February is over and I'm ready to go over what little lessons I have learned this last month. It has been quite a month, most recently is that I have been fighting with my cold

1. I love "taste guarantees" on packaging - I've gotten a free can of Progresso soup (the split pea wasn't that great) and a protein bar from this. It wasn't any great amount of refund in each.
Learned: Take the companies up on their refunds if you don't like something, also let them know what you didn't like about it.

Wohoo, I saved 22% on my cell phone bill each month by using my employee discount. It equals to just over $7 a month, but that is over 85.00 a year that I don't have to pay.
Learned: Check with your employer to find out if you can get discounts on thing that you already pay for.

Do you go by the serving size on the side of the cereal box? I tried it, I'm always 2-3x the amount without measuring. No wonder I'm not dropping weight like I was hoping.
Learned: Diets that reduce calories lead to weight loss, regardless of carbohydrate, protein or fat content

What percent of people do you think will stick with the frugal things they learned from this economy?
Learned: It is nice to see interviews with people on tv, radio say that they are turning over a new leaf. The prognosis for the future may be better than I anticipated.

There are days I wish I had the cojones of my mother ... one time she picked up the tv and tossed it in the metal trashcan.
Learned: Since I have lived without tv before for years, I can do it again.. and welcome the change in April.

Free day - free day at the Denver Zoo - 3 hours of walking around in the cold and watched Big Bang Theory online for free-ish (have to pay for cable)
Learned: Fun things can be had for free, just have to take the time to look

7. Figured my taxes and I owe federal but get a refund for state.
Learned: Continue tweaking my w-4 form and I should be almost even.

8. Looking for a table and chairs;
I'm loving the notify.me email option for tracking down table and chairs off of craigslist.
Learned: If I wait long enough I will find what I need and want for a good price.

9. My electric bill is a set amount each month ($95) and this is the second year we got a free month plus out of it because we stayed below the limit.
Learned: We are reducing our electricity little by little and this is one way to keep track of our baby steps and get a little pat on the back - a free month plus. This year we are aiming to stay below $86 to get our one month plus surplus.

10. QUOTE:
Time is like money, the less we have of it to spare the further we make it go. ~Josh Billings
Learned: This is a wonderful quote to remember and I thought I would pass it along to you as well.

Got my Showtime rebate and two of my three bills needed - one will come in next week - I want my $25 rebate before I shut off cable.
Learned: Keep your eyes peeled for good deals, this one I stumbled on and didn't even know it existed.

If you like this information and don't want to wait until the end of the month to read them, you can follow me on Twitter - It's like a party line for instant messaging.

I recently got an email from reader Tom who is in a funk about his savings habits and is asking for some help. I would like get your advice as well and will make sure Tom gets the info.

The problem is that just about this time every year I get really into his frugal thing, but once I get out of school for the summer (I'm a college student), I seem to forget everything I learned. I've read Millionaire Next Door like three times and I get excited about saving money but I still seem to fail when it comes right down to it.

I'm hoping you have some advice for a poor college student to help him get by, or better, get ahead.

Thanks a ton

One of the best things about going to school or even to work is that it pushes us into a routine. We do pretty much the same thing each day at the same time and that cuts down what limited time we have to extras...socializing, shopping, etc.

However, when we get a vacation we lose that structured set of habits and it seems everything we used to do goes out the window, I fully understand your frustration with that.

There are some ways you can keep yourself to a habit or at least maintain some sort of habit while on vacation from school.

1. Plan ahead for spending and savings - Put aside 5-10% or a set amount of any money you get over the summer into savings. If you sell something or help a neighbor and get paid, put part of it away immediately. Have a goal to reach makes this easier.

2. Look out for free - Staying frugal in the summer is a bit easier as there are more free activities to do outdoors. Also check with your local library for speakers or classes that you go to. Look in your local paper (usually Wed, Fri or Sat. editions) for free activities. Also look into internship or volunteer work that may relate to your major or interests.
I volunteered as security/usher at an Elton John/Billy Joel concert many moons ago.

