Wanted — Your Unique Money Savings Ideas!

by Katy on April 18, 2017 · 119 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 a few dollars? Please share your unique money saving ideas in the comments section below.

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.

Tag, you’re it!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 119 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariana April 18, 2017 at 11:32 am

Make friends with people with the same money spending (or rather not spending!) mentality.
It’s very frustrating to have to reject all these ‘Plaza’ drinks and elaborate weekend brunches.
Can we just get a coffee please?


Adriana @MoneyJourney April 23, 2017 at 6:22 am

Love this tip and I agree! Even though it’s difficult to learn about someone’s spending habits right from the beginning of a friendship, you can at least attempt to figure out if they respect your choice to not spend money willy-nilly 🙂


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life April 18, 2017 at 11:48 am

I make it a point to revisit one regular bill per month to see if I can negotiate a lower rate or change providers for better service and lower costs, starting with the largest bills (mortgage) down to small bills (phone and internet).


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life April 18, 2017 at 11:49 am

Oh, also, I share my big and little wins on Twitter w/my #1GoodMoneyThing hashtag, and so do friends, so we keep each other motivated and give each other ideas!


A. Marie April 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

Mine is related to both Katy’s and Mariana’s, but also a bit different: Don’t care so much about what other people think, and do what works best for you.


Marybeth April 18, 2017 at 1:17 pm



Trish April 18, 2017 at 11:55 am

Playing with a mortgage calculator online helped me and my husband get jazzed up about saving money. If we thought about going out for dinner, we might enter the $35-$45 we would spend into into a calculator that showed how much it would be over 30 years at our mortgage interest rate (it was 6.75% at the time!) Then we would say to ourselves “we can go out and spend $35-$45 now, OR we could stay home, make something with food we have in the pantry, make an extra payment of $45 on our mortgage this month, and save $319 in the long-run.

We paid our mortgage off 23 months after getting married. The calculator was an awesome tool for reinforcing the concept of temporary sacrifice for long-term gain!


tonya April 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Whaaaaa! That absolutely amazing. Congratulations!


WilliamB April 18, 2017 at 6:40 pm

That is killer.


Melissa April 23, 2017 at 9:40 pm

No chance of anyone paying off a mortgage that fast here in Sydney, Australia with the average house now costing $1.3 million!!!


Joy May 12, 2017 at 6:48 am

That is flippin’ awesome!


BJS April 18, 2017 at 12:02 pm

If I’ve got the heater or air conditioner on in my car, I turn it off a few minutes before I get to my destination, or my house if I’m heading home.


Vickey April 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm

If I have something in the oven or on the stove, I turn it off a few minutes early and let it cook in the residual heat.
Today I brought the soaked beans to pressure in the pressure cooker, then turned the flame off and covered the pot with several layers of thick towels kept in a nearby drawer for just that purpose. The beans will be tender by the time I’m ready to pull dinner together.


Monica April 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Since reading this blog and reading the hint, I literally open up each container of toothpaste, shampoo, makeup, facewash, soap, etc, and use every last drop. I get WEEKS, even MONTHS more product out of the containers! This saves me many dollars each year as I postpone spending the $ on new containers of product!


Carolyn S April 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm

I do this too now! I couldn’t believe how much toothpaste was left in the tube…


Debra April 19, 2017 at 6:38 am

It’s amazing how much money can be saved this way!


tonya April 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm

I don’t use a traditional phone plan. I use Republic Wireless and by only accessing data while on wifi, I pay $15/no for my smart phone.


Yellow April 19, 2017 at 5:45 am

I use Republic as well and love it! My bill varies from $14-18/month depending on how much data I use – I’m still on one of the reimbursement plans.


Annie April 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Not washing certain clothing items each time I wear them. If it’s still clean enough to be presentable then I air it out and put it back in my closet or drawer for another wearing. We pay per load of laundry in my building and it really adds up fast.

When we do eat out we eat only half the meal and take the rest home for another meal. Most places serve much bigger than necessary portions, sometimes we get two additional meals for the price of one.

When I buy from farmers markets sometime people don’t want the greens that come with veggies so I ask if they have any cutoffs from customers. Sauteed beet greens are delicious and you can often get them cheap that way, or free. Carrot tops are great for making veggie stock.


Laura April 18, 2017 at 12:47 pm

We NEVER spend any change or $1 bills we get back. We try to use cash as much as possible, but we also will round up to the nearest $5 if we’re using our debit card and put that away as well. It’s a habit now with both my husband and myself, and we typically save $700 – $800 per year this way, although one year we saved over $1000. This year we have a big savings goal, so we’re also putting away the occasional $5.

People have asked us why we don’t use a rewards credit card, but the change/$1 bills we put away after a trip to the grocery store is usually more than we would get back in rewards. Every $25 we earn in $1 bills, or every time we can roll some coins, goes into our savings account.


Jenzer April 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm

If you’re concerned about your spending in a particular area (e.g. dinners out, clothing, entertainment), try this variation on an expense log. For a period of time (a week, a month, a year — whatever makes the most sense to you), write down every purchase you make in that expense category. Then go back and review each purchase after some time has passed and ask yourself if the purchase was worth it. Did you enjoy that dinner out, or what it just so-so? Have you worn that piece of clothing? How many times? Etc.

A few years ago, I did this for twelve months with my media purchases. I logged every cent I spent on books, magazines, DVDs, and digital downloads. What an eye-opener! Most of the magazines weren’t worth the cover price of $4 or $5. Most of the books and DVDs, I never read or watched. The one spend that was worth it for me? Comedy album downloads. My DH traveled a lot at the time, and the comedy albums kept me company after I put the kids to bed and stayed up for a few hours doing household chores. I trimmed my media spending ‘way back as a direct result of keeping my log.


