Ready For Extreme Saving? Money Saving Advice For An Extreme Economy
Living in the midst of an economic downtrend and seeing what only seems like a long, unsavory patch of recession ahead, many of us are destined to make adjustments to our way of living. I, for one, have vowed to shave my budget down to its basic nubs, and for the most part, I've done away with what I believe to be 95% of my non-essential expenditures. These days, my spending is going to purely fixed expenses -- mostly to child care and home maintenance.
The question has arisen in our household whether we should be doing more. I then wondered: if push comes to shove, how far would I go to save some bucks? How ever more frugal should I try to be?
Money Saving Activities I Already Do
Recently, my family has worked on slashing our budget by 25% by making a few frugal moves and money-saving commitments. Some things I'd recommend doing:
1. Skip on travel for a while. There's lots to do at home! Otherwise, hunt down travel discounts and airfare deals before going anywhere. One can also save much on travel by applying these traveling tips.
2. Use rebates and coupons! I now frequent coupon sites and use deal sites and online shopping tools to save money consistently.
3. I avoid shopping altogether. In fact, my household hates shopping, so that's a plus for our pocketbooks! If we ever shop, I try to get a store to pay me for the effort, maybe through cash back rewards and incentives. Case in point: I wrote this Ebates review that discusses just how one popular shopping site can provide you discounts in the form of cash back rewards.
4. Delay routine services, such as haircuts. Maybe stretch time between oil changes.
5. Find cheaper entertainment options and plan your nights out carefully. For fun, you can watch movies on the internet instead of hitting the theater. There are ways to eat out for less even if you plan on dining out. We've been bringing out the old board games and visiting the library more often, and it's been delightful!
6. Stay closer to home to save money on gas.
7. Consider shopping at wholesale shopping clubs=. We've worked on altering our buying habits and switching from Whole Foods to Costco.
8. Buy stuff we need only if they're on sale, as much as possible.
9. Buy things used, as much as possible.
10. Take on more DIY projects and do more things ourselves. We're learning to perform more of our own home repairs, even if it's not second nature to us.
Frugal Activities I May Think Twice Before Doing
Now is there anything else I can do to cut our budget even deeper? The thought of extreme saving has crossed my mind, as I hear about more and more people turning to serious money saving measures as the recession worsens. Some of the frugal ideas my extremely thrifty friends and relatives have been toying with:
1. Limiting and minimizing the use of most things to make them last longer. Imagine rationing toiletries!
2. Ignoring expired labels on perishable items such as food and medicine to stretch their use and value.
3. Making a meal out of virtually anything. Some people I know have called this "creative cooking". I'll leave it to your imagination what this can entail!
4. Reusing and recycling everything.
5. Shunning disposable products that need to be replaced. Reusable alternatives are used instead (e.g. cloth diapers).
6. Accepting hand-me-downs from anyone.
7. Dumpster diving. Picking up free stuff left out on the sidewalk is not uncommon.
8. Going shopping exclusively at dollar stores and estate sales. Thrifting!
9. Hoarding the free stuff offered at restaurants and hotels (such as condiments, plastic utensils, soaps, etc).
10. Having others pick up your tab.
A lot of these extreme saving ideas are actually great ideas if done in moderation. There are certainly many reasonable ways to try to make things last longer or to stretch the use of the stuff we own. But I believe it's important that we don't go overboard with the things we do in our quest to be frugal. For instance, I'd make sure that my health and safety aren't compromised in the name of frugality. Before it gets to that point, I'd work on increasing my income first to avoid having to resort to truly extreme saving.