Share a money tip & win $10: What do you buy to thrive in a recession?

By Greg Go on 6 May 2009 (Updated 30 June 2009) 96 comments

UPDATE 5/13/09:  

The giveaway is over. Thanks to everyone for sharing really awesome tips!  We received over a 100 awesome tips for what to buy to thrive in a recession.  Look for a roundup of the answers coming soon.

Winners are:

1. Comment #31 by Suzanne Balvanz, who said:

I buy meat on reduced section at the market.

Then I advance-prep for meals, saving me time, money, trips to the store and avoiding impulse buys.

I also invest in fruit.

And buy a newspaper on Sundays, which pays for itself many times over.

2. Twitter #6 by @amuhlou (Amy Lynne), who said:  

Get a programmable thermostat to control heating/cooling when your home is empty.

Congrulations Suzanne and Amy!


Is it possible to spend money to save money?  What can we buy to help us thrive in this recession?

We want to know how you've spent money to save money. Share your tips for spending our way out of this recession, and be entered to win one of two $10 Amazon gift certificates to help buy your money saving goodie.

Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways -- one $10 Amazon gift certificate for a random comment, and another one for a random tweet.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer.  Include "@wisebread #moneytippers" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Wednesday, May 13 at 11:59pm PDT. Winners announced May 14.
  • You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets with "@wisebread #moneytippers" will be entered.  That's the Twitter search we're using to track responses.

 

3 Ways to Spend Money to Save Money

To get your creative juices flowing, here are 3 things you can buy to thrive in this recession.

1. Slow cooker (Crockpot)

I love my crockpot.  Prep the night before and throw it in the fridge.  Fire it up in the morning. Come home to a cheap and delicious dinner that's ready to be eaten the second I walk through the door.  So easy.

If you're a crockpot newbie, start by getting a crash course from Trent of The Simple Dollar.  Read The Art of the Slow Cooker, The Frugal Magic of the 5 Ingredient Crockpot Meal, and Five Essential Crockpot Recipes

Then subscribe to the Crockpot Lady's blog: A Year of Crockpotting.  Stephanie O'Dea posted a crockpot recipe everyday in 2008 (and still continues to post new slow cooker recipes), so there's a huge archive of crockpot recipes.  (By the way, Stephanie's new book Totally Together, comes out this month.)

You can also find a bunch of crockpot recipes from the Money Tips Network and in the Wise Bread forums (be sure to leave your recipes). 

Okay, that was the obvious example.  Here's a non-obvious one.

2. An espresso machine or premium coffee maker

I really enjoy my daily latte.  I could drink coffee from my drip machine at home, but it's not the same.  A daily latte is my frugal indulgence (and productivity crutch).  But 4 bucks a day at Starbucks is an expensive habit.  And unfortunately, I'm not one of the superhumans who can quit caffeine, so I'll need a real solution.

I've been thinking about getting an espresso machine and being my own barista.  A decent machine might cost $500, but I'll recover that in just 125 Starbucks visits (5 months).  I should have started this process a year ago.

3. Condoms

Hey, Leo said sex is one of the 10 ways to get to $1 million, and TIME magazine reports condoms are a hot recession seller.

4. .... You tell us.

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Guest's picture
Lisa

I planted my own tomato and herb plants so it will mean less I have to buy.

Guest's picture
Alex Reith

I bought inexpensive window boxes to grow my most commonly used herbs in. The window boxes keep the herbs up high enough that my neighborhood groundhog can't reach them. I also planted tomato plants in 5 gallon painting buckets that I had lying around. I just drilled a hole in the bottom of the bucket and plant the tomato plant upside down through the hole, no need for caging or staking. I'll probably also plant other vegetables a few at a time as the season progresses. There's no point in wasting money on plants I don't have time to tend.

Guest's picture

I buy seeds and seedlings to grow my own food. Yesterday I picked up two bush zucchini seedlings for $1.50. Those two plants will easily yield me $25 worth of produce over the course of the summer. In fact, it will be more than I can use up some weeks, so I'll have some to freeze and some to give away. Same story with herbs, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, etc. The more expensive seed stock, such as potatoes and garlic, can be replanted from each harvest, so it could be a one-time investment. And then there are the perennials: asparagus, fruit/nut trees, berries, grapes, etc. If you have a little piece of earth and a moderate amount of skill with plants, this is one of the best returns on investment I know of.

Guest's picture
mari

Entering (and winning) contests and/or signing up for free samples, etc. takes the edge off the shopping buzz I'm always seeking. Two birds, one entry!

Guest's picture
Amy

I recently bought a nice blouse and pair of pants from a store I don't usually shop at. I figure if I invest in some better quality clothing, it will last longer and save me some money in the long run.

Guest's picture
J.Ross

Really anything that is easy to make myself.
- Good food supplies to cook at home instead of eating out; it's fun to cook with someone, and I can make a restaurant-quality meal at home much cheaper than I can buy it!
- craft supplies to make my own (pillows, candles, gifts)
- container garden for frequently-used produce

Guest's picture
Kris

I bought a pre-paid oil change card that is good for 10 oil changes; I received a 20% discount by pre-paying. Each change includes filter, fluid top off, and tire pressure check. Better to pay the money now for maintenance than for very costly repairs in the future.

