the budget, in my opinion.

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tna March 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I bought an HD TV antenna and I get all local stations for free forever after that $30 investment(about 12 stations where I live). You don’t have to starve, a lot of healthy food is cheap…beans, brown rice, eggs, tuna and sardines, carrots, bananas, cabbage, popcorn…and I love Aldi’s weekly produce sales. 29 cent avocados!!!! Walking and biking sure, but I ran across a website once that told you how to drive to use less gas, slow down and make left turns! I use a lot of corn tortillas, super cheap and versatile, roll around a hot dog and fry for a corn dog, toast then put spaghetti sauce cheese crumbles and left over meat and vegs for pizzas, bake with cinnamon sugar butter for a sweet, all kinds of tacos and sometimes I use them instead of bread for a sandwich. With all the new friends and family cell phone offers, my family added me for 15 bucks a month. Have “play clothes” and wear them when you might mess up your work or “good” clothes. Goodwill puts clothes on half price each week and there’s always plenty of dollar t- shirts and 2 dollar shorts and pants you can slob around in.

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Elizabeth March 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Love the tips in this post :) I hate “those” articles too! Once I followed a “save $500 this month” challenges and only saved about $14 because most of the tips were spendy habits I didn’t have. It was eye opening to see how much I could be spending though!

And cheers to libraries! Google “library value calculator” and you can get a sense of how much money you’re saving. You can make a donation to the library and come out well ahead of what it would cost to purchase all those books, movies and music.

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livingrichonthecheap March 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Buy used instead of new – always the cheaper option and you can buy almost anything used either through thrift stores, garage sales or Craigslist. People need to get over buying everything new!

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Allison March 10, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Yes! I’m not brokety broke, thankfully, but I garage-saled practically all toys and clothes for my boys until they were about seven (the selection gets smaller once they’re older.) I think I spent about $50 per kid per year for toys and clothes during their young childhood. This is especially great for kid shoes – they usually go for about $1.

They are now six and nine, and the toys are mostly gone, but we’re still working through the bins of “next size up” that I acquired when they were little.

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kelly March 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Go outside! You save on electric, heat/cooling, groceries, water and had to name a few if you step outdoors for a stroll. Fresh air helps you feel better too so it may even keep down medical costs!

Also, shop your home. No matter how organized you are we all have *things* we don’t see daily. Finding new stuff may give you ideas for new uses of it, and that will save you having to buy.

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WilliamB March 10, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Make your own cleaning supplies. For example, liquid homemade laundry detergent is 95% cheaper than name brand. No, that’s not an exaggeration: name brand costs me roughly $.55/load, homemade $.05/load.

I make:
– laundry detergent (soap, Borax, washing soda)
– fruit spray (white vinegar, water)
– window cleaner (white vinegar, water, dish soap)
– hair detangler (conditioner, water)
I could, but don’t:
– heavy duty surface cleaner (I use dilute lysol instead)
– baking soda to scrub tubs and toilets

Other ideas:
– cheap conditioner instead of shaving cream
– bar soap instead of liquid
– dilute the dish soap, most people use far more than necessary
– when possible, use toaster oven instead of big oven
– open and close window shades & windows
– when waiting for hot water, don’t let the running water go down the drain, save it for another use
– use nondisposables (cloth napkins, rags instead of paper towels, etc.)
– oatmeal instead of cold cereal
– powdered milk when baking, rather than fresh milk
– make your own yogurt and bread
– if you garden, then compost as well
– grow things that are expensive to buy such as herbs, tomatoes, berries, greens
– if you can get cheap dirt then grow plants at home, just for the cheer. Spider plants and philodendrons are practically fool-proof (I’m about the worst gardener there is, but I haven’t managed to kill these yet) and very tolerant of lousy conditions, easy to get cuttings, easy to grow from cuttings. If you can’t get cheap dirt, they’ll grow pretty well in just water.
– Freecycle

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K D March 11, 2014 at 4:17 am

Beyond spending less make every effort to make more money. In The Complete Tightwad Gazette there is a powerful essay on The Snowball Principle, read that and the whole book if you can get ahold of it. Put the word out that you are looking for work, whether it is babysitting, dog walking, vacation house watching, mending, etc. If you don’t have enough money find ways to make more.

Also, use government and other benefits if you are eligible: SNAP (food stamps), food pantries, etc.

