Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Unusual ways to save money

You’ve all heard the normal money-saving tips: set a budget, buy used, etc. But I want to share some of the more unusual money-saving tips I use. Some of these you may have heard of (or currently use), but they were all new to me until the last year or so.

This company is very interesting. They are a referral company through which you can enter most major online stores. The stores then pay a referral commission to ebates, which splits that commission with you. The result is that you can get 2-6% back on online purchases you would have made anyway. You also get $5 when you sign up. I found this as a referral from a guy who uses it often and has earned hundreds of dollars over the last few years in cash back on purchases he would have made anyway. I just started using it, and although I don’t shop much, a little money back here and there can help. You can even buy Groupons through this site (and if you aren’t using Groupon, you should!)

2) Hang a clothesline
These are not all that uncommon, but I never thought about hanging one up until recently. When my husband said out electricity bill was abnormally high this month, I went to the dollar store and bought a clothesline, a pack of regular clothes pins, and a pack of stronger clothes pins. My husband hung it up on our little porch and it has officially been 4 days since I’ve run my clothes dryer. For $3 in supplies, I have cut our energy savings on 1) the electricity it takes to run the dryer, and 2) the extra air conditioning it takes to counteract the extra heat the dryer pumps into the apartment

These books are available for most US cities. They are large books of coupons and deals in your area. The cost is around $35 ($5 is you sign up for the automatic renewal) but it is full of coupons and deals for dining, shops, entertainment, travel, etc. This was a referral from someone I know who uses these all the time. He said he always makes up the cost of the book multiple times over in discounts. As my book is still in the mail, I will give an update on whether I find this to be a good money-saver or not, but I figure it can’t hurt.

4) Check out the new options at your library
We’ve all heard how great it is the use the library for books, movies, etc. But sometimes it is just too inconvenient. I forced myself to start using my library for movie rentals. I was amazed at what a great selection they had of new and older movies. I also found out recently that my library offers ebooks (kindle/pdf books) online. You can rent up to 10 books at a time on their ebook library. Many libraries are now doing this, so you can just rent books from home to read on your kindle. If you don’t have a kindle (like me) you can just download the Kindle for PC program and read your books off of your computer or laptop. Now that I’ve discovered I can get all the books I want online, I’ve decided to ask my husband for a Kindle this Christmas. I

5) Use less energy
I’ve made little changes to our lifestyle to try to conserve energy. For example, we keep our thermostat very high in the summer (78-80) and very low in the winter (65 or so). Yes, it makes me a little grouchy, but you truly do get used to it after a week or two. In the winter I’ve just learned to put on more layers, and in the summer I have learned the amazing difference a fan makes. A good fan can make an 80 degree room feel 5 or more degrees cooler.
Other simple ways to save energy:
-Use energy efficient lightbulbs. The bulbs pay for themselves in energy savings. I get 4-packs of the energy efficient lightbulbs at Aldi for very cheap. I’ve yet to replace one.
-Wash your clothes with cold water. I always wash my clothes with cold water and on the delicate cycle. If there’s a stain that needs extra attention, I treat it with spot treatment first and still wash it in cold water on the delicate cycle. Believe me, it works fine. My husband wears a white work uniform which gets streaked with grease from the plant where he works, and I manage the stains fine.
-Seal in the heat/AC. Get weather strips for the doors, and buy insulating curtains. When the sun is high, keep the sun from heating up the house by using curtains or blinds.

6) Get rid of your TV service
TV is one of my weaknesses. I enjoy it a lot. But when I take into consideration the money it costs to have it, the time it takes out of my day when I could be more productive, the time it takes away from focusing on my husband, and the worldly morals it infuses into my brain and my home, I just don’t see how I should have it. So my husband and I have not had TV service since we got married, and to be honest, I don’t miss it. If there is a show I do want to watch (the only show I watch is 19 kids and counting), I buy the season on iTunes. Every week the new episode will download automatically, commercial free. It saves me a ton of money, and saves me from having the morality battle every day in my living room.

7) Go vegetarian
Now before you freak out, I’m not saying you need to go COMPLETELY vegetarian. My husband and I decided to go vegetarian half of the week. We eat meat 3-4 dinners per week and we eat vegetarian the rest of the time. This was difficult for my husband to get used to at first, since he is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but I’ve found some cheap, yummy recipes that make us forget about the lack of meat: veggie quesadillas, homemade veggie pizza, beans and rice, veggie soup, spaghetti sauce with no meat and tons of veggies instead, etc. There are so many options, and we’ve seen our grocery bill cut in half. Especially now with average ground beef prices approaching $5 per pound.
This isn’t even taking into account the added health benefits of eating more beans and veggies than meat. In the long run, we will save money on our health as well.