Guest's picture
Jo

Let's face it, with money being tight for everyone, some people are getting extremely desperate to try to make ends meet. For me, the best investment we made during these hard times was a paper shredder. Living in the city where out trash sits out on the curb for hours I wanted to make sure that our personal/financial information was as safe as it could be. Shredding our old paperwork (as opposed to ripping it in half and tossing it) gives us that extra piece of mind so we can sleep easier at night (and better sleep means we can be more effective at work). Though we won't see actual results in our bank accounts, this one investment could potentially prevent us from having to spend thousands because of identity theft.

Guest's picture
Beth

I love good tea, and I was feeling the pinch, so rather than buying a bunch of tea bags, I went for the bulk, loose tea version of the kind I really like. I can use less, and over the length of the time that I'll be drinking the tea, I'll save.

I also found my favorite smoothie brand and now I can make my own smoothies at home for less than I would pay to get it made for me.

Guest's picture
Kate

You can purchase the Sunday newspaper, in order to get the weekly coupons. If you clip coupons, and shop wisely, you can save a lot of money on your regular grocery bills.

Guest's picture
Nicki

Some people want to still enjoy a nice cup of coffee, where as I want to still occasionally have a relaxing drink after a hard day. I'm not a fan of beer so I used to get hard cider or hard lemonade which typically run about $1.50 per bottle. So instead I bought a martini shaker, couple flavors, and basic vodka. It's easier to control how much I want (typically siding on less than a 'normal' serving) and the ingredients cost less per drink.

Guest's picture

One of the best things my husband and I spent money on was our programmable thermostat. Even getting an expensive one with all the bells and whistles (like access via the internet), we still made up the difference within a few months of use and actually enjoy seeing our electric bill come in each month!

Guest's picture
Scott N.

A subscription to a movie service like netflix or blockbuster can often save costly trips to the theater. Especially with being able to view some netflix movies instantly on the computer, we have decide to stay in and watch our choice of movie rather than the theater. One month of netflix is about half the price of a trip to the movies.

Guest's picture
Leah

I was living for free with a relative but had to drive 35 minutes to get to work every day. But I found an unconventional living situation (a one-room apartment owned by a church) in which I now have to shell out VERY low rent BUT can walk to work instead of filling my gas tank every couple days. I now able to put a lot more money in my savings acct each pay day.

Sometimes cheaper housing isn't found in conventional places. Talk to the people you know and see if you can save money by moving. Of course this is a lot easier for a single person as opposed to someone with a family.

Guest's picture
bashtree

I bought a tomato plant despite my black thumb (after talking with the farmer at length on how not to kill it). I also make a washable pad to cover my sweeper-mop, to keep from having to buy refills.

Guest's picture
Deb

I could never get into using coupons. I never had a place to keep them other than a stupid paper envelope that was too hard to page through in the store. So I bought a plain lightweight 5x7 photo album and stick the coupons in the photo slots. I put tabs on pages for sections. It works beautifully and saves me $$.

Guest's picture

My biggest tip is to remind people to shop at dollar stores and discount retailers, like Ross Shop for Less. You can get the same goods at better prices at these places!

Guest's picture
ellen

I bought a $20 metal garbage can, drilled holes in it and now have a wonderful compost bin. It cost a lot less than "real compost bins" and I will not have to buy compost this spring for the garden. It's a win win situation - good for the enviroment and good for my family!

Guest's picture
Lynda

1. Get netflix - watch movies at home instead of going out to the movie theatre

2. Buy groceries instead of eating out

3. I like the condom one =)

4. This isn't spending money but you can borrow a friend's video game console/games if they are not playing with it as much so that 1) you don't go out and buy it yourself (for video game buffs) or that 2) you don't feel like you have to go out as much to have fun

5. Buy your own alcohol and invite friends over to have drinks at home (instead of going to a bar)

Guest's picture
Mike S

As crazy as it sounds, I got an iPhone because I found that it more than pays for itself in the ways it allows me to save. Full details are in my blog post, How My iPhone Pays for Itself

Guest's picture
Alisa

I bumped up my Netflix account one movie per month, and bought some new yarn, which keeps me at home doing more crafts. These crafts mean I'll be doing less last minute birthday and holiday shopping as I build my stash!

Guest's picture
boognish1

Well, I wouldn't recommend this for you, Greg, but I bought a diva cup.

Guest's picture
Edie

I was reading an article one day on this site about a bread maker. My teenage daughter bought it for me this Christmas and I absolutely LOVE it! It has already paid for itself. Have you seen the price of wheat bread lately? Even at the cheapest stores, it is almost $2 per LOAF.

Now, me and my daughter routinely have hot bread for breakfast in the morning and hot bread for dinner. She especially likes the wheat bread.

My machine has a delay timer which really helps this single mom a lot.

It is my favorite new applicance. It makes the most excellent bread even though I had no knack for making it the truly, old fashioned way.

Guest's picture
Kathryn

The subject says it all. I shop the big thrift stores in my area. If you're weirded out by the idea of wearing used clothes, you'd be surprised how much of what they have is brand new, and less than $5/item.

Guest's picture
KelR1

The best thing to "buy" right now is a savings account. Putting aside money in an emergency fund if you haven't already or adding to that fund keeps you feeling secure knowing that, if something comes up like dental work or car repairs or if you lose your job, you have some money set aside. That's the best feeling in the world and priceless!

Guest's picture
Dcexpat

Buy cloth napkins and stop spending money on paper ones. Also buy a drying rack to air-dry clothes. This wil save on electricity, gas or laundromat costs.

Guest's picture
Laura

A good vacuum sealer has been invaluable for us. We can buy meat in bulk or when it's about to reach its expiration date and freeze it safely away for later. No matter how much air we squeezed out of freezer bags before, we'd always have some amount of freezer burn. Buying a vacuum sealer means we can stock up when we find a great deal and we can avoid wasted food.

Guest's picture
bobthebunny

I buy one "gourmet" ingredient each week when I go shopping, and try a new meal with it. It feels like eating out and it's fun to learn to cook with something new!

Guest's picture
Guest

cook your own beans!

Guest's picture

* I buy meat on reduced section at the market.
* Then I advance-prep for meals, saving me time, money, trips to the store and avoiding impulse buys.
* I also invest in fruit.
* And buy a newspaper on Sundays, which pays for itself many times over.

:)

Suzanne

Guest's picture
steenbok68

Baking your own bread is cheaper AND the bread is much tastier than store bought.

Guest's picture
Courtney Hunt

Invest in frugal entertainment. Things like board games, books, etc.

Guest's picture
Mandy

My best buy is a good quality hair clipper set - right now, they have them at Sam's Club for about $40. All it takes is the savings on 2 haircuts each for my husband and our son to more than pay for the set. Since they both need their hair cut every four weeks, we save a lot!

Guest's picture
Mary

If you eat yogurt, getting a yogurt maker can save you a lot. In my area, yogurt rarely costs less than 50 cents per 6 oz container. A gallon of yogurt at that rate would cost over $10. I bought a gallon of milk today for $2.67 which will make the equivalent of 21 6 oz containers. I have a West Bend brand 1-quart yogurt maker and although they don't make that kind any more I was able to get a second one for $1 at a tag sale so I can start another quart "yogging" when I'm getting to the end of the current quart.

If you're partial to Greek yogurt, which is much more expensive, the savings are even greater.

Guest's picture
ryan

I bought a box fan for my bedroom. no need to turn the AC on, as i only care if it is hot when i am trying to fall asleep. savings= not air conditioning the whole house.

Guest's picture
Rob O.

We've done quite a number of things to improve the energy efficiency of our home (we lovingly refer to as 2Dolphins Resort & Spa) to reduce cooling costs here in hot, hot West Texas.

Like Meg said, one of the best things we spent money on was our programmable thermostat. This allows us to almost entirely shut off the cooling during the hottest period of the day and then bring the house back to a comfy temp right before we typically arrive home.

A couple of years ago, we had started replacing all of our old aluminum windows with new, double-paned, high-efficiency vinyl-clad versions. With each set we did, there was an appreciable decrease in the amount of cooling needed and in the time it takes for our air conditioner to cool down the house. We finally finished off the last few windows just a few months ago and the difference is significant.

We also covered our large, south-facing backyard patio (a.k.a. The Veranda) and since that's the side of the house where the living areas that we use the most are located, that has made a huge difference in how cool & comfortable the house is - even without A/C. Very often, we can just open windows to draw a breeze through the house and only actively cool the house during the hottest few afternoon hours.

One of the things I'd like to do next is to add some insulation blankets in the attic space. The cellulose insulation up there is fairly thick, but I think there's still room for improvement.

Guest's picture
Maureen

We are 'sharecropping' in our neighbors unused back yard. We get more land to grow food and she gets free veggies (plus a nice garden to look at). It's a win-win situation!

ps. we did spend money on a large chest freezer to store all our home-grown produce, but in the long run we know we'll be saving money.

Guest's picture
Guest

What I have been doing is spending $10.00 every month at the dollar store.

One month I bought $10.00 of instandt hand-sanitizer and antibacterial soap.

Another time I bought 10 tubes of colgate and crest toohpaste

another purchase was coffee filters, small screw driver set, baggies, scotch tape, dog shampoo, etc.

We live in hurricane central and this part of preps and also it is inexpensive. With about $50.00 spent my linen closet is well stocked with supplies.

Guest's picture
Nancy

I don't buy books. The library is free. I order on-line so they are waiting when I get there which is once a week or so as part of other errands. Also good for catching up on magazines that I don't subscribe to anymore. So, I guess the cost is the extra gas for a brief detour on the way elsewhere.

Guest's picture
Keira G.