Bee April 18, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Three years ago, I started to keep track of every dollar I spent. I learned a lot about myself and found the answer to the question, “where did all my money go?” Self-knowledge is strength.


Marybeth April 18, 2017 at 1:21 pm

I couldn’t live without a budget. I NEED to know where my money goes.


Katy April 20, 2017 at 9:23 am

I listen to comedy on Pandora for free. I like the Aziz Ansari station, but have also listened to Jim Gaffigan. Th stations will cycle through different comedians and have very few commercials.


Bee April 18, 2017 at 12:50 pm

There are so many things that I do day in and day out to save money. But I agree with many others here– Attitude is everything! Life will never be perfect, but I always try to count my blessings. By approaching financial challenges from a place of strength, gratitude and abundance; it is easier to find solutions and make peace with less. Happiness does not come from things. It comes from within. When I changed my thinking, I changed my life.


karen April 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Before I get out of bed in the morning I try to spend 3 to 5 minutes thanking God for all the blessings in my life. Usually I start with my health, my husband’s health and my childrens’ health. That I have a house that keeps me warm/cool, safe and dry.

I will even get so specific like, thank you for my eyes that I can see, my ears that I can hear etc. etc. Starts my day in a much better way. I have tried to make this a habit.


Lisa P. April 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Love this!


BJS April 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm

So do I!


Teri April 18, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Me, too.


Bee April 19, 2017 at 4:11 am

This is lovely.


Dawn April 18, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Saved 40% on auto and renters. I asked around for referrals for dependable agents..did some googling and asked a lot of questions..then I got to fire my old over priced insurance agency. Score for me.


Joanna April 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

My workplace is in open enrollment and I’m lucky enough to have two pretty good options for health insurance. I spent 7 HOURS going through EOBs, prescription costs, and diving down the insurance rabbit hole to find which option was more cost effective for us. That work should save us a couple thousand dollars in the next insurance year. WHEW!

My frugal tip: Always run the numbers several times when it comes to the big stuff.


Marilyn April 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

That’s pretty impressive that you were able to save that much. It was worth the 7 hours of work.


Jeana April 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I make it a game to see how good I can make my house look while spending the least amount of money. And I love telling people how little I paid for something they compliment. Anyone can make their home beautiful on an unlimited budget. It takes special effort to make it beautiful on a budget.


Peggy April 20, 2017 at 8:33 am

I love this Jeana! You are so right! I am so inspired to make my house look nice on a budget…I’m sure I’d love your house! 🙂


JEANNE PATTERSON April 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm



Jennifer April 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

Captain D’s gives a free meal if you join their birthday club. Also, Toys’R us will send a coupon in the mail for your child’s birthday for $3 off ANY purchase. This means a free $3 toy for us and they also give free birthday crown, a Mylar birthday balloon, and make a birthday announcement overhead while your are in the store.


Deborah N April 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

My idea is on the boring side but it saves me lots of money. We eat mostly what is on sale and I also buy extra to eat later. One example is this week strawberries were on sale. We had pancakes with strawberries for Easter breakfast. I also froze enough to have it a few times. I do this with meat canned goods and pasta.(I still have canned veggies from around thanksgiving).
On a different note, I can’t tell you how much change I find in the coin star machine at my grocery store.


Jennifer April 19, 2017 at 7:43 am

I have recently been buying a can drink out of vending machine for 50 cents for the occasional coke craving. It’s less money than buying a bottle and as much change as I find left in the machines they are practically paying me to drink them!


Vickey April 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

This self-employed feminist entrepreneur turns the collars on her husband’s work shirts, and scavenges parts of one worn garment (say, jeans) to repair others.


TJS April 18, 2017 at 4:20 pm


I really enjoyed reading that you sew! My mother taught me, and I sew every day. I have a side business at work, doing hems, light alterations, etc. I earn a bit of cash for my thrift store shopping, and I make people happy since I don’t charge a lot. A co-worker just gave me 5 rolls of upholstery fabric! After I make a pillow top for my daughter’s footstool, I plan to make book bags to donate at the library. I make everything at our house, cushions, drapes, napkins, clothes, grocery bags, costumes, anything. It’s fun, rewarding, and saves so much! I buy fabric at thrift shops, Jo-Ann’s is too expensive.


Kimberly in So Cal April 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm

I do simple sewing and repairs too 🙂 The dog recently chewed on my son’s comforter, and he thought he needed a new one, but since there is still filling in it my plan is to patch it (I can’t just sew the tears up easily since the fabric was ripped). I’m actually a big fan of visible mending. Some times a small hole in a t-shirt will get a discreet repair (for DH), but sometimes a small hole will get turned into a tiny sun or heart. Frayed edges get colorful repairs, too. I kind of love celebrating the repair!


Katy April 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

Celebrate the repair! <-- I'm totally stealing this!


Vickey April 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Thanks, TJS! And Kimberly, too! I’ve been an on again off again sewist, but am finding it deeply therapeutic these days. To salvage something and make it useful again, to pull thrifted, gifted, or salvaged fabrics together into something useful or beautiful – it’s a wonderful refuge from the current deeply troubling wider world. Celebrate the repair, indeed!


Marybeth April 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I am not a home body. I like to be out and about with my kids. There are so many free things to do it is amazing. You just have to look. Between free museum passes from the library, parks, hiking, free activities in the newspaper, car shows, boat shows, pet expos, etc. we are never bored. We once went to a car show and ran into friends of ours. They paid $80 to get in. We got in free from passes from our credit union. We all had a great time. Ours was just cheaper.


Diane April 19, 2017 at 4:33 am

I agree wholeheartedly with free events! There is so much that I do that is absolutely free and wonderful. This coming weekend an art festival with live music, free admission. Since I am on a very tight budget, I really appreciate all the wonderful events I can attend without spending a dime.


