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« Money Commandment #6 | Main | The Three Worst Reasons for Buying a Home »

April 27, 2011

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My husband and I have been carpooling since October and it's cut our fuel expenses in half. It's been such a simple and seamless transition, that I could kick myself for not starting a year earlier (when we first started working in the same area).

One area I struggle with is romance on a budget - particularly when it comes to date nights that involve special meals. Maybe if we ate at casual restaurants more often, or ate simpler/cheaper food at home on a regular basis, cooking up an excellent meal might actually feel special, but we already cook 95% of all meals at home, and we eat well to begin with, so there's just nothing special about trying to do a date night dinner at home.

To us, date night and special mean really nice, usually expensive restaurant serving creative dishes that we could never dream of recreating at home.

#15. Drive Steady - This is a two-fold saving method. It both saves gas and reduces wear and tear on your engine, transmission, and brakes. I commute about 20 miles into and out of downtown Los Angeles, so I'm used to stop-and-go traffic. I tend to make it a game to see how little I can use my accelerator and brake pedal (or at least, how little I can modulate them - using the accelerator isn't bad!) when in traffic. It tends to confuse (and annoy) the driver behind me, but I get a lot of amusement out of watching that person swerve into the next lane, speed way up, swerve back into my lane ahead of me, and stop, having gained one car-length in the pecking order. It's especially fun when I get the glare as they drive by.

Buy a small freezer to freeze your bulk items. We have had a 7 cu ft chest freezer since the kids were little ( more than 15 years) that has more than 1000 time paid for the initall investment ($250) in money savings.

I buy 10 lbs of chicken on sale, cook it and then freeze it into lunch portions. Make 5 lbs of my own meatballs for spagetti, buy 2 dozen bagles when we have a coupon buy one get one free, loaves of bread, I make mega meals like a 5 to 8 lbs of pork tenderloin or a 5 lbs sirloin tip roast. We eat one meal fresh and freeze another onr or two for later. I use to do a marathon cooking day and make about 6 weeks of ready to warm up in a microwave meal.

When i was growing up my mom had a 20 cu ft chest freezer where we would go and buy a side of beef. Talk about mega savings on meat.

Healthier with less sodium.

Honestly, I think its unnecessary to save money on these little things. They all add up to peanuts compared to the big things such as salary negotiation, car/house loans, insurance, etc...

I know you mention increasing your income as the #1 thing to do, and I would love to see more posts in this area rather than on all this peanut stuff that is pretty useless. Your posts on increasing income and saving money on college are very good! But, I think its almost a waste of time to try to implement these 25 steps.

21. Fix it yourself.

I have looked through quite literally hundreds of homes in the search for a house. In almost every single used house I have seen multiple examples of poor work that was likely done by a homeowner fixing it himself. In some cases that is okay (sloppy painting job, cracked tiles) while in other cases I've noticed things like poor electrical work, unsafe structure (in building an addition, rebuilding stairs) that can be quite dangerous and can actually end up lowering the value of the house.

#15 Drive Steady - I've recently started experimenting with this. I have always quickly accelerated from a stop to cruising speed. Now I accelerate slowly making sure not to wind out every gear. Maybe I need to refine my technique but my Saturn L300 only went from 26.7 to 27.5 mpg. Frankly I was expecting a bit more.

My next experiment is to drive slower by dropping my speed to 2 over the speed limit.

^That's exactly what you need if you having a tough time paying bills. Spend more money!?! SPAM!

To #14, I'd add: use a service like ebates. By checking there first, you can get a % of whatever you spend back.

I was leery of doing any bargaining, but I tried it at Walgreen's twice and came out way ahead. Where I worked, I had 2 wards or more and 3 shifts that I bought Christmas presents for - about 150. To be frugal, I would shop all year long to find sales on items I could use as small gifts. To put the gifts in, I managed for 15 years to get a different container each year.

One year, at Walgreen's, they had small, 6" or so Christmas stockings in felt. They were $1 each. Just before the holiday or immediately after, they would drop them to 2 for $1. I stopped a manager and asked what they would charge me if I bought all they had left. I got them 3 for $1. What a savings, from $1.00 to .333 cents.

The next year I did the same thing on another container. Got those a little cheaper. But, one place I bargained and lost. It worked okay in the long run though. A grocery chain had the lighted ceramic houses for Christmas. I forget their price, but after Christmas I offered to buy the few they had left for a certain price (about 1/2 what they were asking.) They checked and said they couldn't do it. Two weeks later I went in and they had them on sale much lower than I had offered. Paid to bypass it that time. This is a great tool.

Driving steady is also a great one. I read an article on how to up your gas mileage and was going on a 1500 mile trip. The tips - drive 55, smooth, even accelerating, slowing gradually to stops, putting your car in neutral if going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds and parking as often as possible where you could pull forward to go. On my 2000 Ford Taurus Wagon, I usually get 27-28 mpg on trips. On that trip I twice got 33.7 mpg and 29+ a couple of times. I call that a major good. My mileage is good from 55-60, but the best is at 55. I stay in the right lane and let everyone else pass me.

I did not even think of some of these things simply because I am 18 and don't have a lot of stuff other than college to worry about. This was helpful.

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