3. Simply say No - Sometimes keeping on the path to saving and living frugal means saying no to friends to go out to eat, drink and be merry. You may even be able to offer an alternative plan based on some of the free events you are aware of. Why not use peer pressure to your more frugal advantage.

Am I totally out of sync here readers; what are your thoughts on helping Tom out?


On some related posts, I found that show how frugal living can weave its way into our lives, even when that isn't the reason we are doing it. Dao is preparing for a marathon so he has decided to RUN his errands. Saving money and getting healthy all in a few steps.

I like to keep up on the responses to the question: What have you done to save a penny? A few of the responses are repeats but there are so many tips out in the wide world of web that it is good to be reminded.

Some things just can't be sold like old prescription glasses or an old digital camera, but there are some ideas of where to donate your unwanted stuff that will help others and make you feel good.

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind”
~Henry David Thoreau

“Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three - and paradise is when you have none.”
~Doug Larson (middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981)

“The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.”
~Charlie Chaplin

So what is Luxury? According to the facts of the dictionary it is the following:
1. Something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity
2. The quality possessed by something that is excessively expensive
3. Wealth as evidenced by sumptuous living

Of course if I ask any person on the street I might not get just definitions but images of luxury. Some might say a Hummer is a luxury, while others may feel any car is a luxury. It will vary with each person I come across. I think the only thing they will agree on is that a luxury is not a necessity of life.

In writing this post I realized something, a luxury can be a necessity, such as clean water or food to eat that many people around the world don’t receive.

Perhaps instead a luxury should be defined as something inaccessible to the general population, that its value increases based on the demand.

Based on that definition I could have anything be a luxury at any time; if desire outweighs production of the item, it becomes a luxury. If China were to shut down its borders and not ship anything to the U.S, how might clothes, toys or other materials affect my idea of a luxury? I think I would cherish what little I did have, make it last longer and make sure it is well made.

I believe it is viewing my possessions around me in that light that can answer the question of “why be frugal?

If I look around my home and let the thought pass through my mind that the item I was looking at could not be replaced, how much more careful would I take care of it? How much more interested would I be to get quality products? And finally, how much more of an effort would I take to know about where my money went?

One of my biggest expenses are groceries next to utilities. I'm always finding ways to save even a nickel or dime wherever I can, yet live on a decent diet. My goal is to have as much fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet as financially possible.

The diet around the house is more grain based, lots of fruit and vegetables, some poultry and the occasional red meat. This means that the coupons that I use are far and few between, so I have to find other ways to save money.

Find the dent and mislabel area:
I shop at the local King Soopers(Kroger) store and occasionally at Safeway, both of these chain stores have an area in the back of the store where they put reduced items or items that are about to expire, mostly bakery items.

These areas aren't as large as I would like, but they are handy if you don't have a salvage store in your area or within decent driving distance.

Some other places to look for greatly reduced items are dollar stores and their cousins. There is a Big Lots near me and Dollar General, these stores seem to be best for general merchandise and not food, but yours may be different.

Know your grocery circulars:
Circulars come in handy with stores that will match prices of other stores. The first thing I did before going forward was to calling around to the stores I frequent and find out if they price match.

Price matching doesn't seem to be a chain decision but a store by store decision so calling is best and sometimes calling on different days/hours as you can get different answers if management isn't available or they have multiple managers.

Clip coupons that you might use:
Over time I have said to myself, "darn I wish I had grabbed that coupon." Something always seems to come up that I buy something I didn't know I would need. Now I clip coupons that I know I will use and others that I think I MAY use. If I don't use them, that is fine, at least I have them just in case.

Double up on coupons:
You can't use two manufacturer coupons on the same item, but you can use a store coupon and a manufacture coupon together.

I'm not great in this area, because I rarely find items to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon. But on occasion there will be a Target coupon or Walgreen coupon that I can use with a manufacturer coupon that is an even better deal than a cheaper brand.

Find stores that double coupons:
King Soopers(Kroger) doubles coupons and is the only store in my area that does. Because of this there are many times I will shop at King Soopers instead of Walmart. Even though Walmart may have an item that is 35¢ cheaper, the doubled coupon at King Soopers will save me more money.

Shopping loss leaders:
Every circular I get from King soopers, Safeway, and Albertsons have a few deals that are so good I can't pass them up. Stores do this on purpose to get me in the door in the hopes I will pick up more than I need, so they sell these few items at a loss in the hopes they will make up the cost when I buy other items.

These loss leaders are the ones I want to stock up on when I can and if I have coupons to go with them, even better. Many of these loss leaders are staples as well - recently I stocked up and froze 1.77 gallon milk, I also grabbed a few extra boxes of cereal.

Carry a calculator:
I'm a big fan of carrying a calculator around for two reasons
1. I can figure price per ounce or pound and choose the best deal
2. I can keep within my shopping budget

Always ask for rainchecks:
I love it when sale items are out of stock, ok, I don't love it when they run out, but I enjoy it when I can get a raincheck that allows me an opportunity. When I go to customer service they always ask how many I want and I always tell them a little more than I need, just in case. They usually get the item within 7-10 days so I have time to get additional coupons.

Write a grocery list:
This is handy for a couple of reasons
1. You don't forget anything and it helps you stay on target and not get sidetracked
2. You can write down the price of the item you bought

Check your receipt:
Since I can't expect to remember all the prices of the items I buy, I instead use the price on my grocery list and compare it to the shopping receipt, any discrepancies I can go to customer service and speak with them showing them my grocery list to get my refund.

Speak with employees:
At one store I go to they drop the meat prices down around 6am each day to sell off the meat that expires in a day or two. Another store brings fresh bread in around 5am, so it is handy to pick up bread and necessary meat on the way home from work.

The last few things I make sure to do are as follows:
- Eat before I go shopping - this drastically cuts down on junkfood shopping.
- Shop the outside ring of the store first and go to produce last - tired of bruised fruit.
- Keep up with coupons on the web -this allows me to buy multiples of a product.

I like to get my coupons from an assortment of places:
I have signed up with manufacturers, like Pillsbury and Kraft foods as well as used the links below.
SmartSource Coupons

Some other sites used by others that cost
grocery game
coupon clippers
grocery coupons

When the bathroom odor gets to be too much it is best to use something to freshen the air, so as not to stink out the next user. Flushing in mid-use gets to be costly over time, so not the wisest use of water. There are some alternatives though:

1. Perfume/Cologne spray
2. Air Freshener/deodorizer
3. Matches

Perfume/cologne is costly and a waste of a good smell. If you got the perfume/cologne as a gift and hate to waste, even though you don’t like it -then that could be useful. But then, why not just re-gift the item to someone else and save yourself a few dollars.

Air Fresheners aren’t a great idea if you are wanting to be Eco-friendly or don’t want to add to the waste in your house. Although they can be picked up for quite cheap with a coupon and a decent sale. However, how long do you hold the spray part down? That would determine the life of the can, causing cost per use to go up and make it less appealing.

Matchsticks are my favorite
. They are small, easy to use and very cheap. I can pick up four in a package for 50¢ and those last me quite a while in the bathroom. A nice bonus is that the matches I buy are made here in the US and help keep people employed. The best part, if the match doesn’t actually light, just smokes, it still works thanks to the sulfur that over-rides the smell. The downside is that having matches around children is a very bad idea.

You may also want to light a perfumed candle as you walk into the bathroom as well. Just remember to blow it out or you’ll run through candles quickly and that won’t be very cost effective.

What alternatives do you have that would be cheaper or more eco-friendly?

Other Home Remedies:
Home Remedy and Repair Ideas

Use them, laugh at them or add your own thoughts in the comments below. Just use common sense and always test a teeny, tiny area first.

♠ To make aluminum doors look new, try scrubbing with a mixture of baking soda and water or scrub aluminum foil over the door to shine up the look try scrubbing with a mixture of baking soda and water or scrub aluminum foil over the door to shine up the look

♠ If you have an open balcony section, try weaving lawn chair webbing through the poles to reduce items or animals from falling through

Bleached out spots on a rug can be “colored” in with a non-toxic marking pen as close to the color as possible. (Always test a teeny tiny spot first)

♠ If you don’t have room for a bookshelf on a wall, try setting up some shelves around a window or a doorway

♠ Add a drop or two of citronella oil to a bucket of paint to keep away bugs while painting

Clean a saw with oven cleaner to get rid of gummy build up

♠ To cushion a door from slamming shut, glue an 1/8 inch of rubber to the stop.

I have heard that if you have a leak in the ceiling that is building up, drill a hole and let the water run out, then get it repaired, that way the leak doesn’t spread and damage more of the ceiling

Wrap a sponge around the paint brush handle and hold it on with a rubber band to reduce paint dripping to your hand.

♠ Draw a line on the paint can for how low the paint is in the can so you don’t have to guess or keep opening it up and drying it out.

♠ Make sure to fix leaky faucets. A faucet dripping once a minute, (60x an hour) will cause you to lose 11 gallons of water a month.

♣ If you can't fix right away and the dripping is driving you nuts- tie a string onto the faucet for the water to run down to the sink.

♠ Try attaching items to walls with a hot glue gun, to remove just heat the glue enough to detach. Try a test area inside a closet first. Also use common sense for how much weight you can hang.

♠ Nailing into wallpaper- first cut a section and bend it back then nail into the wall. Once you remove the nail, you can glue the wallpaper back over the hole.

♠ An alternative to wd-40 for squeaky doors, try petroleum jelly instead. This will also cut down on drips to carpet or wood.

♠ For trouble seeing keyholes when you are trying to unlock a door, try painting it with luminous paint so you aren’t fumbling with it.

♠ When painting outside steps, sprinkle a bit of fine sand on the steps before they dry to cut down on slipping

♠ Cover hands and face with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, this way paint flecks will wash off easier at the end of the day

♠ Grouping hanging photos- Lay it out on the floor first, paper the size of your wall and draw around your pictures where you want them, then tack up the paper and nail in the picture frames in their respective locations and tear the paper off behind it.

♠ Before you tear down an item to fix it, take a picture first to see how it looked when it was all together.

♠ Remove tape from surfaces by heating it with a hair dryer

♠ Cut an X into a tennis ball and put it on the end of a hammer head for a temporary mallet

♠ Use your kid’s skateboard to sit or lay on when you paint or clean base boards,

♠ Wrap sand paper around a deck of cards if you don’t have a block of wood handy

♠ Clean the area you are going to sand with a rag dampened with rubbing alcohol to cut down on the dust

♠ Drive a nail into plaster, then remove and plug the hole with steel wool, then push the nail back in for it to stay

♠ Sharpen scissors on 220 grit sandpaper

♠ Instead of using a flat-head screwdriver to open a stuck window, try a sharpened pizza cutter, running it along the groove

Other Home Remedies:
Odor Remover Tips
Air Fresheners, Matchsticks and Bathrooms

The materialistic masses who strive for the latest and greatest are said to be “keeping up with the Joneses.” But who are the Joneses and how can they afford so much?

The phrase comes from an early 20th-century comic appropriately titled “Keeping up With the Joneses,” by Arthur “Pop” Momand. The Joneses were neighbors to the McGinis family (the main characters) and were sometimes referenced as “objects of envy.” According to Don Markstein’s Toonpedia, the Joneses never actually appeared in the comic, but that didn’t stop the phrase from catching on with image-conscious consumers.

For what it’s worth, Wikipedia believes Momand may have named the Joneses after George and Lucretia Jones, parents of novelist Edith Wharton. Another possibility is that Momand simply picked the name “Jones” because of its popularity. The comic could have just as easily been called “Keeping up With the Smiths” or “Darn that Rich Johnson Family!”

As for how the Joneses financed their lavish style, who knows. We can only assume they died penniless and disgraced. After all, living beyond one’s means has consequences.

Update: I was recently reminded about the wonderful British comedy series "Keeping Up Appearances" - below is season 1, episode 1 - it speaks for itself

How do you balance your needs and wants? If I shift to far to the want side I may slip into frustration. If my balance sways more to the need side is over weight, I may find myself just as frustrated (Though with a lot more money).

To me needs are supplying the basics of life: Food, shelter, clothes, transportation and communication. Once those are supplied in a basic amount, the next step is determining my limit for wants or “extras”.

If a phone is essential to communicate, do I get a landline or cell, do I need the extras?
Since clothing is a basic need, how many pairs of jeans do I need for it to cross the line into a want?
Since shelter is a basic need, what size home qualifies as a need and how large of a home is it a want?
Transportation is a need for job security, but would a bike, scooter, bus or car be the answer to the need?

Other times I look at people in developing countries and I think that perhaps even some my needs might be wants. It’s not that I envy their (involuntary) simplistic life, but rather am blessed with so much, that I wonder if my life could be just as complete with less.

The line between needs and wants is a fuzzy line. There is also the line between want and extravagance as well. But that is another post for another time. I do get an occasional email or read a post about this site pushing people to become “cheap” or that such frugal options just make one out to be a “loser” and “You only live once, live it up”

Though these comments don’t bother me, it does make me wonder: Am I limiting myself? Have I found the proper balance of Need and Want?

How about you?

04/07/2004 at 15:58:44
I care about the pursuit of money more than I care about whether or not people live or die.

08/09/2005 at 10:33:16
Whenever I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my kids and I, I always put way more jelly on my sandwich than on theirs.

06/24/2004 at 10:58:57
I always wanted a Ferrari, It was a life goal. I finally got one… It is everything I ever dreamed it would be, and more. Now all I can think about is getting another one. 2 Ferrari’s are better than one right? I can’t stop!

03/02/2004 at 20:31:35
I want money and lots of it so I can do what I want and have what I want. It’s MINE.

01/04/2006 at 11:58:14
I want. It’s all I ever think about. I want a new car, jacuzzi, house on the beach. Everything is about me, me, me and I hate myself for it but that doesn’t change my feelings. I have been gambling to try and get all of that. I took my year end bonus and lost $23,000 of the $40,000 I received. I can’t tell my fiance. I can’t tell anyone. As bad as I feel right now I still feel like taking more money and trying to win it back. Trying to get even. Back to even.

01/03/2006 at 01:33:22
I have a good life. I always get everything I want. But I want more, much more. I want the whole world at my feet.

A few days ago I was walking through a local store as I made my way to the one item I needed and came in for. Walking all the way back I went through a process of what I call “impulse buying decision making”. I would see an item I thought was cool, then I would say to myself that I want that (thereby what I think is cool, makes me cool), the next step would be to rationalize a reason for why the item is a necessity to my life. Not a want, but a necessity. Such as- The other one is getting old, I always disliked the color, I was PLANNING on buying one someday, why not now.

I can lay a little responsibility on advertising and the FINE job it does. But when I comes down to the core of it, it is my internal desire to want more. To believe that the stuff I buy will make me happy. Everyone wants to be happy as often and as long as possible. Wanting and desiring more in life isn’t itself a bad idea, but the greed that I feel is. The desire that buying the cool item will make myself cool, thus one-up against the other guy.

“The economic engine of our nation, and indeed the world, depends on a consistent sense of discontent that motivates each consumer to desire ever more.”

Wealth in money, possessions, popularity brings such short term satisfaction. It hides the real purpose of life. Yet, I still continue in hunger, wanting to quench it I look for more. When I was a teenager I took for myself an anthem, “I want it all” by Queen. My parents and I joked about it, but maybe it was more sad than funny now that I look back on it. Sad, because it was an aspiration that would never see it’s final end.

In the movie “Wall Street” Gordon Gecko said, “Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works.” I may want to raise my fist in agreement with that, but deep down I know that greed hurts. It hurts me more than anyone else.

One man succeeds in everything, and so loses all. Another meets with nothing but crosses and disappointments, and thereby gains more than all the worlds is worth.
~William Law

Quotes via Rumors of Another World and Notproud.com

What is it about being frugal, why do it?

Actually, some people don’t do it at all, they have decided that what they want and desire is what they are going to get and they feel they deserve that lifestyle. I have no trouble with that; more power to ya, live long and prosper and may you die with the most toys.

However, for me, I find little value in the things around me. When I was a teenager, things were my identity, I had a little saying that I stole from a Queen song, "I want it all, and I want it now." However, as I have gotten older and through one situation or another I have learned to separate myself from the items in my home.

Quite a few years ago I was given a leather jacket, I always wanted one because I thought they were cool and thus, I would be cool. I got it and I loved it, I loved it so much I rarely wore it for fear of losing it or ruining it beyond repair. I wanted it to stay ‘new’ and always carry that memory I had of when I first received it and the person who gave it to me.

As the years passed and I was in some hard times, I needed money for necessities and didn’t know what to do, until I saw the jacket in the closet in all it’s shiny newness and cleanliness. “I could get some money for that”, I thought. I proceeded to take it to the pawnshop (this was before eBay/Craigslist) and got A LOT less than what in my mind it was worth to me.

It killed me to take that jacket in, but I had to and to do it, I had to distance myself from the experience so I could get it done. And surprisingly, I still have the memory of receiving that jacket with no loss of value in my mind.

Since that time, through losses via theft, loss or forgetfulness, I have learned that my own self worth or value isn’t based on what I have around me.

Please don't get me wrong, I in no way think I am better than the person that drives a fancy car to their 5 bedroom home, in fact, I hope they are happy. But for me, I will never aspire to that.

I guess when it comes down to being frugal or not, the question I want to ask myself is, “Does this fulfill me?”

For myself less is more in my world; less to worry about, less to find space for, less to keep up.

But, again, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Your level of tolerance for less may be higher than mine. I could easily whittle down my needs and wants, throw them in the car and go. That is how little I really need, besides a roof over my head and a steady stream of income.

Frugal living isn’t a dreary task, I think we need to reward ourselves here and there. My luxury is going to the movies and seeing the blockbuster action movies and dramas. But doing that regularly would no longer be a treat, and would end up being a waste of money.

Frugality is also about moderation.

Moderation is key no matter if I am eating, drinking, watching TV, going to movies or exercising. Excess is what happens when I stop controlling my life and let something else run it. It’s about keeping things in check, whether it’s my reasoning for buying and item or getting caught up in the good feeling a TV commercial gives me.

Frugal living is temporary for some until they get back on their feet, for others it is a day to day necessity for who knows how long and for myself and others it is a voluntary decision, wherever you fit in there, I welcome you to the site and hope to see you back again.

This last week has been a stressful one trying to figure out what the insurance company will cover as my partner heads to the hospital for an 8th back surgery (second fusion) and what they won't cover - or their price limits.

This last week we got word that the surgical team canceled the surgery and we will be putting the surgery off for a couple of months as health gets a bit better.

After all of this, I have learned that stress is a wonderful motivator to get things done but that at some point you just have to let God take care of it and stop worrying... sometimes the horrible ideas that we think will happen, never will.

I'm always hesitant about saving money by buying reconditioned items, but then the comment was brought up that I buy used from craigslist, at least I have a company checking the item out and backing it up.

Every time I go grocery shopping at King Soopers (kroger) or Safeway, I like to check their expired, dented bins in the back of the store. But Frugal Village has put together a wonderful list of Salvage Grocery stores by state and their is one in my 30 mile radius.
If you know of one that is not listed, sign up in their forum and let them know so they can update.

Since February is canned food month I thought I would bring the following item to your attention from the website MayoClinic.com
Canned food: How long can you safely keep it? Commercially prepared canned food has a fairly long shelf life but is broken down into high-acid and low-acid foods.

And last but not least, I like this reader tip from the stretcher.com:

Weightier Matters

I found one brand of toilet paper cheaper than the one I usually buy. All the specs were right regarding ply and quality, but the product itself was much lighter than the one I normally buy. I began using it and discovered that the roll lasted a fifth of the time that the one I normally buy does..... I paid a few cents more for heavier garbage bags, but discovered they were much stronger than the lighter-weight ones. I also discovered the same thing with sandwich bags and freezer bags.

This is my new monthly posting of frugal things learned over the past month.

