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How To Save Money On Just About Everything

Welcome to My Saving Place where you will find an abundance of tips, tricks and good advice on how to save money on just about everything.

Happy Savings,
The Saving Lady

Want to save $1378.00?

Of course you would. Who wouldn’t?  And, no, you don’t have to buy anything to save this kind of money, but you do have to commit to taking a certain amount of money each week and putting it away into a cookie jar or, better yet, a savings account that pays a high rate of interest.

If you agree to take the 52 Week Money Challenge and succeed, you will have saved $1378 plus interest in exactly one year or 52 weeks. The premise behind the Challenge is that it takes 66 days for form a new habit. One year is more than enough time to get into the habit of saving money.

The savings can come from any number of places. It can be taken directly from your paycheck. Or it can be derived from money you saved grocery shopping based on your budget. For example, if you budget $150/week for groceries and you spend only $140 in week No. 10 of the Challenge, you have just saved the $10 needed to be saved for that week.  Whatever you don’t spend based on your budget, is money that can be used to reach you weekly savings goal.

There are multiple ways to play the Challenge game. There are advocates of the Reverse 52 Week Challenge.  Other forms of the Challenge opt for shorter time periods and options for those that get paid bi-weekly.

Whatever way you choose to take the 52 Week Money Challenge, you will, hopefully, after all is said and done, have become an expert at saving money.

Saving Money Is Hard Work

Everybody says they want to save money, but it’s easier said than done. Even the very wealthy profess to wanting to save, even if it’s for a just cause like reducing landfill waste or stopping global warming.

Humans over centuries have gone from consuming simply food, clothing and shelter, to consuming everything on the planet and beyond and wanting more even before it exists. The entire global economy is based completely on consumption. Consumption has been bred over these centuries into the human genome. It is now an integral part of our DNA, and as such, saving even a penny has become very hard work.

We are born to consume with or without the means to acquire our consumables. We go deeply into debt to get what we want — both people and businesses. And some become overwhelmed with debt forcing a bankruptcy — both people and businesses. If consumption stops in a country, whole economies crumble. If a person stops consuming, his life does not crumble. In fact, he will probably be better off than he ever thought possible.

FoodTo break the endless cycle of consumption, one must get back to basics — food, clothing, shelter. Originally, man lived off the land picking berries and hunting fish and game in order to feed himself. Then he learned to farm and raise his own food. Today we have supermarkets with tens of thousands of products to choose from instead of a farm. Think about your ancestors and how they were able to sustain large families just on what they raised on a farm. Try to replicate their menu — fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh cut meats, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, flour, honey, etc. They didn’t have Cheetos and Fritos and Fruit Loops and Trix. Simply eliminating processed foods from your grocery list will cut your grocery bill significantly.

Animal skins were man’s first clothing. Fashion was created by the wearing of skins from different animals. Thousands of years later we are still wearing animal skins in Classic Clothingmuch the same way, but aside from animal skins,  fashion today has gone to the extreme. If you stand on a busy street corner and look at what people are wearing, sure you’ll notice the over-the-top dressers, the Taylor Swift look-alikes, the latest and greatest fads. I guarantee, however, that the person who will stand out the most is the one wearing clean, straight lines in neutral shades of high quality. It’s called classy. It’s a look that stands apart from everything else. It’s a look that turns heads — in a good way. It’s a looks that can be achieved for a lot less than a wardrobe that replicates all of the day’s fads, and one that will last year after year — sort of like animal skins. And this applies to  both men and women. Go for the classy look instead of the “in” look and you will save thousands of dollars on clothing.

Small HouseIn the 1950’s, the average size of a home was just under 100 sq. ft. Today, the average size of a home is closer to 2500 sq. ft. Funny thing, families today are smaller than they were in the 1950’s yet homes are 2-1/2 times as large. Does this make sense? It doesn’t to me. Caves were the original shelters. Some caves were larger than others because they housed multiple families. Others were smaller because there were fewer residents. Well, we don’t live in caves anymore, but it seems reasonable to configure your shelter to the size of your family. Three people do not need to live in a 5-bedroom home unless you’re operating a B&B.It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the larger a home the more expensive it is to maintain. Reduce the cost of your shelter, save the difference, and you might be able to retire 10 years earlier than you plan.

Saving money is hard work because as consumers we inherently have to spend money. And, of course, we can’t stop spending money, but we can spend it more wisely. This probably will require changing some very bad spending habits. In the process, however, you will find that saving money becomes easier and easier because if you get back to basics, ironically, there is simply more money to save.

