Wanted — Your Unique Money Savings Ideas!

by Katy on June 13, 2023 · 86 comments

One thing that I really like about blogging is that I’m constantly learning new tricks. Whether it’s here or on The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, new ideas are constantly flowing in.

So today is your turn. Have a tip or trick that saves you a few pennies or better yet, a few dollars?

I’m sure we could all use a new idea or two, so please, share what works for you!

Here, I’ll start. My main money saving idea to to tweak my attitude. Instead of feeling bummed out about not having money for all the fun things I could be doing, (Hawaiian vacations, etc.) I choose to focus on how great it is to not have to work all the zillions of hours it would take to earn the money for these kinds of expenses.

Please share your unique money saving ideas in the comments section below.

Tag, you’re it!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim June 13, 2023 at 10:57 am

I use a 5-cup coffee maker in the morning. (It makes two mugfuls.) When I’m ready for more, I refresh the used grounds by stirring them up a bit and adding half the amount of grounds for a second pot.

I finally saved all my soap slivers and made another bar out of them. I wasn’t sure it was worth doing. I thought it would get mushy and just make a mess. But, I cured it for quire a while – maybe six months – and I’ve been using it for a month or more.

I grew heirloom tomates in the past. I saved the seeds and I’m growing about two dozen plants f


Susan Robinson June 13, 2023 at 11:34 am

I’m sure many know this already, but I always use cash to purchase things. Everytime, I break a bill and don’t use change. When I get home for the day, all the change goes in a 1/2 gallon Ball jar. On the 15th of November, I take all the change to the bank to be counted by their machine and use that money for any expenses and gifts at Christmas. We have money for special holiday dinners, unusual groceries for entertaining, and presents. I always have at least $600.00 or more. The day after Nov. 15th starts the next years cash savings.
Also, our credit union counts the coins for free as long as you keep at least $5.00 in their system, which I do.


Lindsey G June 13, 2023 at 11:40 am

I love the “tweak your attitude” trick….it’s probably the MOST important frugal hack there is. At times I struggle with that one.

As a person who loves to travel with my family of 5, I have had to be creative about how to make vacations work. Airline tickets add up quickly! We live in Northern California and are lucky to have many destinations within driving distance, so many of our trips are between CA, OR, and surrounding western states. That said, another trick I learned years ago was to list our house on the HomeExchange site. That way, our lodging is virtually free when we use the site to arrange reciprocal exchanges (we swap house for house at the same time) or Guest Point exchanges (which work more like Airbnb). We have also rented our house via Airbnb for 2 months while going on a longer road trip.

Home exchanging is not for everyone, but if anyone is interested you can check it here: https://www.homeexchange.com/?sponsorkey=lindsey-c3a2f


Susie's Daughter June 13, 2023 at 11:49 am

When I have a few extra minutes, but it doesn’t feel like enough time to “do” something, I try to think of something small I can do to save money. Options I can manage in 5-10 minutes include:
– pulling bills out of the mail pile to make sure they are paid on time
-making smoothies or prepping the dry ingredients for muffins so there will be something for tomorrow’s breakfast
– freezing elderly milk for later baking or using it to make microwave chocolate pudding
-doing a teeny repair that extends the useful life of something like putting a paperclip on a broken zipper pull or scrubbing the kitchen sink and deodorizing the drain

It makes me feel good, gets something done and saves money. A hat trick!
Thanks for asking, Katy!


Jan Jackson June 13, 2023 at 12:28 pm

1) We no longer eat much meat, but use plants, beans and legumes. We’ve learned to like them.
2) I no longer buy new large things and appliances as a habit. I go for very cheap but usually free and have the patience of Job. I can wait. And we have a FABULOUS free page for our little town.
3) I grow most of the veggies we eat and am learning to grow more interesting things.
4) I rarely drive anywhere- I walk.


Kathy June 13, 2023 at 1:12 pm

I buy “generic” ground coffee and use the bold setting on the coffee maker to make it stronger.
I cocktail hair styling products to get the look I want.
When my kids were little I bought generic cereal and put it in the brand name cereal boxes
I wear mismatched socks around the house


Mia June 17, 2023 at 1:00 pm

I wear mismatched socks to work 🙂


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:32 am

I’m too finicky to do this, as they’d have to have the same thickness, tightness, height, etc. for me not to be constantly aware of them.


findley June 13, 2023 at 1:38 pm

I use tea bags once for my cup of tea, then reuse them to make home brewed ice tea plus I buy an India brand of tea that has a stronger/ bolder taste than my old favorite. After all that I put the tea bags into my compost to make soil for my garden. I shop second hand for practically everything and also buy garden plants and produce at the Farmer’s market. I give Cash as gifts and refuse to buy gift cards because I think Cash is far superior–it cannot expire and it doesn’t limit the receiver to a certain store or mall. They can pay a bill, put it into savings or buy things second hand. I also mend my favourite socks as long as I can keep them alive. I am really trying hard not to buy “stuff” this year.


Jill June 13, 2023 at 1:40 pm

In a similar way, I have little money, but I live debt free. It goes a long way to keeping me sane.

We buy coffee by the 5lb bag, so we can buy better coffee for less money.

We change our clothing more than we change the thermostat of we aren’t comfortable with the house temp. We have saved a lot of money on electric this way. I might wear 3 or 4 different clothes changes, but I’m not making my house hotter or colder.


Robyn June 13, 2023 at 1:43 pm

I buy 2 litre bottles of vinegar, pour half into an empty bottle, fill them up with water. In 24 hours you have 2 x 2litre bottles of vinegar. I use it as a replacement for fabric softener and clean lots of things with it and sodium bicarbonate. You can only do it once.


A. Marie June 13, 2023 at 2:22 pm

Folks, this isn’t going to be one of my shiny happy comments. As Katy already knows, my DH died on June 4, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. (See Monday’s post over at The Frugal Girl blog for details.) But if you can bring yourself to think long and hard about end-of-life planning, you’ll save not only money, but heartache.

(1) Please, please have all of your end-of-life paperwork in place: wills, health care proxies, durable power of attorney documents, etc. Yes, lawyers are expensive. But not having this paperwork done can be a lot more expensive and a lot more trouble.

(2) Think also about how you plan to cover institutional care, if you live in the US and if you, a spouse/partner, or another relative needs it. Medicare does NOT cover it, and getting anyone onto long-term Medicaid can be a nightmare. DH and I bought long-term care insurance about 15 years ago, back when we were still relatively young/healthy and it was still relatively affordable. Although the LTCI saved our bacon, it’s no longer really a practical option. But I understand that there are now “hybrid” long-term care/life insurance plans. I invite anyone who knows more about the current situation than I do (Lindsey, etc.?) to chime in on this.

(3) Be sure that you know and can carry out your loved one’s wishes for final disposition. This is the one base I didn’t have completely covered when DH died: I was about to request the paperwork from our local medical school for anatomical donation, but events moved faster than I did. Fortunately, the director of the funeral home I chose (I got it off a list compiled by our local chapter of the Funeral Consumers Alliance) was able to pull the necessary strings to make the donation happen. Not only did this result in a considerable reduction in the funeral home costs, but DH would have been completely happy with it. He signed every organ donor card he ever got in his life, and although his age and condition made him not a good candidate for organ donation, he’d have been delighted to contribute to science in this way. I’m only sorry I couldn’t slip him into his “I Am a Force for Science” t-shirt beforehand.

Well, that’s probably enough for the moment. But do think about these things, if you haven’t already.


Heidi Louise June 13, 2023 at 2:47 pm

Thank you for writing, A-Marie. And great condolences to you again! How important it is that you have people to laugh with.


Coral Clarke June 13, 2023 at 3:02 pm

I lost my mother last year, and I know that losing a partner leaves an even greater gap in your life! Her dementia meant that she was perpetually panic stricken, so my grief was softened by the knowledge that she had escaped.At 98 she wasn’t required as a donation, so we had an unattended cremation, the inexpensive solution our family prefers, and a memorial service on a Saturday, so people didn’t need to take time off work.My heart goes out to you.
My biggest economies, on an ongoing basis, are keeping a “WANT “ list, and letting family/friends know what’s on it, using half the recommended amount of personal / household cleaning products,adjusting clothing until heating is unavoidable, and portion control. 5 portions instead of 4 means 1 for the freezer, great on a night when cooking might cause my head to explode! I also air, rather than wash, l thing that has been worn but isn’t dirty. Air drying is a year round thing here in Brisbane Australia! My energy provider tells me my usage is 1/3 that off the average @ person household!


Katy June 13, 2023 at 4:00 pm

A. Marie,

Sending all my love your way during this difficult time. Thank you so very much for taking the time to spell out what we should be doing to prepare for when we’re in the same situation.


Jennifer June 13, 2023 at 5:49 pm

I am so very sorry A. Marie.


Selena June 13, 2023 at 7:04 pm

I so concur with things in order. Long story short, had to have my father get his/my mother’s papers UPDATED so sibling and I were POAs. Great timing as mother was starting the hellacious dementia descent. Also ensure anyone who is secondary POAs (financial, health) still has the capacity to do so (had to update that too).
Upside is arrangements were prepaid BUT father all of a sudden got it into his head re: donating which is NOT always an easy task. Glad it worked out for you and glad mother passed a very short time after father started getting that thought in his head.
Father cared for mother until *the* very end. But I don’t think he truly realized that keeping mother at home meant she’d also leave this earth at home.


Patricia Koernig June 14, 2023 at 12:21 am

Thinking of you, A. Marie with much love.
This community has provided a safe place to be, and such comfort as I began my journey as a widow. Your comments, and sense of humor have always made me laugh. I cannot thank you enough.
With deep gratitude.


Ruby June 14, 2023 at 4:35 am

A. Marie, thank you so much for this. My mom had started to get her paperwork together when dementia got hold of her. We were able to finish it together and it made caring for her a million times easier.


Christine June 14, 2023 at 5:04 pm

Same with my dad. He must have known sooner than I did that his mind was starting to slip so he set aside a day for he and I to attend to everything and sign what needed to be signed. Having the power of attorney in place was especially a headache saver. Also, the irrevocable trust for his property which needed to be set up years before…I think maybe 7 years…was invaluable in letting my sister and I keep his house.


Cindy in the South June 14, 2023 at 1:06 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. I somehow lost my last reply. Yes, long term care insurance used to be really good but they lost their shirt as costs started to rise and now the policies limit the coverage and most folks I know have had to fight to get them to cover recently. I do have a two year very cheap long term care policy with a supposedly highly rated company but I really doubt my relatives have an easy time with the insurance company when my time comes for long term care. You are right, there are whole life policies with a long term care rider. I would get one from a highly rated company. I have considered it but have not done so because of true cost.


mary in maryland June 14, 2023 at 2:47 pm

I’m sorry for your loss. It has been enlightening to follow your journey with your husband’s dementia.


Christine June 14, 2023 at 5:11 pm

I read The Frugal Girl blog about the loss of your DH and want you to know you have my sympathy and caring thoughts. I feel like those of us on this and other frugal blogs have gotten to know each other through the years and the care and concern we have for each other is real. I wish I lived closer so I could bring you a baked good and some flowers. Since I can’t, virtual hugs and kind thoughts are sent to you from me. By the way, I read Edward’s obituary and he sounded like quite an extraordinary guy! Thanks for sharing it. Peace.


Vickey July 20, 2023 at 4:01 pm

A. Marie, I am so sorry for your loss, and for all you’ve been going through. Thank you for taking the time to selflessly share what you’ve learned, making the journey a wee bit easier for others who will have to take it.


Juhli June 13, 2023 at 4:08 pm

My addition is to get really clear on your priorities and spend very little on the low priority areas. As a young person my total priority was getting an education. As a young mother it was providing good care and experiences for my sons rather than lots of things. As a working person it was collecting assets for when health issues or retirement called for a nest egg but having inexpensive fun and experiences along the way. Now as a retiree it is stretching our money for everyday expensive where possible, paying for good healthcare and having fun and experiences with our family. Hence the 13 year old car lol.


Christine June 14, 2023 at 5:12 pm

Love this!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:24 pm

Its very true how priorities change throughout the stages of one’s life.


KK June 29, 2023 at 5:40 pm

I am in the “paying for my son’s college education” stage of life. I know you have already gotten through this! Do you have any tips/pointers on how to cash flow school? He has done a phenomenal job earning scholarships, but I still have a pretty large chunk to pay each year. I am a public elementary school teacher in the worst paying state for teacher salary. I also took a second job tutoring. Any tips at all would be a huge help!


Katy June 29, 2023 at 7:50 pm

I wish I had some amazing tip for you, but I’m guessing that you’ve already done the more obvious things. We really lived bare bones during these years. I socked away as much as possible in between the spring and fall quarters, as there’s a longer time span between those payments. We had double incomes then and I worked a lot more than I had in earlier years. As a nurse I had good opportunities to work extra. RN overtime pay is amazing.


Blue Gate Farmgirl June 13, 2023 at 5:14 pm

Best thing I ever did and am now reaping the rewards: Saved for retirement, lived in a modest house, drove a modest car much longer than I wanted, paid cash for college, masters, etc. Right after college, my dad’s best friend told me to fund my “F You Fund” first, invest well. Sit on it until you need it. Well, 30 years later I am the poster child for compounding rolling over and stock options. I retired at age 54, live on a modest farm and smile every morning.
I buy very little at stores, grow what we eat and thrift for items we need. We’ve been purging the shops and outbuildings and our little community rented a local event center to have a big yard/flea market. We did well! We are already starting to plan the next one.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:24 pm

Driving an unimpressive car is a true frugal act! Says me, the owner of a 2005 minivan.


Jennifer June 13, 2023 at 5:55 pm

Well, I try to save electricity. When we lived in CO (a very sunny state) we rarely used lights during the daytime. In OH (a cloudy state) we are not so lucky. But – If I am home alone I will use the downstairs bathroom but not close the door and I don’t turn on the light. If others are home I use my upstairs bathroom with a window so that I don’t have to turn on a light.

Also, whenever we travel, I take all the charging cords. My electric toothbrush, our laptops even if we won’t need them, etc. I charge everything on the hotel’s dime.

If I am cooking something for dinner that will be in the oven for a long time I will make homemade muffins for breakfast at the same time.


Sunflower RN June 17, 2023 at 9:23 am

Such great tips! I hadn’t thought to charge everything on a hotel’s dime. And making homemade muffins for breakfast while the oven is on anyway, love it! I will definitely be putting these to use 😉


Julia Tilley June 18, 2023 at 9:10 am

Jennifer, I am currently sitting in an airport waiting for my flight. Thanks to your tip we have just plugged in all our devices to charge. Thanks!!!


Selena June 13, 2023 at 7:11 pm

Personally I think living below ones means is the key. I’m not talking about being so cheap you never see the dentist, optometrist, doctor, maintain/adequately insure what you own OR steal sugar/condiment packages from restaurants. Wants versus needs is key – not to date myself but I will. Used to dog ear pages of catalogs before buying. 90%+ of the time, I didn’t buy. Kept a need/to do list that is now pretty much completed. Time to review the useful life list and plan for replacement prior to retirement (roof, appliances etc). I am not into buying used despite it possibly saving money. If the frig is nearing/at end of life, buy new from a local appliance store that a) delivers, b) installs, c) takes the old appliance, and d) services what they sell. Harder to find these days but they do exist.