1. I cleaned my car 3x to get rotten egg smell out, no good. Then before work I dumped Saturday's newspaper in the backseat to toss out but forgot it, 10hrs later.. smell gone!
Learned: Newspapers are useful to soak up smells

2. Went for a walk in my apartment complexes parking area, got some great exercise. Bonus: Someone paid me 5¢ for the walk and they didn't even know it.
Learned: It pays to look down sometimes!

3. A strange thought ran through my head... How much money do you think I save by going to the bathroom after I get to work and before I go home? ...inconsequential I'm thinking.
Learned: Thinking outside the box to save money isn't bad, it just doesn't save money all the time.

4. I love those food samples that come with the Sunday paper, especially the cereal samples. When I was a paper carrier many moons ago, that was a benefit - the left-over bags that had samples, free breakfast for a week.
Learned: I may not always like every job I do, but finding little gold nuggets always make it nicer.

5. My Great Aunt in California got her catalytic converter stolen from her Toyota - $1400 to replace it and they welded it back on so it wouldn't be stolen again - the thieves were kind enough and left the bolt!
Learned: Selling scrap goods is a great way to make extra money, but theft is never OK.

6. I was watching Brewster's Millions (the 1945 version)... do you think you could spend a $1 mill. in 2 months with nothing to show for it but receipts?
Learned: The old original movies are sometimes the best versions

7. My partner took notes when the repeat Oprah episode on thriftiness aired. There is hope... Home-made laundry soap may be right around the corner!
Learned: Sometimes hearing the same thing from someone else gets the point across

8. Yeah, I finally found a pair of Levi's that fit me at the thrift store for only $2! For some reason that is the only brand that I can buy that fits me well enough.
Learned: I will find what I need with patience

And did you know that February is...
Canned Food Month
Great American Pie Month
National Children's Dental Health Month

A year ago the financial industry bemoaned the fact that Americans had a -1% in savings. Today I saw on CNBC two talking heads speak about how we shouldn't be saving (we are up to 1-2%) and should be spending money. Well phooey, I think saving money is good in any economy. However, saving money can be hard if it isn't a habit you are used to, so I have gathered some simple ways to save money by "tricking yourself" into saving it. It's kind of like setting your alarm clock 5 minutes ahead.

Round-Up: I was doing this long before Bank of America had their "Keep the Change" program. When I buy something from the store and it comes to 4.34, I swipe my debit card, but write down in the check book record that I spent 5.00. By rounding up to the next dollar I end the month with easily an extra 10-30 dollars depending on how often I go out and buy for that month. Then that hidden money can be transferred to savings

Scrape off the Top: If you have direct deposit this is easier, but it can be done if you cash your paychecks as well. Have the bank or yourself, scrape off the first $25 or $50 (or whatever amount) into a savings account immediately before you spend your money on anything else.

Don't Keep "Found" Money: For every rebate check you get back, for every IRS refund or bonus that you weren't expecting; don't spend it. Bank it for your saving account and save for an emergency. You weren't figuring that money into your income anyway, so don't keep it around to be spent.

Bill Yourself: For all the time you take being the accountant in your life, it is time to start billing yourself. You do this by making your savings account a bill every month as payment for your 'services'. This bill will be the first to pay each pay period, because if you don't, next pay period you will have to pay double! And you don't want to have to send a collection agency after yourself [wink]

Cover it up: I have noticed that I dip into the glass "loose change" jar for money more often than I do with the tin container. Why? I'm sure some psychology major can explain the thinking better than I, but I think it is because I can see the money in the glass jar and can't in the tin container. I have read of people who hid money out of sight and then forgot about it until their children or the new home buyers find it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Old Hobbies, New Habits: If you collected model cars or comic books or bought books and have now lost interest or cut back drastically, then put that money towards your savings. I used to buy about 26.00 a week in comic books when I was a late teen and young twenty year old. That is over 1350.00 a year that could have gone for a decent savings, since I got bored with the hobby, I sold off all the comic books and now I have nothing from that money spent. (see also The Two Dollar Savings Plan)

Bad Habits, New Savings: The above hack can also be used for the time that comes when you drop a bad habit. If you went out and spent $30 a night on drinks at the club but don't go now or if you used to buy two cartons of smokes a week and now you are down to one, use that extra money to improve your savings. Same money spent, just better returns.