7 Ways College Students Can Save Money

Well, it’s finally back to the old grind for college students, and if you’re like most, money is always tight. You need to stretch those dollars as far as they will go. Here are a few money-saving tips to help your dollars go farther.

1. Before you even leave for school, make out a budget. When you get to school, stick to it.

2. Don’t buy books at the college book store (unless you absolutely can’t find them anywhere else). Check out Amazon to see if the text books you need are available to rent as an ebook. Renting can be half the cost of buying. Also check used books. They may be even cheaper.

3. Don’t eat out. It’s expensive. Repeat – EXPENSIVE!! Most schools have a cafeteria meal plan if you live in a dorm. Buy a used mini-fridge for your dorm room to store snacks and more. If your school allows, also buy a used microwave. Whole meals can be made in a microwave in minutes at any time of the day or night. Check Goodwill or other thrift stores for these items.

4. Many establishments in the vicinity of a college or university offer discounts to college students. Find out who they are and check their prices first. They may be your best deals when you need something.

5. Avoid Starbucks or other coffee shops like the plague. Learn to make your own coffee. Boiling water in that microwave will help you out here. Or purchase a used coffee pot. For the price of 4 grandes, you can make four 12-cup pots or more.

6. Preferably use cash for all of your purchases. It’s too easy to run up debt on a credit card that you can’t pay off in full when the monthly statement arrives. A debit card can serve the same purpose as cash as long as you always know what your checking account balance is. If you don’t have the money for something, don’t buy it.Simple!

7. A local dollar store can be your best friend for a lot of things. Your next best friends are local thrift shops. Shopping at these stores is more than being frugal; it’s being smart with you money.

And if you haven’t left for school yet, here are eight more ways to save.

Save Summer’s Harvest To Save Money

If you grow your own vegetables or are a constant visitor to your local farm stand, then the end of summer brings with it the end of all those fresh, home-grown fruits and veggies you’ve been savoring for the last three months. But if you hate to give up those glorious tastes of summer, you can keep those flavors well into fall and winter with very little effort.

tomatoEveryone loves tomatoes. Nothing quite compares to the taste of a juicy, red orb right off the vine. At this time of the year, tomatoes that seemed to take forever to ripen, are all ripening at once giving us an overabundance of this versatile fruit/vegetable. Although you won’t be able to use them in salads, the unique flavor of the tomato can be preserved simply by removing the stem, quartering them, and placing them in a sealable plastic bag. Fill the bag to capacity and place in freezer for future use in soups, stews, pasta sauces and the many other things that call for canned tomatoes. Your tastebuds will love you for it in the middle of January and so will your wallet.

Berries are another summertime favorite. Almost every kind of berry can be frozen and stored in plastic bags in the freezer. Small berries, like blueberries, are best laid out on a cookie sheet to freeze than transferred to bags or containers.

If you’re overrun with zucchini, don’t despair. Grate zucchini and store in air-tight containers or freezer bags in the freezer for future use in zucchini bread, brownies, soups and other recipes that call for grated zucchini during cold weather.

Many vegetables like carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn on the cob and brussel sprouts need only be blanched before putting into bags or containers to store in the freezer.  Others, like peppers and onions can be cut up, placed in containers then frozen just like tomatoes.

Saving summer’s harvest by freezing is an easy way to carry their wonderful flavors over to winter and save you money.

Think Small To Save Big

If you don’t have 6 – 12 months worth of monthly living expenses in savings, and if you have nothing saved for retirement, then you’re going to have to start saving BIG to catch up which usually means thinking SMALL. Following are the five budget items where the most savings can be achieved.

1.  Housing.  Putting a roof over your head is, for most people, the most expensive budgetary item you have. In some places, rent can be 70% of your take-home pay, while the cost of owning a home can easily eat up 50%.  If you’re renting, location is a factor of how much you pay. The closer in to a metropolitan hub, the more you’ll pay. The newer a building, the more you’ll pay. The larger the unit, the more you’ll pay. In order to save the most money, it’s obvious that a smaller unit in an older building farther out from city center will reap the most savings, hundreds of dollars a month in fact. That’s thousands of dollars a year.
If you own your own home, moving isn’t necessarily an option, but there are still things you can do to save. If the interest rate you’re paying is 1% or more than the current low interest rate, you could save a$100 or more each month by refinancing. If you’re already paying a low interest rate, you might want to think about renting a bedroom out which could bring in a few hundred dollars each month. Rents in many areas are too high for young people just starting their careers. A room to rent  in a private home helps them and helps you. And you’re kids really don’t need a room of their own.