One of the largest publishing genres is romance novels. They sell even better in a recession (just google Harlequin). However you can get books in many ways without spending more money on them! My frugal tip is to join Paperback Swap. Get rid of the books you own and don't like/want to keep and order books you want to read. For five more ways to save money on books check out my blog post: 6 Ways to Get Books for Free

Guest's picture
Ann

I think a rain barrel or equivalent it a great investment. You can even find something at a thrift store or garage sale that would do. That way you can water all those plants everyone is buying. It won't work for acreage but patio gardens or house plants will appreciate it.

Guest's picture
Emily E

I buy furniture secondhand and refinish them instead of buying brand new items. Also, I never buy anything full-price, things ALWAYS go on sale. Growing up, I always bought gifts for my brothers and sisters from yard sales, and cleaned them up so they were like new.

Guest's picture
rbaross

We make our own laundry detergent. It has saved us a ton. If things are too yucky, we just let it soak overnight, and we've had no trouble getting dirt out of our clothes. Everyone has to wash their clothes (well, I hope, anyway!), and I've given the recipe to a lot of people. The only ingredients you need are water, castile soap, washing soda and borax, which are all very cheap. Not only that, but we use old washed out kitty litter plastic buckets with handles and snap on lids to store it in!

Guest's picture
Guest

Use vinegar in a fabric softener ball instead of $5-$6 a carton name brand fabric softener. It works as well, is only $1.50 a gallon and can be used for windows and pickles too!

Guest's picture
mes

- Hand-me-downs, Craigslist, Freecycle, and thrift shops for kid clothes. I've gotten some real steals.
- Feeding the baby homemade food rather than pre-packaged stuff.

Guest's picture

Buy some of the new CFL bulbs. They are a little more pricey initially, but will save you money on your electric bill in the long run. Keep your eyes open. My grocery store had these on sale 5/$1 last week!

Guest's picture
Therese

I bought a rice cooker that I use every day-many times twice a day! It is good to make oatmeal every morning and rice and beans or any other soup/stew in the evening. We eat much healthier as well as more cheaply-and most of the food is good rewarmed for another meal.

Guest's picture
Guest

could you share some rice cooker recipes.

I like the idea about rice and beans. what kind of spices?

Guest's picture
sylrayj

Our thermostat is dreadful - there's no real way to tell what the temperature is in here with it. I used to use the thermometer on our fish tank, except we were down to just one panda corey so I found him a new home through Freecycle. I want to find out how warm it is inside, and compare it to outside, to know when to open the windows and when to close them, using the wind to keep us comfortable instead of air conditioners.

I got one nice water bottle, but my son uses it for camp all the time! For Mother's Day, I'm getting three more nice bottles, so I can just fill up with water and not have to pick up coffee on the way to get groceries, or bring a pop, or be *too* tempted to buy a nice Iced Cap. :)

Guest's picture
Sam Lamp

Living on a limited income the best thing I ever bought to save money at the grocery store is the large freezer I have.
I buy things when they are on sale and stock up and each month it is always something different. And with everything I can get into it I am able to have a big leway in my grocery budget when I need it.
You really can't go wrong with a freezer, buy a good quality one and it will last you for a very long time. Even if your single you would be amazed at how much you save. I am single and although I have a room mate it still saves me huge amounts of money every month.

Guest's picture
A

My old ones are shot, so I got the best ones I could find. Not just for regular exercise, but for "gleaning" the neighborhood on toss-away nights. Oh, the treasures I've found...

Guest's picture
Kristen

I've replaced almost all my ground beef recipes with frozen ground turkey. Chili, tacos, taco salad- you name it. Nobody can tell the difference plus 1 pound frozen turkey rolls usually sell for about $1 while a pound of ground beef goes for about $3. Plus, turkey has a lot less fat!

Guest's picture
Genuineashley

I'm trying my hardest to eat from home. And trying to do it healthier too.

I was lucky enough to find a clean popcorn (air) popper for $1.50 at a thrift store that works great! I spent another $2 on a bag of popcorn kernels and some squeezable butter. I haven't bought a bag of chips since!

I also splurged on a waffle maker for $8 at Walgreens this week while I was waiting on a prescription to be filled. I already had the pancake/waffle mix at home, so I didn't have to buy anything else. My waffles were soooo much better than any frozen waffle and as good as any that I've eaten when out and about! I've experimented with mixing some flavored muffin mix with the waffle mix and have been very pleased with the flavors! They're so yummy, we don't use as much syrup.

I've frozen some, but haven't had a chance to "toast" them like we do with frozen waffles from the store.

Guest's picture
Doreen

I don't eat out for lunch. I always pack my lunch! It's up to me what to make and besides it would probably be a lot healthier than eating out somewhere.

Guest's picture
Heather

One easy change I've made is to purchase an aluminum water bottle, and a stainless insulated mug.

I'm saving a tonne on bottled water, and doing something beneficial for the environment as well.

Instead of stopping off at Starbucks, (time is money too), I've been bringing my own coffee/tea.

I even keep a couple bags of tea in my purse. Often, it's easy enough to find hot water despensers out and about, or folks who are glad to fill them for you, (just be discreet, unless you want to get some strange looks).

And, if you absolutely have to get your afternoon cafe-mocha, you'll at least save five or ten cents off the cost.

Guest's picture
Denise

I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) which will supply me with some fruit and vegetables each week. If I don't go to the store, I don't spend money!

Guest's picture
Teresa

My biggest tip is to buy a large box of rice (like one from Sam's or Costco) you'll always have rice to go with your meals...it's super easy and fast and goes with most any main dish...anything to help you eat in, instead of going out, which is usually quite pricey.

Guest's picture
Kristen

I'm in my mid-20s, which means summers as of late are ripe for friends' weddings. It's expensive enough to buy gifts, so to save money on the cards, I bought a whole pack of plain ivory cards and envelopes for $3.50, and made new ones by cutting out designs from the beautiful cards I had received for my own wedding. I figure I won't look at my old cards again, and this way the "love" can be passed on to other happy couples.

Guest's picture
stefanie

the best things i have bought to save money are the things i can find on sale when i have a coupon that can be doubled or used in conjunction with other coupons at the grocery store to stock up and save. the past couple of weeks one of the grocery stores around here has been having a buy $30 of x products get a $10 coupon for your next purchase deal. after the first trip, i used several coupons plus that extra $10 off coupon to buy 4 packages of whole bean coffee for less than $12. That means we're set for coffee for several months and there's no temptation to go buy something foofy and $4+ each at the coffee shop.

Guest's picture
bunny

I bought a sturdy and good pair of high-quality shoes that are versatile and comfortable so I can wear them almost everywhere and anywhere and it will last a long time. Bye-bye to having too many shoes and to throwing them away after a short while.

Guest's picture
J.

With my first child, I invested in high-quality cloth diapers (Fuzzi Bunz brand). They are still going strong now that my second child is almost 2. Even if you use disposables for outings or daycare, home use of cloth diapers saves a lot, especially if you use them for more than one child and if you have an efficient laundry machine.

I also love my bread machine, which I got for less than $50 including shipping (Sunbeam). In addition to whole wheat loaves, I use the dough setting to make pizza dough, and I also make Challah dough to braid and bake in the conventional oven. I have an inefficient old electric oven, so baking the bread in the machine saves electricity as well as time and effort. And fresh, warm bread displaces many unhealthy, expensive snacks like crackers and chips.

I also pop popcorn in place of chips, but I just pop it in a saucepan :-)

Guest's picture
Mary

A few months ago I stopped driving to work and started taking the bus. Leaving my car at home has saved me money in gas, parking, and maintenance and I'm making a difference for the environment as well.
Monthly cost
Parking $150 Bus Pass $ 84
Gas $70 Gas $30

Difference - $106 per month

Guest's picture
Olivia

You may want to check with your car insurer to see if they'll drop your rates now that you're no longer commuting with it.

Guest's picture
Brian

I save quite a bit on the staples I purchase such as food, TP, gas etc.

Where to start? I utilize my Discover card to save 5% at the gas pump and on any automotive purchases. On top of the 5% saved with the Discover card, I'm also a steady customer at Fry's grocery stores so I get 10 cents off a gallon on every purchase. My purchases at Fry's almost always consist of the store brand. To boot, I make most of my food from scratch such as pancakes, beans etc. I save a *ton* of money on ways that keep compounding on each other.

If I feel the urge to *dine out* I can get take away from Fry's also which is just as good but a whole heck of a lot cheaper or I might get something a bit fancier from one of their aisles. Considering I don't make much money to begin with I have to be creative and think outside the box. All in all, I'm doing quite well and saving a lot of money while spending it at the same time without sacrificing too much. I'm living quite comfortably.

Guest's picture
Gaurav Sharma

Housing prices are very low now and its a best time to buy a house.
My best money saving tip in this recession is to buy a house.This is for all who have rented apartments , have fixed jobs and paying huge rents.

I am sharing my 2 bedroom apartment with 2 more roommates and our rent is 1200 / month = $400/person/month.

In this for me its best to buy a home. Suppose I buy home with Mortgage loan = $165000 and I pay 20% down and 4.67% as rate then the monthly amount will come around $878. I could convince my friends to shift with me in my house as roommates and charge #350/month then it will becomes $700/month and I will pay around only $150 more to sustain my mortgage amount.

Here I am directly saving $250/month + my roommates will also save $50/month.

Other than that according to new law we can deduct $8000 for your first purchase so $8000 savings a year ,so $666 + $150 savings per month and then I will be paying for my own home not for rented apt.

I haven't bought a home yet still thinking but just wanna to share this tip to maximize the recession banefit.

Thank You!

Guest's picture
Pam

I buy Walmart Visa cards and put a certain amount of money on them to cover my monthly grocery shopping expenditures. If I place $100 on the card, for example, it costs about $5 more than if I shopped with $100 cash. However ...

I don't feel safe carrying cash, and I always buy things I don't need when I bring my debit card to the store. The pre-loaded card gives me the safety of not carrying cash but with all the limitations. So I don't spend as much!

And when I need common items like milk, bread, etc. that I use and need before returning to the grocery store again, I try to pick up these items at smaller stores like Walgreens or even gas stations. They might cost slightly more, but I'm never tempted to spend extra money.

Guest's picture
Amber

I buy the Sunday newspaper. Of course I got it with a special promotion that worked out to about $12 for 20 weeks or so. All those coupons have saved me hundreds of dollars - certainly a worthy investment.

Guest's picture
JulieS

I have bought home improvement items such as CFL bulbs and weather stripping which should not only save me on A/C costs this summer (incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat!) but are also part of the investment I'm making in the future world my grandchildren and their grandchildren will live in.

Guest's picture
Guest

2 more chickens. I already had two which supplied almost enough eggs for the 2 of us so the coop and pen were already in place. Adding 2 new chicks wasn't difficult and I'll be able to sell the extra eggs to my mother in law for what she pays for eggs at the store ($2.50/half dozen). The chicks will have paid for themselves in 2 weeks.

We're also making our own mayonnaise, mustard, bread, beer and cheese. Plus growing all the vegetables we'll eat during the summer. WHoever would have thought I'd turn out this way? But it's fun!

Guest's picture
Tes

1) High Quality Whole Wheat Flour (KAF) for baking bread, making breakfast scones, pancakes, waffles, crackers, pizza shells for the freezer. Healthy, cheap and delicious.
2) Plain white cloth napkins that can be bleached and re-used over and over - look great, work better than paper ever did. Got from the clearance bin at Bed, Bath and Beyond: 4 napkins/$1
3) BJ club memebership - we buy bulk meat (chicken thighs and whole pork loins) that I portion and freeze. I also buy canned Progresso soup and fresh fruit for work lunches much cheaper than supermarket prices. (Lunch is a can of soup, a piece of fruit and a slice of homemade bread - healthy, delish and <$3 a lunch.) At BJ's we also are buying a compster so we don't have to buy any fertilizer for our garden this year.
4)Renting a wood chipper to take care of all the branches blown down over the winter and will use the chipped wood instead of buying mulch.

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Guest

i've spent money taking investing classes. the information in the classes has given me a way to make more informed decisions about money.

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Jeannie

I have started using coupons more wisely since January and it has helped me lower my grocery bill(for a family of 5) from $150 per week to $80. My ultimate goal is to get it down to $50 or less. As one of the earlier posts stated, you need to be organized to be really successful. I bought a crafters bag (about the sice of a luch bag) and inserted 2 check files. The bag has a zippered pouch in the lid (for pens and scissors) and a pocket on the front (for coupons I use at the store Im at) and back (for the envelope or ad Im going to use). I take my 'savings' bag everytime I go to any store. I take advantage of online coupon sites and have started a stockpile of many non perishable food and health and cleaning supplies. Many items I have bought either VERY cheap or free! And they are name brands most of the times. You can combine store coupon and mfr coupons to get the best savings. And of course I take adavantage of several of the great deals I receive in my Wise Bread emails!

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NRM

I bought new kitchen shelves for my tiny apartment so I have room to expand my pantry and store bulk buys of stuff I use regularly.

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Rachael

Just when I realized that things were getting tight last fall, I also found out that I was pregnant with our second child. Since I had a stockpile of disposable diapers and wipes from a good sale a few months prior, I started putting my son's monthly diaper budget toward high quality cloth diapers instead. My son fully transitioned into cloth within a few months, and I discovered that cloth diapering really was quite easy with all of the new high-performance fabrics and designs that are available. Now I have a full stock of cloth diapers ready to reuse for my new "recession baby", and no worries about tossing $60 a month into the landfill.

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Emily

I've been buying the Sunday paper about once a month lately to stock up on coupons and go to a grocery store that will double them. I print some coupons from the internet, but for some reason, they don't scan as well, so I prefer to cut out coupons instead.

I also buy the canvas bags and use them when I go grocery shopping because many stores will now give you 5 cents back for reusing a bag, so after 20 trips to the store, it pays for itself!

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PamG

I bought some microfiber cleaning cloths and have gradually stopped buying many cleaners. They work better on windows with just plain water than anything I've ever used. No paper towels needed and we haven't purchased window cleaners in years.
We use them dry to dust everything and you can go from your mirror to your counter, etc. without switching cleaners/cloths.
They can be washed in your washer and re-used over and over on any surface.We have a furniture store so the savings really add up, but even for home use they will save you some real money.

This year, like many people we have invested in more plants and seeds to grow more veggies. We get compost from our city compost pile for free. We also have a small compost pile at the edge of the woods for our green waste which yeilds some compost every year. Also, I usually buy perenials each year and as they multiply, we split them and sell extra's at the local farmers market. We hope to have a few extra veggies/plants/flowers to sell at our local farmers market.

We also bought an inexpensive graphics program (after the free trial period) so the kids can make their own designs for T-shirts. You can upload your image to cafepress and order shirts, calenders, etc. Then you can opt to offer your image to others and you will recieve a small commission for each item they sell with your design. It's not much, but may add up to a free thing for yourself or kids. There's no cost to you if they don't sell any. Tip: make a design for their video camera - it pays $10- commission each time your design sells :)

Thanks everyone, for all your great tips, I know I will be using many of them right away.

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RICKLEE

..these helped keep my veggies fresh for much longer, and saved me from throwing away rotting food.

2. I signed up for a savings account at IngDirect and make monthly deposits. Totally painless and I'm building a good amount of emergency savings.

3. I go to the library and get audio books. This avoids spending money, and I get to learn a variety of subjects during my commute.

4. I tithe. The more I give away, the more I mysteriously receive sufficient to cover my expenses.

5. I bought gold. Started 5 years ago. When it doubled, I sold half.

Guest's picture

If you buy quality pots and pans you'll cook at home more often. When we had cheap pans everything stick and cooked unevenly and it wasn't fun at all to cook dinner at home. Now we cook almost every meal. You'll save money by avoiding restaurants in the long run.

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Guest

In this bad time, there are always people who are in worse situation then myself. I spend money (little whatever I could) to buy them hot meal, blankets, or just give cash.

It is not about tax benefits, it is about benefit for my soul.

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Kristy

Shelling out some money for blackout curtains helps us keep our A/C bill down (a huge part of our monthly budget here in Dallas!).

~Q

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Kacie

Here are my three "splurges" that save money in the long run.

A REEL MOWER
This lawn mower operates not by gasoline or electricity. This low noise mower is fueled by muscle power. You push the mower to engage several sharpened blades that rotate quickly in a circular pattern. After the initial cost of the mower, anywhere from $89 -$250, the only maintenance is sharpening the blades once in awhile. Highly recommended for small city lots. And you get the added benefit of exercise so you don't have to go to the gym as often.

For those of you with acreage, consider a buying a goat. Goats keep the grass low, provide a much sought after milk and if you have the angora version, the fibers of the coat can be spun into textiles.

POWER FLUSH TOILET
Buy a 1.0, 1.28, or 1.6 gallon toilet. Save on your water bill and save water for the planet. Cost is around $500 for most toilets. Contact your local plumbing distributor for purchase information.

LED LIGHTS
A little pricier than incandescent or CFL's, but these babies last for 10 years on average. Technology has improved and prices are gradually becoming more affordable. LED's have the advantage of staying cool to the touch and lasting longer in frigid temperatures found in the northern hemisphere.

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Kristin

I check out Amazon's grocery and toiletry sales every month. They oftem have deals where you get 15-30% off a particular brand if you purchase at least $XX that brand. I'm usually able to find at least one item that I use that is cheaper than what I can get if for on sale at the grocery store or large box store. The items from Amazon.com come in bulk, but if it's fairly nonperishable and an item that I use most days, then I have no problem buying a 3-12 month supply to save some money.
http://www.amazon.com/Sales-Grocery/b/ref=sc_bm_br_16310101_1_6?ie=UTF8&...

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Olivia

Here are a few. We got our old sewing machine repaired ($35). This allowed me to make reuseable drawstring fabric gift bags, cloth napkins, kid's costumes, scrap quilts, Christmas stockings, and simple repairs and darning. A used copy of Square Foot Gardening for a quarter. Now we have two extended plots that keep us in tomatoes, (& sauce), lettuce, green beans (& frozen beans), and basil for the year. An old Fannie Farmer cookbook. (I think I splurged on that one and paid a buck.) Great for simple recipes using already stocked ingredients. An emnamel canner at a yard sale for $3, resulting in tomato sauce, jellies, jams, applesauce, and canned peaches......

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babyruthless

Like everyone, I'm planting a [somewhat larger] garden this year--here's my twist:
* I had a little garden surrounded by chicken wire last year, but everytime I went outside, my two large dogs would be standing in my garden looking at me like "o hai, was this fence supposed to keep me out?" So my husband built me a proper fence for Valentine's Day.
* I bought my seeds from Seed Saver's Exchange, so they are heirloom seeds. Not only will my veggies (hopefully) taste better than the hybrid varieties, but I will be able to save my seeds from this year to use next year. These seeds are more expensive than Burpee's but I won't need to buy next year. Also, I was able to find some very interesting veggies that I've never seen in the seed aisle of the hardware store--ground cherries, anyone?
* I have been making jelly/jam from fruit from local farms for the last three years. My mom gave me her hot-water bath canner. This year, if my garden does well, I'm going to shell out the $100 for a good, large pressure canner. I want to be able to can tomato products safely, and I can also use the large pot to make beer in--right now I don't have a pot large enough for homebrew, and I have to split my batches into two pots, which works okay, but I'd rather do it in one pot.
* PESTO!!!! Last year, I had a bumper crop of basil (and the volunteers are up for this year) This is the greatest return on investment ever--I bought an ice cube tray <$2, and froze pesto in ice cube form. Once it's frozen, put them in a freezer bag. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat. I probably made pesto every week or so. Near the end of the week, I am usually out of ideas for lunch, so I boil some pasta in the morning, toss a couple of pestocubes in my spaghetti, and head out the door--do it yourself frozen dinner, for a fraction of the cost. Delish, and a fraction of the cost of a Lean Cuisine. I'm still eating this, about once a week. I also melt a cube and put them on pizza.
* Last tip: Last year, I made watermelon rind pickles on a whim from a roommate's watermelon. They were such a hit with my 84 year old grandfather that I'm going to try my hand at growing melons this year. The most expensive part of the pickles was mailing them to my grandpa in Georgia, but $15 to mail THE PERFECT PRESENT would be a bargain at twice the price. If you have a good ol' country boy grandfather or father, these might just remind him of his youth, which is the greatest present possible.

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Tony

Determine which items cost less from which grocery stores.

I shop mostly at Walmart for my produce, as it's cheaper than Target or Publix, the local alternatives. I also shop at my local Farmers Market, where I can buy the same loaf of bread for $1 less. Target will sell the bread for $3, Walmart for $2.50, Farmers Market for $1.50. Not all fruit and veg is cheaper at Farmers Market, but often things are, and fresher too.

Get to know which gas stations generally have lower prices. Apply for a credit card that gives you money back on gas. Often if you apply for a card for a gas brand, you get $40 or more in rebates over a 4 month period, worth having.

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Amy

I bought seeds and soil to grow my own herbs and vegetables in these tough times.

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Karen P

We have put in a garden in our back yard. Also, i look at pinchingyourpennies.com for great deals on groceries.

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Lisa Harkema

We cook at home and started a garden. It's healthier and will save money after all the gardening supplies are paid for. We plan on doing the garden for years, so we invested in some infrastructure for gardening, like a big trellis for the tomatoes.

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1. Make delicious homemade broth by saving vegetable scraps and simmering them in water later. Way cheaper than canned broth and probably healthier.

2. Use cheap 10 cent ramen in place of other foods - spaghetti, crush it first and use it as rice, etc.

3. Look for coupons and deals everywhere, and don't be afraid to haggle.

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My Hubby is an exec at a local car dealership and I am a part time Nurse at a hospital. We have 5 kids aged 8-21, with the oldest having profound disabilities. We are always looking for and coming up with new ideas on saving money.
1. We purchased a warehouse club membership that allows us to combine the use of coupons, rebates and sales for the best prices on bulk grocery items,discounted clothing, food, etc.You have to know how to comparitively shop for this to be cost effective, but we have to feed our big family on the cheap! I purchased the membership through my employer at a deeply discounted rate. My membership came with 2 membership cards, and since Hubby and I shop together, we gave the other membership to my sister in law who has a warehouse club membership to another competitor. She in turn gave us her secondary membership card, so this benefits us all and gives us a bit more variety as each club has varying items and specials.
2. We scout garage & yard sales in the warmer months for great deals on often new/like new household,clothing,furniture items. I have found great new gifts at ridiculously low prices. Yes, my brother would never guess that the NIB Kodak 8.0 megapixel digital camera that I gave to him for Xmas was $15!

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Anna

I invested in Tupperware. I really think Tupperware is expensive, so I didn't want to buy it. But, the quality is unbeatable, and everything is air tight. I store my fruit and veggies in the Tubberware, in the fridge, and everything lasts at least twice as longer as it normally would. I am rarely throwing out spoiled food. I have beautiful strawberries in my fridge that I bought over a month ago, and they still taste so fresh. I also bought the tupperware popsicle makers, and that's another money saver. I don't buy popsicles or ice cream from the store anymore, because I can make them at home with fresh ingredients, and I can control the amount of sugar added. I am making healthy and inexpensive treats for my family. I also store cereal and snacks in the Tupperware. They don't go stale, and I'm not wasting money.

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Guest

My husband and I bought a Pellet Stove last year and have saved HUNDREDS of dollars on heating costs. We plan on buying a smaller wood stove for another part of our home this fall to supplement. We live in Alaska, so the winters are cold, and our other heating option is OIL... a much more expensive option, as we all know!! We can get free wood locally by cutting it down ourselves, and by purchasing our pellet stove from a local dealer we get a discount on pellets purchased through them as well. It is the smartest purchase we have made in order to save money!!

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webmaster

The giveaway is over -- but that doesn't mean you have to stop sharing your tips!  Winners are:

1. Comment #31 by Suzanne Balvanz, who said:

I buy meat on reduced section at the market.

Then I advance-prep for meals, saving me time, money, trips to the store and avoiding impulse buys.

I also invest in fruit.

And buy a newspaper on Sundays, which pays for itself many times over.

2. Twitter #6 by @amuhlou (Amy Lynne), who said:  

Get a programmable thermostat to control heating/cooling when your home is empty.

Congrulations Suzanne and Amy!

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Kathy

I have a bread machine so I can make my own bread. I also have a garden. I shop at dollar store and Costco. I have a freezer so I can pick up things in bulk. I make my own dog food for my dogs and it is better for them and they love it. My husband is retiring Aug 1st. So I am making adjustments on everything.

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karen

I keep a two folders in my car at all times. One is to hold coupons alphabetically for the grocery store. The other is for restaurant discounts and freebies. I don't dine anywhere that I don't have a coupon. If I want to eat somewhere I surf the internet to find a coupon for that establishment. I save lots of money this way.