Fifty Ways to Save Money -- Now

I feel like I've been finessing the art of spending less money without crossing the line into insane-cheapo-lady for, well, my entire existence. Like everything in life, it's both an art and a science.
08/14/2012 06:25 pm ET Updated Oct 14, 2012
money home in hand
money home in hand

I feel like I've been finessing the art of spending less money without crossing the line into insane-cheapo-lady for, well, my entire existence. Like everything in life, it's both an art and a science. Zero-ing in on that sweet spot where the delicious joys in life can be found in times of both better and worse.

Because if you only know how to thrive when times are good, you will not be able to weather the low points.

Although my list ends at fifty, I could easily cough up another dozen or two without breaking a sweat. (Oh, I forgot to add something about finding free entertainment!) So if you find any glaring omissions, please add them to the comments section.

  1. Treatᅡᅠeveryᅡᅠpurchase like it's a major purchase. You have a few opportunities in life to save a lot of money, but it's the small daily ones that will make or break you.
  2. Vacation close to home so you can drive instead of fly.
  3. Delay big purchases as long as possible. You may lose interest or find an alternate solution.
  4. Hang dry your laundry, indoors if necessary.
  5. Choose a hairstyle that does not require frequent trims.
  6. Repair instead of replace. This goes for appliances, furniture, clothing, whatever.
  7. Borrow infrequently used tools and supplies instead of buying. (Also make sure to lend.)
  8. Bank at a credit union instead of a corporate bank. You'll most likely save on fees.
  9. Wear the clothes you already own instead of buying new stuff all the time.
  10. Cook from scratch and save restaurant meals for special occasions.
  11. Make sure you have a few easy meals on hand for those nights when takeout dinner is calling your name. There's nothing wrong with serving scrambled eggs and toast for dinner.
  12. Use your library for books, magazines, movies and CD's. And then make sure to return them on time!
  13. Foster your relationships with like minded friends. They won't make you feel bad about sticking to a budget.
  14. Pack your own work and school lunches.
  15. Replace expensive recipe ingredients with inexpensive options. Perfect example? Kale instead of basil in pesto.
  16. Don't be a snob about older electronics. You will survive without the newest iPhone.
  17. Learn how to mend and de-stain your clothing. If half your wardrobe is out of commission, you're missing out.
  18. Batch your errands whenever you drive.
  19. Drink water or homemade iced tea instead of soda.
  20. Choose social get togethers that do not include shopping.
  21. Cancel memberships that you do not use. Gyms, premium cable channels, and everything else.
  22. Pay attention to your household's food waste. Eat what you have, and stop buying the food that you tend to waste.
  23. Be willing to own less stuff. There's less to buy, organize, clean and look at.
  24. Wait until movies hit the second run theaters.
  25. Decline your friends' shopping parties. You don't need any more Tupperware, baskets, jewelry or candles.
  26. Take advantage of your town's free offerings. Parks, hikes, concerts, plays, it's all there!
  27. Don't assume that all coupons are for junk food. There are tons of great coupons for pasta, organic food and healthy products. Keep an open mind.
  28. Minimize the disposable supplies that you buy. Rags made from old T-shirts can replace paper towels, and handkerchiefs can replace Kleenex.
  29. Embrace simple entertaining. Chances are that neither Martha Stewart nor the Queen of England will attend your party.
  30. Automate as many of your bills as possible. Not only will you save on stamps, but you'll never pay a late fee again.
  31. Learn to use a paintbrush. Outdated furniture and kitchen cabinets can gain a modern vibe for thousands less than buying new. And chances are that your old stuff is better constructed than new stuff anyway.
  32. Call your cable company, credit cards and phone company to negotiate a better deal. They want to keep you as a customer and will usually sweeten your deal.
  33. Say no to expensive children's birthday parties. Just because your neighbor spent $500 on her kid doesn't mean you have to.
  34. Rethink your expensive hobbies.
  35. Let your kids entertain themselves. It fosters their creativity.
  36. Store your leftovers in see-through containers. You'll be less likely to forget about what lurks in your fridge.
  37. Don't feel bad about accepting other people's generosity. You can reciprocate in your own way.
  38. Don't be fooled into thinking that expensive shampoos, cosmetics and body products are better than the cheap-o stuff.
  39. Turn down your hot water heater, furnace and air conditioner. You will adjust.
  40. Only stock up on cheap deals if it's something that you use frequently.
  41. Embrace second hand items. Thrift stores are your best friend.
  42. Learn to say no to your kids.
  43. Don't hire out what you can do for yourself. Mow your own lawn, clean your own house and cook your own food.
  44. Adopt a mixed-breed pet instead of buying a purebred animal. Or if yourᅡᅠhave to have a pure breed, look into a rescue organization that specializes in that dog.
  45. Say no to single use unitaskers. One good knife can fill the role of half of what's sold in a kitchen supply store.
  46. Allow for imperfection in your life. Your house is not a magazine and your kitchen is not a restaurant.
  47. Replace your monthly tampons with a menstrual cup. This tip alone will save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
  48. Buy (or make) your birthday and holiday gifts ahead of time. And then allow yourself to spend less.
  49. Ignore The Joneses. Chances are that they're deeply in debt from all their conspicuous consumption.
  50. Read frugality blogs like The Non-Consumer Advocate for ideas and inspiration!

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without"