Wednesday, February 3, 2010

100 Ways to Lower Your Expenses

Thinking back on the wild spending '90s, I seriously am appalled by how much money I frivolously threw away. If I could only get that money back, I would be out of debt and probably fairly well to do right now. If you are playing catch up, like me, here are 100 ways to hold on to more of your hard earned money.
  1. Color your hair at home. It's easier than you think.

  2. Find a lower cost place to get your hair cut. You may need to try a few places until you find a great hair cutter.

  3. Do your manicures and pedicures at home.

  4. Eat at home instead of restaurants.

  5. Brown bag your lunch and snacks every day.

  6. Skip the fancy coffee and make a pot at home.

  7. Switch to lower cost makeup (ie: Maybelline or Cover Girl) instead of the pricey department store variety.

  8. Use cloth diapers instead of disposables.

  9. Clean your own home instead of having a housekeeper.

  10. Do your own yard work instead of having a gardener.

  11. Pay off your debts and stay debt free.

  12. Refinance your home to a lower interest rate (and a shorter term if possible).

  13. Buy your clothes at thrift stores.

  14. Cancel garbage service if possible, and process your own garbage (compost, recycle, etc).

  15. Walk instead of driving, if it is too far, take the city bus or carpool.

  16. Choose the minimum cable package you can live with. Better yet, cut out TV all together.

  17. Cancel your home phone and use your cell.

  18. Lower your electric, gas, and water bill by reducing the amount of these products that you use.

  19. Use coupons as much as possible (but only for things you absolutely need).

  20. Haggle for items you are going to buy, even in big box and department stores.

  21. Try renting instead of buying if this works out better financially.

  22. Share larger purchases with friends and neighbors (everything from 50 pound bags of rice to lawnmowers).

  23. Use the library instead of bookstores and movie rental places.

  24. Trade like for like items with friends and relatives (everything from clothes to videos to babysitting).

  25. Rent out a room in your house.

  26. Always ask for discounts (ie: AAA, Costco, military, senior, etc).

  27. Take advantage of free stuff (ie: free smoke detectors from the fire department, free flu shots from the health department, free lectures at the library, free entrance nights at the museum).

  28. If you have a bad habit (smoking, drinking, etc), quit.

  29. Switch to cheaper hobbies (instead of golf, try walking; instead of skating, try swimming).

  30. Annually, review all of your bills and look for ways to reduce them (ie: drop the comprehensive coverage on your old car, compare cell plans and choose the most cost efficient one).

  31. Rent movies instead of going to first run shows. Better yet, wait until they are free on TV or cable.

  32. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

  33. Do your own repairs instead of hiring out the work.

  34. When grocery shopping, skip the over processed stuff and buy basic food (grains, meats, veggies, fruit).

  35. Switch to being a one car family. It can be done.

  36. Instead of funding the entire family reunion, make it a BYOB and potluck.

  37. Put the kids in public school instead of private school.

  38. Repair your clothes instead of tossing them (polish shoes, sew ripped seams, etc).

  39. Play poker for free online instead of going to the casino.

  40. Shop for--and stock up on--items when they are on sale (ie: school supplies in August, summer clothing in the fall).

  41. Make the kids earn their own spending money as soon as they are able to.

  42. Plan--and do as much work as possible for--your events such as parties, weddings, etc.

  43. Reduce the number of animals you have.

  44. Research, and sign up for) all of the benefits you are entitled to (military, unemployment, social service, etc).

  45. Combine your errands and only do them once a week.

  46. Shop monthly instead of weekly or every few days.

  47. Ditch the expensive designer perfume for fragranced lotion (a la Bath and Body works).

  48. Make your own baby food.

  49. Use a Diva Cup or similar device instead of tampons or pads.

  50. Buy party items (cards, wrap, bows, etc) at the Dollar Store.

  51. Shop garage sales instead of mall sales.

  52. Reduce the number of toys you buy for your kids and encourage the use of their imagination and creativity (big cardboard boxes and "forts" built out of blankets can be just as much fun as expensive plastic toys).

  53. Wash your own car instead of taking it to the car wash.

  54. Make your own treats (cookies, cake, popcorn) instead of buying these items.

  55. Use rags instead of paper towels.

  56. Make your own cleaning products (vinegar and baking soda based) instead of buying expensive cleaning products.

  57. Look for ways to get the things you want free (ie: be the bowling league secretary in exchange for free bowling fees, be an usher at the symphony so you can watch the show for free).

  58. Use Freecycle!

  59. Minimize the number of items you have/use (five good shirts instead of 20 so so shirts, two hair products instead of 10).

