Which would/could you do?

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iVillage Member
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."

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


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2003
Thu, 08-12-2010 - 9:14pm
We just spent a small fortune on brakes and tires, but I still think that stuff comes in at about $500 a year. Our license and registration is $70 every two years, personal property tax is about $30, and the annual inspection is around $15. We are kind of lax about oil changes. I know you're supposed to go in every three months or 3000 miles, which ever comes sooner. But it takes us at least 6 months to drive 3000 miles any more. So we usually wait until around the 3000 mile mark, unless we're going on a long trip or something. We don't rotate our tires, but we probably should.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2000
Thu, 08-12-2010 - 9:20pm

Not bad! I just totalled mine up really quickly. My car is older and long-since paid for, and I spend about $2,650 on it annually. That includes maintenance, gas, insurance, taxes and tags. It would be a few hundred less if I didn't work in an area where tires are an endangered species.

Zombie-proofing.jpg picture by Lauren1063

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2003
Thu, 08-12-2010 - 9:25pm

I feel your pain on the tires. Every time we have to replace ours I can't believe how darn expensive they are. I didn't include gas-- that's probably another $800 or so. So let's say the car costs about $2000 per year.

On the "tags" note-- we went to the beach this week and the guy at the hotel asked what the "tag" number on our car was. I had no idea what he was asking me for at first. We always call it a license plate around here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2000
Thu, 08-12-2010 - 9:38pm

We always call it a license plate, too, but the dealers always call it taxes and tags...I guess that's where I picked that up.

Once, when Joel was little, his dad asked him what my tag number was. Joel had no clue what he meant. I have personalized plates, so I knew Joel knew what was on them...he'd just never heard it phrased that way. When I rephrased it, "What does my license plate say?" he knew the answer right away.

I wish I could remember now why his dad would have wanted to know that anyway. Oh well...makes no difference now!LOL

Zombie-proofing.jpg picture by Lauren1063

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-02-2010
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 10:01am
That is great. We have 2 cars and pay in full every 6 months. I just paid $1,400 :0 My dh will do defensive driving class this month though that will decrease it by 10% on our next bill.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-02-2010
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 10:02am
Oil changes can wait until 5,000 miles.
$15 for inspection. We just paid $37 per car so you are getting a great deal on that too :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2000
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 10:26am

Oil changes can wait until 5,000 miles.

Not necessarily.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-02-2010
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 10:36am
I am going by my owners manual and from mechanics advice over the years. My dh and/or BIL does our oil changes now so that saves some money. My BIL is actually going to do my brakes soon.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 10:38am

Here, the tags are the stickers that go on the license plate showing that you have paid the registration for that year. Our car maintenance has gone down the last 2 years because we now have Erica's dh do the basics--change oil, tune ups, brakes, etc. The down side is that we have to wait on his schedule. He also trouble shoots the computers. One of the perks of having children who marry the right spouses. I now have access to skills that dh and I lack. Right now, he has the laptop (on permanent load from Joy so Dylan and Alex can do their school work at the same time without waiting) because Matilda pried off some of the keys. I had forgotten to close it up when I shut it down. She loves to pry keys off of keyboards.


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

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
Fri, 08-13-2010 - 10:54am
Our new hybrid says you can go 10K but the warning light has beencomong on eery time between 7 and 8 k.