Ask the Readers: How Do You Save? (Chance to win $20!)

by Linsey Knerl on 26 October 2010 74 comments

Save 3-6 months of income for an emergency. Have plenty on hand for retirement. Don't send your kids off to college penniless. These are all good goals for storing up, but putting them into practice can be difficult.

Do you have a tip for socking cash away for a rainy day? Maybe it's a clever trick for rounding up all your change, auto-depositing 1% of your paycheck, or keeping an ample supply of penny stocks.

We want to hear your tips for squirreling away some funds. If you share your answer, you'll be entered to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win one of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

How to Enter:

  • Post your answer in the comments below,
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry.)
  • Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, November 1st at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be announced after November 1st on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)
  • Only those who have "Liked" both our Facebook page and the contest update will be entered.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture

We keep a strict budget, pay our credit cards in full each month and do not incur debt. My wife and I raise vegetables in the summer and freeze and can for the winter. We have whole life insurance that will make sure my wife is provided for and if in the future we need cash we will borrow from ourselves through that policy. And my wife reads Wise Bread regularly!

Guest's picture

I save money by shopping as frugally as possible.

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Jade

I empty all the spare change from my in wallet into a jar nightly, roll in paper every few months and deposit. It's better to roll yourself than have the machine do it (cheaper!)

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Guest

Most of the Coinstar machines in grocery stores waived the fee if you used money in that particular store. I haven't used one in a while so I am not sure if they still do though.

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Selene Montgomery

First of all, our kids paid/pay for college themselves. They knew about it from early on and they planned accordingly. Results - 1 BS degree, 1 Master's degree and 1 heading to graduation in Dec. 2011. They can do it!!!

I try to keep monthly costs down by combining coupons and sales, being aware of our energy use and taking the appropriate steps to keep that cost down, keep my clothes for years, only have a couple pairs of shoes at one time, and don't go to costly places unless it's a special occasion. My car is 10 years old.

Guest's picture
Selene Montgomery

I Like Wise Bread on Facebook

Guest's picture
Eric

I wish I saved better... once in a while, I'll just throw money from my checking to my savings account when I have a bit of extra cash.

What I"d like to do is I already divide my direct deposit up -- at some point, the 5% going to another account should be transferred directly into savings. But having just moved into a new state, I've been focusing on spending more, furnishing and such, and haven't made that step yet.

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Laura

My way of saving is very simple. I have direct deposit into 2 accounts - one is for paying bills and the other is my emergency fund. Otherwise I'd never be able to save a substantial amount.

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Pam

My credit card offers cash back. I don't touch the cash back until November or so, when I cash it all in. Some years it has been in the $200-$300 range. And it's not even "my" money I saved, the bank gave it to me! Holla!

Otherwise I've found the best way to save is to auto-deposit from your paycheck. Out of sight, out of mind.

Guest's picture
fairydust

Turn off all the lights, appliances, etc., when I'm not specifically in the room using them. What a huge chunk of money that's saved each month!!!

Guest's picture
Kristy

With my husband in school, we make very little money, and saving is really really hard. We keep track of every penny in and out, and at the end of any month where there's a surplus, we move that amount into a savings account. Money from any odd jobs we happen to pick up go straight to that savings account as well.

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Alicia C

OK, while it's not the best way to save, I hide money around the house. If I have an extra $1, $5, or $10 dollar bill, I'll stick it under the TV or computer monitor, in that little zipper pocket in the baby bag we never use, in the pocket of a jacket in the closet that I almost never wear... I could go on and on. When we need or want something that we don't budget for (pizza, new coffe maker, etc.), we have a scavenger hunt!

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

automatic savings from my checking account every week to a savings account with ING.

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Heather

I use SmartyPig to save for goals and keep my emergency fund up. Apart from that, I follow a budget very closely.

Guest's picture
Emily

I have money taken out automatically from my paycheck before I get it and put into savings, investments, and retirement. My paycheck looks a lot smaller, but I know that when I need money for something, I've got it somewhere. It makes me live on less so I have more for emergencies and big purchases.

