Monday, February 20, 2023


Chapter 7 | Saving Around the Household

What you do in this regard is completely driven by how you balance what you’re doing to save money against your short-term and long-term goals.

My goal in this chapter is not to demand that you save money in all the ways I suggest; it’s to give you options that will enable you to save money if you decide to take advantage of them.

Prepare Your Own Meals

One way to save hundreds of dollars every month is by making your own food. If you can make toast, you can cook. If you’re trying to meet your financial goals and don’t have the opportunity to make more money, you can save a great deal of money by taking the time to cook.

Clean Out the Fridge

If you buy the food, stop eating out until it’s gone. If you know you’re going to eat out, don’t buy the food. You could save a few hundred dollars a month.

Brown-Bag It

You can save quite a bit of money every month by bringing your lunch from home instead. It doesn’t have to be fancy; in fact, if you make just a bit more than you need for dinner every night, you can pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. Or pack a sandwich, yogurt, and fruit—simple and cheap!

Coupons Are Your Friend

As you peruse coupons, cut out only the ones for products you already use or products that you’re willing to use because you’re not loyal to another brand.  Coupons should save you money, not promote waste. Look for coupons in the Sunday paper, keeping in mind that coupons usually aren’t offered the weekend of, or just before, a major holiday.

Buy Sale Items in Quantity

If you see a great sale price on an item that you use a lot—and if the item isn’t perishable and you have the space to store it and you have enough money in this month’s budget to pay for a large quantity and you’re sure beyond a doubt that you will actually use this item up—buy a lot at the sale price.


Constantly look for ways to use food that you know you’re not going to eat right away. If a few of the bananas you bought start to go brown, make a loaf of banana bread. Then put it in the freezer and bring it out when you want a dessert or when you’ve got some company.

If you do buy at a wholesale club, apply the same logic that you would for buying large quantities of any sale item at your regular store: Buy bulk quantities only if you have the storage space, are sure you’ll use it, can keep it from spoiling, and have the money in your budget to pay for it.

For just a few dollars for the seeds, you can grow an entire garden of fresh vegetables every year. And if you have extras of easy-to-grow vegetables like tomatoes, you can freeze them for use in pasta sauces in the winter. 

Many veggies grow well in outdoor containers on a patio or balcony, if you’re careful to keep them well watered, well drained, and protected from freezing weather at night.

Growing Organically

To save money and protect your health, grow your vegetables organically. The trick to gardening without chemicals is to start with excellent soil.

An alternative to growing your own garden is shopping at a farmer’s market in your area.

You’ll usually pay lower prices than in a grocery store for fresher, less-processed fruits and vegetables. And you can still freeze the bounty when you find especially good deals on fresh produce.

A simple way to cut your heating and cooling costs is to turn your thermostat down one degree in winter and up one degree in summer. One degree—which you probably won’t even notice—can save you up to a hundred dollars a year on your heating and cooling bills.

If you are always in bed by 11:00 in the winter, program the thermostat to turn down the heat at 11:15, saving you money all night. It then turns the temperature back up at 6:30 in the morning, so you wake up to a toasty house.

Because programmable thermostats actually turn the temperature down, they pay for themselves in a couple of months

Buy Reliable, High-Quality Products

This idea may seem to go against most money-saving advice, but the truth is that high-quality products tend to last longer. If buying the quality item will wreck your budget either save up and come back when you can afford it or make do with the less expensive item. Don’t automatically assume that higher price equals higher quality.

Don’t Go Trendy

Before you buy anything, apply the one-year test: Is this an item you’ll want a year from now? If not, pass it up. eBay can be a treasure trove of bargains, provided that you know what you’re looking for and what matters to you about it.

You don’t have to be the first kid on your block to get everything. Give it a few months, and then make your purchase —if you budgeted for the item!

Shopping Tag Sales, Resale Shops, and Online Auctions

Just because an item is being sold at a tag sale or resale shop doesn’t mean it isn’t a high-quality item. Cheaply made products don’t usually end up at tag sales and resale shops—instead, they get thrown out.

Preparing a Shopping List Ahead of Time

Before you leave home, determine your needs and put them down on paper—and then don’t buy anything that’s not on your list, no matter how wonderful or how cheap it is.

Reducing Gift Expenditures

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to purchase gifts for your friends, family, and coworkers on every birthday, anniversary, or Hallmark holiday. Anyone—from a close friend, to a casual acquaintance, to a family member you don’t see often—will appreciate a simple, handwritten note from you.

Opportunities for saving money around the household constantly turn  up. Keep a list on the refrigerator and add to it as you think of other ways to cut down on household expenses.

Chapter Six | Chapter Eight

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