Lindsey April 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

I cut husband’s hair and taught him to cut mine.

At the end of every single day husband or I record every single penny we spent that day on a spread sheet. It has helped us figure out where we are leaking money and also enables us to compare year to year what we have spent on food, entertainment, the vehicles, etc. This one thing alone has helped us cut spending and be more mindful of where our money goes.

I like to bake and we buy supplies in bulk, so many times my birthday and holiday gifts are certificates for X number of loaves of bread over the coming six months. While I am baking the bread, I think about the person I am making it for, as a sort of prayer for them.


Gina April 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Reminds me of a wonderful baking class I take every spring during lent and taught by Catholic nuns in their retirement community – called Praying with Bread. They teach us to be mindful of the meditative and spiritual qualities of baking bread. It takes time and patience, the rhythm of kneading and waiting is the perfect opportunity for reflection and prayer.


Rachel April 19, 2017 at 9:50 am



Connie April 18, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Lindsey, what an EXCELLENT idea about the bread!


Chris April 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

My sister gave one son-in-law a dessert of the month one year for Christmas and he asked for it again and again. The other son-in-law said he felt left out but doesn’t eat dessert so he gets meat of the month. All the desserts are home made and the meat comes from a local butcher.


Donna Wilson April 18, 2017 at 1:53 pm

I’m a huge fan of the public library. Yesterday I got a call that my order was in. Manchester by the Sea, Loving, Collateral Beauty and Arrival. Once upon a time I would have tossed them in the cart at Target for nearly twenty bucks a pop. I weep when I think of how much we wasted! Oh well, looking forward to several nights entertainment with pan-popped corn


Janelle April 18, 2017 at 2:24 pm

I randomly get $10 off $10 coupons at Kohls and JCPenney several times a year. I never spend more than $10 on those shopping trips, so the items are free. Usually it’s a new pair of sunglasses at Kohls (why do my kids always find and break mine!?), or running leggings with another coupon, and at JCPenney I get my running shorts – in the girls’ section as I’m a size “XL” in girls!


CK April 18, 2017 at 2:32 pm

I check on my Sears.com(kmart) account and use my surprise points for free stuff. They always give higher surprise points but I only use the small ones like $4 off of $4 or more so I have no out of pocket expenses. This is how I stock up on socks and underwear throughout the year. Once I got a $22 surprise points with no minimum which was a nice “surprise”


Canadian Girl April 18, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I work part time so I have free day’s during the week I have set it up so that I have different friends depending on the day of the week to workout with. Two of the days I am met at my house and we go for a long walk taking advantage of the hills near my home. We do you circuit which takes about 1 1/2 hours its never boring as I have friends to socialize with on the walk. I have a large basement and I recently started having a couple of friends over once a week to do a workout video with weights. I already have a bunch of good exercise DVD’s and enough hand weights for us all to use. Other than the cost of the electricity to run the tv its free. It is certainly a win win for me because I get to spend time with friends, improve my health and not spend much money in the process.

I was getting frustrated with poor quality clothing being ruined by little holes in the fabric. I switched the way I do my families laundry and its been working great. I zip up every zipper and button up every button before items go into the wash. I also hang up all of our shirts and pants to dry. If you came to my house right now you would see t-shirts hanging on my banister and a couple of pairs of jeans hanging on the back of my kitchen chairs. Less wear and tear on our clothes and less trips and frustration to find something new.


Beth April 19, 2017 at 6:04 am

I’ve started line-drying my family’s denim items. I’ll have to try the zipping/buttoning thing…


Lisa P. April 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm

It is all in how one looks at things…. when you look for creative ways to save so that you don’t have to spend money, you have more in the long run. A lot of people feel that being frugal is a bad thing, but what they don’t know is that you end up with more by BEING frugal. You also waste less. I’ve found, too, I always have some to share with others. One of my favorites is our phone plans. We have no phone plan, smile. We bought tracfones and a tracfone card is about $100 for a year, maybe a little less. I think with the triple feature it is about 1200 minutes includes data and text too. This averages out to about $8 and something a month to carry a cell phone. Now, we don’t do a lot of talking on our cells. We save those calls for our landline. We replaced our traditional landline with the oomah. I think it is like $4 or something a month. We have long distance, call waiting, and caller id… not sure what else. Thanks for sharing, Guys! I love to read all the ideas!


Kimberly in So Cal April 18, 2017 at 3:44 pm

I do so many different things; living frugally has been part of my mindset since I was a child. (Not that we are perfect and haven’t spent frivolously many times.) I don’t know if I have anything unique to offer as Katy has shared so many great ideas over the years. One of the biggest things we do, however, is to choose something “good enough” rather than getting the best. If we can’t find what we need used and have to research buying new, we aim for something that is quality enough to do the job well and to last, without veering into the realm of super brands and high prices. Hmm, one unique thing that I do is use curling ribbon to make streamer decorations for holidays and birthdays. I have about 10-12 colors of curling ribbon on 500 yard spools, purchased 20+ years ago for $15 total. I also have a $2 ribbon shredder. I make streamers to hang from the ceiling fan in our dining room, gathering many colors of ribbon together (color choice depending on holiday or season — right now the streamers are white, yellow, light pink, lavender, and aqua), curling them, and sometimes shredding the ends into smaller pieces. I save them, of course.

Along the same lines, we practice benign neglect and choose not to update based on what marketers say the new trends are. Our wood floors are not longer shiny, but they are okay, so we aren’t spending money to replace them (no more wood to sand down in this old house). When our dryer caught on fire (bad lint trap design) we bought a new one but resisted the advice to replace the old washer as well (who cares if the set matches?). One bar of our headboard is broken at the weld joint, but we just shove it back where it should go and figure that anyone who comments on it being slightly bent has too much time on their hands. The ceiling fan in the dining room is circa 1980 and I don’t like it, but it still works so I live with it. Same with the blue formica folding counter in the laundry room; it isn’t pretty, but it’s functional. We don’t own a “matching” set of towels, but we don’t need to, as I don’t decorate my bathroom with towels that we don’t use. We still have the “place holder” art on one wall that we bought 20 years ago, and I realized awhile ago that it will stay forever (big pieces are so expensive now).