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Rachel

I've got two strategies: 1) automation and 2) pennies, nickels and dimes.

I automate my emergency fund savings, as well as my savings for set recurring yearly expenses (RRSP contributions; once-yearly medical bills, like eye exams, contact lenses, and teeth cleaning; membership fees; the cost of shoe replacements).

In addition, at the end of every day, I clean all the dimes, nickels and pennies out of my wallet. They go into a jar, along with found money, booze bottle return funds and windfalls. Whenever that hits $10, or above, it goes into my emergency fund, too. Technically, I don't _have_ to contribute that money to my savings, but it's getting me towards my goals faster.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I save all of my spare change, roll and deposit that a couple of times a year. When I deposit checks (rebates, reimbursments, etc), I evaluate the amount of cash I have in my wallet and usually end up depositing some. Most of that cash usually comes from selling books and magazines to the used book store. It's not a lot, but every bit helps.

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Carmen

We've had a tough time saving, but I'm starting small. Just $5 a week tucked into an envelope (if it goes into our accounts, it'll get spent).

Guest's picture
KelR1

I take all of my found money (literally, the change I pick up off the ground) and "weird windfall" (any rebates, refunds, money from paying surveys, bonuses, birthday money, etc.) and deposit that into a savings account. It adds up pretty quickly! I also try to budget wisely and live as frugally as possible, use a lot of coupons, and pay attention to the ads in the Sunday paper as to where I should grocery shop that week.

Guest's picture
Vince Narma

-Coupons and sales.
-Also ask yourself: do I really need this? How many times do we buy things we don't need, they end up in the storage and we don't even know we have them. Keep it simple, only buy things you need.
-Take advantage of credit card cash backs since but make sure you can pay it off every month

Guest's picture
Saskia

I started to work again when my youngest child went to preschool. From the beginning we continued to live on my husbands income. After 10 years my salary still goes to 4 different bankaccounts: 1. to pay off our mortgage, 2. collegefund for our children 3. replacement and repairs car 4. retirement. By saving the money as soon as I get my salary, we don't miss it.

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Laura D

We automatically transfer money from DH's paycheck to our savings account online--we never even see it!

Guest's picture
echomyst

We transfer a chunk of our income into savings, and a bit into super-safe investments such as 1-year CDs which we can quickly take out in case of dire emergency.

Guest's picture
matt

All coin change in my pocket goes into a jar on my dresser every night when I get home and then roll it for the bank 2-3 times a year. Usually adds up to a few hundred dollars a year. I also take all the ones out of my wallet and put them in an envelope every day as well. I budget spending money for lunches but singles and coins don't carry over to the next day. Works for me.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is past tense, since I'm now retired and in (frugally!) spending mode rather than accumulating.
1. Max out your 401k - the match is free money
2. Use the dividend reinvestment option on a nice stable utility. The $1000 worth of AT&T I bought around 1980 is now paying me nearly $1000 a month!
3. Learn to cook. Fresh food is better for you and much cheaper than the processed crap.
4. Pay off your credit card every month, and get one with rebates. 1% seems like chump change, but it adds up to a good bottle of bubbly for new years.

Guest's picture
Jeff

I have automatic withdrawals set at my bank. Over half of my take home pay is earmarked for retirement, emergency savings, and vehicle savings (want to buy my next car cash). Once my emergency savings is built up to 4 months take home pay, I'm going to start investing that money into non-retirement taxable accounts for a future home.

Guest's picture
Patrick

Automatic monthly contribution to my 401(k), including maximization of employer match
Budgeting (don't stick to every category every month, but nearly so)
Minimize impulse spending
Include a Roth IRA contribution in my budget
Turn off lights, open windows, programmable thermostat
Generic grocery brands
Lower cost domestic vacations and/or frequent flier miles

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Andrea

I save all my change in a jar, use coupons, look for freebies, and I stay out of the mall. That's how I save!

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Gail

Make a budget sheet; let one category be "reward"; if I follow my budget for that month; I can reward myself to the money in that reward category. I find myself saving and watching my money not being spent beyond whats on my budget sheet. (Usually end up saving that money in my reward category).

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Tara

I try to cook most of my meals at home, and I cook in batches and freeze meals for later.

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Guest

Coupons!

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gina

I always autodeposit into a savings account.

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Guest

I set a goal for what I want to save per year, divide it by 12, and send that amount to an online savings account every month. Shop for clothes at consignment shops, buy my groceries based on weekly sale ads. Also put my change in a jar, when full, deposit it into a savings account. Use a rewards credit card, pay it in full every month. Maintain an emergency fund. Car is 13 years old, added attic insulation last year WHEW.

Guest's picture
melanie

I save money by withdrawing cash every payday and hiding it. I know, I don't earn interest on this money but I also don't spend it. I forget it's there so it adds up quickly. If it's in my bank account I end up spending it (on something valid).

Guest's picture
Olivia

I do the mad squirrel thing myself. A bit of everything. Take the first $10 off the top of grocery cash and try not to use it that week. Make a game of it. Take the change from cash transactions and put it in "the jar". Redeem aluminum cans for cash. Any oddball money, like rebates, survey rewards, are put in their specific places towards specific goals. Plus more conventional budgeting, diverting salary into different categories from the get go.

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Nicholas

It actually comes naturally to me... I don't go on spending spree's. I tend to wait a while after I decide that I need something (not just wanting something) to see if I really need it. Once it is determined that I do need it then I shop around and wait a little while longer to track the pricing. then when I am comfortable with the current price I purchase it.

I also sell old items that I do not require anymore... might as well make some money back if the items are just going to sit there anyways.

Guest's picture
Derek

These days I leverage automation to save money. First I have a percentage taken off the top of each paycheck for the company 401k. Next, because my employeer allows you to direct either a percent or an amount of your paycheck to be split between different accounts I also have a set amount directed to my savings account each paycheck. Whats left over is what I live on. It wasn't always this easy, when I was first starting out on my own and struggling I wanted to stop renting and own my own condo. What I did to "trick" myself into saving more money was to round up my bank register entries to bulk up my savings. Since my bank register was how I budgeted back then, when I saw I was out of money I stoped spending (this was before the internet so I didnt have instant access to my bank balance 24/7 like I do now). After about a year of this, I had enough socked away to buy my first condo in downtown Denver.

Guest's picture
kay

In addition to not buying things I don't need, I try and not buy services I don't need. Things like washing your own car, grooming your own dog, changing your own oil, etc.

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paul g

Clearly the way to save is to make a budget. That is the only way to create some sort of priority of which things to buy and which don't get bought.

Beyond that, I try to only buy the things I really want. I try to keep in mind how many hours I need to work to bring home $50 (after taxes). Then I have a better basis when I ask myself whether or not I really want to buy something. Is this item worth X hrs of work? (BTW - I try to do the same thing with calories. Is this worth 100 sit ups?)

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Stefanie

I have two different jobs, so one paycheck goes to regular monthly expenses and the other goes to saving for future stuff - travel, emergency, general savings.

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Stacy P.

I make a grocery list that includes mostly the perimeter of the store. I buy most produce on sale and get a rotating variety. When I'm in the store, I use a calculator. I tend to scrutinize the other items, usually snacks--for instance, crackers. Sometimes I buy on sale, sometimes I pick them up and think, "I can make these quickly from a few ingredients I already have..."

Guest's picture
Anne

We save money by clipping coupons and combining sales (I've saved at least 50% of my typical grocery budget, which includes food and toiletries, by doing this). Also, we're pretty good at differentiating between needs and wants, so we think about our purchases beforehand.

Guest's picture
peggy

I save by switching to generic brands for some grocery items, always buying sale items, and stocking up (plus using coupons) when timing is right. As for clothing, electronics, consumer goods I always comparison shop and never buy things at full price.

Guest's picture

Eliminate all unnecessary spending, and determine the definition of "unnecessary" with brutal objectivity.

Its the only concept you'll need.

Guest's picture
Rebeccalynn78

I try not to buy anything at full price.

Another big thing for me to save money is to meal plan. It cuts down on the amount of times we eat out during the month. It also cuts down on the amount of times I run to the grocery store too. I try to meal plan with what is in my pantry already. If it is in my pantry, I probably go the item on sale.

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Mariel

I save money by being organized, because the most valuable thing you have is time, and with more time for yourself, you save money on health, you save many things, in many ways...

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Lynda

auto-deposit. if i don't see it, then i won't spend it!

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Anna

We put all "extra" non-pay monies into our savings.

Secret Shopping - we do secret shopping and can put $20-$50 in savings from here.
Use a cash budget - all coin change goes into jar. Any money we didn't spend one week, it's changed to coins and put in jar. We only use same amount of cash each week. We get about $400-$500 every 4-6 months.

Doing this, we can put about $1,000 extra into savings in addition to what we do from our paychecks.

Guest's picture
Frances

For years, I have had my 401K contribution scheduled to "step up" 1% each year at the time we get raises. I have never missed it, because it comes out of the raise. I even had it step up last year when I didn't get a raise. I barely missed it then. I am now up to 21% if my salary going in to my 401K. If you told me I could live without 21% of my salary, I would not believe it, but with the 1% steps each year, it is easy.

Guest's picture
Jamie G

I automate maxing out my Roth IRA every month, and sock $50 automatically every month in a separate account for extra fun stuff, like saving for a bike or a vacation.

Guest's picture
Jaci

The best way I've found to keep our savings on track is to focus on what we do have instead of what we're "giving up" to save money or pay off debt. For example, every weekend, I try to go through at least one closet, cabinet or drawer to remind myself of what's in there, pull out what's unnecessary (to sell or donate - and add to my loose change jar or tax rebate), and use what I've forgotten about. The way, we "discover" clothes we haven't worn in a while, coupons we haven't used, games we haven't played, cookies we hid away, etc. We feel less deprived, earn a few bucks on things that get sold and stay organized.

Similarly, we will put off trips to the grocery store for as long as possible. At the end of a week or two, this forces us to scrounge up a meal from the perfectly good stock ingredients we have (but are too lazy to use) instead of buying a pre-made or restaurant meal. As long as we keep up our stock of rice, wheat flour, beans, ground beef or sale meat and canned/frozen fruits and vegetables, we're generally able to make a filling and healthy meal, albeit creative, and avoid the extra expense of fresh ingredients until later.

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Betty D

I have money taken directly out of my paycheck. One is for a retirement fund, the other is vacation $. Then with the amount I net, part goes into checking, part into savings.

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Sue

Very basic, but it works for us. After we pay off our credit card, the last bill in the month, we put the excess in a money market account for our emergency fund. We have over a6 months cushion saved up.

Guest's picture
Guest

Setting up automated savings of 20% of each paycheck for my husband and I both has changed everything. Learning to make saving a priority was earned the hard way, but now the satisfaction and peace of mind we get from knowing we can always pay the bills--even the unexpected ones--has been the greatest reward. We've also taken advantage of selling unneeded items and stocking away the money from every sale (craigslist, etc). Learning to cut back on expenses has been hard, but we try to do without and use a mandatory 30 waiting period before making any purchase over $50 for "wants". Usually, we forget all about it by the end of 30 days. The only other tip I can offer is to eat at/from home as often as possible as inexpensively as possible.

Guest's picture
Bree

We automatically save 20% of my take-home pay per pay period which has added up pretty quickly. Also, learning to live frugally has been a hard-learned lesson that keeps paying us. Grocery shop circularly: meaning use the circulars and stay on the perimeters of the store as often as possible. Eat at/from home as often as possible and try to avoid wasting food. Also, we remind ourselves that we are not deprived, but are choosing to live differently from the "Joneses". We are not wealthy by any means, but because we live with minimal debt and have savings we are richer than most of our peers. Nothing beats the satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with having a growing savings account--not even a new car or a fancy new iPad.