Karen L June 16, 2023 at 1:01 pm

My DH used to joke that he saved us money by getting up during the night and un-dog earing all the catalog pages I had dog eared!


Carol June 17, 2023 at 12:29 pm

That’s genius!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:34 am

My kind of guy!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:20 pm

I agree about living below one’s means. Do you buy used when it’s not a mechanical purchase?


Selena June 18, 2023 at 6:51 pm

I don’t buy cars or appliances used. First car I bought was used by my father knew the owner (aka knew it was maintained). Since then new vehicles – truck was 17 years old when it was replaced (with new) and car was 15 years old when replaced (with new). Regardless of new purchase, maintain it well. Frig came with the house and besides being inefficient when it came to space, was poorly designed mechanically. Wasn’t going to pay $800+ to fix it and certainly wasn’t going to buy used from an unknown source. Would I buy a floor model – sure, I’ve done it before. I don’t care if a scratch or it doesn’t have a box (coffee grinder). Besides necessity makes a poor bargain, older models of frig/freezer/washer/dryer/dishwasher/HVAC/water heater are less energy AND water efficient. If your budget doesn’t allow new, yes you do the best you can do. But I budget for replacing new.


Vickey July 20, 2023 at 4:15 pm

Selena, I hear you on the advantages to buying newer appliances, and from a reliable local source.

That said, DH has kept our 24 y.o, most-efficient-available-at-the-time washing machine running over the years by repairing it himself, likely saving us the cost of a new machine a couple of times over. We will probably have to replace it soon because he can’t buy the special tool needed to disassemble it in order to get at the part that needs replacing.

Sadly, new machines are so complex that DIY homeowners are unlikely to be able to repair them, and it’s very costly to have professional repairs done, when/if that’s even available. And they have shorter lifecycles than older, less complex machines.

Seems to me we have to consider the full lifecycle cost, including the environmental impact of all the resources embedded in newer, short-lived machines.

I confess, I cried when our refrigerator could not be repaired/recharged and wound up in the cast-off appliances pile at the transfer station because for some reason only commercial refrigerators can have their compressors repaired and coolant re-charged.


Angela June 13, 2023 at 7:50 pm

I book all my doctors appointments for the end of the year. If my family has any major expenses and maxes out our out-of-pocket amount, then any fees related to my appointments will be fully covered by insurance.


SunflowerRN June 17, 2023 at 9:24 am

Great idea! I’ll be rescheduling appointment now!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:19 pm

My concern with this tip is that a single doctor’s appointment often prompts an appointment with a specialist, which could bump into the next calendar year.


Selena June 18, 2023 at 6:57 pm

And since the US no longer seems to have health care but self care, I’d advise to seriously question the need for a specialist, especially if you are female. The “patients bill of rights” found on most medical facilities websites are BS. The insurance companies (HDHP) urge you to “be involved and ask questions”. Doctors (not all have huge egos but far too many do) don’t want you asking questions. I asked why a test, “doctor said so”. I asked what for, same answer. Guess what, I’m not taking the test. Deductible is $3K, out of pocket is $5K. You’d best talk to me else I’m walking (and I did).


Amanda August 3, 2023 at 12:29 pm

I have done the VERY same thing many years ago with a dentist. I was young at that time, mid-20s. Now, I am very involved in my care and ask a a lot of questions. I have switched doctors to find one that would talk with me as an equal partner in my care instead of patronizing me with “Doctor knows best” attitudes. I wish all people would not be too scared or intimidated about speaking what’s on their minds their doctors.


Marilyn June 13, 2023 at 10:28 pm

At least once a year, I review all “repeated expenses”. This means things I pay for month after month with automatic deductions from my bank account. I’m talking about subscriptions, monthly cell phone bill, etc. I don’t want to mindlessly pay for any services I am no longer using.


Ruby June 14, 2023 at 4:56 am

I would say that knowing how to sew has probably saved me the most money over the years. My skills are not on the fancy side, having topped out at making buttonholes, putting in zippers, and making simple garments. I don’t sew clothes from scratch anymore because new fabric is expensive, but save a lot of money buying clothes from secondhand sources and altering them to fit, and then mending them as needed to extend their life. It’s a skill that lends itself to reuse of materials as well.

My husband’s frugal super power is comparison shopping for large, fixed expenses. He loves doing research, so this suits him. I tend to be able to keep track of many small details of frugality. We dovetail nicely.


Julia Tilley June 18, 2023 at 8:35 am

Ruby, we are the same!! My husband is great at negotiating great deals on the big things like insurance on the house, “new” car purchases, cable, phone, appliances. I’m the one saving money on groceries, packing snacks for trips, line drying the wash… and I agree that we compliment each other well.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:10 pm

I rely on my mother for true sewing help, but I can mend and darn like nobody’s business!