We have two kids in an expensive sport (and dad too), and just like Katy we’ll have two in college at the same time. Every dollar spent or not is a choice.

Our dog water “bowls” are stainless steel stock pots found at the thrift store for $1 each, and we buy inexpensive memory foam bath mats from Costco for their beds (much cheaper than “dog beds”).

I make laundry powder out of grated/ground Kiss My Face unscented soap and washing soda (nothing else) and when I started using it my HE washer was much happier with the lower suds. Our clothes are clean, they smell good (not like anything, just clean), and as a plus we are certain that we’ve extended the life of our old front loading HE washer.

Like many people, one big way we save money is by what we don’t do. We don’t pay people to clean our house. I’d rather make hot cocoa at home from scratch than pay for a coffeehouse drink. Same with smoothies. If we do eat out we drink water and share meals. We never order (or go out for) pizza because it’s easy to make at home (and easier to accommodate allergies). I don’t color my hair (at a salon or at home). I trim the ends myself and don’t pay for hair cuts. I don’t go for manicures or pedicures; I can color my toenails for a couple of years with a $2 bottle of nail polish, and I leave my fingernails bare (so much cooking and cleaning makes this practical). I don’t buy facial serums or fancy moisturizers, or anything anti-aging; generic spf 15 “Olay” is cheap and lasts a long time. We don’t buy paper napkins (after all these years my kids say they hate the feel of paper napkins); I sew our cloth napkins and buy them super cheap at the thrift store. We use cloth bar mops and flat diapers to clean instead of paper towels. I knit our dish cloths out of cotton yarn I’ve had for years (hurray for gift cards). We bring our own cloth grocery bags (and have for decades, long before our stores started charging for them, but now this is one more place to save). I’ll use a Corelle plate as a bowl lid rather than using plastic wrap. We try to borrow all of our books rather than buying, and rarely buy unless it is for work or it is a cookbook I keep borrowing and the recipes are saving me money (I don’t photocopy or take photos of recipes to use if I don’t own the book, as this is unethical to me).


Linda M April 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm

We are like you….good enough is fine with us. If it ain’t broke, we aren’t going to fix it or replace it.
Question….the memory foam pillows you buy for dog beds….do you cover them? With what? I am afraid our dogs would shred them….like the idea but would you explain more, please.


Kimberly in So Cal April 18, 2017 at 6:46 pm

What we bought are memory foam bath rugs ($6 on clearance at Costco), so they are already covered in a plush fabric and have a non-slip backing on the back. My dogs don’t usually chew their beds, but one dog did chew up one of these when we first got him and tried to put him in a crate. So they are pretty easily chewed if that is what the dogs wants to do. When my dogs are young I don’t bother with comfy beds, just a towel on the floor will teach them where to go. Right now one of my dogs sleeps on a cotton mattress pad folded into fourths, since we aren’t using it (it’s from IKEA and doesn’t have the usual elastic sides).


Linda M April 19, 2017 at 3:36 am

Thanks! The bath mats just might work great….I will now be looking for couple on a great sale.


Suz April 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm

We do this too, and I just got a memory foam bath mat on clearance for @$6 at Kohls (- $10 coupon, free!). They were getting rid of dark brown mats that didn’t sell (prettier colors weren’t on sale) – perfect for our dark brown dog. (Except my husband is afraid she’ll blend in and he’ll step on her now : )

Leah @ The Frugal South April 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm

We recently began making a little more money so we don’t have to be as tight with money as we have been. I’ve been trying to proceed mostly as if we are still living on our old, tighter budget, and send all the extra into savings. I’m allowing a little extra indulgence (like buying a $10 pizza at Costco for dinner tonight) but otherwise am trying to pretend the extra money doesn’t exist!


Trish April 18, 2017 at 5:55 pm

I did the same thing! Just because income goes up, doesn’t mean spending ought to! Once I went from single to married I kept putting money aside as if I were still paying the entire mortgage myself. My husband’s contributions were extra payments on the principle. We paid off our mortgage super fast as a dual-income/no kids couple so that now we have enough wiggle room in our mortgage-free finances for me to stay home part time with our 4 year old.


Mrs. Daisy @ Dirt Road Daisy April 19, 2017 at 4:49 am

I agree! My husband’s income nearly doubles between April and October due to overtime. We still live like the winter months, throwing every extra bit we can on debt and into savings!


Sherri April 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I use Turbotax to do my taxes. Normally owe money at the end of the year (this is done on purpose – I want control of my money during the year, not the government!).

I play around with putting different amounts of money into my IRA until I owe nothing, or will receive a refund, and deposit the amount into the IRA before I file the taxes. I put myself into a lower tax bracket last year doing this.

Hope this makes sense.


Bee April 19, 2017 at 3:54 am

This is smart. Tax planning can make a huge difference.


Jenny April 19, 2017 at 5:54 am

Is there a certain site you look at to “play around” with your IRA? I don’t know how to do that.


Bee April 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm

If I understand Sherri correctly, she fills out her tax return as she normally would. She then goes back to line 32, IRA deductions. She plugs in various dollar amounts, until she finds the contribution amount that makes her additional tax liability equal to $0. This contribution amount is the amount she puts into her to her IRA for the year.


Sherri April 19, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Yes; what Bee said. 🙂


Mitzie April 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Patience coupled with knowing what you need and want. Unless it is an emergency – knowledge coupled with patience can get you what you need in some creative, frugal and unique ways.


