Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ten Ways We Save Money Part One

I would much rather read about what someone has done--a personal story, than just a general list of things to do. So I'm assuming you are like me, and I am going to share what we have done to save money. Not all of my ways to save may apply to you, but hopefully you can find a couple to use to lighten your burden as we ride out this recession.

1) Trading in our monthly cell phones for one prepaid phone

This has been one of our all-time best decisions we have ever made. We have had a cell phone or two for years! First as a business expense and need for my husband and then for both of us. We used them instead of a landline for many years and used them to make long distance calls to family and friends. It was wonderful, but expensive. Over just the last 5 years we have paid anywhere from $50-$100 a month, including fees, taxes and misc charges. Even when we tried to get it as low as possible, the lowest we could seem to get it was $50. And then there were the contracts. We had been faithful to one company for over a decade and they treated us like dirt. Or worse.

So last summer I finally found out when our contracts would be up on our family plan. August and October respectively. And we slowly extracated ourselves from the cell phone monster. In January we bought a prepaid cellphone with 300 minutes for around $25. And the minutes were good for 3 months. So for the last 2 and a half months we have averaged $10/mo for our phone.

Now this has only worked for us because we have a landline with our apt. It is included in our rent. But even if we didn't have a landline or had to pay for it ourselves, I would still switch to a prepaid cell phone in a heart beat.

2) Making more foods from scratch

I have gone through bouts of using alot of prepackaged meals, but what I have found is that my grocery money doesn't go as far as when I make old fashioned meals from scratch. But then I decided to take it up a notch and look at those items that I generally pick up without thinking and make them from scratch. I don't have any price comparisons, but I know I have saved money. Consider. I have made salad dressings from scratch, bar-b-q sauce, teriyakisauce and other condiments, cream of whatever soup--very easy to do, bread---not as cost saving but definitely healthier, and pizza. There are others out there who make their own laundry soap, cleaners, beef jerky, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. It does take some work and forethought, but besides the savings you get, you also know whats going into your food.

3) Hanging clothes to dry on a line

If you have the space, this is a great money saver. I heard once that the cost of cleaning clothes comes 90% from the dryer. All that energy being used to heat the air that dries the clothes. I have hung all of my clothes to dry in the past, but am now just hanging my shirts. I gave up my huge drying rack and only have my little one. In this apt that's all that it can handle. But if you have the space, go get yourself a rack or clothesline and start drying on the line.

4) Using Craigslist & Freecycle

Just by being on the freecycle list, I have come across and recieved, good looking, good fit jeans, pants and shirts, several pair of shoes,purses for me, toys for my son, clothes too, sheets, fabric for my crafts, dishes and knick knacks. Off of craigslist we found a wonderful sofa for $30 to replace the too big worn out couch we left behind in the move. So if you need something, check out your local craigslist and freecycle.

5) Getting the Wal-Mart price for medications
If you pay for prescriptions with cash, like I do, then getting the Wal-Mart $4 price is a lifesaver. You may have to work with your doctor and the pharmesist to make sure the amount and the millegrams cooridinate. Not every medicine in every amount is $4, but you can get around most obstacles with some creative thinking. Also, some other pharmecies will match the Wal-Mart $4 price. Ask!

This article was getting too long, so I decided to divide it up into 2 parts. So tune in Friday or Saturday for the next installment. I'd love to hear how you have saved with these 5 categories: phone, making from scratch, cleaning clothes, craigslist/freecycle and medications. Do tell!


Mary Ann said...

I always like personal frugal posts as well.

Let's have I saved money in these categories?

Phone-no long distance on the home phone. We buy phone cards for this in case I need to make a long-distance call during the day. Two-600 minute cards last me almost 2 years and I buy them on Buy 1, get one free sales. We also have a cell phone. Not the ultra-frugal plan but we do get free nights and weekends and a specified amount of minutes that are good because of all of our family being long-distance.

Cooking from scratch- You know I love to do this! Some things take a lot of time, like tortillas, so I often buy them. But other things are not hard at all and the savings are usually worth it. I always look at it as good experience in case I am ever unable to buy something pre-made; I'll no how to make my own substitute.

Laundry- I have a clothesline. I didn't use it over the winter but am starting to use it again. I also have an indoor rack, so during the winter I would compromise some days by hanging up some clothes on hangers to dry, and drying faster-drying items such as underwear and socks on the rack. Then I'd dry the towels and jeans in the dryer. Even with hanging laundry, I like to dry towels for at least 10 minutes in the dryer before hanging them; it makes them less stiff!

Craigslist/Freecycle: I haven't used these yet. I think with freecycle you need to offer something first so I need to do that next time I have something to get rid of. I love the concept of both sites. I know a lot of people that are able to get kids stuff for cheap this way.

Prescriptions: Thankfully, we have very few prescriptions. I usually use CVS because of their service. I like the idea of Wal-marts $4 program because we do not have prescription coverage, but have really hated their pharmacy service in the past. Sometimes, I'll switch a prescription to a store that is offering a gift card so that makes it a better deal. But currently, I only have one prescription and I get it filled only a couple of times per year.

Looking forward to your next post!

D said...

Gail, great tips for saving in this brutal economy. I thought that I'd elaborate on a method for effectively reducing cellular expenses for those who may be interested in alternatives to prepaid cell phones that would allow them to keep their phones and potentially their current plans. I work for the consumer advocacy website, powered by a company called Validas, where we slash the average cell bill by 22 percent. It costs five bucks to implement our suggested changes to your plan (the average consumer currently saves around $450 annually through us) but we will analyze your bill for free without any commitment of purchase, just to let you know exactly how many dollars your carrier is ripping you off by. I could go on and on about how shifty these cell companies can be in their attempts to make you overpay. We stop them, and have currently put nearly $4.7 million back in the pockets of consumers. You can check out Validas’s in the national news media, most recently on Good Morning America at

Good luck to everyone trying to regain control over their bills.


*carrie* said...


I just told Eric the other night that I'd like to set up a clothesline once the weather warms up--shouldn't be too much longer now!

Mary Q Contrarie said...

I really liked your post. I have never had a cell phone. So that is one big expense that I have avoided.

I am vegetarian and make almost all my food from scratch. Saving lots of money and carbon emissions.

I always hang my clothes on the laundry drying rack that I can use either on my patio or living room.

My husband actually started and moderates the Freecycle list in our community. So I have it mastered!

And thank goodness we are healthy and don't need any medications.

So per your list we are doing pretty well...