8) Stock up a “gift closet”.
My sister taught me the importance of this. The closet in my guest room has a shelf with gifts I’ve bought over the last year as I found great deals or things on clearance. When I had a 20% off coupon to a store, I went in and scoured the store for clearance and mega-sale items. I ended up buying several yankee candle scented oil diffusers. The diffusers cost $25 each normally, but were on sale for 60% off. I then got another 20% off of that. So I ended up getting each of them for $8. I’ve done this with several items, and now as birthdays come up I always have gifts for people that are nice, but which I paid very little for. My sister and stepmother have birthdays next week and will both be very excited about their gifts, without knowing I got them for very little money. Plan ahead.

9) Get familiar with your dollar store
I’ve written about the dollar store before, and how there are a lot of bad deals there. But there are quite a few great deals there, and I make a monthly trip there to stock up on those deals. For instance, I know my dollar store is the place to buy anything to do with cards, giftwrap, party supplies, balloons, etc. It is also a great place to buy holiday decorations, cleaning supplies, kids puzzles/books/games, hair accessories, and books. I once found a book by an author I love at the dollar store. It would have cost $5.99 new, but instead I got for just $1. I got an 8-pack of very pretty blank cards for just $1 last week.

10) Get involved with Delve, Mysurvey.com, or similar programs
OK technically you aren't saving money here, but have the potential to make a little extra money.
Delve is a market research company which has locations in many large cities around the US. They essentially run market research programs for large companies. For example, they paid me $35 to taste test 2 Wendy”s Frosties in March. Next week they will pay me $40 to taste test take-and-bake potato skins. My survey.com has the same premise. You create an online profile and are given points for doing market research surveys they send to you. My sister has been doing this for years and makes an extra $500 per year filling out online market research surveys, or testing laundry detergent samples they send her, etc.. If you have children and pets in particular, you will have even more opportunity to test things. You then trade your points in for money, gift cards, etc. Be careful here, as they are some shady companies out there, but I can vouch for these two.

Growing Home



  1. Great ideas. I use swagbucks for a little extra money for me. These are definitely helpful tips though. I'd love to have you link this up to Titus 2 Tuesdays on Cornerstone Confessions. Hopping over from Growing Home.

  2. Hi Amy,
    Uesful tips you sared here. Thanks for these great ideas.
    Your new follower from Teach me Tuesday.

  3. I've thought about doing those online survey things. Now I might just give it a try! Thanks for these ideas!

  4. Great suggestions! I grew up with my mom always having a "gift shelf" and not only did it save money, but it was also nice to always have items around for last minute birthday or hostess gifts.

  5. Thank you for the comment in my post! Losing weight is VERY hard-I give in way too easily to snacking when I'm bored. I'm trying to break that habit though! What is your username on MFP? I *think* I'm xmydearambellina on there.

    These are great tips too-some of them I've heard before, but some I haven't thought of. I did recently discover the joys of buying cards from the Dollar Tree and stocked up on them. That is probably one of my favorite stores to shop at.


  6. Hi, Amy
    I Love your ideas. One of the things we do to save money when traveling by road is to avoid stopping for food or drinks. I always spend the day before the trip packing the cooler full of drinks, snacks and meals . We will be going to Orlando this year instead of eating out everyday, we will rent a villa that comes with a full kitchen. Another idea that save money is to buy clothes off season, I recently bought 40 dollars worth of winter accessories for 7 bucks.

  7. I love putting my clothes on the line to dry!!! We live in a teeny apartment, but we are so lucky to have a little porch to put a line up!

  8. Yay! glad to know I'm half way there lol. We don't have a clothes line, but that is because of the dog :) Ebates is the best and as far as a gift closet, well mine is stuffed :) found you via last week's Teach me Tuesdays and am following you now!

  9. These are some good tips- thank you for sharing! I need to work on the AC/heat and using our fans more. Our main living area did not have a fan, so we bought a vintage looking one from Wal-Mart that plugs into the wall and has a stand and it helps so much! I'm also planning to get a laundry line soon. This got my frugal juices flowing :)

    Blessings, Nicole

  10. Great ideas! We already do some of them. But I hadn't heard of the great survey websites which is a way that I can make a few extra dollars being that I'm at home. I really enjoy reading your blog!

  11. Those are great ideas! We do lots of them already, but I had no idea about those websites. Those are great ideas, being that I am at home and can earn a few extra $$$ right from home!

  12. I was trying to check into "Delve" ~ I'm not having any luck! :( Wonderful article!

    1. Hi Tamara! Check out this website: http://www.delve.com/

      They are only in certain cities, but there are many other companies who do similar things. They are called market research firms. I cannot vouch for them, but you might want to look into them.

    2. Thank you Amy! :)


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