Farhana April 18, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I love what you said.


Stephanie April 18, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Okay…this is a little lengthy, but hang in there with me. I love to stack discounts and coupons and here is my latest gem that I had to share.

I use Ebates as much as I can when I have to purchase items. Ebates pays cash back percentages for your online purchases. In the past 5 years, they have paid me back over $900. (You can check it out at: https://www.ebates.com The link will give you a $10 coupon and it is free to join.) This week I figured out how to save MUCH more. I went to Ebates, typed in “RAISE.COM” in the search bar and activated the discount to earn 1% back on purchases.

Raise.com is a marketplace where you can sell unwanted gift cards to earn money AND/OR you can purchase guaranteed/verified discounted gift cards. (This too has a free membership and the link will give you a $5 coupon for your first purchase at Raise.com: http://geta.raise.com.

I purchased some Walmart cards at Raise.com that were discounted 3% and added them to my Walmart app on my phone. This allows me to use the Walmart Pay option at the checkout. This also allows me to purchase gift cards to match my budget for the month and helps me monitor my spending…I think of it as a “digital envelope system”.

Also, I made a purchase at Kohls.com this evening to replace two half-priced cardigans. I used Ebates at Raise.com to get 1% cash back. At Raise, I purchased the gift card for 10% off the face value. I then went back to Ebates and went to Kohls.com and earned 6% cash back on my purchase…and of course, I used a coupon/promo code at the checkout.

There are gift cards for so many grocery stores, gas stations, and retailers…Amazon.com also has cards there ranging from 1-2% off. I hope this helps some of you who enjoy stacking discounts! Happy saving!


Bari April 18, 2017 at 6:08 pm

I try to remind myself: “The best things in life cannot be purchased!”


Trisha April 18, 2017 at 6:48 pm

We stayed in our “starter” home. Back in the day everyone we knew was moving on up, but we decided to stay and raise our kids in our 1st little home. It allowed for me to be a sahm and now that everyone is grown and gone, it’s the perfect size for retirement.


Krystal April 18, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Love this.


karen April 19, 2017 at 7:46 am

My parents did this and a lot of people in their generation did this also. There were a couple of years when things got tight. Six people using one bathroom. But you learned to get in and get out quick. And none of us died from this.


WilliamB April 18, 2017 at 6:50 pm

This week I reused brine.

OK, so I wasn’t to save money, it was to avoid wasting the resource. I’d just finished brining 2 chix and wanted to brine a pork leg. So I removed the former, added a bit more pink salt and a cup of brown sugar, and slipped the pork right in.

Overall, my most unusual is probably soup related. I take home not just leftover food but leftover bones as well; Chinese roast duck scraps are da bomb. I also save all the drippings and juices. Last week I saved the over-salty juices from a salted & steamed chicken[1]; I’ll use them later for soup or for cooking beans.

[1] It’s normal that the juices are very salty.


Cindy in the South April 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm

I never pay more than $44,000 (1986) for a 1950’s built house and yard (two bedroom, one bath). The last two houses I have purchased, with nice yards, have been $25,000 (2014). I realize you cannot do that price in other areas of the country, but the point is, to buy a well built, small house as cheap as possible. I usually go with small, rural towns but have bought in the country, as well as large cities using the same principle. I do unglamorous, working class neighborhoods, ugly houses, and definitely not updated with the latest decoration styles.These houses are cheap to fix and cheap to heat, because of size. I never go over 1,000 sq, ft., always one bathroom because less plumbing to fix, and I always have an inspection. My motto is:old and ugly is good,…. in housing, in cars, in furniture, in appliances, in technology, in clothing etc. If you do not pay for latest and greatest in everything, you will save a lot of cash.


Cindy in the South April 18, 2017 at 7:15 pm

I forgot to say I never spend more than $15,000 for a vehicle, and try to limit it to $10,000 for a truck, and $5,000 for a car.


Krystal April 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm

I agree with the small house, though that is now 400k for 800sq ft here (we bought 6 years ago for 245k) in a very lucrative, growing city. We are on the less desirable part of the neighborhood, which of course isn’t bad at all, and with outdated fixtures, etc. We would have paid 30-50k more for the “ideal” home of the same size!


Cindy in the South I April 19, 2017 at 4:44 am

True Krystal. I forgot to add that I do not pay for “vacations” except maybe once every four to five years. I have a completely paid for work conference at the beach that I am required to go to every year. I tell myself that is my vacation because I am off in the evenings. I do go visit my daughter out West for that true vacation once every four or five years. I buy a regular train ticket, which was under $100 last time I did this. My ex husband bought a ticket for a sleeping car. They let him upgrade my ticket, at no additional charge, to the upper bunk on the sleeping car. So, that meant I had access to the shower. True, my ex husband was snoring beneath me on the bottom bunk, and my nose was stuck next to the ceiling, but the things I will do to save money and get to see my daughter….lol. I also use a cheap, prepaid smart phone ($35 a year ago) for home internet access, or use the public library. I sleep in a sleeping bag rated for ten degrees in the wintertime. If I put a quilt over it and sleep near the heater, I can turn it waaay down. Luckily where I live, pipes do not freeze very often, and I turn the heat up only on those days where the overall nighttime temp will be 20 degrees or less, and that is usually only a couple of nights a year. I open windows and doors to help with cooling in the hot, muggy, summers we have down here (my house is shaded). Really, I just try to get everything second hand or cheap, whether it is houses, cars, clothes, appliances, technology, furniture, etc.


tia April 18, 2017 at 8:18 pm

I try to remain as uninformed as possible. I don’t know the latest movies, music, tv shows, electronics, clothing, furniture, decor, makeup, hair styles, autos, eateries, vacation spots, and so on and so on. People are always inventing new stuff to take your money. It’s annoying. I don’t need nothing much.