  60. Use natural air fresheners instead of chemical air fresheners (better yet, just open all of the windows each day).

  61. Look at all of your birth control options for both effectiveness AND cost effectiveness.

  62. Pay your bills online instead of using checks and stamps.

  63. Shop ethnic stores--prices on staples, spices, and vegies are often cheaper.

  64. Exercise and eat right every day to keep your medical costs down.

  65. Switch to cost saving vacations such as camping instead of jet-setting.

  66. Send gift cards for presents instead of bulky, expensive to mail items.

  67. Pay your bills annually (insurance, etc) if you can get a discount.

  68. Process your own food--freeze, can, dry, jelly--if you can get it in bulk at a good price.

  69. Switch to lower cost pet food instead of the premium stuff.

  70. Treat your own basic illnesses with old fashioned common sense (lots of rest, soup, Vitamin C, lots of liquids).

  71. If you see a better advertised deal for new customers such as for cable or cell phones, call and ask for the same deal even if you are a current customer (stress your long history with the company, etc).

  72. Stay home as much as possible. Leaving home often equates to spending money.

  73. Sell your house and buy something smaller (McMansions are so passe).

  74. If you really want to cut your housing expenses, look for options to trade your services (caring for the elderly, yard work, etc) for room and board or even just room.

  75. Cancel subscriptions (newspapers, magazines) and read these items online.

  76. Barter for services you would otherwise pay for (plumbing work for dental work, car work for landscaping).

  77. Never drive drunk, do drugs, or anything else that will put you at the mercy of the court system. If this has already happened, pay off your court fees/fines ASAP, using community service if possible.

  78. Skip the gym membership and walk around your neighborhood/mall/park.

  79. Skip the high priced counselor (if possible) and join support groups (AA, Compassionate Friends, etc).

  80. Skip the beverages and drink water, both at home and in restaurants.

  81. Buy products that fit your needs, not the latest styles (ie: if you only need a music player and not all the bells and whistles, buy a MP3 player instead of an iTouch).

  82. Heat only the room(s) you are using. Turn the house heat on 55 when you are in your bedroom and use a small space heater to heat only your bedroom.

  83. Participate in activities at discounted times (ie: our skating rinks have $1 night and 'cheap skate' nights, if you must go to a movie go during the matinee instead of paying full price).

  84. Instead of expensive gifts, give services and experiences. Take your nephew skating, give free babysitting certificates to new parents, etc.

  85. Dress classically with a bit of flair instead of following every single trend (you'll look better in pictures 20 years from now too!).

  86. Look for free education opportunities: scholarships, grants, free community classes, colleges that offer free tuition, etc.

  87. Instead of organized tours when you go on vacation, strike out on your own by taking public transit, eating in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and asking the locals about things to do.

  88. Have one stay at home parent to save on childcare, transportation, work-related expenses, etc.

  89. Choose where you live based on how much money you can save (near to work reduces the commute cost, in an area with good schools reduced the need for private schools, in a safe area will allow you to walk/exercise outside instead of worrying about your safety, in a safe neighborhood means you may not need bars on your windows and a security system).

  90. Decorate your home with thrift stores finds, home made items (your own artwork), and stuff on sale from Ross or TJ Maxx or Big Lots.

  91. Skip things that may have a negative effect on your body (tattoos, tanning beds, junk food, etc).

  92. Reduce stress which can induce illness. Do some stretches, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, etc.

  93. Set boundaries with people if necessary (boyfriends that are perpetually sponging off of you, siblings that take advantage of you AND take you money, friends that need everything from a place to stay to bail money, etc).

  94. Skip the enhancements: fake boobs, fake hair, fake tan, botox, face lifts, a new nose when your old nose is fine, fake nails...

  95. Re-do instead of buying new: reupholster your couch, paint a dresser to match the new decor instead of buying a new one, tune up your old bike instead of getting a new one, etc.

  96. Drop the drama--divorce, affairs, hiding financial problems, having a bunch of kids with random women--all cause you to lose money, not to mention create a massive amount of stress.

  97. Buy store brands when possible (they are often cheaper and taste the same--sometimes even better--than name brand items).

  98. Pay cash for your cars, NEVER get on a payment plan. If you can only afford a $1000 car then you can only afford a $1,000 car. You can upgrade when you save more money.

  99. Tax shelter you savings by investing in a Roth IRA, 403b, 401k, etc.

  100. Be happy, be a minimalist.


  1. Karen Peissinger-VenhausFebruary 4, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Another excellent and compelling listing, Ms. C.O.L.! Thank you!

    I would encourage women to consider the need for makeup and hair color. We should be appreciative of our individual beauty without embellishment. Besides, hair color is damaging to the hair, and makeup can damage skin. Also, it is possible to have a hairstylist create a hair style based on your hair type and face shape that does not require all sorts of products and implements. It takes courage to try these ideas so implement them one at a time with the support of friends and family. This totally meshes with #100 :-)

    RE: #49 - I can attest to the ease of use, effectiveness, and durability of the Diva cup. I have been a happy user since May 2008. And, I am happy to report that I have not had an "accident" while using it.

  2. Hats off to you for a great list of savings. At my typing speed it could have taken days. Great job!

  3. Thanx Ken.
    Also, thanx for the info on #49 Karen. I have never tried this device but have been seriously thinking about it (just too chicken to try!).

  4. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!

    I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later on. Cheers