This list covers my major frugal activities during 2007. Some of them are habitual, some of them are new. This list only includes items I would have done anyway. So if I saw something that was a great deal and impulsively bought it, it wouldn’t make the list. Items are only included if I would have bought something at any price, but instead did it frugally.
- Selling things. We sold our hot tub, an old bed, two old bikes, a painting we’d outgrown, a yard sale worth of stuff, and a desk. Altogether, they made us a nice little bundle. Savings/earnings: $875.
- Used grocery store card and coupons. I believe I save at least $35 a month using coupons and store “club” cards. (I did track this for several months in 2007, with savings ranging from $17 in July to more than $40 in June, August and September.) Savings: $420 per year.
- Switched space heaters for electric blankets. I anticipate spending $40 this winter instead of nearly $200; we’ll see if I’m right when the winter bills have all come in. Savings: $160 per year.
- Bought child’s clothing all on sale, at Goodwill or the consignment shop. Savings: $157 over Target-level prices.
- Changed almost all our light bulbs to CFLs — 23 light bulbs. Assuming the 14-watt CFLs are replacing 60-watt bulbs I’ll save $10 a month; if they replaced all 75-watt bulbs, I’ll save $13 a month. The reality is somewhere in the middle. Best deal: I got 10 bulbs for $3 at Costco ($13 minus a $10 instant rebate) — $0.35 each. Energy savings: $138 per year.
- Buying other things secondhand. We frequent thrift and consignment shops, especially for Little Cheap. We found used cleats, paddock boots, and rollerskates in 2007, as well as lots of books (as low as $0.33 each) and a push broom. Savings: At least $100.
- Trash picking. I live in a city, but I’m not averse to grabbing something off the street (well, something the owner intended to be taken, that is). Last year, we got a free fire pit (something we were leaning strongly toward buying) and a free large planter this way. Savings: $90.
- Hung laundry out to dry. If I used my dryer to dry five loads a week, it would cost me $117 a year, assuming each load dries for 1 hour. Instead, I dry about 10-12 loads a month in the winter only, which costs about $35 a year. Savings: $82 per year.
- Using Freecycle. Freecycle is a great way to share the wealth, in both directions. A Freecycler took away my old dishwasher, but Freecycle also gave us several items we were planning to buy, including a hoe and a huge mirror for our dining room. Savings: $50.
- Taking advantage of free offers and membership cards. We got a free massage and a free haircut (buy 12, get one free at Great Clips) this way. Savings: At least $45.
Any one of these items might seem like it wouldn’t be worth the time. And it’s true, saving money can take time. But it also can be lots of fun. And you can’t deny the rewarding feeling when you look at the savings — in my case, a total annual savings of at least $2,117. That’s nearly $200 a month for doing nothing special. Wow!