The Trash Tells Secrets!
Look in your garbage to see what you are throwing out. I realized I was throwing away a lot of paper towels. So I bought a bunch of white wash clothes and use those to clean. I can throw them in with any load of laundry, and I line dry them. The same was true with resealable bags. I switched to reusable plastic containers.
Expiring Gift Card Reminder
I had a gift card that was almost ready to expire before I received it as a gift. Instead of using it before I was really ready, I went to the restaurant and "bought" two smaller gift cards. I used these as teacher and bus driver gifts since it was a lunch place also. Some gift cards no longer "expire," but call the 1-800 number on the back of the card to be sure.
I have granite counter tops and the cleaner is expensive. I have found that if you purchase rubbing alcohol and put it in a spray bottle, it cleans the counter tops without streaks and leaves a nice shine. I just wipe it off with a paper towel.
We live in a relatively new development with all new homes. Consequently there is a lot of landscaping to be done. My neighbor had so many great trees that I made a point to ask where he did his shopping for them. He said that at the end of the season, one of the local nurseries has an auction each year to deplete their inventory. He has been able to get terrific buys on trees and shrubs. I am planning to go this year in the hopes of snagging some buys to fill out my landscaping.
Automatic Charge Control
For purchases that automatically charge your credit card, I have a prepaid American Express card, purchased at the grocery store for $5 over the card amount. Any company that tries to automatically renew a program or a purchase without my permission will find the account no longer exists. I keep several of these cards available all the time. The small cost of them has saved me hundreds of dollars over the past year or two, and it's probably cheaper than the interest I would pay on a bankcard, and definitely cheaper than an overdraft fee.
Grocery Scanning Errors
I stay in control of my money by watching the item prices I am charged when I buy groceries. At almost every trip, I need to ask the clerk politely to stop and verify the price I was charged since the tag on the bin had a different price. There are many reasons an item will scan incorrectly, and if you keep up with it, the savings can make a difference. I turn the cost counter to face me so I can see what I get charged for each item. It is important to be kind to the checker. The error is rarely ever their fault.
Watch for Ripeness
Many of you may be trying to save money by buying fresh fruit and vegetables at your local farmers market. When you see all that luscious locally grown produce, you may be tempted to stock up. However, I'd caution you not to overbuy. Remember that your local produce is picked much closer to peak ripeness, so it will be overripe much more quickly. For example, the cantaloupes shipped from far away that are in your local supermarket may need to be left out for nearly a week waiting for them to ripen. But fruit from your local farmers market may be overripe within a few days. Of course, you can use overripe fruit in smoothies, fruit breads, etc., but it's better to buy what you'll use within a few days to minimize waste.
When you're making a real effort to cut back on your spending through canny shopping, it can be really worthwhile to keep a written record of the savings you make. I have kept a small hardback book for this purpose for several years now. Every time I buy something on sale in a shop, I record in this book exactly how many dollars I have saved. If I purchase insurance from a cheaper supplier than previously, or if I negotiate a discount in a store, you guessed it, it all gets written in the book.
In case it sounds like a chore, believe me that the satisfaction I receive when reading back through my small, but numerous savings far outweighs the trouble of recording it. On the occasions that I read back all my savings, I realize that all my daily efforts to be frugal and careful with money really do pay off and it is a very satisfying feeling.
Sarah in England, UK
Taking a few minutes every evening to plan for the next day has saved me thousands of dollars and untold stress over the years. I plan what I'll cook for dinner the following day, saving a last-minute dash to the store or the decision to order out because I'm too tired to decide what to cook. If I know I'm going to be especially pressed for time, I can put something in the slow cooker in the morning or thaw a casserole from the freezer. If I have more time, I can double a dish, freeze half, and know I'll have something to turn to on busy days.
I take a look at my schedule and plan to group errands to save time and gas. If I'm likely to be out at lunchtime or in late afternoon, I pack a snack, saving me a trip through the fast food drive through. I take a bottle of water with me, saving me from a stop to buy a drink.
I look at the week ahead, too. Is there a birthday or other occasion I need a gift for? An appointment I need to make? A bill I need to pay? This helps me avoid late fees or last minute dashes to buy something. Now I can take the time to look for something on sale, or even to make a gift or card.
Five or ten minutes thinking about the day and week ahead every night saves me countless dollars and untold stress.
(end Dollar Stretcher Tips)