Friday, January 20, 2012

Saving Money: A Dozen Tips That Add Up

January can be a bleak month. 

Sure, you had a great time during the holidays. But now they're over, and with little to look forward to until Valentine's Day, with the exception of a storm (or two or three), what can you do?

How about saving your household some money? 

Sometimes you have to -- because you've only found part-time income...or none at all.

Or help yourself pay off holiday bills faster. 

Or, as in our case, pay down a beautiful electric keyboard Husband needed for his work in a new band. (Not to mention our current gig on a worship team for church.)

Here's what's helping us:

1. Instead of cable, we watch DVDs of television series...or get episodes off Hulu. We watched all of Top Gun and Ice Road Truckers online, thanks to the History Channel, and are anxiously awaiting season 4 of the Mentalist to be ready.

2. Got our phone/internet bill reduced...just two phone calls! I phoned Century Link customer service and asked why our internet fees had gone up. Within five minutes, our monthly charge, thanks to the friendly rep, dropped from $54.85 to $25!  A second call to Verizon pulled Husband's phone, for a further ten bucks off monthly. (He uses his work phone all the time now.) Next month, if our calling minutes stay as low as they have been (the girlies text, rather than phone), we'll reduce that, as well.
     You can do this, too. Just call customer service and ask if you can get the current special! (Try it with your cable bill, as well.)

3. Bundle whenever possible. We needed shelving units for the basement. Not only did I get them on sale -- a friend and I ate our lunch gratis, thanks to a 'Eat Free' special Ikea was sponsoring at the same time.  If I buy groceries, they're on sale -- and I also have a coupon for them.

4. Stay out of the stores...unless you need items. (And they're on sale.)

5. Eat out of your pantry and freezer for a week. Or maybe two.  The only things we absolutely have to have are milk and eggs -- and I can do without them in a pinch, thanks to dry milk and egg powder. (Those came into the pantry after a few blizzards around here decimated the store shelves. A two-day blizzard will quickly keep delivery trucks from restocking.)

6. Wishing you could read the latest book...or hear a new group? Check it out of the library. If you absolutely must own it, try Ebay or Amazon's used sections. You can buy many items for a penny plus shipping! And if you use Amazon...

7. Sign up for Swagbucks. Use it to do the normal searching you do, and you'll automatically accumulate points toward Amazon gift cards and other goodies! Just go down to the right hand side of my blog, and you'll see my Swagbucks 'swidget.' Sign up from there. This may not seem like much -- but it's free, and I can easily accumulate enough points for a $10 gift card -- per month. Just by doing my regular searching. You can, too.

8. Refilling a prescription? Get twice as much. Not only is it often cheaper -- but it saves you a special trip into the store to restock. And of course, ask if there's a generic version.

9. Stretch things a bit. Add a few cups of water to your gallon of whole milk -- voila, it becomes "2 percent," at no extra cost. And you've got extra, to boot. A few cups of water, and your juice lasts longer. Add half a can of water to those 'ready-to-eat' soups, like Chunky, and you've just made it go futther. And if you're one egg short -- an eggshell of water will do the trick, in a pinch.

10.  Instead of a phone call, write a note. Or, if you've got the unlimited plan, send a text. It's faster and cheaper.

11. Turn the heat down. Wear a sweater, use a space heater, or gather some firewood, instead.

12. Save your change, and use it to do something for someone else. A $5 or $10 giftcard, sent anonymously, can be a real encouragement. Or buy your discouraged friend a cup of coffee or Wendy's chili. Kind words and deeds can make you the richest person in the world.
    Update: One professor thinks, based on his homeless friend's observations, that generosity marks the difference between failure and sucess for restaurants! He calls it the "economics of generosity." See his post here -- 
Not through yet? Here's Dumb Little Man's 30 tips for saving even more

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