Jennifer April 19, 2017 at 8:02 am

I have a theory that within the next couple generations our youth will figure out that all the “latest and greatest” technology, movies, clothes, etc. is causing them to be stressed and broke so they will go back to a simpler way of living on purpose. I hope so anyway. I would love to see my grandchildren with a cellphone, just in case, but barely used. Maybe even living off the land with no TV.


A. Marie April 19, 2017 at 10:08 am

Tia, I love this. I was just commenting to DH in the grocery line yesterday that not knowing who or what is featured in the glossy magazines may be a sign of old age. But what the heck, maybe it’s a sign of true enlightenment!


Krystal April 18, 2017 at 8:23 pm

Wear the same clothes /adapt a style uniform so you can cheaply replace what you use up/wear out, everything matches, and you don’t waste time with seasonal trends. The people who notice and say something aren’t worth your time, and the rest won’t notice.


Lindsey April 18, 2017 at 8:46 pm

One more thing:
I never buy from Amazon without going to Safeway first and buying an Amazon gift card that I then load onto Amazon. Since we live in Alaska and we have Prime, we buy a lot of stuff from Amazon—by using gift cards that then give me money off gas purchases, I never end up paying in full for gas. Often, I have a dollar off.

I keep track of freebies on my spending spread sheet. I keep track of what I have saved with coupons, the Amazon gift card routine and so on. Last year it was over $1500.


Kathleen in Kansas April 19, 2017 at 9:11 am

I do the same, but at my local Kroger, where I get gas points. You want something from Amazon, buy a gift card, put it on your Amazon account, and save more money on gas. Win-win! I’ve taught all the checkers, and was absolutely shocked the didn’t know about this.


Pr April 18, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Public transportation!! A heat wave forced me to take a cab for few days and I realised it is nearly 5 times the expense of a bus.


Lauren April 19, 2017 at 2:41 am

We value experiences over things. My husband and I only do gifts for birthdays and even then it’s usually something small and silly. All other holidays are celebrated with a special meal, a fun activity planned by the other person or we save up money to travel.

I used to love to shop for fun but now I equate the price of an item or meal out to how long it took to earn it. Is it worth it to have worked for 1.5 hours for that new outfit I might wear once or twice? This helps me put our purchases into perspective a bit more!


Val in MN April 19, 2017 at 3:08 am

I rarely buy meat for full price. In our house we call it “discount meat”. I always scan the fresh meat aisle for markdowns and then purchase multiple items and freeze it. At Aldi’s, several weeks after a holiday they will discount their ham’s by $5.- each so I will purchase one or two for future holiday dinner celebrations. Meat can be kept in the freezer for many months – Google it!

I make my own liquid laundry detergent. It takes minutes to make and costs pennies per load and is easier on my wash machine, the environment, and clothes.

I work close to home so I save much time and money with a short travel to work. Used to do the commute and it drove me nuts! When I calculated the amount of time and gas that was used to get to and from work, my wages plummeted. Not worth it stress wise and I want to spend my life doing things not driving in a car.


Katy April 19, 2017 at 3:14 am

It wasn’t until I moved here to West Africa, and our water sometimes goes out that I learned how to really, really conserve water. Also, because we do laundry by hand in basins and things like that it makes it even easier to save water, so here’s my more extreme ideas:
-Rinse water that isn’t too dirty from dishes or laundry, can then be used to mop a floor.
-My parents used to have a thing rigged up so their rinse water from the washing machine was re-used for the wash water of the next load.
-Save used (but not with soap or bleach) water for watering plants, like water used to clean veggies, rinse laundry etc..
-My last resort for water is usually the toilet. Dish water, laundry water, etc.. can all be used to flush the toilet in an pinch.
-If you take a bucket shower, it’s much easier to measure how much water you’re actually using. Or plug the tub while you shower and you can visually see how much water you’re using. Then you can even re-use it for something if you want!


Bonnie April 19, 2017 at 7:19 am

I love that you conserve water. I think we all will realize the value and limited water supplies around the world. Thank you for conserving. It not only saves money and resources, but helps our planet!


Jennifer April 19, 2017 at 8:05 am

I love your post! We take water for granted.


Mary in Maryland April 19, 2017 at 11:48 am

The vat that connected to the washing machine to store the sudsy water during the rinse cycle was called a suds saver. One washed the most lightly soiled loads first and added a little more soap to the work clothes load at the end.


Yellow April 19, 2017 at 5:40 am

I am an avid reader of your blog but I think this is the first time I’ve commented. I don’t know how relevant my tip is since it’s very specific to my situation, but I work in a multi-floor, formal corporate setting where we have an in-house conference center where there is always leftover catering. Sometimes a lot of it, and it often just gets thrown away. I’ve started collecting, washing and stashing the sturdy containers the catering is delivered in and then packaging up the leftovers to bring home – sometimes it goes in the freezer for later, sometimes we are able to eat it that night or within the next couple of days. I’ve fed my partner and I lunches and dinner for a week like this!


Ruby April 19, 2017 at 6:43 am

Attitude is a huge thing in living frugally, and so is the ability to perceive the difference between a want and a need. I always ask myself, “Is this a want or a need? If it’s a need, is there a way to buy/do it cheaper? If you buy this and it breaks, can you get it fixed easily?” All those questions factor into decisions made before buying.

Basic DIY skills also save us a lot of money. The Mister can fix a leaking pipe, do minor carpentry and home repairs, and he’s a whiz at landscaping on the cheap. I can paint, sew, clean and refinish things, and cook. Sewing alone has probably saved us thousands over the years because I can alter thrift shop finds, mend clothes and soft furnishings to make them last longer, and sew curtains and other things from scratch.