Cindy in the South June 14, 2023 at 5:47 am

I guess it is more a lifestyle but some could translate to city and suburban living. I bought a small house during the Great Recession for 25K in a very rural town without much industry. It is a decidedly run down area. The yard and house are almost completely tree shaded. Lightning took out my air conditioner and I only use a fan in the very deep, humid, lower South. I place a bowl with ice cubes before the fan and wear a wet t shirt to bed. I sleep in front of fan. The front and back doors to house create a hallway, much like the old dogtrot style creating cross ventilation, although this house was built in 1950. I do have a white metal roof that reflects the sun and makes the house cooler. It also has a large awning, deflecting most of the Western sun through my large picture window where the sun hits. I also have big bushes that go up 3/4 of the way over the large bay window, intentionally, to prevent the sun from hitting the window. I try not to turn the stove on during the summer and rely on fruit, salad and sandwiches. In the winter, which our winters are generally very mild, I only heat the living room with a plug in heater, and sleep in living room and open the doors to the bath and kitchen so the pipes get heat. I close off the bedrooms by stuffing towels above and below the door, and also stuff towels near the outside doors. I use insulated curtains. I have very few major applicances. hot water heater, fridge, stove. Dandelion greens grow profusely in my yard for about eight months of the year and since they are good for you, I do the wilted dandelion salad that there are recipes for on the internet. I keep a large old mayonnaise jar full of dandelion tea I made in my fridge. There are recipes on the internet, but I basically use a tea bag from Walmart, add the dandelion leaves, and whatever sweetener you want, along with lemon juice. I drive decidedly unattractive cheaper cars, work clothes from resale higher end thrift stores or J.C. Penney’s on sale, I wash work clothes in the bath tub to prevent the wear and tear on them. I cut my own hair a simple below chin straight style, my reading glasses are from Dollar Tree. Aldi for grocery shopping. I use the iphone for internet at house, I don’t have a tv. I pay cash when possible. I don’t really garden except occasionally growing mustard greens in a bag of miracle grow, but I do generally forage (if I have time) for pecans and mulberries, which are prevalent in my area. Luckily I have a huge mulberry tree but the late frost killed most berries for the first time ever. I do have a lot frozen from last year though. I will get pumpkins on sale the day after Halloween and put them in colder bedroom and eat on them and their seeds during the winter. They usually last until January or February.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:09 pm

Whoah . . . this is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!


MB in MN June 14, 2023 at 6:53 am

For me, it’s being mindful and questioning the norm. Mindfulness helps me and my husband be good stewards of our money, time, health and planet. Questioning the norm has allowed us to do things like live below our means, become vegetarian, and to borrow other people’s children (nieces and nephews) rather than having our own.


Danielle C June 14, 2023 at 7:03 am

Buy the warranty. For real.

Buy the warranty on major appliances and be diligent about following up on it.

When we were shopping for a new refrigerator 5 years ago, we just had the sense that nothing was really solidly built anymore. So we chose what worked best for us and we bought the 3 year warranty (in this case, from Lowe’s). I don’t recall what that cost, but was under $300.

These warranties will reimburse a % of maintenance costs like replacement filters and other parts. And if you don’t use the warranty for a service call by the end of the warranty term, you get 30% of the warranty purchase price back.

As we were getting close to the 3 year mark, I called out a service rep to look at some odd things the unit was doing. He declared that it would cost more to fix than it was worth and recommended to the warranty company that they give us our money back. They did! We were given a gift card for the full original cost of the refrigerator. Our only expense was the warranty itself.

Of course we couldn’t find a replacement we liked during the crazy COVID-19 years so we kept that unit limping along for two more years. We just replaced it last week and the old refrigerator is going to my daughter’s house. And you know what? We bought the 5 year warranty on the new fridge and the calendar reminders are already in place to make sure we take full advantage.

These products are not built to last, so buying the warranty on a large appliance protects yourself and your investment. Also, adding reminders to your future calendar to follow up on the added benefits will help you remember to reap the benefits.


Anne June 14, 2023 at 7:44 am

I do believe in doing all the small stuff that adds up over the years, but, in my opinion, the most lifetime money that will be spent or saved, is in cars and houses. Pay a great deal of attention in these two areas, whether buying or just renting, think long and hard on what you really need, Research, research, research before committing.

I know a couple near retirement, no children, who bought a six bedroom house. And yet didn’t know how they were going to retire. Talk about a cautionary tale.


JC June 14, 2023 at 8:16 am

Anne Marie, I am so sorry to hear about your Dear husbands passing. Thank you for all of your wisdom and suggestions for end-of-life planning.

I think for me it was convincing my family that I do not want “stuff”. I don’t need anything more to care for and eventually have to dispose of. I remind them that at some point “stuff” given to me could become their problem to get rid of…..


Iris June 14, 2023 at 8:31 am

Try to repurpose when I can. I save orange netting (plastic kind) from orange bags or other produce that uses that type of netting and use those as scrubbers for my pots and pans. Works great. Also have solar light bulbs, solar phone charger and solar and rechargable batteries, which help when power goes out. As mentioned attitude is definitely a big saver. I live a simple life and have fun on occasional day trips. Memories are priceless and ongoing.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:05 pm

I love day trips! You get away for a bit, and then get to sleep in your own comfortable bed!


Lindsey June 14, 2023 at 10:11 am

I am old now but you have young readers who might benefit from hearing this: one of the best things I did starting right after I finished grad school was to act like I was making $10,000 a year less than I was after taxes and banking that. Every time I took a new job or got a raise, I raised the amount I was acting like I didn’t make, so a few years later I acted like I was making $12,000 less than I was, and so on. After I had a large emergency fund, I stopped putting the excess in the bank and began investing it. I won’t lie, at first this was tough because I had a low salary but I made do. When I married, the husband and I decided we had each been living on one salary and except for things like food, living together should be cheaper than living separately. So, we lived on the higher salary and banked/invested the second salary. Despite each of us having a catastrophic illness and lots of bills insurance would not cover, we each retired at 50 with no mortgage, no car loans, no student loans. My parents epitomize the immigrant story, coming here penniless after time in camps and then displaced person camps, and they taught the kids to act like you were poorer than you are by saving instead of spending—so someday you won’t be poor.

The other best thing I have done to save money over the years is not to care much what others think about what I wear or eat or drive. Thank you to the nuns at my boarding school for this. You don’t have to buy a new dress in black for a funeral. You don’t need the fanciest car on the market. You don’t need a lot of junky jewelry. You can learn to cut your own hair or have a friend/husband you trust do it. Concentrate your spending on what is important to you. I use the library but I buy books, too. And we spend on travel, which has given us great joy over the years. Most other things don’t matter that much to me. Figure out what really matters to you and let the rest go.

We do give money to several local charities because while we have worked for what we have, we realize that luck plays a huge role in how things play out in life. Having a mother who drank heavily while pregnant, a car accident that results in a traumatic brain injury, having an abusive partner…so many things that can derail a life. Giving to a non-profit keeps me from forgetting just how fortunate the husband and I are.

Finally, gardening and preserving has saved us thousands over the years. I started gardening because the produce northern Alaska gets is past its prime but I kept it up when I realized how much it saved. I looked at it as a second job that I did for about an hour a day and longer on the weekends. A lot of folks take on various gigs to supplement their income, and gardening was mine. I do it less now that I am older but I do mystery shops for grocery stores, partly for what they used to call pin money and partly to keep my brain working.


Christine June 14, 2023 at 5:29 pm

Your third paragraph really resonates with me. We have worked hard too but I realize just how much the roulette wheel of genetics and good health has come into play in the ability to keep a decent paying job and maintain a good standard of living. I also have seen good luck change on a dime for some friends and relatives. Like you, we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:04 pm

“They taught the kids to act like you were poorer than you are by saving instead of spending—so someday you won’t be poor.” <-- this is great!


Mary Ann June 14, 2023 at 10:24 am

Focus on big money moves rather than the small. I treat the small money savers
( like upscaling my 45 year old bath towels with borders and embroidery; cooking in batches; or consigning clothes on Poshmark) as a hobby. I treat the BIG financial stuff as a job. This doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to study and read financial advice. I have to ask real financial advisors pro bono but in the end, I need to make decisions and be bold.

30 Years ago my GG had a step son who ran American Funds. I asked if I could get on with the “family” accounts for my 403B. It is has saved me thousands and thousands of dollars in management fees. I had never met the man.

I have a 3% mortgage rate. I just got a retro check for a newly negotiated raise for the last year. I will NOT put it toward my mortgage since I can get a a much higher interest in putting it in a CD. This is a $1000s swing.

I have studied and restudied my retirement. I try to educate my teaching peers. In California, I can not take Social Security – even if my husband passes. Not ONE of the new teachers knew this!!!!!!! So I have been planning for years to live without it. With my new raise, I will make nearly $2,000 dollars more a month if I go two more years. I was going to retire this year. But I found out there is a major “ding ding ding” clause if I keep going. What is two mores years in a job I like versus the 30 years I hope to be retired. The extra is travel money.

No credit card debt, ever.

I use an IHG credit card for everything and pay it off each month. The annual fee is waived because I put over 20,000 on it – all groceries, bills, tuition, etc. . . I get double and triple points. My old cash back card only made me about $350 Using points wisely I have had at least twenty nights free in hotels on the beach and even in Italy. That is my vacation plan


Ann Y. June 14, 2023 at 12:49 pm

Good for you…we do the same with our credit cards for cash back – then use that cash for something fun!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 12:01 pm

I am super impressed with your studious method of retirement planning. Well done!


Julie Hamann June 14, 2023 at 11:53 am

Preplan and more importantly prepay for your final arrangements. I did that for my mom and it saved money as the costs were locked in at the time of payment. On the other hand, be prepared for additional expenses that were not thought of at the time of the initial payment. I chose to have my mom buried on a Sunday so more people could attend and it cost extra to have the grave diggers there.


Ann Y. June 14, 2023 at 12:48 pm

Loved “tweak my attitude” ! Have done so many things for so long it is hard to think of some….your “Use It Up” motto is something my mom, who grew up in the Depression, always said. My husband was raised the same way so here are some things we do:
Use our tea bags twice…always have.
Clip coupons
I have cut his hair since before our first date. Get mine cut at Great Clips and color it with color I buy from a deep discount store. 2 bucks for Nice and Easy and I use only 1/2 box at a time.
I do my own manicure and pedicures…always have.
Just visited this store…bought hot dog buns, bread, and english muffins for 99 cents each. Saw them later at a real store for 4.29 each!
USE THE LIBRARY – all the time. DVDs, books, audio, Libraries are the best bargain. Ours just added Flipster for magazines. I save an amazing amount of money as I tally up the price of what I would buy at the checkout and then download them for free.
We don’t pay cash…we charge just about everything on a no annual fee credit card, pay it off each month, and then use the reward dollars for something special.
ALWAYS shop sales…rarely buy full price.
That being said…we enjoy a very nice life style. We live in a retirement community that is on the costly side…but say we can afford this because we have lived this way for 46 years!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:58 am

Sadly, my husband doesn’t let me cut his hair any more. Having said that, he does look better!


Janet Dieterich June 14, 2023 at 1:00 pm

I have mentioned this before in various posts but it bears repeating. In Minnesota you can contribute up to $100 per couple to legislative and state-wide campaigns that register with the state and follow certain fundraising rules. This does not apply to federal offices but it does apply to political parties. In return you fill out a form and receive the $$ back up to a $100 limit. The idea is that together ordinary people can make a significant difference in politics and help counteract special interest money.


KarenB June 14, 2023 at 1:46 pm

One of our best moves was literally a move. We downsized into a new home that has just the right amount of space for our empty-nester lives. Had a big garage sale and sold a few things online before moving. Our utility bills and home insurance have reduced a great deal. With a few exceptions, we used existing furniture so no big redecorating costs. There’s no room for things we don’t really need so the temptation to buy more/new stuff is pretty much gone!


Maureen June 16, 2023 at 5:38 am

We made 2 major moves within 10 years and it is the best decision we made towards retirement. First we moved to Florida as my husband took a promotion. He earned a lot of money for his SS account. I telecommute so as long as I have internet, I’m good. After 8 years of disagreements and abuse by the owners, he was a few months away from retirement age. Yup, sold the house in FL and moved to WV, where the taxes and all insurances are extremely low and the weather is perfect for us (we missed the seasonal changes when in FL). Plus our daughter is only a 6-hr drive away instead of having to get on a plane or drive 24 hours. Now he is retired, earns SS (a lot more than if we stayed in NY so many years ago) and works part time at the local hardware store for pocket money. Plus he gets a pension from another company and that pays our mortgage. Me, I’m still working because I need the insurance. And we are happy.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:36 am

This sounds lovely! I actually enjoy road trips, so a six hour drive with a loved one at the other end is very appealing to me.


Ava June 14, 2023 at 4:15 pm

We maintain our house and don’t let small problems grow. When my husband and I got married 15 years ago, we each had a house. I had mostly kept on top of repairs for mine, as well as I could afford. He had lived in his house and I guess assumed it would take care of itself. The first time I visited at his house, I went in the back yard, looked up toward the roof and said “is that hole supposed to be there?” No. It wasn’t and so began the process of spending money like water to repair and update. Eventually both houses were sold and the one we have together now is kept up to date on repairs.
Also, we never replace anything that is still working well to get a newer model. That includes computers, phones, cars, shoes, clothing. If it wears out or begins to have too many problems we don’t mind replacing. We never replace because an item is out of date or unfashionable.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:56 am

The ability to ignore the Joneses is a powerful financial tool.


Christine June 14, 2023 at 5:48 pm

I maintain my habit of saving money in most everything by remembering what Amy D. from the Tightwad Gazette preached: It’s the thousands of small things that add up to a large amount of money saved. Here’s some things I do on a regular basis…I keep my speed at under 64 mph locked into cruise control on the highway to save 7% on gas, we bring our car in for regular oil changes as it extends the life of the vehicle, I use the library for almost all my reading (I buy one book a month from my good friend who owns an Indy bookstore for the Book Club I attend there) and much of my entertainment through their free programs, I wash clothes in cold water and hang them to dry, I cook almost exclusively at home except for attending a few dinners a year to help support local fundraisers, I buy most of our clothing at thrift shops (bras, underwear, bathing suits, socks and shoes excluded…I’m too skeeved out by these) but find these last for a long time anyway, buy almost everything I can secondhand, make our own coffee, tea and iced tea at home, walk for exercise, cash in deposit cans and bottles …so many little things I’m sure most if not all of you on this blog do too. Thanks Katy, for letting us chime in here. This was fun to read.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:45 am

I love that you’re supporting your friend’s indy bookstore!


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:54 am

Love Amy Dacyczyn!


Bee June 15, 2023 at 5:25 am

This is interesting topic. I look at frugality as the maximization and conservation of my financial resources. I have a few frugal friend IRL. They often tease me by saying that I make a dollar holler. This is because I squeeze everything I can out of every single dollar. Despite this I do spend money on the things and the people in my life that matter to me. I live frugally so I can live richly.

I do all the usual things most of the time. I cook from scratch, eat leftovers, brew my own coffee and drink primarily filtered water.I shop loss leaders, use the library whenever possible and batch my errands. I also don’t drink alcohol, smoke, chew tobacco or eat highly processed foods.

Aside from all these ordinary things, I also review our expenditures at the beginning of each month. I look at what I spent the previous month and plan my spending for the next. I question anything that seems out of line such as insurance, cell phone bills and water usage. I check my bank accounts on a regular basis, my credit card transactions between statements, and monitor my credit score.

