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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Save Money while Keeping the Frugality Pains at a Minimum

So the November (11) issue of Real Simple has a section where readers sent in 'What cutback has saved you the most money and changed your life the least".  I am always looking for new (and practical) ideas for our fam, so here are my thoughts on what they said:

1) Stop highlighting your hair.  Good idea. My thoughts on spending $100+ every 2 months are... I can't afford it. Especially when $10 boxed color looks great on almost everyone I know that has tried it. And..... it fades, so there won't be a huge line separately dyed and natural as it grows out!

2) Don't pay for cable.  Love this one. We have done it for 4+ years and we have survived. We do pay 7.99 a month for streaming Netflix, which in my opinion is better than cable anyway. And there is always Hulu if I need my HGTV fix!

3) Eliminate gym membership. Not so sure how I feel about this. Now it does make sense, especially if you don't use it; however, if you are the kind of person that needs to get out of the house and be surrounded by fellow cardio queens and/or muscle men to stay motivated- I say keep the membership and cut back in other places. After all, if you don't have your health, life will become a lot less enjoyable and more expensive to boot.

4) Frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh. I love fresh fruits and vegetables, so I would have a really hard time with this. And even though they say that frozen is just as healthy, it doesn't feel like it. So while its a good idea to have frozen on hand (as i would preferring running out of fresh broccoli and resorting to frozen instead of having a bunch of moldy stuff in the produce drawer); however, I am not making this one of my money saving priorities, at least not until I have to.

5) Public transit. Love the idea, but it may not be practical for those of us with infants and strollers etc., especially if you have to go grocery shopping. But by all means, you should at least commute to work or even better, take your bike!

6) Make your own tea or coffee. I do indeed enjoy my morning coffee. And with toddlers around, I may even need that coffee to fully function. It's easy to get in the habit of stopping off at the coffee shop for your daily brew on your way to work or elsewhere, but even if you are going on the cheap, its still going to cost you over $2 each time plus tip if you're that kind of gal. So program your coffee maker, buy some good creamer, and voila, you got yourself a grande vanilla latte-ish drink.

7) Switch to generic. Why not? Many generic brands of products are awesome (baby wipes, plastic baggies, pasta, etc.). But there are some that have not worked for me: some generic diapers gave my kids diaper rash, generic cheerios just don't fly with them either. So it's a trial and error process- if I can get it generic, I do; i try it out, if it doesn't work-- it doesn't work.

8) Make, don't buy, your lunch. Yes, do it.

9) Stop buying wrapping paper. Well, we don't get the newspaper, so I can't use that to wrap. And really, how many gifts do I wrap throughout the year? Not that many. And if its around the holidays, I am usually at my parents anyway... who have lots of it.

10) Nix the Professional manicures. Um, yes, stop! If you can't afford to contribute to an IRA, your kids education, or are living paycheck to paycheck by all means, get your butt out of that salon! Hello $3 nail polish from CVS or you can spend $6 at the beauty supply stores for the fancy stuff.

11)Stop eating meat. Why not cut back? It does save a lot of money and it's healthier too!

12)Stop using dryer sheets. Hmm.. do I really spend that much on them? I like the way they smell.

13) Stop eating out. Well, that depends how often you are doing it. I need date night; and I need it OUT of my house. So why not budget it in. We use groupon.com or restaurant.com when we go to cut what we spend usually by half. In addition, I am a believer in dinner backup plans in the freezer; that way we are less likely to order take out on a whim

14) Sell your second (or third) car. I say do it if you can! We have had only one car since we became a family, so we don't miss what we never had. And oh the savings of only one car payment and one insurance payment.

15) Don't buy new clothes. Agree- assuming you don't need any. If you do, don't be against the thrift shop. Most cities have ones in the burbs that are pretty fancy... and cheap.

16) Cancel your house cleaning service. Wow, I wish I had a house cleaning service to cancel!

17) Cancel your cell phone contract (buy prepaid minutes). In our house we don't have a land line; we only use cell phones so a buy-as-you go plan might be a little challenging. I did however save us some cash by increasing my text plan. It turned out that I was consistently going over the number of texts I was allocated. So now we pay $5 extra but save $20.

18) Don't go to the movies. Yes, it's very expensive so I wouldn't recommend going once a week. However, I have found recently that I LOVE going to a movie by myself. I escape my chaotic household and there is no expectation for me to be social (or share popcorn). So this is something that I work into my budget.

19) Buy a cheaper drink at happy hour. So you need to get out for some adult time. Instead of that crazy martini go for the house wine that's half the price. If you still go for the martini, just realize that then you may have to cut your happy hours in half too.

20) Ditch the paper towels. So this brings me to the final idea. I spend $10 on a pack of paper towels that probably last a month. Is it worth it to ditch the towels to save ten bucks? Well, I am going to take on the challenge- because every little bit counts if its practical and I don't miss it much. So as soon as we run out, I am not buying more- we will just use cloth towels (I will feel to eco-savvy!). I will post about it once I have tried it to release my findings:)

PS. The reader of the month that Real Simple editors highlighted for this piece said she and her husband eliminated date night... UM HELLO???? Really? I would give up cable, manicures, fresh produce, and definitely paper towels to keep date night!


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