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Michelle H. March 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm

House/pet sitting is a great gig when you’re broke! Word spreads if you’re dependable, and I house sat regularly in my early 20’s. I was able to make a little extra money, escape my crowded house and roommates for a few days, and do laundry without having to feed quarters into a machine. Most of the people I house sat for would tell me to eat whatever I wanted from the fridge since it was going to go bad while they were out of town anyway.

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Audry March 11, 2014 at 5:21 am

It helps to have a buddy, or spouse, to share your “triumphs” with! I especially love it when I have done something really frugal for the first time, and I can tell my husband about it. I get a cheer or high five. It’s easy to get discouraged when being frugal, since it does take more work, and it can seem to be more about treading water than getting ahead. It makes me happy that this group can also be your cheering section!

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J. Pario March 11, 2014 at 7:16 am

Plan your gift-giving ahead of time. You can both shop slowly for events like Christmas AND make items as gifts if you plan ahead.

Also, if you can buy items at charity auctions and other fundraisers you can support local schools and other institutions you value.

I have two boxes labeled “Gifts” in the basement where I accumulate gifts throughout the year.

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Katy March 11, 2014 at 7:24 am

Oh yes, I absolutely do this! A necessity when thrifting for gifts.

Katy

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April March 11, 2014 at 8:10 am

Turn off your water heater if possible. Change your schedule so that you do all washing in the morning or in the evening. For example, if you shower and wash dishes in the evening, turn the water heater on when you get home from work, do your washing and then turn the water heater off. Hot water isn’t REQUIRED to get ready for work. If you do this every day, your savings can be significant.

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To the 'burbs or bust! March 11, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I want to chime in and agree that when you are “Broke, Broke, Brokety-broke” that you can really drill down on the expenses when you have eliminated EVERYTHING else you possibly can. To add to your tips:

– Don’t just unplug everything when not in use – cycle your fridge & freezer. If you are almost out of food in the fridge, cook it all up and turn the fridge off. Those precooked meals are then stored in the chest freezer. Condiments are fine in your mud room (or porch) in the winter and most of spring in the midwest region. Milk often partially freezes in our mudroom in the spring.

Except the hottest nights in summer – I make sure the chest freezer is shut properly and unplug it for the night. When I wake up, I plug it back in for the day, then unplug again at night. When I first started doing this, I checked the thermometer every morning and the freezer held a safe food temp overnight.

In the summer (no heating bill! woooo!) I use a homemade solar cooker. Goggle around for some directions. We live in a concrete filled city, my front stoop is so hot you can’t go barefoot out there in the summer. As long as you check your meats with a thermometer, you can cook for free!

– When you do need a shower, turn the water on and rinse. Then turn the water off and groom\soap up\shampoo. Then turn the water back on and rinse. Saves a ton on your water bill & a bit on your gas bill (to heat the water). If you have littles – they don’t need the tub filled to the brim, just a few inches usually does just fine to play with bath toys in. Flush the toilet only when a #2 has happened. All #1’s can wait for a #2. (Gross, I know…but when your water bill needs to give – drastic action is called for! In our area when your water bill goes up, so does the “sewer” portion so a reduction in water use saves twice.)

– As you stated; Washing can be done for adult outer clothing very seldom. Spot clean and hang in the sun (even in winter by a sunny window). The direct sun light usually rids the outer clothing of funky smells. Airing outside is the best refresher. Obviously, underwear and undershirts, along with messy little child clothing needs washing after every wearing. Soaking your clothing in a bit of detergent (consumer reports had an article where they found you needed as little as 2 tablespoons of detergent for an entire wash) for a few hours also gets them much cleaner than just a wash.

I think Katy may have covered this in a previous post; turn the heat WAAAAY down at night and when the house is empty. We turn our heat down to 50 degrees when no one is home and at night. I suppose if you know your house and plumbing, it could go lower, but if a pipe freezes and bursts it would be false economy. 50 degrees is uncomfortable outside of bed but an electric blanket and a few extra blankets are cheaper than heating all rooms in the house or even the entire bedroom you are sleeping in. If you don’t like the electric blanket on low under the covers – use enclosed oil electric space heaters just to bring the temperature to 55 – 58 degrees. This might not work if you have large bedrooms or an infant. If you are really behind on bills, or you have infants in the house- you can cut back further by all family members sleeping in the same room at night with one enclosed oil heater. That way you are only heating one space overnight above 50 degrees.