I have made an effort to take advantage of all benefits offered by employers over the years – matching 401k contributions, FSAs, HSAs, discount programs, health rebate programs and much more. Now that I’m self-employed, I carefully track my expenditures. Many of my expenses can be written off.

Besides underwear, running shoes and workout clothes, I buy nearly everything secondhand if I can. Even things that most people never think about. Things such as picture hangers, plants, hand tools, cleaning products, stationery, offices supplies, and gardening tools. Estate sales are my favorite resource in my area for this type of thing.

I have also forged long-term relationships with the people that take care of me, my family and my home. This one is sometimes controversial among frugal people. I do not always shop for the cheapest deal. I have used the same plumber, electrician, contractor, accountant, mechanic, veterinarian, and investment advisor for years. I know that they will treat me fairly and that they do their jobs well. Because I have come to know them, they are always there to help me or answer questions. I believe this saves money in the long run and gives me peace of mind.


Mary Ann June 15, 2023 at 8:00 am

Bee, I totally agree with your last item. the cheapest bid is almost never the best in the long run. I tip well and am friendly and professional with service providers. One of the hardest parts of aging is watching my trusted “team” of providers retire.


A. Marie June 18, 2023 at 8:56 am

I’m completely with Bee and Mary Ann on Bee’s last paragraph. It’s because of the relationships DH and I forged with these folks over the years that the path I’m walking now isn’t harder than it is.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:43 am

Yes, yes and also yes!

“I live frugally so I can live richly” may be the best thing I’ve read all month! Thank you, Bee!


texasilver June 15, 2023 at 9:52 am

I know it is hard to pay for college without loans in current times. I was able to do it in the 70’s by working at a fast food place & supplementing with social security due to a deceased parent. I would encourage college age students to attend community college, take college classes while in HS, and major in a field that will ensure a job. Joining the military is another good way to pay for college. (My brother did that.) In my educator role I see students who took out massive school loans & are now stuck with the debt. They often come to my community college to earn a certificate or get training in a skill that will produce a job. I have an education & grateful that I have always been able to find work at a living wage. Education can a path to make & save $ if you are mindful as to how you achieve it. IMHO once you have income then you can maximize the money using the strategies the readers have helpfully provided.


Dicey June 17, 2023 at 8:00 am

Credit for this tip goes to my husband. He knows how to fix things, so he scours CL for things he needs. He’s redoing our backyard, using mostly secondhand or cheaply sourced materials. He needed a rototiller, so he found a free non-working one on CL. He fixed it rather easily, with minimal cost. He will use it to complete the project and then sell it. It won’t take up space forever and he’ll get at least $250 for it when he sells it in good working condition on Craigslist. During this process, a similar non-working one was listed on CL. He figured it could be someone else’s treasure.

He also found three honest-to-goodness street lights for $80 total. He will cut them down to scale and they will look really cool in our backyard. They’re hooded to prevent light pollution and sell for about $1000 each.

Lol, I guess me best money saving move was marrying a very clever husband. Certainly took me long enough to find him, but worth the wait.


Katy June 18, 2023 at 11:34 am

He sounds like a real gem!


Christine June 18, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Oh, the streetlights! I’m so jealous! They will look great in a backyard and the price is phenomenal. My neighbor invited me over to see her backyard with the words:” You’ve got to see my quirky backyard.” Hers has a headboard and footboard of an old brass bed as trellises for her vegetable garden and a true to life-sized statue of a dog standing guard. I think the streetlights will really add some originality to yours!


Vickey July 20, 2023 at 5:20 pm

Things I haven’t seen mentioned here:
1. We use a cash back credit card that we pay off in full each month, taking the cash back as a statement credit. That way there’s less money out of our bank account to pay off the card. And, it’s then considered a rebate, rather than taxable income. If we were to use the cash back to instead buy something else, we’d lose out on the rewards $ using our card for that purchase would otherwise garner.
2. Geo-arbitrage – we moved from a very expensive city in the Southwest to a very small city in the Rust Belt to raise our son. Our modest home here cost about one tenth what it would’ve cost there. And we hardly ever get stuck in traffic. 🙂
3. The very biggest/best thing we’ve done for our financial well-being is to eat a whole foods, plants-only diet, and move intentionally every day that we can. DH’s doctor is amazed at his annual checkups that he does not taking any prescription meds, which sadly is now very unusual for a man in his 60’s. Same for me (no prescription meds necessary) and I’ve shed 70+ lbs. over the last several years, shedding symptoms from an auto-immune disorder along the way. Simple plant-based foods are much cheaper than animal products, and looking forward to our “Third Act” not being spent in the hands of the medical system is priceless.
Nutrition science has grown as rapidly as computer science, over about the same time span (pretty exciting, eh?). There’s tons of high quality, free, evidence-based information out there (I recommend starting at nutritionfacts.org) that we can access and apply to keep ourselves and those in our circle of influence healthy.
Genes are actually responsible for only a very small portion of our most common diseases, lifestyle (especially diet) is far and away the biggest factor in the leading causes of death and disease in the U.S.
Oh, and given the meat and dairy industries role as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, how could we not change?


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