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Your Take: Your Best Money Saving Tip

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Cat Sniffing A Coin JarNear the end of last year, I put together a list of 100 money saving tips that became very popular. The post itself took quite a bit of time but in the end was worth it for me because I picked up a few ideas I hadn’t thought of beforehand or just recently hadn’t done. For example, after writing that, I looked at tip #22 and realized I hadn’t checked my car’s tire pressure lately. Almost that day, I eye-balled my tires and saw that one of them was a little low. I took it over to Costco because the tires had nitrogen (you can add regular air too, but we were going to Costco anyway) and they discovered that the valve was broken and had to be replaced (gratis of course, Costco is wonderful!). That little trip saved us a little bit of money and a lot of headache down the road.

So I’m curious, what is your best money saving tip? If your friend, as I hope I am, walked up to you and asked you for the best idea you had for saving money, what would you tell them? It’s perfectly OK if that tip is one of the ones on that list, I’d still like to hear it and how you’ve saved with it. It’s OK if it’s an “obvious” tip, because we see obvious tips every day that we never think about (like checking tire pressure!).

What is your best money saving tip? Let’s have it! :)

Heck, just to juice it up a little, a $20 Starbucks gift card to the person with the best tip as chosen by me. Contest ends next Friday, January 23rd, at noon. Void where prohibited.

Congratulations to Lauren (Comment submitted at 01/16/2009 at 2:28pm), winner of the $20 Starbucks gift card! Please feel free to continue leaving tips but the contest has ended.

(Photo: formatc1)

{ 118 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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118 Responses to “Your Take: Your Best Money Saving Tip”

  1. If you must eat out, eat at a place where you don’t have to tip.

    Keep all short term savings in an online savings account.

    Get groceries at Wal-Mart.

    Do all shopping online, use coupon codes (25% off Crocs!).

    • cc says:

      Curbside is the best. We save a ton of money at Outback this way. We both order a steak but no appetizer or drinks saves a ton! We tip the person a couple of bucks for getting it all together!

  2. Lauren says:

    Figure out your true “take home” pay per hour, and use that to decide whether or not to spend money on a discretionary item. Most people don’t stop to think that, because of taxes, they have to work 90 minutes or longer to have enough take home pay equal to one hour of their wage rate. If you realize you will have to work an extra two hours in order to afford that book, restaurant meal, or video game, you might decide to make do with the library, the kitchen, or a game you already have. The best savings come from money you never spend.

    I learned this concept from the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. In it, they talked about calculating how much you have to work to earn enough take home pay to buy something. A great lesson for all of us.

    Another favorite tip, for the finance section, is to recognize the true cost of buying something “on sale” particularly if a credit card is involved. If you buy something that is 10% off, but finance it on a 18% credit card, you are really paying 8% more.

    If you can’t pay your credit card balance in full every month, then stop using them for anything, and spread out your credit card payments into smaller, more frequent payments. For example, if you plan to pay $200 for the month, pay $50 each week electronically. The faster payments lower your average balance and therefore your interest costs. And, most people are more likely to pay the full $200 if it is split up, rather than diverting it to something else because $200 is “too big”.

    Finally, if you find a coupon for an item you buy frequently, and can get more than one coupon, use it on a small package of the item. It has a much greater percentage discount than one coupon on a big package.

  3. Darin H says:

    Live in a small town that is far away from shopping, you don’t go nearly as often as when you live(d) in the big city.

    • Kim says:

      That is not true if you live in a part of the city that doesn’t have a lot of clothing or other stores outside of necessities. The area where I live in Brooklyn is heavy on dollar stores, so even if I am tempted, the damage will be pretty minimal.

  4. Travis @ CMM says:

    It wasn’t until I started setting financial goals that I began watching what I spent. Before then I’d spend money just because I had it. But by setting long term goals it gives me a reason to keep that money in the bank where it can work for me.

  5. Margie says:

    My best money saving tip: Don’t throw food away! This is so easy anyone can do it and saves a lot of money. We have pork roast one night, leftovers make tacos, enchiladas, and sandwiches. The same with beef roast. Leftover chicken is used in soup or chicken pot pie. Stale bread becomes bread pudding or is used in an egg and sausage casserole. Rice is used in fried rice, Spanish rice, rice pudding, or soup. By using a little imagination, it really doesn’t seem like you’re having leftovers.

  6. K.L. says:

    If you have your own house then plant fruit trees along the walls in your backyard. Once they are established they need very little care. I have more than 20 fruit trees of different kinds and I get plenty of fruits. Some trees like apple, citrus, persimmon and figs are heavy bearers. If your backyard is small then get the dwarf types.

  7. Arvee says:

     Cut the cable. Go to the library for the CD and books
     Combine family phone with T-mobile @home service. You save on the land line as well as use WiFi instead of air time minutes while at home or other T-Mobile hotspots.

     Do laundry every other week. Try to line dry them. (if possible) I line dry jeans, towels and bed sheets etc (ticker ones)

     Use plastic grocery bags as trash bags (you may have to buy a small trash can that can use the grocery bag)

     Try to recycle milk cans, junk mail other recyclable trash as much as possible instead stuffing up the trash bags. You can save the environment as well as trash bags.

     Use hand napkins to wipe your hands instead of paper napkins. Use one member per family for the hygiene.

     I use discover and order gift cards with my rewards (Typically get $25 one with $20 rewards) use that gift card for birthday gifts.

     If you own a home: Opt out (if possible) of escrow. But do religiously month escrow your self into ING so that you can keep the money and earn interest on it. Down side: You have to really be disciplined and do not forget the taxes.

     Apply discover 5% cash back card on Gas. If you already have a regular discover card call them and ask them if they can add 5% gas benefit to your account. They did for me. But there is monthly limit of $100. Other wise try to apply Visa from PenFed. They give 5% on all gas no monthly limit also 1.25% on all purchases. They credit the monthly statement. No rewards to accumulate.

     Try to turn off the lights in the rooms that you are in there. Do you really need a light in the bath room except while shaving or doing make up?

     Teach your children to turn off the lights after they are done with the bath room or get out of their bed rooms etc.

     If you have a small family and you all sleep on one room then turn the thermostat down couple degrees and use portable heater. But be careful if you have infants or toddlers in the house.

     Pay bills online so that you save on checks and stamps. I never receive a single bill on the mail except my property tax.

  8. db says:

    Wait, you’re giving away a Starbucks gift card for the best money saving tip? I sure hope you can see the irony in that :)

    • jim says:

      You’re the first to mention it. :)

      I bought a bunch from Costco to give away to readers, so far everyone has said thanks but you’re the first to mention the irony. Thankfully you can buy coffee beans there so it’s not all for naught!

      • Joyce says:

        And if you register your Starbucks gift card at Starbucks.com, when you buy that bag of coffee beans, you get a free tall coffee, too!

  9. Save money when baking by using powdered milk – not fresh milk!!

    Save money when drinking by mixing half powdered milk with half fresh milk!

  10. Justin says:

    Need an oil change? Can’t do it yourself? That’s ok because this tip can still save you money! You can purchase your own oil and oil filters while on sale and take them to the shop of your choice to do the work. This will ensure your vehicle is getting quality products & you only have to pay for the labor. And decline the air filter. You can do this one yourself for half the cost.

  11. Matt says:

    I suggest that you keep a great relationship with your folks so you can move back in with them and rent our your house/condo and payoff your mortgage. I recently gave myself a raise of $1,900/month by moving in with my folks so I can payoff my mortgage. Parents may be a little squimish about lending you money to pay down debt, but they will be more happy to give you their space. I figure I will pay off my $420,000 Mortgage in 7 years (instead of 30).

    Good plan especially in a bad economy.

  12. Lou says:

    1) Never use fresh milk products in casseroles, cooked dishes. Evaporated milk exchanges: full strength=heavy cream;
    add 50% water=half½
    add equal part water=skim milk.
    2) ALWAYS save the max in an employer-matched program. That’s an immediate 100% return on investment
    3) Use a payroll savings plan, so you never see the money
    4) For women, skip manicures, pedicures and hair color. Keep nails clean & use clear polish. BUT spend for the best haircut you can afford. This saves money & time, at the beauty shop & at home, as a really good haircut won’t need gels, sprays or fussing.

    • jim says:

      Yes, always get the max in employer-matched retirement programs… there is no such thing as a free lunch, except that.

  13. Perry says:

    This month I would go to Circuit City to get in on the liquidation sale and sell some items on ebay!

  14. mbhunter says:

    Buy used whenever it makes sense!

  15. Andrea says:

    When I really think about it my best money saving strategy and time saving strategy as a stay at home mom is to use the library. Really, it’s interlibrary loan that makes my day. It’s free and I can order online up to 15 requests at one time. They get them from at least 10 other libraries around the state (MN).

    Then when they come in they put them on hold for me to just come in and pick up, so so nice when I have a squirrely young child with me. I can also get children’s videos for free- love the signing time videos! If there is a book I really really like I can then buy it for cheap on half.com or amazon.com used books.

  16. Steve Austin says:

    1. If you have 2 cats buy 1 larger dose of Frontline for dogs and split it. You will save considerably.

    2. If you are buying new furniture, visit showrooms around you, note the make and model of the items you like and then find a place in North Carolina that will provide you with a serious discount. You can save 1000′s this way. If you find someone who tells you “this is the price, but you have to buy right now” keep moving along. You will find it cheaper out there and the good companies do not pressure you.

    3. Same for Appliances, there are these no showroom/direct buy places all over. I saved 700 dollars on a new washer/dryer. If you gawk at the first price they give you, “ahhhh, that is expensive”, you have a good chance of getting more knocked off your bill.

    4. Use Google to fix your home appliances. By typing in any error code the machine displays – you will find a site that discusses how to fix it. My washing machine had a clogged filter and the error code brought me to fixya.com. The discussion there convinced me that all I had to do was remove 3 screws and I could easily unclog the filter – saved at least $150 on a service call.

  17. Brandon says:

    This may not be the best money saving tip but one that I use at least weekly.

    Buying an entertainment book for your area only cost me $15 and this had already been paid back to me within the use of 2 coupons. Any special occasion where you take someone out to eat there is always a buy one get one free coupon. This can save you anywhere from $5 to $20/piece. As well as car services, retail coupons and so on…

    for $15 you cannot beat the savings. Its almost a game to me anymore seeing how much I can save by using this for things that I’d normally do.

  18. Rob says:

    The number one way I save money is to drive a beater. I’ve got a 1999 Subaru that I bought newly used in 2000. I’ve dropped collision and comprehensive and just do the minimum maintenance to keep it running and roadworthy. If you live in a state that taxes your car value (like VA), then you save money there as well. Who are you trying to impress anyway?

  19. cc says:

    I am not sure if anyone has posted this one already but my husband recently read about someone who cut their cable bill by signing up for netflix online and then hooking up the xbox 360 or your computer to the tv to watch the movies. A lot of tv shows are online now too.

  20. cc says:

    I do 2 savings accts – 1 is for things I know I will need ot pay for this year like car ins, homeowners ins, hair cuts, a vacation I am planning, car registration, anything I know that will be spent this year for sure. I break the costs up over the year and have it automatially transferred from checking to savings each paycheck. As I need to pay for the item I just take it out. The other savings account is the one that I cannot touch! Having 2 way when the little savings acct goes up and down, I am OK with it but as I see the other savings acct get bigger, I do not want to see it go down so I do not touch it.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    This has probably been mentioned, but good, old fashioned coupons. Using couponmom.com, which is free, I am able to see all the weekly grocery and drug store flyers in one place (and save $2 but not having to buy our Sunday paper unless there are coupons for products I use that will save me more than $2) then make my shopping lists and go from there. I had to visit 2 grocery stores and 1 drug store in one week, but saved almost $40 off a $90 grocery + household items bill. Stocked on toilet paper and staples for less than Costco or Sams without the annual fees.

