Saturday, March 27, 2010

Danne’s Top 10 Tips for Miserly Living

1. You have more food than you think you do. Eat it. Before you spend $100 at the grocery store every week, take a look in your pantry. I’ve been managing to spend way less on groceries by making use of my non-perishables and by only buying a few items each week, ex. produce, dairy, bread. I’ve also been much better at not buying more than I need to ensure that nothing goes to waste. Juicing has been an awesome way to use up fruits and vegetables that are about to go bad so I don’t have to throw them away.

2. Comparison shopping. Check your local supermarket flyers and hit up a few different stores for the best deals if you have the time. Not just for groceries too, look around for the best price on whatever you need.

3. It’s worth it to buy in bulk. I didn’t need olive oil this week but when a 68 oz. can was on sale for $9.99, I snatched it up. It might not save you money right now, but it will later.

4. Use it ‘til the last drop. I bet you can brush your teeth 10 more times with that seemingly empty tube of toothpaste, and you can get at least 3, if not 5, uses out of your tea bag and have it taste just as good.

5. I bet you can find it cheaper. There’s a coupon out there somewhere or someone trying to sell it on Craigslist. It’s worth checking out before you pay full price.

6. Turn your clutter into cash. Clean out your closets, your basement, your garage and sell stuff you don’t need anymore.

7. Save up for something rather than buying it now and paying for it later, ie. using your credit card. It saves on impulse splurges and there’s definitely a greater feeling of satisfaction when you don’t give into the instant gratification of buying something you can’t afford.

8. You don’t need it. That last drink at the bar, a new dress for that party. Resist the urge!

9. Every little thing really does count. If I sign up for BOA’s Keep the Change Program, that might put an extra $20 into my savings account this month, and hey, that’s $20 that I definitely wouldn’t have put in there myself. If you aren’t awesome at saving left to your own devices, take advantage of forced savings.

10. Sometimes it’s worth the money. If it’s going to benefit my health, support a local business, or improve my life in some way, then I don’t beat myself up for not being cheap. Some things aren’t “necessary” but they’re still beneficial and worth the splurge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Even misers need to have a heart

After my trek to Planet Fitness this afternoon, I decided to make a stop at Shaws because I remembered that strawberries were on sale for $1.99 this week and that laundry detergent is buy one get one (my new favorite sale to take advantage of). When I got to the parking lot though, I noticed that a few workers were outside in the pouring rain holding picket signs. I had forgotten that there was a strike! One of them (who happened to be a really cute young guy) gave me a desperate look as I drove in. Even though I've committed myself to being as cheap as possible in every aspect of my life, I had to give myself a break here. Saving ¢.50 on strawberries probably wasn't worth it when these poor people were standing out in the rain because their health care rates were rising substantially. So, moral of the story, even misers need to have a heart sometimes and cut themselves some slack.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Miser Advice Needed

There's a few pretty big expenses that I have coming up and I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to save money on them:

1. My car needs a 120,000 mile check-up. Anyone know a lot about cars who can tell me what I really need and what I can skip? Any mechanic friends out there? Do tech high school auto shops do work like this?

2. New tires for my car. Has anyone ever bought tires online? Is it just worth it to shop around? Luckily Watertown has a plethora of tire shops so I'm definitely going to make a bunch of phone calls.

3. Small expense: I need a bike helmet. Anyone have one they don't need anymore and want to sell or give to me?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

These things...

...are actually kind of awesome. I always immediately toss them into the recycling bin but in the spirit of Miser March, I decided to check them out this week. I sat down for an hour or so and compared the sales at 3 different supermarkets. Here's this week's miser report:

Shaws wins for cheapest tuna and oranges and they also have a good deal going where you can buy 4 packages of produce for $7.99.

Stop&Shop has a lot of good sales this week including, 2 for $4 strawberries, 10 for $10 28 oz. cans of tomato sauce, and 10 for $10 avocados.

Market Basket wins for toothpaste over the other stores with Crest at 2 for $3, and they also have 2 for $5 blueberries which seems to be a great deal for this time of year.

I also really wish I had the 40% A.C. Moore coupon last week when I actually needed something there. Time to start giving the grocery store fliers a once over before tossing them out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Miser March

Miser: A person who lives in wretched circumstances in order to save and hoard money.

Or, what unemployment has turned me into.

I’ve been out of work for about 8 months now so I’m definitely no stranger to scrimping and saving. Even though I’ve always been a careful spender, unemployment has definitely taken it to the next level. I’m comparing prices at the supermarket, using everything until the last drop, borrowing and making instead of buying, and just cutting back wherever I can. Although I’ve become a champ at this, I’m sure I can do better. This month I’m taking my economizing up a notch and declaring it Miser March.

Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

I’m starting out by doing something that I’ve always wanted to do: Withdrawing my weekly spending allowance from the ATM at the beginning of each week and spending only that. I feel like physically handing someone money rather than using a piece of plastic with my name on it might make me think twice before purchasing something unnecessary.

I cannot use my credit card or dip into my savings account unless it’s an emergency.

I should make or borrow whenever possible, but if I do need to buy something, it has to be on sale or second hand. Time to utilize Coupon Cabin, Craigslist, the library and things like Bank of America’s Add It Up Program.

Spend as little as possible on food and drink. Looks like it’s time to actually read through those grocery store flyers that usually get tossed into the recycling bin and do some comparison shopping. I remember being in awe of my friend Jess when she told me that she spent about $20 a week to eat. Eating out and drinking (alcohol) are only allowed if it doesn’t push me over my weekly budget. Love you 3 buck chuck!

Read through The Tightwad Gazette for money saving tips on everything. I’ll be sure to post good things that I find.

Sell things I no longer have a need for on Ebay or Craigslist for extra cash.

As always, I’m interested in feedback so if anyone has any tips for me, please share.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Life Junk

Out of all of the challenges that I’ve completed for the 12 Months of Lent, this February’s fun month may come across as less serious or structured than some of the other months I’ve done, but my intent for it was the same as it’s been all along. Like with every other month, I recognized something that was lacking in my life and devoted a month to trying to fix it.

Although I had originally designated February as Frugal February (now switched to Miser March), I’m glad that it wasn’t set in stone. Last year I determined each month’s challenge in advance, but this year I decided to figure them out month by month, allowing me more flexibility, and I definitely think it’s better this way. Coming out of January, what I really needed was a pick-me-up, not an intensive spending restriction to keep me in my house and further my status as a Watertownie. After the rough 6 months I had just gone through, I needed to get out of my head and back into the world.

So, did it work? Did a month of enforced fun help to pull me out of my winter slump? Yes and no. While I may not have partied like it was 2007, I did manage to have one of the best months that I’ve had in a while. Maybe I didn’t have rip roaring fun every day, but I did manage to do something enjoyable that helped lift my spirits for sure.

Sometimes we all need a reminder to not let life junk get in the way of living life, and that’s just what Fun February was for me.