cost corners (whear to find cuts)

redringAugust 10, 2008

I find creative corners to cut in our costs. Its the only way my DH and I have been able to afford a home. Mine are mostly intertainment cost cutting but im sure others have good ideas too.

Dh and I read and we have started swaping books online with sites like papperback swap.

The same with movies. We watch , trade and request another through sites like swap dvd.

I also try freecycle for things I need befor I buy. You wouldent believe what you can find in your home that you never use and someone else needs and would love to have.

I go through jeans quickly and so buy most of mine from goodwill ect.

I shop Aldi and save-a-lot rather than Jewl, meijer, wall mart and buy only what I cant find at the two stores from the bigger name brand stores.

Dollar tree is wonderfull for cleaning suplies like sponges.

I make my own soap. I love doing it and homemade soap has lots of uses. It can even be used in the garden!!

I sloppy bank. If an item is anything over a dolar ammount $4.25 I round up $5.00 in the check book. I never miss the change and it adds up quick. Once I figure I have a good amount saved I balance my book and see what I actually have saved up. Its usually a good chunk of change that can be put tward a home project.

I shared mine dose anybody else have any good ones? I can always use more tips.

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Generally I find that buying a quality item saves me more money in the long run than buying brands. I stopped going to Walmart years ago when my 3 new pairs of jeans ripped too easily, and the brand new seam ripper broke after one use. Now I buy decent jeans that last years instead of months, and the seam ripper I bought at the fabric store is several years old. Some things it doesn't make sense to pay more- shoe polish or cleaning supplies for example. But I find that if I want a purchase to last, then it pays to buy quality items.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 7:52PM
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DH and I argue about that one meghane. He insists that name brand means quality. I usually like to check the item out my self if it looks to be good quality ill buy. The thing about name brand is More Money dose NOT mean More quality!!! This is unfortunantly a common thought in todays society. Some things are worth more money if they last but I refuse to pay for a name.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 8:37PM
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I agree that for things like jeans and cleaning supplies, you get what you pay for. I wear jeans all the time(usually having 3-4 pairs)--and give them hard use (cleaning, gardening, active hobbies, etc) and I almost always can get 2-4 years out of them. Mind you, I don't buy expensive jeans, but I make sure the ones I buy are well-made (and rarely cost more than $12-15).

Sponges--yes, I've bought them at the dollar store, but I won't buy stuff like detergent there--it's well known that the name brands make watered-down versions for the dollar stores (and you can see how much watery they are if you shake the bottle). I have been stocking up on sterilite shoe boxes at the dollar store--they're great for organizing all the little things I'm moving.

A few of my favorite saving tips:

I always piggy back the last sliver of bath soap to the new one, so nothing is wasted. (or sometimes, I save the slivers to take on vacaqtion). Also try to buy your soap several months ahead. Unwrap when you get home from the store and put in a basket to dry for 4-5 months before using. The drier it is, the slower it will dissolve and the less will be wasted washing needlessly down the drain.

I try to add about 1/4 water to my shampoo to stretch it out. Still works about the same.

Laundry--I find that using 1/4 the recommended amount of detergent not only saves money, but gives me a CLEANER wash (you don't get the detergent residue that you get when using the full amount)

Herbs/spices. When you need a fresh herb, instead of buying a bunch in the supermarket, pick up a plant of the herb at the garden center. You'll get many more uses out of a pot of rosemary, for example, than from one cut bunch. Spices are much cheaper if you order from a good wholesaler (like Penzey's) and buy in bulk, than buying at the grocery store (and they're fresher and better quality).

Plan your leftovers--for example, the other day, I bought a small roast chicken from the local pooultry farm. Dh and i had it for dinner that night, and the next nigh, I mixed the bit that was left with some onion, green pepper and bbq sauce for sandwiches. If we have steak--I make a small one, we eat about 2/3 of it, and the rest goes into a salad the next night. We fill in with vegetables/pasta/potatoes--much healthier than eating huge quantities of meat and cheaper, usually.

I clock the mileage when I go out, and try to find the shortest routes to take. I've managed to cut the distance between our home and our new house down from 39 miles to 32 by experimenting with different routes (and poring over the county maps). Still have one or 2 refinements to make that might knock off a few more tenths! And I mke sure the gas tank isn't full on those days when I'm hauling a load of stuff to the new place--that extra weight costs more to transport.

Oh--big one. I try to do as much shopping as possible in the town where our new house is--the sales tax is half there. Even if it's stuff I need at home, I try to buy where I'll save 3.5% right off the bat. I don't know if other states have urban enterprise zones where you always save on the sales tax or not, but it can add up.

