Huffpost Women
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Katy Wolk-Stanley Headshot

Government Shutdown Got You Down? Here Are Fifty Ways to Save Money

Posted: Updated:

  • Learn to cook. It's doesn't have to fancy, but meals prepared at home are almost always going to be cheaper than eating out.

  • Don't be afraid to swap out expensive ingredients for their cheaper counterparts. Recipe calls for prosciutto? It's okay to use smoked turkey, and ricotta is easily replaced with pureed cottage cheese.

  • Jonesing for a new look at home? Rearrange what you already own. Reconfigure your furniture, knick-knacks and decor items for a HGTV-style makeover without the associated expense.

  • Keep a few ready-to-eat meals in the freezer for those nights when take-out calls your name. These meals can be either homemade or even store bought, as a $4.99 bag of Trader Joe's Orange Chicken still trumps $30 in Chinese take-out.

  • Put on a sweater and a warm pair of socks before you turn on your heat. And then in the evenings, snuggle under a blanket while watching TV.

  • Put the word out before buying new. Chances are that the thing you need is currently gathering dust in your cousin/neighbor/co-worker's basement. This is what Facebook was invented for.

  • Take a good hard look at your insurance bills and put in the work to get them lowered. Call your agent and have this conversation. Update them if you're driving less, make sure you're getting all discounts you qualify for and raise deductibles. And then take that information and shop it with other insurance companies.

  • Vacation close to home. Chances are you can get away from it all within a half day's drive of where you live.

  • Share rarely used items with friends and neighbors. My neighbors all use our wheelbarrow and post-hole digger, and we use their paper shredder, cat carrier and pressure washer.

  • Cancel services you're not taking full advantage of. Are you a member of a gym, yet never go? Let go of the guilt and march yourself over to their membership department.

  • Mend and repair instead of replace. You don't need specialized skills to mend a tear or glue something back together.

  • Let go of brand loyalty. You are too intelligent to be a pawn of advertising agencies. Example? White Rain shampoo and conditioner is highly rated yet sold at Dollar Tree.

  • Research everything that your local library has to offer. Yes, they have books, but they also offer movies, audiobooks, classes, digital downloads, classes, museum passes and more. And it goes without saying: return your library materials on time!

  • Clip coupons, and then match them up with on-sale items. You don't have to be an insane extreme couponer or unhealthy eater to benefit from this savings strategy. Make sure to register for your store's online options as well. Safeway frequently sends me digital coupons for lettuce, avocados and even simply $5-off-$20!

  • Share services. My next door neighbors and I share garbage pickup, which saves both of us a tidy sum of money.

  • Bring your lunch to work. Heated up leftovers might not be a tasty as a restaurant meal, but the savings make up for that. Remember, you are at work to make money, not spend money!

  • Ask vacationing friends and family if they need a house sitter. This is an especially great vacationing trick if your friends live nearby. (I used to housesit for my Seattle-based sister, which gave my family a free place to stay within 3-1/2 hours of Portland.)

  • Figure out ways to be a generous gift giver without spending too much money. Gift items you already own, print kid photos and put them into thrift shop frames, bake something or do some kind of service for the recipient like an evening of babysitting or an afternoon of yard work.

  • Avoid accepting invitations for evenings out with your big-spender friends. Instead arrange coffee get togethers or a similar low cost endeavor.

  • Tone down your expensive grooming habits. Even if it's just replacing every other $60 hair cut with a $15 maintenance trim, you'll still come out ahead.

  • Stop buying clothes. Chances are you already own enough clothing to get you through the next zombie apocalypse.

  • Automate your bills. Not only will you save money on stamps, but you'll never pay a late fee again.

  • Get on top of your food waste. Incorporate wilted vegetables into soups, old fruit into smoothies and stale bread into bread crumbs. And get real about what your family actually eats.

  • Put the breaks on hobby purchases. Use up what you already have, and maybe swap with a similarly minded friend.

