Top Ten Non-Consumer Advocate Tips For Saving Money

by Katy on December 17, 2009 · 19 comments

toptenThe end of the year always brings about a multitude of top ten lists, and I thought I would get a jump on 2009 with my top ten eleven tricks for saving money:

  1. Don’t go to stores unless there’s something you actually need. This one is big, as it’s really easy to find cool stuff to buy in just about any store. So just stay out. Period.

  2. Pull out all your utilities and really look them over. Is there a lower rate plan to go with? A quick call to a customer service rep can help you locate potential savings.

  3. Go through your closet and pull out any clothing or accessories that don’t get worn or no longer fit. Invite your friends over for a clothing swap and feed that craving for new outfits without spending a penny.

  4. Get to know your local library. Not only can you get books, but DVD’s, CD’s and audio books. Library websites make it easy to put materials on hold, and even have instant downloadable digital media available. And the best part of library websites is the ability to renew online. Gotta remember to renew.

  5. Bring your own lunches to work. This is a great way to get those leftovers eaten, plus you’ll save a bundle. And, when you don’t have to physically leave to buy food, your lunch break will actually last long enough for a little relaxation.

  6. Throw on a cardigan and turn that thermostat down. Start with a 2° decrease every week until you find your lowest comfort level.

  7. Be willing to give less expensive gifts or even give from what you already own. A book from your bookshelf or an admired household object is just as welcome as a packaged brand new gee-gaw.

  8. Be willing to not have all your belongings be the-best-of-the-best. There are no winners in the game of keeping up with the Joneses, and the ability to find happiness with where you are in life will serve you well.

  9. Become your own staff. Do you pay for others to mow your lawn, clean your house and prepare your meals? Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that these conveniences are a need. If your life is so overwhelming that you don’t have time to carry out your own tasks, then ask yourself these questions. Are you unwilling to be less than perfect? Are you so busy doing for others that you don’t have the energy or time to care for yourself?

  10. Cook from scratch and save restaurant meals for special occasions. Even a fancy meal cooked at home will most likely be cheaper than a low end restaurant meal.

  11. Join The buy-nothing-new Compact for the new year. Not sure if you can make a full year commitment to buy nothing new? Give it a one month trial and surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.

Do you agree with my top ten eleven list? Did I leave out your favorite money saver? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Please feel free to use the “share this” link below to share this list with others!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs Green December 17, 2009 at 12:42 am

Number 1 is most definitely the key – along with staying away from advertising at home such as TV and magazines. I notice an instant difference if DD reads a magazine; suddenly she wants stuff she wasn’t even aware of before …

Great list – thanks!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl December 17, 2009 at 2:30 am

Isn’t that true, Mrs. Green? My 5 year old is the most susceptible to that sort of thing…as soon as she sees an advertisement, she wants stuff she’d never have thought of on her own. That’s a big reason we don’t watch TV except for very rarely.


Jinger December 17, 2009 at 5:37 am

Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow. After buying new bedding and some warm lounging clothes, I hope to buy very little in the new year.


Carla December 17, 2009 at 6:38 am

Good list, Katy. We already do most of these but I like seeing them in print like this.

My own goal is to learn to garden at least a few items. We have ¾ths of an acre here (which our house and driveway sits on) but unfortunately the dirt is just plain lousy. I’ve started burying non-edible kitchen scraps in one flower bed hoping to jazz up its nutrient content. If I keep after it, maybe not this year but the next we can actually learn to grow some of our own food. Many people have some yard access and could at least put out a few tomato plants if they chose.


Kristia @Family Balance Sheet December 17, 2009 at 8:11 am

I am seriously considering doing the Compact. I want to reduce my clutter, save money, and become more creative as I try to make do with what I have. I also want to be more supportive of local small businesses. If I need to buy something new, I want to go local, not big-box, if possible.


Katy December 17, 2009 at 8:22 am


I don’t know of anyone who decided to do The Compact and regretted that decision. And if you join the Compact Yahoo group, be patient. It does get off topic, but it’s a great support network.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Stacey December 17, 2009 at 9:07 am

I love the idea of a clothing swap. I’ve kind of done that in the past, but it was more me laying out a whole bunch of clothes I didn’t want on the bed, and my friends rifling through and taking all of them! I think I need to convince them to bring their own clothes to swap next time 🙂

Also, I heart my local library. I walk there a few times a week. My husband and I no longer rent movies; now we just put them on hold at the library.


Shannon December 17, 2009 at 9:24 am

I am finding that you really do need to hide yourself from media! Every time I read my favorite magazines, I discover all the things I never knew I needed!

Carla: hang in there with composting! We live on a similar size property, and have slowly but surely begun to convert our backyard to edibles. Our first little compost heap became a little cantaloupe patch! Every year we just start a new little compost heap, then convert it into something new. Now we have two 8′ x 8′ beds, a blackberry & raspberry patch, a strawberry patch, and a blueberry patch. We just add a new thing every summer. Next year it will be fruit trees. Check out a book called square food gardening…totally changed the way we thought about growing food.


Carla December 17, 2009 at 10:27 am

Thanks for the encouragement and tip, Shannon. I just checked online to see if our library has Square Food Gardening but they don’t, not too surprisingly. In the past I would have done Inner Library Loan but now our library charges for postage to get and return the book. That is often as much as buying it (including postage) on Amazon, especially a used copy.

We have HOA restrictions against composting but I don’t think anyone will say anything about my digging it into the ground, as long as animals don’t get into it.

Katy, I just realized no one has mentioned hanging clothes to dry. We are empty-nesters and don’t have nearly as much laundry as we once did, but hanging outside is not only easy but a pleasure when you bring in fresh, sunshine-smelling clothes. The dryer is a big electricity user so every time you can air dry (on racks in winter if need be) you save dollars and the ecosystem.


Carla December 17, 2009 at 10:31 am

Shannon, is that Square FOOD Gardening or Square Foot Gardening? Even Amazon brings up Foot.


Katy December 17, 2009 at 10:42 am

It’s “Square Foot Gardening.” I read this book years ago, and I highly recommend it.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Lisa December 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

Great list, Katy! And Carla, check out the archives at the Mother Earth News website. In a recent issue, an article explained how to grow $700 worth of food in 100 sq.ft.!!! They have a lot of practical advice on every subject- from what to plant to Ruth Stout’s method of no tilling to storage of home grown foods. Best of all, they’re FREE!


Shannon December 17, 2009 at 11:33 am

d’oh, yes square FOOT gardening! Ha ha! Square food gardening would be something very different I suppose…


Laura December 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm

@Carla: You might also check out “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof. Vermiculture is something you can do indoors.

Just out of college, my SO and I were on a really tight budget. We not only limited our eating out, we compressed our grocery bills. Apart from comparison shopping different forms of the same item, we also started drinking mostly water instead of soda. These days, we’ll buy the occasional bottle of diet cola for the caffeine if our schedules are really strained and out of whack, and the occasional pack of glass root beer bottles or jug of apple cider as a treat, but mostly it’s water. It’s amazing how expensive drinks can be. Also, I now can’t stand half the sodas on the shelf anymore.


Amy December 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Clothing swaps are great.

Last year I went to one and immediately spied a skirt with a beautiful print. Unfortunately it made my hips look a mile wide. A taller, slimmer woman tried it on and it didn’t do her any favors, either. A third woman tried it on and shazam–it was perfect for her. The pretty skirt found its new owner.


Raffaella December 18, 2009 at 4:58 am

I swap some clothes with my SIL and some through and (also cosmetics, of course, books and dvds). 🙂
For US residents there’s


Kris-ND December 18, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Oh my gosh, number one is so relevant to me! I stopped at the store to pick up the sparkling cider for Christmas Eve/Day dinner.

I came out with the cider, AND some other things, including the most ridiculous item of all time I think for me. It was only two dollars, but…oh, the shame!LOL! I bought candy lumps of coal…yes, lumps of coal for my families stockings! Hee Hee. I don’t even know what kind of candy. I *think* they are chocolate under that black wrapping, but I have no idea.

Can you say major impulse purchase? The cider was 2.87 a bottle, so I could have bought almost another bottle of cider, which is something I will buy, since it is a family tradition.

Sheesh, candy coal..shaking head here.


Kayla K December 19, 2009 at 8:19 am

I agree there! I try to avoid stores all together so I don’t know what I’m missing. Magazines can be a trap for me too. I find myself justifying all kinds of “needs.”


Lilypad December 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

relating to numbers 8, 9, and 10: I’m always afraid to have people over because then I worry the house is not clean enough, will they like the vegetarian stuff I cook, will they judge our stuff and how much (or how little) we have of certain things, etc. I think it comes from my mom freaking out on the rare occasions when anyone came over. When my son (now 8) was younger, I didn’t worry so much, since all the moms in our play group seemed to have messy house issues of their own (it’s hard to have a clean house with a 2 year old!) but as time went on, I started thinking I had to clean everything obsessively before my son could even have a friend over. Once I realized this was really limiting for him (and I don’t want to perpetuate the perfectionism that was taught to me), I started forcing myself to relax on this issue. We are moving soon and our next house is more conducive to entertaining so I will get more practice. I try to remind myself: people are the most important thing. We want people in our lives and being a perfectionist works against that. And if they won’t like vegetarian food, our friends can grab a burger on the way home. 😉


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