Have been combining my investments so they pay better. (my bank pays about 3 times as much interest if you have over $10,000 in one account) so I've been combining some of my smaller accounts to maximize my earnings.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 8:50PM
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One of the best places I've found to buy clothes is at at Fleet Farm which is a "farm" supply store. It's a small chain in the upper midwest and they have a lot of stuff including farm supply needs. Their clothes are heavy duty on the cheap brands but they also carry "name" brands if you're a fru-fru buyer. I can't get myself to pay $40 for a pair of jeans! $10-$15 is more of my price. Sport shirts for work are $8-$10 which for me is kind of spendy but when I look anywhere else...

I use Streets & Trips to plan routes often. Look for alternate routes and I can save a lot of mileage. I use Gas Buddy to check gas prices so I know where and when to fill up. Combine trips. I've gotten to the point that I really get upset if I go out somewhere and don't combine trips, with the exception of work, but combine there whenever possible.

I make lists and carry them with me. Then if I'm out and about and happen to go by a store where I needed to get something, I can swing in and get it. Less time driving, less cost.

I get the Sunday paper to check the ads and coupons but I'm not a coupon clown. I use them judiciously and combine them whenever possible to get a good deal. I'll stock up on deals when I get them. For instance, body wash and deodorant were on clearance for $1.29, buy one, get one free and get a free sample size. I had a $1 coupon, and a couple $.50 coupons so I bought three sets for about the cost of one bottle. And it's a brand I like and use. I like the clearance aisles.

I'm a "pantry person". I hate having to run to the store for one ingredient. I keep staples in the house so even if I get snowed in for a few days I won't starve. Plus I don't have to worry if the grocery store doesn't have sale on stuff I want that week. I shop as seldom as possible. This past month (I was just paying my credit card bill so I noticed it) was very unusual. I went to the grocery store 3 times. Usually 1-2 times max. Make a list and use it. Get out of there ASAP. I will impulse buy on good deals but I know my prices and don't get fooled. Just because it's "on sale" does NOT mean it's a good deal. Learned that from my price book.

I try to eat at home as much as possible, even if it's convenience foods. Just going to a fast food place is easily $5 and I can make a very nice sandwich at home with great ingredients for that and have more for other days.

Lately it's been warm but I haven't been moving too much so I left the a/c off and used a fan. I've been comfortable. I had the a/c going on the days it was 95 with a 74° dewpoint, but I closed off and just cooled the bedroom and living room. And I compared my electric bill with my sister and mine was $85 less! (And I have an electric dryer and electric stove too...)

I'm not going to repeat everything in the splurge thread but this is a few things I do. I like the way Ol Joyful reminds us, that a dollar unspent is $1.33 earned. And if you figure gas to go spend that dollar, you probably saved at least $1.50 or maybe $2? And then throw in the gas to earn that...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:58AM
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I wanted to add with Dh and I working 10 hr shifts and we work togather. I sometimes feel as if I want somthing for me. I deserve it. When I feel this need I go to the dolar tree and allow my self $20. Thats 20 items or 19 if your counting tax. I like scrapbooking and they are getting into that big time. I can even buy tools for a buck a piece. Buying scrapbooking tools from the name brands is VERRY expensive. Plus if I end up impulse buying it was only a dolar. still a wast but not as bad as it could be.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 8:24AM
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I buy the best that I can afford at the time. I am willing to spend a good amount of money, or I can be really cheap at times. Depends on what I'm buying. I will only pay for name brands if it means better quality, or peace of mind.

I pay bills online when possible. Save on stamps and envelopes.

I stock up on pantry items whenever I see a good deal.

I borrow movies from the library. It's "free" entertainment.

There is residual value in most items. I sell my used items on Ebay or Craigslist, or I will donate it to Goodwill.

My home has dual sinks and dual showers in the master bath. My hubby and and I use the same side each day so we don't have to waste water, by waiting for it to heat up.

I often handwash dishes instead of using the dishwasher.

We put ceiling fans in the rooms we use often, as opposed to running the AC, which would cool the whole house. If we do run the AC, I keep the temp around 78.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:17AM
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I used to get movies from the library but we moved ans soth bend charges to check out movies. :( oh well swap dvd works. they are getting stagnent on trades though.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 10:20PM
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They have a lot of books in the library ... at no cost (unless you're a slow reader) ... keep record of date due under a magnet on the fridge.

Someone spoke of combining bank accounts, e.g. over $10,000., to receive higher interest rate.

Right now I have over $10,000. in a bank account, but that's unusual. Being rather old, I seldom buy high-cost items, e.g. a 19-year-old car bought a little over a year ago cost me $2,500., for which I paid cash.