An older friend gave me some lovely advice about living a simple, frugal life. She said, “There’s only about 25 things I buy any more.” Because she’s not tempted to try out new things, she saves money, and she focuses looking for a good price on those items.

In addition to “buy less, do more,” I find “associate with the right people” to be a huge boost to frugality. The Mister has always worked with guys who spend money like water and compulsively upgrade all their gadgets. But the one he socializes with is the one who lives like we do and has no need to impress anyone by spending money.


Rebecca April 19, 2017 at 7:37 am

My husband and I live in a 668 sq ft house, and have installed a programmable thermostat, a wood burning stove, a dual flush toilet, a tankless hot water heater, efficient vinyl windows, and additional insulation in the attic. We also turned the front yard which was grass into a low water xeric garden using local plants. All of these were costly at the time but have saved us money and will continue to do so, plus we feel good about conserving resources like water and power. We furnish it with Craigslist items and bought our microwave and kitchen sink from a used building supply store. We found amazing prices on kitchen appliances from our local Sears Outlet, where items have been returned for scratches and dings. We also sell our used items on Craigslist.

A few other money saving choices we make are shopping at Grocery Outlet and Costco, not wasting food, eating elk meat that my husband hunts, going camping for cheap vacations or using Groupon for discounts, getting our dogs their shots at a monthly shot clinic at a local farm and garden store, biking to work, buying used cars, using the Gasbuddy app to find cheap fuel, opting out of gift giving obligations with family and friends, packing our lunches and coffee to work, using a happy hour finder app to find discounts on drinks, showering less, wearing clothes more than once before washing, trimming my own bangs, getting LASIK which saves on contacts, contact solution and glasses, and living in a great town (Boise!) with lots of free activities so that we don’t want or need to travel.

The biggest thing we try to do to save money is be deliberate about spending, and after deciding that something is necessary, look to get it for less. This requires research so that you know what a good price is, and can pounce when you find it.

One final thought which is a frugal choice, is not having children. The decision wasn’t a financial one but does save us money.


Kim from Philadelphia April 19, 2017 at 9:25 am

I try to drive close to the speed limit. I can track my mpg efficiency in real time; definateky get better mileage that way, plus it’s safer!
I also always use the “Eco” button on my Honda- it pulls a little power from the engine but improved efficiency.


Anne Weber-Falk April 19, 2017 at 9:54 am

I save my $5’s. Everytime I get a five dollar bill I fold it up and put it away. Those fives have paid for vacations, college expenses, car repairs, and unexpected emergencies in the month. My husband says I’m moving money around but it works for me.


Jean April 19, 2017 at 8:03 pm

I have done this for several years also–when I first read the hint that simply said “save every $5 bill you get” I was skeptical as to what that would amount to or how quickly, but had nothing to lose by trying it. I was surprised how quickly they added up. My initial goal was for vacation/weekend getaways, but those fives have also been a handy little emergency fund that didn’t require a trip to the bank.


yvette from down under April 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

Never buy plants, take cuttings and sow seeds. Ask neighbors for cuttings and pick up discarded plants in the green waste put out for collection. Pick up unwanted plastic pots at dump for recycling. Use worm farm compost and get free vege seedlings come up in the garden. Rake up all the autumn leaves and put in compost for new soil next season or sprinkle around as mulch… gardening can cost you little but give you big returns and homegrown is better for you !!


Jeana April 19, 2017 at 11:38 am

I don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I can usually find something I already have that will do 95% of the task I need done, instead of buying a new thing to do 100%.


janine April 19, 2017 at 1:06 pm

This has been such an interesting post – love to see the paths so many have taken on this journey!
This might be as much luck as forethought: have a long lasting marriage – no expense of divorce and heartbreak that so many of our friends have suffered. As others have mentioned we bought our house early in our marriage in a good neighborhood – and kept it as it went up in value. Our appliances are not state of the art and we need another bathroom. However , it is comfortable place.
I am not by nature a thrifty person so my advice to others like me is to be very mindful of small expenditures that add up quickly – I sometimes keep a log for a while to see where my failures congregate. They have a habit of revealing themselves.


Vickie April 19, 2017 at 1:49 pm

*I have lunch with a friend/co-worker after payday each month. We eat from the cheaper lunch menu and have a great time chatting about all we’ve been up to the past month. It’s a treat I look forward to and we’re not overspending on eating out – often times one of us has a coupon saving on the entrees.
*I use hair conditioner to shave my legs. It guards against nicks and I don’t spend money on shaving cream. Those small shampoos & conditioners in hotel rooms get taken and used for the same thing.
*Nylon netting from fruit or those bath scrunchies can be reused as bird feeders. I fill them with sunflower seeds and hang them from my Shepherd’s plant hook using a drapery hook to loop the netting around at the top. The netting gets recycled and the birds can hang from it while picking out the seeds. Once it gets old and brittle, from the weather, you can pitch them or use them as scrubbers outside.
*Non-working, old freezers can be used for storage. Especially for livestock or pet food. It keeps the critters out of the sacks in your garage or barn.


Girija April 19, 2017 at 6:05 pm

I received some bills from hospital and Emergency physicians office for an ER visit for my daughter in September. She pushed a bead into her nose which we could see but couldn’t remove. The physician’s assistant removed that using an alligator clamp and she was discharged immediately. I was expecting the bills to be higher as usual. But when the bills came the visit was categorized as Level 4 and 3by the hospital and doctors office respectively. So obviously it came to $650 for hospital and around $1000 for the doctor. With a high deductible HSA plan insurance company never bothered to question the ER Levels. So I had to follow up with the hospital and doctors office requesting bill review and treatment records. They both kept pushing back on my request for the criteria they used in categorizing the visit on such high level priority. Meanwhile hospital sent the bill to collections and I was forced to pay their bill to avoid any hit on my credit history. They never bothered to give me a response despite my written and telephonic follow ups. At the same time, I came across a startup tryremedy.com which does negotiations with medical providers on your behalf. They charge 20% of the saving you make upto a maximum of $99. So I submitted all my bills to their website. in a few weeks they negotiated with the doctors office and got me a savings of $568 (60%). Even though I paid $99 as their fees, I made a great savings for that unreasonable bill. They are currently negotiating the bill I paid to the hospital. I am hoping they can come up with some savings in that too as they too clearly categorized the visit as Level 4 and overcharged.