Guest's picture
Lindsay

I automatically have money moved to my savings account as soon as it is directly deposited. I never miss it.

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Elizabeth

I track all my spending so I can compare it to my income every month. Every month I also transfer the extra money from my checking account into my savings account. This way, if the difference between my spending and income changes very much, or if there isn't as much money to transfer to savings as usual, then I know I should check on things.

Guest's picture
Guest

I love piggybanks. Right now I have 4 - every Monday I deposit $5 into one. On the first day of the month, I put $20 into another. I save all my quarters and dimes in the third bank. The fourth is my "found money" bank - I walk for exercise and often find coins (and a rare dollar) on the street. Depending on what goals you have, your dollar amounts can vary - a few years ago, we had the "Disney trip" bank and the weekly amount was $20 - it certainly helped pay for the trip.

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Jean

Living in small apartment with only one car.

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Jason Evans

For me setting up automatic transfers is the best way to go! If not, that extra money is bound to "disappear"

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Yovan

Pack your lunch for work, cut coupons for groceries and use a list of things you need. ask for discounts in stores. etc

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curry crawford

I save by spending less and sacraficing on things like beer,and smokes,Which is also a plus by keeping me healthier,and i put 75% of my disposable income after paying bills away for the future!

Guest's picture
Jason Evans

Saving MUST be an automatic transfer to a savings account for me. I'm not a huge spender but I find that if I'm not firm in this stance the money just gets eaten up or "mysteriously" disappearing

Guest's picture
Jason Evans

Automatic savings transfers helps me out a ton

Guest's picture
gina bella buckland

I save money on my new winter wardrobe by firstly getting all my towels, old fabric and all my old clothes and sell them to a local recycling bank. I then by cheap second hand really short cord or jean skirts and rip up old duvets and pillow cases and make a boarder and sew to the hem..by adding floral and wacky details I make a quirky funky creative new outfit. I also knit fingerless gloves from oddments of wool and felt fab flowers on them...

Guest's picture
Steph

I have a bank account on the internet that takes 3 days to access my savings. I figure if it's THAT important, I can wait 3 days and it prevents me from impulse buying.

Guest's picture
curry crawford

Start Putting up as much money as you can,and sacrificing for a better tommorow!

Guest's picture
NancyH

My husband is retired, receiving smallish 401K payouts and social security. I am 62 and still earning as a freelance marketing writer, though my income has dropped significantly with the recession and it fluctuates wildly from month to month. In order to save, we reduced our expenses in many ways, but primarily we sold our house in an expensive market and bought in a cheaper area where we can be mortgage-free. We could do this because I work from home. Now we save in the following ways: (1) I deposit 5% to 10% of every payment I receive into a savings account. If it builds up sufficiently and our emergency fund is at target, I send some to my SEP IRA. This has been dramatically reduced since 2008, however. (2) $50 a month goes automatically from checking into a 529 education savings plan for our grandson. (3) We pay for most purchases with a debit card from our credit union that rounds up and deposits the extra into savings. (4) I typically hang-dry laundry instead of using the dryer; when I do that, I pay 40 cents into my jar and deposit into savings periodically. Saving used to be easier when we had regular incomes from employers and could set up automatic savings plans.

Guest's picture
Paul

Squirrels are industrious, and I like to think I am too.

I don't buy plastic garbage bags because my groceries come in bags. And I live in Chicago where Lake Michigan water flows freely so I don't buy bottled water. I'm sure that Net Flix, RedBox, and cable are lovely but my local library lends me DVDs at no cost (and their "fellow-library" borrowing program helps me nab what they don't have in stock. And the company 401k is a God send. Others think I'm nutty, but I'm okay with that as I build my nest with money I've saved.

Guest's picture
Amber Storck

I do the following:
Pick up cans and bottles from the work parking lot to recycle for money
Buy in bulk and freeze all the meat
Add 2 liter sodas full of water to the freezer
Keep water heater at low
Don't have a central air conditioner
Use heat sparingly and when I trim my trees, I keep the wood for the next winter
Don't eat out....at all
Line Dry Clothes
Use my energy efficient clothes washer
Cook all my own food-usually with a crockpot
Learned to love soup
Automatically save $500 per paycheck that goes into savings
Paid off my house when I was 29. I'm 31 now.
Use only CFL bulbs
Cut the cable-I have netflix
No Land Line Phone
Use low income discounts for water and electric
Refurbished Furniture found in dumpsters and took hand me downs to furnish my home
I don't have a gym membership. I use workout DVD's and walk (with my dog)
I don't have children
I work overtime whenever I can
I don't get manicures, pedicures, or go to hair salons. My sister in law cuts my hair when needed
I buy at thrift stores for clothing
I use a credit card to pay my bills & pay it off every month. I then use my monthly rewards to fill my car with gas
I use cheap soap, shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste
I wear very little makeup
I make my own home cleaning products
I don't drink alcohol
I shop the BIG sales for soda & buy as many as I can. Got 12 packs of soda for $1.48 last week
I have my own latte maker & bring my drinks into work
I open my blinds during the day for light
I set monthly monetary goals and stick to them
I garden for food (I will buy apple trees when they're on final sale next month)
I make my own bread with a breadmaker....and It makes awesome pizza crust too
I keep my clothing and shoes in very good condition by properly ironing & polishing
I make my own beef jerky with a food dehydrator for weeks worth of snacks at work
I take short showers to save on water
I don't water my lawn-nature takes care of it for me
I maintain my car and do my own oil changes
I buy at a discount grocery store only once a month
I purchased energy efficient curtains to maintain indoor temperatures-they paid for themselves in only one month
I rent DVD's and books from the library and if they need to be bought, I buy them at Half Price Books-a used book store
I make my own holiday cards & print my own pictures on my printer
I drink water more than anything else
I carpool 3x a week
I appreciate what I have and need nothing because of it.

Guest's picture
Kathy

I take the decision out of my hands and have set up an automatic payroll transfer directly in my savings account. Then I 'hide' my savings account from my online banking so I don't see it and won't be tempted to transfer a 'few' dollars here and there. Out of sight, out of mind, but with a pleasant surprise when I think to check the balance. Small victories!

Guest's picture
Misty

We shop and live very frugally, We cook enough food to have left overs, and we garden in the spring and summer, we also recycle

Guest's picture
Claudette Charlet

All loose change in my purse or from hubby gets put in a two gallon jar for years we've enptied it out and brought it to the savings account where we have between 3 and 4 hundred dollars at the end of each year, painless savings. We coupon, wait for sales on those items.Make losts of leftovers, my hubby hunts for duck, deer and and we put out hoop nets (big nets for fish), we frog, so lots of stuff in freezer. and we have time together frogging! Don't use paper towels, we have rags, we wash. Only use credit card sparingly (only one), we pay when bill comes in. No debit cards or checking, we use cash and money orders. Run errands once a week, to save on gas. Trying to keep our carbonfootprints to a minimum!Have fun on weekends at home with our 4 grown kids, their spouses and our grandkids, game nights, lots of swimming and good old -fashioned fun!

Guest's picture
Marty

We buy powdered vs. liquid detergent; frozen vs. pre-mixed juices; bulk vs. serving-sized packages; brew our own coffee; brown-bag lunches vs. fast food; water vs. energy drinks; hand-wash vs. dishwasher (since it's just 2 of us); hang vs. dryer for 30% of clothes; decide to pass on fake nails; take bus (as perk working at university) vs. driving; use coupons; selective buying at yard sales; husband does oil changes & light car maintenance himself; quality homemade gifts vs. store-bought (photography, wood crafts, baked items, etc.); when grocery/household items go on sale, buy extra to stock up!