Most hardcore cheapskates have a secret. Their price book or coupon strategy or a hard-and-fast rule “never shop on Fridays, always buy gas on Tuesdays.”
I’m going to bare all, and share my arsenal of secret weapons. One on condition. Please, please share your secrets too!
Here it goes—my secret weapons to saving money.
- A spare email account: A Gmail account is great because it has a large capacity and is easy to filter, sort or search. Send all coupons, and mailing lists here. If toilet paper is on your grocery list, search for toilet paper coupons, etc. But under no condition should you actually read every item that goes into this list. Just use search features to see if it happens to include whatever you might be looking for.
- Frugal Friends: Make a Twitter or Facebook list and watch what your frugal friends are doing! While you are at it—follow hashtags like #frugal and #cheap and #coupon on Twitter.
- Home-made: Home-made is almost always cheaper. I make my own laundry detergent—I found the recipe in the Duggar’s book. We do six loads of wash a week, and I can make enough soap for a year for about $4. We used to spend $17 a month on liquid laundry detergent. You can home-make washable baby diapers, (our tot is in washable pull-ups at nighttime) soups, pastries and more. Unless you require gluten-free bread (I do) bread is one of the few exceptions I have found. Just buy bread at the store.
- Your calculator. Our grocery total went down an average of $30 a week simply by carrying a calculator and keeping a tally as we shop.
- A pricebook: I don’t use a pricebook anymore while grocery shopping, as we have found one store that consistently has lower prices. I do use a pricebook for shopping for business items (paper, binder clips, toner, etc).
- Hand-me-downs: We have “too big” boxes of clothes for the kids, and “too small” boxes, and eagerly accept hand-me-downs from friends and family.
- Websites and Blogs: Blogs and Websites can be a wonderful source of ideas and encouragement when it comes to living your live even more frugally. I personally like BillShrink for monitoring the competitiveness of my wireless plan and local gas prices.
- The public library. From free printing (my library offers 30 pages of free printing per day) and Internet access, to magazines, books, movies and music, the library can save you tons of money.
- Clocks: Learn “off peak” times for utilities. Shower or run the laundry and dishwasher at the off-peak water times, make phone calls in “off peak” long distance times.
- Cash envelopes and a solid budget. We use a budget each month. We put the allotted amount of money in an envelope for each subject (grocery, gas and so on) and spend only as much as is present in the envelope—thus never going over-budget.
Now—can we “sharpen the pencil” even more by adding your suggestions? What is your favorite secret weapon for shopping?