Sunday, February 1, 2009

10 Painless Ways to Save Money This Year

In light of the economy going to the dogs. Not my dogs mind you, they are pamper pooches to be sure. I want their life. Lie around all day, eat premium Kirkland brand dog food (I may start tossing this into chili) and getting the humans to play ball with me. If there really is reincarnation then I want to come back as one of my dogs. Or better yet, any pet owned by my mother. Sorry, tangent over. Back to saving money this year.

I'm not sure if I can even call it saving because really it is all about reducing our spending in order to survive. There probably won't be any saving going on.

Here are my 10 painless ways to save some money this year.

1. Bake one batch of bread, cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, etc per week. (I do all my baking on the weekend. For example: today I'm baking scones, lemon bread, lemon cupcakes and chocolate cookies. I'll freeze half of each so I don't have to do much next weekend. If you see a lemon theme going this week don't be surprised. They are ripe now and I get them for free).

2. Purchase 10 articles of clothing at a thrift store or yard sale instead of paying full price. (Better yet, go on a 6 month ban on buying any clothing then only buy seasonal on sale stuff for the next season.)

3. Hang four loads of laundry per week instead of using your dryer. (I realize that some of you do not live in areas where you can hang your clothes out all year like we do. This is where you will need to be creative. We lived in the Seattle area for most of our lives. The Pacific Northwest is not known for its abundance of sunshine. We had to get inventive. Shower rods, retractable clotheslines in our laundry room and basement, those collapsible drying racks were all part of our strategy.)

4. Once a month make a pizza from scratch. (A while back I posted an outstanding and easy pizza crust recipe. I use this for pizza, calzones, bread sticks, etc. I top it with leftovers such as grilled chicken, barbecue beef, and veggies. I rarely if ever buy pepperoni or any of the traditional pizza toppings. They are really expensive.)

5. Once a week go meatless. (Yeah, I know, I've said it before but this is a terrific way to save money. If you insist on having meat every day cut it back from 1 whole pound to one half pound per recipe everyday.)

6. Reduce or cut out the drive-thru addiction. (Sorry gang this includes coffee shops, fast food joints and take out. This will be a hard one for some of you. I totally understand how easy it is to just drive-thru on your way home. I have even succumb to this luxury a time or two myself but never more than once every other month. Now if I could get JR to stop using the drive-thru while I'm out of town I'd really be saving.)

7. Pack your own and your kids lunches. (Preferably from leftovers or inexpensive items on hand. You'll still save a little bit if you use that expensive lunch meat but if you can cut out that stuff this will be the quickest money you will ever save. Around these parts you can't go out to eat for less than $5. You'd save $25 a week by cutting out dine out lunches. 50 work weeks a year makes for some substantial savings. I'd do the math but I'm a librarian folks and lazy to boot. Do your own math.)

8. Turn down the thermostat and install a programmable one. (This will save you big time. Just a couple of degrees cooler in the winter and a couple of degrees warmer in the summer will cut your heating and cooling bills considerably. But, I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Here in Phoenix we have on-peak and off-peak hours for electricity use. We save a bundle by watching the times that we turn on the air conditioner in the summer. We don't even turn on the heat in the winter. We throw on a sweater or blanket. Not to mention what we save by only using the oven, dishwasher and the washing machine during off-peak hours. I'm a total bitch about this.)

9. Reduce or cut out completely your soda consumption. (This is not as painless as it may seem. JR has a serious diet Coke addition. When it goes on sale, like now during the Super Bowl, I stock up. When it runs out he switches to lemonade purchased in powder form from Costco. The boy and I are iced tea drinkers. I keep both of these things in the icebox for handy drink retrieval.)

10. Use the library. (I'm not saying this because I'm a librarian and it is job security. It's not. I'm saying this because the library is free, and they most likely have the latest books, and it's free! Most libraries have great websites. You can reserve that new best seller long before it even comes out on the bookstore shelves. The library will email you that it is at the circulation desk waiting for you to pick it up. Let me tell you a little known fact. Twice a year the American Library Association holds a conference that every publisher in the world come to. They all get a booth in the exhibition hall. They literally give away books. They entice authors like Nora Roberts to attend. I received a sign copy of one of her books months before it was out to the public. Need a textbook? Borrow it. I take community college courses all the time. I never buy textbooks. I inter-library loan them. Saves me bundles. At the very least if you have to own a certain book try the used bookstore first.)

Well there you have it. Near as I could figure I save no less than $1000 per year doing these simple things. Pretty painless, huh?

I'm counting this as my Spin this week. I've been lazy the last few Spin Cycles (My bad! But I'm back Jen!) If you don't know what the Spin Cycle is take a wander over to Sprite's Keeper to find out. Not Yet! Leave me a comment on ways you plan to save money this year. Add to my list, baby!!!



  1. Girl, you'd be so proud of me! I did a lot of my shopping this week at Costco and probably cut my grocery bill for the next 4 weeks in half! All thanks to you! We also usually eat out for lunch on Sundays, but John was so impressed with the veggie spread that I brought home, he made salad and sandwiches from it, and saved us another 20 bucks!
    You're linked!

  2. Guess I need to cut back on the drug and hooker filled weekends gambling in Vegas. Damned economy!

  3. Jen: Nice creativity on John's part. Using veggie spread for salad and sandwiches. Sweet!

    Capt: Yeah, those little luxuries will add up. To make it less painful maybe you should just give up one of those at a time.

  4. I think I'll use the money I spend on drive-thrus to fly you out here to be my new life coach. Does that sound good to you? We stock up on soda and baby formula when it's on sale and have an entire shelf dedicated to it in the garage.

  5. Taking your own lunches seriously is the best money saver.

    I allow my children to but their lunch from the school canteen 4 times per year (I figure I should patronise it in case I really need it one day) and it costs me $25 for 5 lunches. When I am making their lunches, $25 will last 2 weeks! (That's 40 lunches.)

    Same with HB - if he goes to the mess as work it would cost him about $6 per day. He packs his own, usually.

  6. Those are some great tips! We've decided to eat out only once a week. We spend way too much money eating out! I do usually bring my lunch though. :)

  7. So I actually do about half of these - I'm so proud.

    We have a programmable thermostate, I made pizza dough (on the weekends) and we all pack our own lunches.

    Thanks for the rest of the tips.

  8. You always give me so much to think about and I do enjoy it!


  9. I am so glad to see your recommendations. I have already implemented many of these but sure want to add a couple of others. After a trip to Nigeria I became more aware of how much I waste. I want to go back to making menus for us for a week or two at a time. That saves a lot on groceries.

  10. I think these are great! A few of these, I'm doing, but I need to try more. I'm still laughing at your plan to put premium Kirkland dog food in your chili. I thought, "I bet she just might!"

  11. Becky: Do you think the guys will notice?

  12. I'm laughing at the dog food in the chili idea too (and crying on the inside, since we're still feeding BOTH dogs California Naturals at $46.99/bag). Great idea. I'll try that tonight.

    I love all these tips.. happily I'm doing a lot of them. And my mouth is still watering at the lemon baking.

  13. I do a majority of those things on your list...well, except for the dog food in the chili...though some of the dog food sure looks better than some people food I've seen! ;)

  14. Thanks for all the good advice!

  15. LOL-I recently told my mother that my sole extravagance is what I spent on my pets (high-end wet food mixed in with the dry). It was that moment, I think, that I realized how bad the recession is-pets are a luxury (and well worth it!) I love your food suggestions-especially making bread and pizza crust (thanks for the recipe!), but not so much the puppy food chili! :) Great post!