How do you save money

What are the tips and tricks you’ve picked up over the years that have come in handy when buying goods and services.

I’ve read books like the tightwad gazette, but most of the tips involve things like reusing saran wrap or making your own christmas ornament hooks which never really appealed to me. I’m more interested in general ways to shop for deals.

As an example, you can buy hygiene products at a dollar store for far less than you’d pay at a department store. I got several bottles of generic 'lectric shave doing that for $1 each.

If you need to buy used electronics use craigslist, for new try fatwallet or slickdeals

Books can be had used on amazon or Or you want to wait and don’t need to own it, use the ILL program at the library.

Discount grocers (food4less, save-on, aldi, etc) sometimes have good deals on food

You can get discount donuts around 9pm at gas stations since they are about to throw them away. Some restaurants have good deals near closing since they are just going to throw the food away anyway. Food can be had for half off.

If you eat at a lot of fast food restaurants, buy coupons on ebay and use them (a lot of buy one get one free coupons may run $2). If you like a certain food item and buy it in bulk, buy a lot of coupons for it.

Colleges sometimes give out coupon books with things like $3 haircuts in them.

Goozex is great for getting movies and video games on the cheap. I’ve probably gotten 20 Xbox and PS2 games for under $50 doing that.
Stuff like that. Basically the most important tips you’ve found that let you buy goods/services you enjoy at a discount.
What have you found you can’t save money on? I can’t save money on gas, don’t know how. Unless I buy a better mpg car.

This is what I think about when other people are busy having sex or playing with their kids.

  1. Pasta or rice: on average, they can provide roughly 50% of a meal for about 25-50 cents.

  2. Chewing tobacco: if you smoke, you can save about 25-50% if you chew about half of the times you want to smoke.

The best thing you can do is find the best places to shop in your community. Every area is different but there are typically all kinds of deals to be had. When I was saving for my house, I’d rotate shopping between a bunch of different stores depending on what I wanted.

In my case, I found that Target has the best store brand; Aldi has great deals on staples like canned vegetables and ‘diety’ food on their healthy line; Big Lots is a crapshoot, but can often have huge shipments of good-quality or gourmet food at bargain prices; Costco’s best for decent but cheap produce, as well as frozen fish, cheese, and bakery; Wal-Mart is best for cheap cleaning supplies and brand name groceries; etc. etc. Of course, you don’t go every week to every place. You stagger, combine trips with other errands, that sort of thing.

Likewise, I learned to go beyond the mall for clothes. Lots of little stores had great deals on stuff without the mall premium, but a more diverse selection of a big chain megastore. A lot of the cut rate places (e.g. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory) have really nice stuff, but sometimes you’ll go and there’s nothing good. So it’s a bit time consuming to save money.

One thing I still practice is delayed gratification. My hobby is video games, but I hardly ever pick up new releases; if you wait, every game will drop in price. You don’t even have to wait all that long. You can play good quality games pretty much indefinitely on Steam for very little money if you watch their sales and read reviews. PC gaming is way cheaper than console gaming, I’ve found.

One new thing I’m doing is buying more groceries online. You probably have lots of things that you eat all the time. If you watch, for example, the monthly Amazon deals you can get really great rates on a box full of stuff. Even the regular prices can be good; for example, one tea I really liked was something like $5 a box at the grocery store health market, but I got six boxes from Amazon for $15 shipped.

I also buy nutritional supplements like protein powder online exclusively now – I’ll watch for a good discount code to come up through dealwaiter or something like that, and buy a bunch. Doesn’t make much sense to me to pay $60 for something at GNC when I can buy online for $30 or $35 for the same brand, and have about five times the choices of flavors on top of that!

The biggest thing though is to buy what you need and will use, not just what is a good deal. You can find crazy deals on stuff that will just sit around your house. Try to focus on what you want - rather than just looking at the front page of Slickdeals for the best deals, search the forums for the types of stuff you buy a lot or the stores where you shop. Try to target your deal searches for things you are already going to buy.

