Five Easy and Painless (I Promise) Tips for Reducing Spending
Do not scoff when you are asked to write on a topic you swear up and down you know nothing about. It may be a message from the universe that you need to pay attention. I got one of those wake up calls when asked to post about tips for reducing expenses. I like to think that I've cut everything I can or will but now that I'm focusing on it, I've noticed all sorts of tips and tricks I've used, I could be using or I should be using more.
Overall my approach is to not eliminate anything that I'd like to keep in my life but rather to figure out how to do it for less. Here are some of my best tips for cutting spending while not feeling deprived.
I work from home so going to Starbucks or storing bottles of bottled water is less convenient for me so I use these evergreen expense-reducing techniques.
1. Filtered water instead of bottled. A couple of hints for this trick... stock up on glasses so you can pour a glass regardless of where you are in the dishes cleaning cycle. I have loads of inexpensive ones from Ikea. Why not get fancy while you're at it and make drinking your filtered water fun. If you are in the U.S., be sure to join the campaign started by Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish to convince manufacturers to provide recycling options for the filters. Also, get a metal bottle for taking your filtered water on-the-go. Sigg makes cute ones. They even offer flasks if you want a durable dual purpose portable drinking implement.
2. Make your own coffee. If you want to feel like you're in a little cafe why not use an individual French Press pot to brew the coffee. Also, they have travel versions. Again, cute cups make it feel like you're treating yourself not cutting expenses. Another little trick I use is to add cinnamon so the coffee tastes special and it might help fight diabetes, to boot!
Although I don't use other tricks on a daily basis, when used, they've saved me a bundle.
3. Use Craigslist. When I moved to my current home I made great use of the online marketplace to sell and buy wisely. I didn't want to move my massive television so I researched selling prices for my TV and similar models, set a realistic price, sold the TV, took the cash, did some more research, combined some coupons I received in my change of address kit from the post office with a sale price on a floor model and threw in a dash of haggling and my new high-definition flat panel plasma was practically free!
Also, I'm a fan of mid-century modern style furniture. Instead of shopping the Design Within Reach catalog, I shopped craigslist and found several pieces for a fraction of the price. No renowned designer names but great pieces I love. I have to remind myself sometimes, though, to check craigslist or eBay before hitting the stores. A bit more work and waiting can often more than pay off in savings.
4. Make your own. Recently I picked up a bottle of salad dressing that was on super-sale for 99 cents. It was a waste of a dollar since it was a flavorless, inedible glue-like substance. I remembered when I tasted it that salad dressing is incredibly easy to make, is fabulously delicious and can cost very little. I've twice had people request that I give them homemade salad dressing as a gift after they've tasted it on a salad at my home. In both cases I've used recipes but play around with mixing favorite oils and vinegars, throw in mustards if you'd like, herbs, salt and pepper. Start with a 3-1 vinegar to oil blend and adjust to taste. Shake it up in a jar and your taste buds and wallet will thank you. And, whenever you grab something for pre-made convenience, think about easy ways you can make your own version which can often be tastier and cheaper.
5. Wear knock offs. In the 80's I went through a cheap Chanel phase. I had several outfits that channeled Coco without paying more than $15 a piece. This article on "recession chic" points out that rather than spending hundreds on a designer bag you can get something from the designer knocking themselves off at Target. Keep an eye on Trisha Okubo's Friday Fashion Week in Review here at BlogHer for links to designer looks for less which she often features.
Good luck in being smartly frugal while staying fabulous!
Xin Lu at WiseBread Five calls you can make now to save hundreds to thousands of dollars
Debbie Dragon at Destroy Debt 76 Ways to Save Money While Saving the Environment
Pinyo at Moolanomy Frugalist Expense Reduction Guide
WikiHow How to Reduce Expenses
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of South Texas Your Family Budget: Cutting 10% from your already stretched budget
Michael Winerip at the New York Times Clipping Coupons to Put Food on the Table
Dawniemom at BlogHer How we 5 live on 1 paycheck
Carmen Wong Ulrich at iVillage Beehive We've Slashed Our Expenses, Now What?
Julie D. Andrews at Shape Healthy Finances: Recession-Proof Your Life