  • Minimize alcohol purchases. It's expensive, and doesn't actually make you as funny as you think it does.

  • Stop buying single use items. A bag of T-shirt rags and cloth napkins can replace paper towels, and a menstrual cup replaces feminine hygiene products.

  • Turn your hot water heater down a few degrees. Not only will you save energy costs, but you'll save on cold water as well, as less is then needed to find the perfect warmth for showering and doing dishes.

  • Cancel home phone service. Chances are that everybody already has a cell phone, so why pay twice for the same service?

  • Put flannel sheets and a warmer blanket on your bed. Why pay to keep an entire house warm at night when everyone is in bed? No sense warming a kitchen when everyone is in their bedrooms.

  • Stop the practice of shopping for entertainment. Window shopping is a gateway drug to spending, whether it's online or brick and mortar.

  • Do for yourself what you've been paying other to do. Paint your own toenails, clean your own house and mow your own lawn. Unless your last name is spelled R-O-C-K-E-F-E-L-L-E-R, you shouldn't be employing your own staff anyway.

  • Say "no" to endlessly expensive classes and activities for your kids. Children benefit from unstructured time. Whether it's creating a zoo from blocks and stuffed animal or a fashioning a fort using every blanket, pillow and piece of furniture in the living room. Give their creative minds the room to breathe.

  • Know that no one store is going to offer the best prices. Cheese will be cheaper at one store and olive oil will be cheaper at another. Stock up if possible, so you're not running around town.

  • Have a wallet full of gift cards? Keep those in mind for necessities and gift giving before you spend your hard earned cash.

  • Wash your laundry in cold water, and then hang it to dry. Indoor clotheslines and racks make it possible to extend the drying season.

  • Think beyond the grocery store when it comes to buying food. We buy our pickled ginger and wasabi from a local Japanese restaurant (setting us back just a couple of bucks). And I buy a dollar's worth of pepperoni from a local pizza joint.

  • Make from scratch what you've been buying from restaurants. Pizza and sushi are both insanely easy to make. Sure, they might not be as pretty as their restaurant counterparts, but you're eating it not photographing it, right?

  • Batch your errands. You'll spend less time in the car and less money at the gas station if you minimize driving across town for a single task whenever possible.

  • Find and take advantage of all the free entertainment your area has to offer. Sitting at home all day, every day is a recipe for insanity. So go scope out all the fun and free. You need to look at something besides your own four walls.

  • Get to know the humble bean. Whether you're making chili, lentil soup or burritos, legumes are the frugal person's BFF. Use either a slow cooker or a pressure cooker to transform dried beans into delicious filling meals.

  • Get over your fear of expiration dates. Sell-by, best-by and use-by are all vague and unregulated terms. If the food still seems okay, then it should be safe to eat.

  • Research your town's public transportation. This will especially save you money if you're paying for parking.

  • Tart up what you already own using supplies you already bought. Paint old furniture using the paint from past projects, and don't forget that you can even mix paints for new color combinations.

  • Return your bottles for the deposit, gather all your spare change and return unwanted purchases. Chances are you'll be able to scavenge enough money to make it worth the effort.

  • Keep your splurges within reason. No one thrives on deprivation, so make sure to plan enjoyable treats here and there, just make sure you're not breaking the bank in the process.

  • Bring your nice but unwanted clothes to a local consignment shop for store credit. You can then scratch that new stuff itch without spending any money.

  • Buy used instead of new. Not only will you save money, but you'll be taking an important stand against irresponsible manufacturing practices.

  • Read frugality blogs like The Non-Consumer Advocate for ideas, inspiration and like-minded community.

  • Find contentness with what you already own. You may not live like the Joneses, but you likely live better than the majority of planet Earth.

  • This last idea is yours, because I'm sure you have some money saving tricks that I somehow missed. What is your favorite money saving tip? Please share in the comments section below.
  • "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."