Gasoline - I don’t know first hand, but my parents told me they shop at the local Meijer just so they get an additional discount on the gas. Something about using the Meijer card in conjunction with a receipt from inside the store or something like that. So I guess my suggestion is to see if a local big box with a gas station is near you and a similar deal may be available. I don’t think they advertise it.

This really depends on your strategy, lifestyle, and what you consider important. It doesn’t take very much at all to survive on a day to day basis but you have to figure out what really makes you happy. People spend money on lots of things that aren’t really needed just out of habit.

I decided about a year ago that I wasn’t going to buy any more bathroom products until I used the ones that I had. About a year later, I am still using assorted bars of sample soaps and tubes of toothpaste I had built up with no end in sight. I bought a couple of packages of disposable razors and some shampoo and that was about it.

The same is true with food and clothing and other things. If you force yourself to only buy things when you don’t have a choice, you will find that you always have more than you think available.

Those are things that no one else would ever know however unless you tell them. You don’t have to look poor even if you are. I am not poor and I still shop at T.J. Max because even their display things are much cheaper than the regular stores and, if you have time, you can drop in every week or so to shop the clearance racks for super good deals. You can wear designer clothes for less than Wal-Mart pricing if you know how to shop and a male doesn’t really need that many clothes. Go for good deals on classic quality clothing over the easy discount brand in bulk and take care of it.

For electronics, always by refurbished and slightly behind the curve if you can. Refurbished almost always means it was just an open box return and there is nothing wrng with it. You can save big money that way and still have nice things.

Think quality for less and not just cheap and you will be better off.

The Sunday newspaper is usually loaded with coupons. Clip the ones with products you will use. The coupons will tell you the brand name you’ll buy.
On a regular basis you’ll run across coupon “magazines” from P & G and Unilever. These companies produce basic stuff like soap, laundry detergent and other things you use.
When shopping for these items be sure to look for store specials. Buy one Progresso soup, get a second at half price. You get that special, then at the end they scan your Progresso coupon for an additional special.
I’m not as agressive as some coupon clippers I’ve read about, but generally rack up $14 of savings at the grocery. Do it once it’s a wash. Do it every time and you’re on the right road.
Use coupons at places like Target and Petsmart and the store will note that you use them and put you on their mailing list for their own coupons.

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How you save may not be as critical as when you begin to save. I learned that you should begin as soon as possible, preferably before you think you can afford it because usually, you cannot afford to delay. I started in my 20’s and it was one of the wisest and most difficult decisions I ever made. I began with an IRA.

The very FIRST step is to re-evaluate everything you buy. For instance, I don’t buy make up on a regular basis. I do buy lip balm, because that actually helps keep my lips conditioned and my lips will chap and peel and even split without it. And I bought some face powder when I had oral surgery work done and then my face was horribly bruised afterwards (my dentist and the oral surgeon told me to come in through the back door, jokingly. I THINK jokingly). I found that most of my skin problems cleared up when I quit wearing makeup. I don’t buy air fresheners, unless I’m having a serious problem with odor in my house, in which case it’s better to deal with the problem. I rarely buy snack foods or pop, and when I DO buy them, I treat them like rare treats, not just something to eat on a daily basis. I do buy popcorn, which my endocrinologist recommended. I do keep a few cans of regular (non-diet) soda around, to treat low blood sugar episodes. And I do buy the cut and peel carrots, because my husband and I will tend to grab and eat a few if they’re already peeled.

Also, you have to recognize that time has a monetary value. If you’re willing to spend the time browsing in thrift shops and Big Lots and the like, many times you won’t find anything, but occasionally you’ll strike it rich and find JUST what you need or want at an incredible price. But you do need to spend time to find these deals, and you have to be willing to visit these places on a regular basis.

One of the biggest ways to save money is to just quit eating out as much. This means brownbagging your lunch at least as often as you eat out at work, and brownbag your snacks instead of buying them from a machine or from a convenience store.

I avoid buying anything on credit.

I didn’t actually start it as a way to save money but it has.
Use half (or less than) the recommended amount of laundry detergent. Top that up with white vinegar and put more vinegar in the rinse cycle. I tried it first when I was googling ways to clean daughters favorite shirt which was left in a bag with a wet bathing suit. Shirt was restored, nothing smelled like vinegar and I’ve now stopped buying dryer sheets and cut way down on laundry detergent.

Strictly on the money saving front - pay attention to flyers. Around here toilet paper is on sale for 50% off at least one week a month. I like soft toilet paper but there is never a reason to pay full price for it. Watch for things you use and pay attention to the cycles so you can make sure you have enough to get you through to the next one.

Reduce your hobbies and entertainment down to a couple things. You then don’t spend money on 20 hobbies that you hardly ever do. You can even spend a little more on what you keep and still save big time.

I also reserve purchases of non essentials until I’ve shopped all day. I then have to go back to get the item, and usually I decide I could do without it.

I try to buy on for as many things as possible. I’ll save on sales tax. I’ve found the $79 for prime to be worthwhile as I will have everything within two days.

I do almost all my clothes shopping online as well. I file all the discount emails I get so I can take advantage of them when I’m ready to shop. I also know the usual pattern of when certain sites offer their best discounts so I try to shop then.

Thrift stores, flea markets, 2nd hand stores, and other people’s trash. Not only do yu save money, but it is so environmentally friendly.

If you use liquid fabric softener, you only need a fraction of the amount it says to add. If you use fabric softener sheets, you can tear/cut them in thirds and never notice the difference.

Cook beans. From scratch, they’re ridiculously cheap for how much they make. Canned, they’re still a good deal.

You can buy a lot of toiletries on eBay for far less than at the grocery or drug store, and unlike most of the stuff at the dollar store, they’re name-brand (if you care). I go this route for my girly razor blades and hand cream.

Pork loins (not tenderloins) are ridiculously cheap, tasty, lean cuts of meat. They usually sell for about $1.75/pound where I live. You can roast and slice, or slow cook overnight then make pulled pork.

My husband is always keeping an eye out for things people have left on the curb. In the last six months he’s found a great toaster oven, a set of four vintage 50s lab stools (selling $150 each on eBay!), and an expensive espresso machine that just needed to have its guts cleaned out. People throw out all KINDS of good stuff.

Speaking of fancy espresso machines… if you are mechanically-minded enough to periodically pull one apart and clean it out, so that it keeps working for years, they’re very much worth the investment. We have fancy lattes for breakfast and espresso for dinner parties whenever we want… the machines pay for themselves in a matter of months, assuming that without them you’d be buying coffee at Starbucks or whatever. It’s our favorite luxury.

If you have one square meter in which to garden, we think that planting it with half swiss chard and half mixed lettuces is the best possible use of it. You will have a constant supply of green vegetables throughout the growing season.

Your state probably has a use tax rule - you are supposed to pay it even if Amazon doesn’t collect it. Just an FYI - it looks like more states are going to go after use tax for internet purchases in order to try and balance the budget.

(There was a Doper who just got caught with this one recently, but I can’t remember who).

Most of mine have been mentioned. I also like the farmers market, canning at home (the initial investment is pretty high - but I have a LOT of jam and applesauce), rubber chicken (i.e. one chicken for a week to feed a family), taking advantage of store loyalty programs (I don’t do CVS, I know a lot of people who do).

I buy all books at either garage sales or on ebay searching for “lots”. If there is a book I absolutely can’t wait to read, I’ll buy it used an amazon and pay the 3.99 shipping if the price is cheap enough.

I realized that no matter how much I bought I always wanted more.
So mostly I stopped buying unless it was necessary. I have a few items I can’t live without, like my favorite razors. For them I use coupons and use a razor until it just doesn’t cut hair anymore. Months, if I’m careful.

Every red meat I buy is from the bargain bin. I don’t have to eat it so I’m not paying full price, or even sale price. It’s still good if you eat it or freeze it right away. I get great deals on nice cuts of steak that way. Other meats I’ll get at Aldi, where it’s just about the same good deal all the time. I try to shop once a month to avoid stupid craving satisfaction buys.