I usually have less than $2,000. in the bank ... and have the means to find money quickly, should I need more for some emergency.

I prefer to invest my major cash in situations where there's a good possibility of the amount invested increasing, but I like it even better if, over time, there's a good possibility that the amount that it earns annually may increase, as well.

For example, I bought shares in a bank 41 years ago for a little over $4.00 each ... paying me about a dime - 12 cents annually. Over the years, the value has increased to $20.00, $40.00, $55.00, $70.00, $100.00 ... and to a high of $107.00, a little over a year ago.

Unfortunately, they had substantial exposure to those so-called high quality mortgages and other commercial paper in the U.S. ... that turned out to be crap, peddled by some shysters, so they slid down through the 90s, the 80s, then the 70s, down to the 60s, grew to the 70s, then down through the 60s to $59.00 a while ago, then up some, down to the mid-50s ... and now are just above $60.00.

Did I sell them? No - maybe I should have ... but who knew, at the time, just how crappy some of that paper was going to turn out to be? And how many people have you heard of being sent to jail over the skullduggery?

Earlier, my money had doubled 4-1/2 times; now, it's doubled not quite 4 times.

If I put $10,000. into the bank 15 years ago, they'd pay the agreed rate of rent on the money during each of the periods that I chose ... but would the amount that they held increase?

Many people pay attention to their guarantee that the number of invested dollars held won't shrink ... but the banks never mention the other side of that deal: the number of invested dollars won't grow, either.

And I don't know what rate of interest they'll offer at the end of each period that I choose to leave the money with them - but seldom does it increase substantially, either.

The bank shares that I spoke of, which paid about a dime or a little more in the beginning, some time ago paid me $2.80 each year per share (when the value of the share was about $90.00) ... then increased to $3.08 ... and to $3.48, last fall.

I'm fortunate that in Canada I used to pay a somewhat lower rate of income tax on that Canadian dividend income ... and they changed the rate of calculation recently, reducing the rate of income tax on Canadian dividend income even farther.

Have I had to talk to the Income Tax people about the increase in value of the shares from $4.00 and change ... to $105.? or $75.? or, recently, $60.00?

No - and I won't have to, until I either sell the shares (or die).

Don't plan to do either, this week ... or next.

Which gives me a good deal of the advantage offered by the tax-deferred retirement accounts.

When I do ... I'll have to pay tax on half of the gain, at regular rates ... but I get half of that gain tax-free.

When I take money out of the tax-deferred retirement account, I have to add every dollar to taxable income.

But - I have another problem, when I let the bank use that money ... the $10,000. that I gave them 15 years ago would buy a decent car.

Not now. Each of our "guaranteed" dollars shrinks in value every year that it's so invested.

And, in Canada, the interest that it earned was taxed at top rate.

So I had to give part of the paltry interest earnings to the Income Tax people.

And I need to take part of the earnings each year to add to the amount invested, in order to maintain the purchasing power of those dollars of mine that the bank was using, to maintain their purchasing power.

I say that when you earn interest, there are two rats that eat your cheese: the Income Tax people want part of those annual earnings ... and they charge the highest rate on interest earnings.

And the Inflation rat eats some of the value of each of those interest-earning, shrinking-value dollars each year, as well.

Plus ... know what?

The rats eat first!

In recent low-interest-rate years ... there was nothing left for me!

I don't like them apples, one bit! (Or is that, "bite"?)

Learning how money works - an interesting hobby ... that pays well.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:06AM
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I found your Etsy website on another post you had replied to. I commented on that post about your website. I wasn't sure you would revisit that post:

so I thought I would repost it here. This is not meant as any sort of put-down, but it is an honest perception of your Etsy site.

"I agree with azzalea about some cute packaging, and I agree with calirose about your last paragraph. DON'T tell people what you can't do, don't want to do, or aren't doing.

Tell them what you ARE offering, and NOTHING more. Don't apologize for a limited inventory, and certainly do not denigrate other producers. If you're going to introduce a new product, have a "Coming Soon" link, but make it separate from your sales blurb.

Now to my biggest issue with your Etsy site. I realize this will probably get me blasted and flamed, but it is important. Your Etsy site is filled with incorrectly spelled words, sentence fragments, and bad grammar.

I absolutely know that the ability to spell and construct sentences is not necessarily an indication of intelligence. However, these issues can and will deter any number of customers.