Allison April 19, 2017 at 7:34 pm

In the winter I wait until my house gets around 55 degrees before turning the heat on and then have it on for only a little bit. Right now as we approach summer, I’m trying to let it hit at least 80 degrees in my house before turning on the air. Right now the humidity is still low enough to get away with this, but I do dress accordingly inside and it’s just me and my dog, so no at risk people to take into account.


Debra April 19, 2017 at 8:48 pm

When I start to waver on buying something I don’t need, (books, fabric-I’m a quilter, etc) I quickly read a frugal book, article, blog, etc. like The Non-Consumer Advocate, the NCA facebook group, The Tightwad Gazette, Your Money or Your Life just to name a few. Or I call my daughter who I think may have surpassed me in frugality. I adjust my thinking and most often don’t buy.
If I really want an item, and the readjustment doesn’t work, I sell something to get the money for the item. I also wait 72 hours if it is a store purchase. I look for on-line coupons, discounts etc.
During that 72 hours I go to my favorite thrift shop where most everything is a dollar, and see if I can find something “close enough” to satisfy me.


Joanie April 19, 2017 at 11:21 pm

No one ever mentions not having pets. I realize this is heresy, and also how much enjoyment those litle fur balls can add to your life. (And the grief when they die.) But dogs, especially, and cats are expensive to care for properly with the food (I know, just scraps) and shots and mainly those huge vet bills. When we did have a dog the kids didn’t want to take care of it so we never got another one. One child did have a hamster afterward which filled the gap for her, and it didn’t need to go for walks.


Bridget April 20, 2017 at 5:55 pm

I agree!!


LisaC April 20, 2017 at 5:56 am

One thing that saves me money is to be organized. Once I decided to store alike things together, I realized I don’t need more candles, paper plates, birthday decorations, soap, ect.


Pam April 20, 2017 at 11:01 am

When I was a stay at home mom and my son was in preschool a few mornings a week, I subbed at his school. I was able to apply my wages directly to his tuition. During the winter months (flu season!) I subbed so much that I ended up covering tuition for the rest of the year.


MB April 20, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Stay home. No gas use.


Pale Male April 20, 2017 at 8:50 pm

– Cut open those almost empty toothpaste tubes.
– When the bar of soap gets too small, I crush it into a plastic pump bottle with some water, and use it when needing soap to wash my hands.
– I use hand soap plus hair conditioner as shaving cream
– Cut down shaving to once a week. I look kinda cool if I say so myself (who really knows?), but it saves lots of time.
– Have a small bucket in the shower; when turning on the water for shower, the water goes into the bucket until it is warm enough, then I switch it to overhead shower faucet and get in. Use that bucket water to flush toilet or in the garden.
– Washing veggies in the kitchen sink in a large bowl. When done, water goes into the garden.


Pennonen April 20, 2017 at 9:25 pm

This is a big money saver – I never applied for a driver’s licence, hence no need or a desire for a car. I happily take the bus or train for longer journeys and cycle or walk for my daily errands.


Bungalowhaven April 28, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I agree with you about driving. I spent most of my life without a licence. Just paid for my subway pass. It cost $70 a month, tax deductible and took me everywhere I needed. It is at the age of 44 and the mother of a 4 yrs old in sports, that a second car became necessary. Solution? Our second car is a diesel Smart car that costs us $14 in fuel a month to run. It is a great way to be frugal: Buy a car that is cost effective to run.


CPJC April 21, 2017 at 8:57 am

When using consumables I always ask myself: Can I use less (and not notice the difference)?

With the exception of Olive Oil, the answer always tends to be YES. Can I calculate the savings? Not really – but I figure if I am using 50% less of various products…over my 20+ years of adulting, the savings add up.


Diane C April 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Not a money saver per se, but I discovered our cheap phone provider had a special deal for four lines for the same price as three. This is for unlimited talk, text and data. So we added the fourth line and sent the phone to a friend who lives on a very tight budget. Literally cost us nothing but the price of the phone. It doesn’t save us anything, but giving her free cell service saves her money and adds to all of our peace of mind.

Also being frugal gives us more money to give back to our community. Last year, we gave away 10% of our AGI, without belonging to an organized religion. Libraries, civic groups and random asks all benefit from our fiscal responsibility. So much fun!


Tammy/psmflowerlady April 25, 2017 at 6:53 am

I haven’t had cable since I moved after my divorce in 2002. In addition to the direct cable costs, I have saved a TON of $$ by not being enticed by all the commercials on TV to consume, consume, consume. I’ve missed every trendy spend since then. I recently got streaming Netflix and both my kids and I use the same account, but the cost is much less than cable, no HD TV investment and still no ads! Not being bombarded with advertising makes it easier to ask myself, “Will this product really make my life better?”
I’ve also given up as a New Year’s resolution Wal-Mart. I only went twice last year (school supply shopping and once at Christmas), so feel confident that I can achieve my resolution. No judgement for others, but for ME, because of the low prices, I tended to buy things that I really didn’t need every time I went there. So. No more. When I consider the amount of $$ that I spend on unneeded items vs the possibly higher costs of shopping locally-owned retailers/makers, I find that I actually spend less even though I’m paying sometimes more for a high quality item and my money is staying in my community.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: