Thursday, January 27, 2011

What If I'm Already Doing All of That?

I love to read blogs, books, and articles about saving money. I'm always hunting for new ideas to try and creative tips to incorporate in my spending and saving habits. More often than not, though, I'm disappointed by what I read. It's not that the information is poor; rather, I either find suggestions that I'm already following, or the ideas are just not practical for my specific situation. My guess is that I'm not the only one who encounters these difficulties.

Occasionally, though, I come across a recommendation that I'm not currently incorporating. I thought I'd share them in one concise email in the hopes of helping others find some not-so-obvious ways of stashing away a few more cents here and there. They certainly won't make you millionaires overnight. But, over time, each might generate a few spare dollars over time.

These ideas are certainly not new to me. Most come from online blogs, forwarded emails, or Amy Dacyczyn's book The Tightwad Gazette. So, in no apparent order or creative fashion, here we go:

1. Fill up your gas tank in the early mornings whenever possible. Gasoline expands as it heats up, and pumps do not account for this. Theoretically, you'll get richer, higher quality gas in the coolness of the morning.

2. Also fill up when your tank is only half empty. Since gasoline evaporates more quickly when the tank is emptier, you'll lose less gas to evaporation if you keep it filled up.

3. If time allows, you can do a Google search to find out which nearby gas station is offering the best prices at the time. I can't always do this, but when time allows, it's nice to know that I'm getting the best deal.

4. If you purchase bagged produce at a set price, weigh various bags and get the biggest one. Even if you're only getting one that's a few ounces heavier, you're still getting more for your money.

5. Mark the date on your shampoo, toothpaste, detergent, etc. when you open each one and see how long it takes to consume them. Record the length of time it took on the next bottle, and try to extend the life of the second one past the first.

6. Experiment with using less than the recommended portions of dish and laundry detergent. Many times, we just fill up the washers' cups without realizing that many machines are actually designed to use less. Just be sure you're really getting things clean; no one wants to eat off of a dirty dish! :)

7. Those who make their own bread know that homemade bread is horribly crumbly (if yours isn't, I need your recipe!). When you're ready to slice up your loaf, cut the entire loaf at once on a clean cutting board. Scrape all the crumbs into a jar and let them dry out. Voila! Instant, free breadcrumbs to use in meatloafs, casseroles, and other dishes.

8. Another drawback to homemade bread is the fact that the stuff goes stale in about 24 hours. Many households simply can't finish off an entire loaf in that time, so repurpose the remaining unappetizing portions. Breakfast casserole, bread pudding, French Toast, bread pizza, and homemade croutons are all ideas to try.

For what they're worth, those are some of the less popular suggestions that I really liked. I can't always get every coupon deal; I don't have the storage space to stock up on excess supplies; and I can only cut so much from our expenses. But these things are a bit novel and can be fun at the same time. I love not spending money on bread crumbs, and I love keeping more of my gas money in my envelope!

I'd also welcome any other remote money saving ideas. Feel free to comment and suggest away!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Frugal Flop

I thought I had a great, fiscally-savvy idea. Why not make the kids some play clothes/sleepwear? They really needed some, we needed to save money, and on top of that, it looked fun and easy (thanks to the tutorial at The result is pictured above (I haven't made Lauren's yet).

Truth be told, I think they're kinda cute. So how on earth was this a frugal flop? Let me count the ways!

1. I didn't end up saving much money.

2. They were NOT easy to make.

3. Foam stickers affixed to the fleece do NOT come off easily.

4. After just one day of use, the fleece showed significant wear, so I'm thinking they won't last very long.

5. The fleece is really warm, but the tee-shirt portion is really thin, so the kids are often uncomfortable temperature-wise.

6. Little boys don't keep white clothing very white.

As I said, these are cute, and the boys really like them. But those are about the only two positives. Live and learn, I guess!