Look at it this way: I'm a potential customer. It irritated me to try to have to figure out if "coconut milk bannana and sunrise" [sic] was one type of soap or three different soaps. What the heck is "sunrise", anyway? There are plenty of internet stores selling lovely handmade soaps. If I'm irritated by your site, I'll simply go elsewhere.

I know writing isn't everyone's forte. If it isn't for you, get someone else to proofread your site."

I really felt you needed to know this. It will help you in your future endeavors.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 6:03PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Redring, I wish you all the best with your soaps but I thought the same thing Mary did about the spelling and grammar errors.
Perhaps you could have someone who is good at that sort of thing look over your website and help fix those issues. I really think it would help.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 8:09PM
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I understand what you are saying. I have several problems though. one is I have dislexia and spell phonically. Its a problem but I do my best to overcome it. Also some of my sales blurb is targeted tword the etsy crowed that keep telling everyone that if its not big bucks its worthless. I dont agree. Instead of argueing on the forums I just added my bit to my blurb. I can change it all but honestly aside from my spelling errors I dont see a problem. I have been useing microsoft word for spelling and grammer checking to help with what i wont catch. Aparently it dose not work as well as I thought. thank you for the advice. ill see what I can do.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 10:05PM
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Dyslexia is a valid issue. It is not an excuse! I still believe if you can't spell and punctuate, you need to recognize this and you do need someone who can do it for you.

You are trying to sell a product. Customers do not care if you are dyslexic or not. They care if you make a quality product, and they care if you can ship your product, and bill them correctly.

You can be as defensive as you wish, but spelling and grammatical errors DO put prospective customers off.

Do what you will with your website. I offered my opinion to help, not hurt. If you are offended, I'm sorry for that. I will, however, stand by my critique.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 10:47PM
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I dident mean to sound defensive. Just explaining the issues that cause the mentioned problem. As said befor ill see what I can do. Wich will probably be haveing someone else proof for me as DH says he cant see whats wrong either. Lot of help he was :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 11:18PM
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DH is dyslexic... and he has never used it as an excuse. He just has to work harder to do things properly. He works in a hospital, and he has found that spelling/grammar DO make a huge impression on people.

I just ran your last post through Word's spell check. It brought up plenty of misspelled words and the sentence fragment. It did not catch a contraction... but you should be able to see that 'ill' should be 'I'll'.

Good luck with your soaps!

Oh... what is the suggested use for the 'dance card'?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 11:51PM
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wedding or prom. for the dance card. :)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 12:38AM
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My version of "sloppy banking" : I always use whole paper dollars to pay for purchases, and I put the change in the bottom of my purse. I then put my change in a can near my front door. About once a month I roll the change and bring it to the bank. It's anywhere from $30 to $50 a month. Last year I saved enough "change' to buy ny husband an IPod for Christmas. I told him it was money I "found".

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:08PM
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but you did find it jannie. in the botom of your purse! :) LOL! Thats greate thinking. Its superiseing how little we notice the cents on the dollar. It all adds up quickly. Just a note. If you scrapbook i know how expensive tools are. The dollar tree stores have miss Eleisabeths line of scrapbooking products. This week I saw TOOLS! specialty cut scisors, papper embossers, sticky tape rolers. I am verry happy they are branching out into these things. This makes scrapbooking MUCH cheaper.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:43PM
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For home improvement needs I always try to go to our local Habitat Restore. Just today they had a set-up with 20 -25 feet of kitchen cabinetry including a wine rack, planning desk, double sinks, built-in double ovens, dishwasher, double pantry, and a 4-5 foot island, all for $3500.00. Had I been in the market for a new kitchen it would have been an absolute steal!

Instead I settled for an outdoor, weather resistant, "audio luminary system" for the deck. Just a fancy name for outdoor speakers with built in lighting that fit onto the deck posts. I paid $50 bucks, brought it home and researched it online where I found the exact same system on sale for $549.00! Now my best friend in Atlanta is insisting that I return tomorrow to pick one up for for her!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:46PM
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I used to save some change and stuff but it was annoying to count and roll it and then the bank would usually machine it anyway. Now, even many grocery stores have coin counters out so you can dump it in there and get a receipt to take to the cashier. But I don't do that anymore. I prefer to USE that change whenever possible. I do keep a few dollars worth of change in the vehicle so I have a little stash. There's been a few times I wanted to grab a couple dollars worth of gas or get a sandwich or have it to keep from piling up more change. I like keeping the folding money in my wallet rather than change in a bucket somewhere. I find it much easier to refrain from spending the money than many people do though. Just like on income taxes. I don't look at a tax refund as a "forced savings account". I don't LIKE paying in at the end of the tax year but I'd rather not give free use to a large amount.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:55PM
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