It turns out that many free books on thrift and saving money aren’t that good. I’ve read about 5 lately and they range from the strange to the questionable. Strange in that one gentleman’s idea was to save money by making coffee at home. Fine, right? However, he was proud that he could make a cup of coffee at home for 60 cents. Even my Keurig would only cost 50 cents if I used the pods. As it is, I buy mass produced coffee and make it at home with tap water for around 3 cents per cup. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t need that fresh from the coffee shop taste. Especially if it’s going to save me 57 cents per cup! I drink a lot of coffee. Generally around 3 – 6 cups every morning. That’s $2052 a year (assuming 3 cups a day) just in coffee savings because I have no problem drinking coffee that’s not ground fresh that morning and made using filtered water. I suppose though, if I were being more eco-conscious I would buy shade grown, organic coffee and that would run about $12 a pound. That would bring my costs way up per cup. For now, I have about 5 more jumbo (warehouse store bought) canisters of coffee that I’m perfectly happy to use.
For now, I’ll stick with the things that have saved me big so far: making my own soaps, detergents, and cleaning products, turning off power strips and lights when they are not in use, hanging laundry when I can, opening the doors on nice days and not using the air conditioning (that’s been a huge one so far), buying generics whenever possible – even of some things that we’ve always bought name brand -, barely drinking soda anymore, making dinner at home (meal planning on Sundays is what ensures this), packing lunches for school and work, I’m about to start washing my hair with baking soda and conditioning with apple cider vinegar, eating more naturally (fewer processed foods), making our fun at home more often, no recreational shopping, going grocery shopping when I’ve eaten (it really does make a difference) and with a list, buying meat from the butcher in a package deal (although apparently it’s a meat processing place and that may be why it’s so cheap, but compare prices and see where you can get the best deals, it may be a warehouse club where you can buy big chunks of meat and cut them up at home – there are videos on the web and directions in some cookbooks if you don’t know how), cutting out the data plan on my phone (though we got it back when I started having to drive to unfamiliar places for clinicals and printed maps let me down. I got lost for 2 hours the first clinical day because I didn’t have GPS, all I had was a printed map that led me to the wrong place, and it was so early that nowhere was open for me to ask directions. The 3 places I did find all sent me to different places, none of which was correct. It was worth it to us to get me a phone with a data plan and GPS.), stopping newspaper delivery (even though I was getting it for the coupons, it wasn’t worth it to waste an entire newspaper for coupons – I was buying things I wouldn’t normally just to use the coupons that I had gone to all the trouble to get. I’m saving plenty of money without coupons.), getting rid of cable TV and just having Netflix (we haven’t missed it), paying off debt quickly, doing my own at-home pedicures (I am just as capable to putting lotion on my legs and painting my toenails as someone at a nail parlor and I don’t have to worry if I haven’t shaved my legs), reading only used books and cheap e-books bought on sale, growing my own veggies (I WILL have an apple tree at our next house!), doing our own home maintenance – as much as possible – and inside renovations, thrift shopping for clothes, books, and housewares, paying bills online rather than through the mail, and taking shorter showers.
Those are the things I’ve done so far to save money and it’s allowed us to pay off bills quickly and put the kids in karate. Yes, we are spending some of the money we’ve saved, but only after we’ve started college funds and are putting 15% of our pay away for retirement. It’s funny, I thought I was backsliding so badly recently because I was spending more money than usual, but really it wasn’t bad at all. I haven’t spent more money than we had on hand, I have rarely made us even tight on money for the pay period. I have still been doing most of the things I listed though, and am getting back into not spending mode now that I have to pay off bills again. I haven’t really done any damage and I’m much farther along the road to thrifty than I used to be. Cool.
This from a former spendthrift who truly bought whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. I still do, but my wants are few these days and my outlook has changed drastically.