Which would/could you do?

Avatar for rollmops2009
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Registered: 02-24-2009
Which would/could you do?
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 10:18am

We have talked about saving money many times, as well as "couponing." This article covers several recurring themes on this board.

So which of these would, could or have you done?

6 Extreme Ways to Go Frugal and Save
by Melissa Neiman
Saturday, August 7, 2010

How far would you go to save a buck in today's tumultuous economy? People are finding more ways than ever before to scrimp and save. But some take it to extremes.

Read on as expert penny pinchers detail six bold ways to cut costs -- and in some cases, generate a little revenue -- during tough economic times. Are you extreme enough to give them a try?

Get Rid of Your Car

Trading in your beloved wheels for public transportation is definitely extreme -- especially if you live in the suburbs. However, doing so saves a bundle.

"If you can walk, bike, or take public transit where you need to go, get rid of your car entirely," says Francine Jay, author of "Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune."

Jay says people who go carless save a fortune by eliminating gas, registration, insurance, maintenance, and repair costs, as well as lease or loan payments.

Jeff Yeager, author of "The Cheapskate Next Door," agrees. He cites AAA figures showing that the average cost to keep a car on the road is close to $1 per mile after factoring in all of the associated costs.

"That's probably close to $10,000 a year," he says.

Yeager, who shares a car with his spouse, is a big proponent of renting a car when necessary.

"Think about how much of the time your car is sitting unused. It's just a tremendous waste of resources," Yeager says.

Jay says people who need cars only to run occasional errands can join a car-share program. For such people, "it's more financially savvy to borrow than to own," she says.

Take In a Renter or Boarder

Sharing your living space may seem unappealing at first, but it's a great source of extra income.

"I always encourage people to at least consider getting a home that could allow them to get some rental income, such as a duplex," Yeager says.

Again, Yeager speaks from experience. He and his wife have had renters for the past 20 years. By doing so, they were able to pay off their house in 15 years instead of 30.

"The beauty of it only begins with the monthly rent check you're collecting," he says. "Obviously, there are incredible tax benefits to it, too ... and much to our surprise, my wife and I found that it's actually nice having other people around."

Don't own a duplex? Jay says all you need is an extra room to take in a boarder and "raise some cash and help pay your mortgage, rent and utility bills."

Jay says if you decide to make this money-saving move, be sure to draw up a tenancy agreement to specify payment terms and the sharing of common facilities.

"Check local zoning laws to confirm that such an arrangement is permitted in your neighborhood," she says.

Downsize Your Home

If you feel as though your home is too big, it probably is. Selling it and buying a smaller one may help beef up your bank account.

"The best way to save big money is to cut big expenses -- and housing is the biggest of them all," Jay says.

Jay says trading down to a smaller house or apartment also lowers the mortgage or rent, as well as the utility bills.

"A smaller space will slash your spending, because you can't buy things when you have no place to put them," Jay says.

Yeager also is an advocate of living smaller.

"People don't really stop to think about it, but for every square foot that they add to a house -- square feet they often don't need -- first they have to buy it, then they have to maintain it, they have to pay property taxes on it, they have to insure it, they have to decorate it, they have to heat it and so on," he says.

"One of the upsides of the recession has been that the average home built now is about 300 square feet smaller than those built prerecession," says Yeager.

Change How You Use Credit Card

Taking a pair of sharp scissors to credit cards can help plug a big hole in your wallet or purse.

Jay advocates paying with cash only.

"This strategy saves you a bundle in finance charges and puts the brakes on your shopping habit; because without credit, you can't spend more than the money you have," Jay says.

Jay says paying with plastic "is far too painless," making it easier to spend.

"It almost feels like you're getting something for free," she says. "When you have to hand over cold, hard cash, you'll probably think twice about making the purchase."

Yeager urges consumers to go cash-only for at least a month.

"If you don't have the cash on you, it might give you reason to stop and think (before buying)," he says.

"I always think spending procrastination is a virtue, not a vice. Put off buying until tomorrow what you want today, and maybe you'll change your mind about whether you really want it."

However, Yeager acknowledges there is "much dispute in the cheapskate community" over whether it's better to never use credit cards or to always use them so you can "rack up frequent flier miles and other bonus points."

Only Use Coupons or Go Generic

Some extreme savers take coupon clipping to a new level, purchasing items only when they have coupons and stockpiling goods for future use.

Jay says the secret to saving on groceries and other items is to "ditch the brand loyalty, and be open to alternative products or generics."

"Be adventurous and try out that bargain-priced shampoo, cereal or detergent," says Jay. "If you're shopping online, search Google for coupons before making your purchase; you'll be surprised how often you'll find vouchers for free shipping and other discounts."

As with credit cards, coupons divide the cheapskate community.

"As many cheapskates swear about them as swear by them," Yeager says.

According to Yeager, many naysayers believe coupons cause people to buy things unnecessarily.

Yeager says coupons are most popular among penny pinchers who eat more processed foods and have plenty of storage space.

By contrast, Yeager prides himself on being able to "go into any grocery store at any time and come up with a delicious healthful meal that's really cheap without ever having to use a coupon."

He simply takes advantage of "the loss leaders that the grocery store has on sale that day" and buys generic.

Dump High-Tech Toys

Many extreme savers embrace the simple life, which means either forgoing the latest toys and services or waiting until they're no longer "hot ticket" items.

In addition to saving cash, Jay says "you may find happiness in being less connected to the virtual world and more engaged in the real one."

Erin Schneider, who writes the Cheap Chick blog, also recommends cutting out unnecessary services -- "cut down on cell minutes, cancel your home phone, cancel your gym membership" -- and opting for the least expensive options that present themselves.

"Cut out Netflix and get your movies from the library," she says. "Cancel your lawn service and either mow your own, or hire that kid from across the street for less."

If you can't give up high-tech toys, at least wait to purchase them, Yeager says. The price will drop over time, and kinks in the original product likely will be worked out in subsequent generations.

"It's like the old Elvis song, 'Only fools rush in' when it comes to buying tech gadgets the day they're released," says Yeager, who has never owned a cell phone and refers to them as "electronic tethers."

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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
– George Orwell


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 11:25am

One thing stands out to me. The author doesn't talk about time. Time is money. Getting rid of cars obviously can save money. But it is highly dependent on other means of getting around. Going by bus isn't going to save money if you go from an hour round commute to one that takes more than 3 hours. Or from a 20 minute grocery trip to one that takes a half a day. Or to save the time, going from the store that gives you more groceries for your money to the most expensive one in town because it's within walking distance.

I also don't clip coupons because it don't save me the money that it takes in time to search out and collect the coupons on those items that I would use.

My rule of thumb is that if it takes me the equivalent of $10 an hour to do but not net me way more than than that $10, I don't do it. That's deficient spending.


The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 11:35am

Get Rid of Your Car - We can't do this. For one thing, we're upside down on our car payment, and for another, our jobs are in a pedestrian-unfriendly area of town. There are no bike lanes, few sidewalks, and no public transportation.

Take In a Renter or Boarder - We can't do this. We ARE the renters.

Downsize Your Home - We could do this. We could move to a small apartment, and I'd be willing to if we had the money to move and if we could find an apartment whose rent was significantly less than what we are currently paying.

Only Use Coupons or Go Generic - We already buy generic.

Change How You Use Credit Card - We don't use our credit card.

Dump High-Tech Toys - We don't belong to a gym, we don't have maid or lawn service, we don't have a home phone, we don't have cable, and we have the most basic cell phones/cell phone plan we could find. We do get the basic Netflix, which I'm not willing to part with because we need SOMETHING for entertainment. We've gone to the movies twice in the past three years.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 12:44pm

Get Rid of Your Car

We actually only had one car for about 6 of the years we were married but it is not really feasible at the moment. Mainly because of dog. I come home every day to let hm out at lunch and that would not be possible without a vehicle. We have no public transportation in my town but I only work 2.5 miles from home so walking/riding my bike is an option, one I have done on occasion when I have not had to come home for the dog. When our dog is no longer with us I do not think that we will get rid of our second car completely but I do think I will be walking/riding my bike much more often.

Take In a Renter or Boarder

Never going to happen, not even sure if it is legal in my neighborhood.

Downsize Your Home

Size wise that is something we could, we no longer need the space for the two of us that we needed for 5. But I do not know how doable it would be. Selling our house would not be easy and even if we were able to we may not come out ahead financially because of the cost we would have to pay for a smaller house. But we probably would save in utilities and that would be nice.

