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!


  1. I think you are doing so many good things already. When I was reading the America's Cheapest Family books I thought about dieting and how really all the weight loss/health/nutrition books can't give too much new info and I'm probably not going to learn anything too life changing in any of them, either. But if you learn 1 or 2 applicable strategies it is worthwhile.
    Some things you are likely already doing but we do, too:
    Store shredded cheese in the freezer and just use from there, also store bread in the freezer. I don't have moldy cheese and bread problems this way.
    Stick flour in the freezer for at least 24 hrs after you buy it so it kills any potential bugs (gross, I know).
    If you don't keep a price book at least try to remember what prices you will buy your most common foods and then stock up. I thought I was getting a good deal on 65 cent creamed soup this summer because it was normally 69 and then it was down to 49 in December and then one week 39 cents...just an example but there are plenty of foods we pay too much for. I went about 2 months without cheese this fall because I was waiting for it to go down to my "buy price." Not what everyone wants to or should do but it works for us.
    We found Forever Bags free after rebate at Menard's and they have been great for letting our bananas last longer. Otherwise I freeze them and make banana oat muffins. Plus once in awhile I can find marked down bananas at the store.
    Speaking of mark downs, ask your grocery people when or if they mark down certain foods. Maybe they don't, ours said they never mark down milk because it sells too fast but it didn't really hurt to ask. They also mark down meat when it's about hitting the last sell-by date and I buy it and then freeze it if it's low enough price. Often it's still too expensive but it has gotten us a few cuts of meat we wouldn't normally buy.
    Eggs are generally a pretty cheap and nutritious source of protein. They also last a long time in the fridge. We have pancakes and eggs for almost every Sunday lunch. (I know some people consider that breakfast food but I grew up eating waffles and pancakes for lunches and sometimes suppers too and I think we did fine).
    I just read a how to stretch a chicken into 6 meals post yesterday and am working on it now. I'll let you know how it goes.

  2. Great tips, Julie! I started a price book a while back, but I need to revise and update it. I can include the pages in my homemaker binder, and it will be really convenient there. Only once in the past 3 years have I found a milk mark-down, but hey, it shaved of a couple dollars that one time! Thanks for all of these. Gotta love sharing ideas!!

  3. Loved the tips. Just read a book a couple of months back that was super helpful with things like this. I store a lot of things in the freezer. I get yogurt super cheep sometimes free when it's on sale...I buy a BUNCH and freeze it! It's yummy frozen and great thawed too! I loved all the gas tips...I didn't know any of them! I will definitely have to start doing the 1/2 full thing. We already fill in the morning...only because Tommy does it on the way to school in the morning!!!!