2. Automobiles.  If you’re leasing or buying a car, you’re already going in the hole every month. A car is a depreciating asset. Corporations can deduct depreciation; individuals can’t. So it makes no sense to make payments on  something whose value goes down every month. Most people buying a car owe more than the car is worth. Leasing one is like renting an apartment. There is nothing to recover once the lease expires.
Getting rid of a car altogether would be the ideal solution, but for most, it would be impractical. The next best thing is to think small. Unless you have a large family, most people can make do with a small car. It is simply a means of taking you from one place to another. It does not need to make a statement, unless that statement is, “Look how much money I’m saving!”  Paying cash for a car would also be the ideal situation, but that isn’t always practical either.
SMALL is really the only answer to saving money on automobiles. There are at least 10 new vehicles that can be bought for less than $12000. Leasing any of them would also be relatively inexpensive. The overall cost of operation for any of them is pretty inexpensive since they are all fuel efficient and cheap to insure.  A small car can save you thousands of dollars a year compared to all-wheel-drive SUV’s or cross-overs or mini-vans or most other more expensive cars.

3. Entertainment.  A trip to the movie theater for a family of four with popcorn and soft drinks can approach $100 in some markets.  That’s a luxury for families that aren’t even on a budget. And anyone paying for a gazillion channels on cable television makes about as much sense as burning dollar bills to start a campfire. Instead, ditch cable TV altogether in favor of a roof-top antenna or a simple $20 digital antenna, depending on your physical location in relationship to transmitter towers.  (Find out here what kind of antenna you need.)
With a half-way decent Internet connection (no, you don’t need gigabyte service) and an Amazon Firestick ($39) or a Roku Streaming Stick or Player ($50), you’re almost set to be entertained by more TV or movies than you could watch in a lifetime. A subscription to Netflix Streaming Video for $7.99/month and/or Amazon Prime for $99/year completes the entertainment package that will save more than a hundred dollars a month.

4.  Insurance.  If you’re like so many of us, dealing with insurance is something best left for another day. Consequently, years go by and all we do is continue paying the premium that the insurance company bills us for without every questioning how much we’re paying. This is a BIG mistake.  No insurance agent is going to call you and tell you that he’s found a way to lower your insurance premium. After all, he gets paid on commission, and the higher your insurance premium, the more he gets paid. Even if you have a bad driving record, it pays to shop for your insurance if you haven’t done so in some time. Savings could be dramatic. Tickets and/or accidents may have dropped off your driving record, yet you may still be paying for them. Lower cost plans may have come out that you qualify for but have never been offered. There are probably a dozen or more reasons to shop your insurance even if it’s only to keep your insurance agent honest.

5.  Groceries.  There are literally hundreds of way to cut your grocery bill by 25% or more. If you’re spending $400/month on groceries, that’s a savings of $100/month.  Look first to where you’re shopping. If Costco or Sam’s Club (BIG-box stores) are part of your grocery shopping routine, you can probably save 25% just by dropping your membership in them and opting to do all your shopping at a much SMALLer supermarket.
And supermarkets are not all the same. Some are much more expensive than others. Whole Foods is the Saks Fifith Avenue of grocers while Kroger may be considered the J.C. Penney’s of grocers. From a budgetary standpoint, Heintz Catsup is the same no matter where you buy it, but why would you pay 1-1/2 times the price for it? Also, organic produce isn’t proving to be all that safe while you spend 50% more for it.  Let’s face it. Baby boomers that are now predicted to live lives well into their 90’s, didn’t even know what organic meant when they were growing up. Some studies have even linked the current craze of cleanliness with a child’s lack of ability to fend off disease because their bodies have not been able to develop immunities that good old fashioned dirt in all its forms provided for previous generations.
Lastly, consider exactly what you’re buying. Bottled water is not only a waste of money, all that plastic simply isn’t good for our planet. Popcorn is a much healthier (and much cheaper) snack than chips. Chicken and turkey are a much better meat choice than beef. If you find yourself tossing a lot of fresh veggies because they didn’t get used, maybe frozen or canned would be a better choice. Bread is another budget breaker with name brands costing more than $3/loaf. Store brands that are just as good can be had for half that amount. In fact, store brands of most any item are significantly cheaper than name brands.

Now, take these savings and put them to work for you. Online savings accounts typically pay a higher interest than your local bank. Start an IRA or put the money into your company’s 401k plan. Whatever you do, don’t spend it.

College May Not Be As Expensive As You Might Think

Even though tuition at a private college or university may cost as much as a Ferrari, the typical student won’t pay anywhere near the sticker price according to  MoneyTalksNews . In fact, with some due diligence, you could end up paying only a fraction of the amount.

Consider going to a community college for two years to get those basic courses out of the way for a fraction of what it would cost on a college or university campus.  And if you have the stamina and aptitude, you may be able to take certain college classes while you’re still in high school. These are only two of the many ways to bring down the cost of college.  Check out EducationPlanner   for more valuable information to make college more affordable.

And, of course, not going to college at all may be an option for some.  Just look at Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson. These billionaires never graduated from college yet they are some of the most successful people of our time. Forbes  has a few suggestions of alternatives to a college education. Would you be surprised to learn that plumbers and electricians can earn upwards of $100/hour these days.

Many young people and their parents are frightened by the cost of a college education, and rightfully so. It isn’t cheap. Nearly 71% of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree have an average student loan debt of $35,000. A good education will eventually pay for itself, but wouldn’t it be nice not to be saddled with so much debt right from the get-go. Some serious planning can go a long way to giving you that head start in life.

Best Back-To-School Saving Tips From Around The Web

back to schoolIt’s that time again. Kids are enjoying the last few weeks of the season before they head back to school. Moms are busy figuring out what’s useable for another year and what new things need to be bought. More and more, thrifty families are trying hard to make do with less, but some things just can’t last another year. Here are some ideas to help you keep back-to-school costs under control.

Did you know that 18 states have tax holidays for back-to-school shopping? Gerri Detweiler of has put together a list of things to consider if you happen to be in one of the states that offers no tax of many back-to-school items.

WGME in Portland, ME offers up these back-to-school saving tips for those grammar school and college bound, noting that there is a difference in the needs between the two.

Sharon Williams, columnist for the Advocate Messenger, offers six practical ways to save on back-to-school shopping.

How Summer Can Cut Your Grocery Bill by 30% or More

When I was a little girl, I used to spend summers on my grandmother’s farm. It had everything an inquisitive child could dream of — a patch of evergreen trees to hide among; a creek to wade in; a swimming hole to swim in; railroad tracks to walk along; cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese to play with; an apple orchard and a garden as big as a football field. It was heaven on earth.

My grandmother loved to experiment in her garden each year planting some new and exotic vegetable, squash or melon to compliment the tried and true tomatoes, sweet corn, peas, carrots, potatoes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage among others. Each morning we’d go out and pick the day’s meal from the ripest of the crops. Once a week she’d slaughter a chicken to roast and eat with the veggies, usually on a Sunday. But for six days a week all we’d eat was fresh fruit and vegetables.

summer vegetablesI have never forgotten those summers on the farm, and to this day in the summer I still enjoy eating nothing but fruits and veggies for lunch and supper. A sinfully delicious zucchini casserole loaded with fresh sweet onions, tomatoes, garlic, and lots of cheese is as good to me as a T-bone steak. A big slice of watermelon or cantelope makes for a refreshing cooler or dessert. Ben and Jerry’s can’t hold a candle to fresh strawberries turned into homemade ice cream.

With this regimen, one of the things I noticed in addition to losing a few pounds every summer was the significant drop in my grocery budget. By all accounts, my grocery budget drops a whopping 30% during the summer. I don’t have a garden anywhere near the size of my grandmother’s, but I still manage to grow my own lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green peppers and herbs. The rest of the fruits and veggies I buy at a local farm stand. Without meats to run up the price of groceries, I am able to pad my savings account a little bit more during the summer months.

Do I still have roast chicken on Sundays? Why break tradition. Of course I do, and if I don’t eat it all, I save it to add to some of my vegetable dishes so it never goes to waste.

Happy Savings,

D-Y-I Air Cooler Too Cool For Words!!

With over 2 million views you can probably expect more than a few of these do-it-yourself air coolers are being used somewhere in your community.  This is really “cool” in more ways than one. And for little more than a few dollars, it’s significantly cheaper than an air conditioner. You’ll also save on electricity. My hat’s off to whoever came up with this clever hack.