Change How You Use Credit Card

No reason to change how we use our credit card. We only use it now for safety an convenience and do not pay interest.

Only Use Coupons or Go Generic

Not happening. Spent a lot of my married life basing my grocery shopping trips primarily on price and not going back there unless it becomes a complete necessity. I like being able to buy the things I like even if it is not the cheapest.

Dump High-Tech Toys

See no reason to go there. I do not feel that we go overboard in the area. When you compare the ratio of what we spend in that area to our income level I think we already come out on the fugal side.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 1:16pm

We have actually done several of these at different times. Not always to save money, sometimes just for the sake of lowering stress.

When we moved to Greece we dropped having a car and took a relatively small apartment. But we could only do that because we deliberately settled somewhere with good shopping, good public transportation and good recreational possibilities. It was one of my goals with the move - not to need a car anymore (detest the things, and dh detests driving). OTOH, I would not like having a renter. I don't even want a live-in.

I do not go crazy with the generics, but I do check products for value. I will buy a brand if I think it is worthwhile, otherwise I go generic. But I skip the coupons. As the article says, those work best if you use a lot of processed stuff, and since I don't, no coupons.

As far as toys, we don't have that many and we never buy first generation, for exactly the reasons given in the article.

Then again, both my parents are pretty frugal, so I guess it is in the blood.

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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
– George Orwell
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-29-2002
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 5:19pm

"Get Rid of Your Car"

We dumped one of our cars a couple of years ago. Dh uses public or goes by bike to work; the kids mostly go by public. It's nearly impossible to get rid of the second car at the moment, given our location (hard to do grocery shopping, for example), but that would be the long-term goal for me.

"Take In a Renter or Boarder"
Nope, couldn't do it. The loss of personal space would result in sky-high therapy bills for me.

"Downsize Your Home"

That is definitely in the cards, though not quite yet. When the kids are out of the house, I want a small apartment somewhere in the city center.

"Change How You Use Credit Card"
Credit/Debit cards are just too convenient around here and I hate traveling around with a lot of cash. I think the importance of using them sensibly should be stressed, however.

"Only Use Coupons or Go Generic"
I do use coupons occasionally for items we routinely buy, but most coupons are useless for us. Otoh, I relentlessly check the price/weight, volume, size, units, whatever to get the cheapest forms of many basic items.

"Dump High-Tech Toys"
We tend not to buy first generation or newly released anything. We also tend to hang on to what we've bought for many years. We don't have cable or satellite, we opt for the cheapest cell phone options, don't have netflix, no gym membership, no lawn service and no cleaning service. We do opt for once per year garden help, but that's about it.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 6:13pm

"Otoh, I relentlessly check the price/weight, volume, size, units, whatever to get the cheapest forms of many basic items."

LOL, that's me too, especially things like laundry soap and toilet paper.

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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
– George Orwell
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2010
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 7:01pm

Interesting article...

Get Rid of Your Car - I don't think that I would get rid of it, though we definitely limit our use of it.....not so much about saving money, but just being more mindful of our environment.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2009
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 7:38pm

Out of this list, we have done these:


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-02-2010
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 8:17pm

Get Rid of Your Car

We have 2 cars and could not get rid of either one. With my dh's promotion to manager, he works crazy hours and I need a car also to get to work, pick up the kids at camp and aftercare, do errands, etc.

Take In a Renter or Boarder

We have no extra rooms and would have to finish our basement which would cost us

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Sun, 08-08-2010 - 8:40pm

Get Rid of Your Car - I did this in the past when I was a sahm and only had 1 small child. But I need 2 cars where I am & we both work etc. No car payments for us at least.

Take In a Renter or Boarder - No can't, no extra room-small house no basement.

Downsize Your Home - Like I said small house, we didn't get carried away when we bought ours.

Only Use Coupons or Go Generic - My grocery store does not have generic, but I buy the cheaper brand/size, compare the sales fliers for prices and use coupons (not for the processed foods, but I still find plenty of them).

Change How You Use Credit Card - We don't have debt and pay it off every month, so no savings there.

Dump High-Tech Toys - We don't belong to a gym or have any other services that we pay for. Our toys are not new, we don't have many but when we buy them we keep them a long time, so I don't think I am the consumer they are talking about in that section.

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief