Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving a Buck

We're newlyweds.  We're creatives.  We're lucky to have good jobs but... we are in that classic 'just starting out' time in our lives where one day, we'll tell our kids and grandkids about all the things we used to do to save a buck.  I know for a fact that my depression-era grandparents had an influence on me, whether it be genetic or just observed.  My dad's mother has even been known to wash ziplock bags and re-use them over and over.  I may not go that far, (even though Tom could talk you ear off about how insanely I conserve papertowels [those things are expensive!!]) I am going to share with you my top list of things that have really saved me a bundle. 
Now, if you are lucky and financially satisfied, then well, this post isn't for you.  But if you too are young and cash poor, starting out, or trying to save, read on!
1) The number one EASIEST way we saved a TON of money in the past year was: committing to making our own coffee at home.  With cups at Dunkin or Quick Check costing around $1.60 a day (times two counting Tom's) we're saving a BUNDLE.  I buy large canisters of our fave blend, Maxwell House Original Roast.  I try to get them at Walmart where they are something like $8 but maybe as much as $11 at the grocery store.  I also go to Party Fair and buy disposable cups.  Now you may be wondering why I don't just use a thermos- even MORE savings.  The answer is... because I simple LOVE being able to throw the thing away and not have to wash out a thermos.  I cannot tell you HOW MANY thermos' I've had to chuck over the years because I start science experiments in them, due to my laziness.  NOT using a thermos is what led me to buying coffee at Dunkin or Quick Check every day in the 1st place.  So, anyway, the cups are $6 for like 100.  The lids are $5 for 100.  You can do the math, but over time.... this is big savings!!

2) Carpooling.  Well, this one I owe to my dear friend Jessi.  Back during Hurricane Sandy we carpooled to our remote office one day.  We only live a few miles from each other, so during that time of gas crisis, we met in the middle and drove together, then switched drivers+cars for the next day.  After Sandy we realized, 'Hey, we can save a buck here'.  It would make me too depressed to sit down and really calculate how much $ I dump into my 50 mile a day commute between gas and tolls but now, it's one less day a week.  We try to carpool on Tuesday and Thursday.  Its been great.  And again, it might not be a lot right now, but over time, it will add up to a nice savings.

3) Ya know how on TV when a chef won't reveal a secret ingredient that makes his recipe so great?  Well, this tip is like that.  From me to you.  SALAD BAR.  I'm only cooking for two right now.  That means that, buying an entire bag of celery or carrots for a recipe means I'm either stressfully trying to think of how to use it up for the rest of the week or, I'm feeling guilty when I don't and throw it away cause its gone bad.  Like I've said in previous posts; I cook healthfully 99% of the time.  And healthfully means produce.  And produce is expensive and perishable.  SO, now I go to the salad bar and make little containers of carrots or cellery or mushrooms or tomatoes (you get the idea) for the just the amount we'll use.  It usually totals somethign around 3 dollars and there will be no waste.  This is HUGE when it comes to bagged spinach/lettuce/arugula.  Those pre-packed bags are a RIP OFF.  Fill a box at the salad bar with spinach- it weighs nothing and you'll pay $1 and change instead of $5+.

4) Not everything is at the salad bar...  some stuff I buy at my favorite produce Market (this should get a # of its own because produce there is SO cheap, but its pretty specific to my town).  If I haven't gotten to something, I'll often cook it up in the evening and then freeze it.  I KNOW you're seeing my Great Depression Era grandmothers in me right now... but what can I say.... I spend enough money on cute things for the house or treats.  I need to save somewhere!

5) I always, always, always check ebay first.  Sneakers, lamps, clothes, vinyl, you name it.  Check ebay first!

6) Never buy custom frames; ever!!  I ALMOST made this fatal error this year when I got a 65% off coupon to Michaels for a custom frame job and i wanted a 23ish" frame.  They quoted me $115 for the simplest frame they had with no matt.  NO NO NO!  Go to Home Goods!  Buy some ugly piece of framed art (I paid $39 for mine), paint the fame if necessary, take out whats in there and swap in the art of your choice.  Voila!

That's all I can think of for now... One day I hope to include saving $ at concerts by sneaking in our drinks in a flask, but I can't get the hubs on board with that one.  Sighhhh....

Until next time... or, we hit the lotto...

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