    Occasional promotions with restaurant.com are posted too. Purchased $70 worth of restaurant gift certificates for places we patronize for $6.60 before Christmas. Even with restrictions and minimum purchases some restaurants apply, we save at least 50% on total bills when we eat out with these certificates. They also make decent gifts!

  22. laura says:

    Cancel cable- or never subscribe to it in the first place. I grew up without it, and since I got my own place after college, haven’t gotten cable or satellite TV.

    I was at my parent’s this weekend, and found that there just wasn’t much on, even with digital cable. I mostly sat around watching reruns of Anthony Bourdain!

    I find that for the few shows that I do enjoy that are on cable- Battlestar Galactica, Project Runway, Weeds, etc.- I will either watch them online or wait for the series DVD and get it through Netflix.

    As for the lack of a DVR/TiVo- this is tough, because I travel and have two jobs, so I miss many episodes. But every network show I watch, save one, has free episodes online. I can catch up that way- pretty much free, as I need an internet connection for my job anyway.

  23. Ken says:

    Except for ditching cable I do almost all of the things already mentioned. Allowances, pay ourselves first, Rewards credit cards, coupons, DIY oil changes, household repairs, buy online (with promotional codes), contribute max for company match in 401k, etc.

    So my contribution will be to teach your children financial responsibility. This has the potential to save you thousands in future “bailouts”. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that when they go out into the world they will have the tools to take care of themselves financially.

    Our kids get an allowance and they are responsible for all of their “extras”. This includes buying lunches at school, movies, school dances, etc. We have defined budgeted amounts for clothing. If they want expensive clothes or shoes they are responsible for the difference in the cost and our defined budget amount that we pay for.

    It’s amazing how thrifty they become when it’s their money! At first they had no interest in finding coupons, online promotional codes or packing their lunches. Their allowances disappeared fast and they did not save for unexpected wants/needs.

    Now they comparison shop, look for 10% off and free shipping and save for the unexpected. Or they buy less expensive shoes so they can afford that new game or skateboard.

    They have even found deals for me!

  24. Jon says:

    Give up a vice. Smoking may be fun, but is expensive and unhealthy (obviously). I hope to quit soon.

    Jon

  25. harleyblues says:

    Hello Jim!

    I happened to stumble upon your blog when researching for a NEW bank. I’m tired of WAMU now CHASE, who have now closed secured credit card accts. (which I happened to find out about 1/2 hour ago~)

    Anyhow I have a few tips..

    1. If your employer is linked with any type of bank, have a small portion deducted from your pay check and deposited into a fund. You will never miss this money at all~ I have $25 deducted bi-weekly, use this money for fun or emergencies, examples:

    I have used this money for 3 major car repairs,(yikes)a vet bill and a trip to Europe to see Paul McCartney live in concert. YES!

    I swear, it ads up fast I’m talkin $1000′s of $$! and I still have money saved. just deposit and forget get it. I have been grateful in recent years for this fund, as I do not use it daily-

    2. have a small percentage dect. from your paychecks into a 401k this also ads up and you’ll never miss it!

    3. don’t use ATM’s for cash!! I have learned the hard way and the fees ad up $2 a pop!

    4. Get rid of your land line at home and use a cell phone.

    Wow, I am a great saver lol..

    Jim, I like your webby/blog so much I think I’ll ad you to my own blog..ps If chosen, can I have Jamba Juice instead of Starbucks? I really don’t care for their coffee~

    Thanx and have a brilliant day!
    hb~


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