If you have pets (we love our dog and cat like additional family members) they don’t need to be fed commercial pet food. Actually, if you read labels, you will find most commercial pet food isn’t fit to feed, well, um – a dog! We prefer to provide vaccinations and other required vet medications (like heart worm meds for the dog) rather than buy commercial pet foods. Dogs and cats eat (and love) meat scrapes, organ meats (think chicken livers and such), anything you don’t use. Mix with the veg parts you trimmed off your own food (carrot tops and broccoli stalks come to mind – chunks of potato work too) and they will get some vitamins. When you pour off grease from cooking pour it warm (not hot) over your dogs food for a warming meal. Butchers give away “trimmings” and blood. Stuff not for humans to eat, but delicious warmed up for pets!!! You might get charged a nominal fee if all you have are chain stores – but your neighbors will likely pitch in scraps for the pets too. After all, they were going to throw them out for the rats to eat out of the garbage anyway! Cats can be fed on table scrapes and cheap canned fish (Aldi sells 99 cent canned salmon in our area – way cheaper than cat food). Our cat also appreciates an egg (approx 11 cents an egg) scrambled soft every few days. Again trimmings from a butcher are cheap! People often post pet food on free cycle if they have a pet that wouldn’t eat anything other than the “regular” brand. Really, at the end of the day when a main ingredient is chicken feathers in commercial pet food…you can’t go wrong with real food!

Finally, in order to catch up on bills and build a cushion – I tell people to seriously consider if you could live without one utility for the summer months. Many working class families in our area (very high cost of living, we are considered “very poor” here but in an area like Katy’s – we would be comfortable) turn off the gas in the summer. It costs $48 a month just to have gas service, plus the therms you use, and then plus all the taxes and line fees. So it isn’t fun, but if you shut off the gas when you no longer NEED heat and save the money or pay down bills you can get out of your broke broke brokety broke hole faster. Cook using a solar cooker or electric crock pot. Boil water with an electric kettle (there are very large kettles for sale through amazon) for washing your body and dishes. Do your laundry “old school” in a large bucket with a clean plunger and hang on a line to dry. Reconnect the gas in October when you will need heat to prevent damage to your home.

Those are my “Broke” strategies!

Reply

Carla March 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I would check very, very carefully about turning off gas or another utility with plans to turn it back on next season. Typically the utility companies are ahead of you on this one and will charge you a significant fee to reconnect – more than you will save on your bill during the low usage season.

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Burbs or bust March 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Good point! YMMV, check with your area utility first. Our “connection charge” is $30. So less than one months “service” before usage, taxes, and fees. Disconnection in our area is free, you simply call the utility and tell them that as of such and such a date you are moving to a new apartment, home, condo, etc. and please “disconnect” service. Then when we want to be “connected”, I call and set up an account. Our credit is really good so we don’t require a deposit. If your credit is not so good, you may have to pay a “deposit”. In that case it may not be worth shutting off service if the deposit required is $300 plus to reconnect.

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To the 'burbs or bust! March 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Fangirl,

I am your new fangirl! I want to chime in and agree that when you are “Broke, Broke, Brokety-broke” that you can really drill down on the expenses when you have eliminated EVERYTHING else you possibly can. To add to your tips:

– Don’t just unplug everything when not in use – you can cycle your fridge & freezer. For example, if you are almost out of food in the fridge, cook it all up and turn the fridge off. Those precooked meals are then stored in the chest freezer. Condiments are fine in your mud room (or porch) in the winter and most of spring in the midwest region. Milk often partially freezes in our mudroom in the winter.

Additionally, except the hottest nights in summer – I make sure the chest freezer is shut properly and unplug it for the night. When I wake up, I plug it back in for the day, then unplug again at night. When I first started doing this, I checked the thermometer every morning and the freezer held a safe food temp overnight.

In the summer (no heating bill! woooo!) I use a homemade solar cooker like a crock pot. Goggle around for some directions. We live in a concrete filled city, my front stoop is so hot you can’t go barefoot out there in the summer. As long as you check your meats with a thermometer, you can cook for free!

– When you do need a shower, turn the water on and rinse. Then turn the water off and groom\soap up\shampoo. Then turn the water back on and rinse. Saves a ton on your water bill & a bit on your gas bill (to heat the water). If you have littles – they don’t need the tub filled to the brim, just a few inches usually does just fine to play with bath toys in. Flush the toilet only when a #2 has happened. All #1’s can wait for a #2. (Gross, I know…but when your water bill needs to give – drastic action is called for! In our area when your water bill goes up, so does the “sewer” portion so a reduction in water use saves twice.)

– As you stated; Washing can be done for adult outer clothing very seldom. Spot clean and hang in the sun (even in winter by a sunny window). The direct sun light usually rids the outer clothing of funky smells. Airing outside is the best refresher. Obviously, underwear and undershirts, along with messy little child clothing needs washing after every wearing. Soaking your clothing in a bit of detergent (consumer reports had an article where they found you needed as little as 2 tablespoons of detergent for an entire wash) for a few hours also gets them much cleaner than just a wash.

I think Katy may have covered this in a previous post; turn the heat WAAAAY down at night and when the house is empty. We turn our heat down to 50 degrees when no one is home and at night. I suppose if you know your house and plumbing, it could go lower, but if a pipe freezes and bursts it would be false economy. 50 degrees is uncomfortable outside of bed but an electric blanket and a few extra blankets are cheaper than heating all rooms in the house or even the entire bedroom you are sleeping in. If you don’t like the electric blanket on low under the covers – use enclosed oil electric space heaters just to bring the temperature to 55 – 58 degrees. That way you are only heating the bedrooms where you sleep. This might not work if you have large bedrooms or an infant (as they need heat and can’t sleep with electric blankets). If you are really behind on bills, or you have infants in the house- you can cut back further by all family members sleeping in the same room at night with one enclosed oil heater. That way you are only heating one space overnight above 50 degrees.

If you have pets (we love our dog and cat like additional family members) they don’t need to be fed commercial pet food. Actually, if you read labels, you will find most commercial pet food isn’t fit to feed, well, um – a dog! We prefer to provide vaccinations and other required vet medications (like heart worm meds for the dog) rather than buy commercial pet foods. Dogs and cats eat (and love) meat scrapes, organ meats (think chicken livers and such), anything you don’t use. Mix with the veg parts you trimmed off your own food (carrot tops and broccoli stalks come to mind – chunks of potato work too) and they will get some vitamins. When you pour off grease from cooking pour it warm (not hot) over your dogs food for a warming meal. Butchers give away “trimmings” and blood. Stuff not for humans to eat, but delicious warmed up for pets!!! You might get charged a nominal fee if all you have are chain stores – but your neighbors will likely pitch in scraps for the pets too. After all, they were going to throw them out for the rats to eat out of the garbage anyway! Cats can be fed on table scrapes and cheap canned fish (Aldi sells 99 cent canned salmon in our area – way cheaper than cat food). Our cat also appreciates an egg (approx 11 cents an egg) scrambled soft every few days. Again trimmings from a butcher are cheap! People often post pet food on free cycle if they have a pet that wouldn’t eat anything other than the “regular” brand. Really, at the end of the day when a main ingredient is chicken feathers in commercial pet food…you can’t go wrong with real food!

Finally, in order to catch up on bills and build a cushion – I tell people to seriously consider if you could live without one utility for the summer months. Many working class families in our area (very high cost of living, we are considered “very poor” here but in an area like Katy’s – we would be comfortable) turn off the gas in the summer. It costs $48 a month just to have gas service, plus the therms you use, and then plus all the taxes and line fees. So it isn’t fun, but if you shut off the gas when you no longer NEED heat and save the money or pay down bills you can get out of your broke broke brokety broke hole faster. Cook using a solar cooker or electric crock pot. Boil water with an electric kettle (there are very large kettles for sale through amazon) for washing your body and dishes. Do your laundry “old school” in a large bucket with a clean plunger and hang on a line to dry. Reconnect the gas in October when you will need heat to prevent damage to your home.

Those are my “Broke” strategies!

Reply

David March 12, 2014 at 1:59 am

A great way to save money everyday forever is with a Hand Held Bidet Sprayer. The Bidet Sprayer will pay for itself many times over in toilet paper savings which makes this a very smart and green thing to do while providing superior hygiene at the same time! See http://www.bathroomsprayers.com .

Reply

Katie March 12, 2014 at 7:46 am

When you buy bar soap, cut the bar into smaller pieces instead of putting the whole thing in the bath/shower. As an example: I would cut a bar of Ivory soap into three pieces; 1 piece goes in the shower, 1 piece goes next to the sink, the 3rd piece waits to replace piece one or two. You don’t lose as much soap to water run off.

When the pieces get to small to comfortably use, I put them in an old nylon stocking. The nylon gets hung near the utility sink and folks just wash their hands with the ‘soap pouch’. Makes a nice soft foam :-)

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