Yesterday I was chatting with a friend about financial issues and explained how Kirsten and I live very frugally even when I’m making bank on a really good contract. That philosophy pays dividends in times like this when I’m between contracts, and the long term benefit becomes more obvious as retirement grows closer. It was a useful conversation, so I thought I’d share some of the ways Kirsten and I save money on a regular bases. Feel free to mention your own ideas in the comments.
The first home I bought was a duplex. The rent from the other unit paid most of my mortgage. I bought the duplex I was previously renting, and my monthly out of pocket cost actually went down. This was a great way to build equity, and it has now turned into a nice little income generating property.
We don’t tend to buy pre-made microwave meals. Instead I make massive batches of stuff and freeze individual meal sizes in reusable freezer/microwave containers. Examples: rice and beans, Indian rice+vegetable dishes, chicken+vegetable+lentil stews, oriental stir fry, and chili. Added Bonus: I know exactly what is in my food, so I know it’s healthy.
We don’t buy bottled water. A high quality water filter will give you the exact same product and will pay for itself in a few months in most cases. Just invest in a few stainless steel water cans or thermoses and keep them in the fridge.
You can buy those water cans and other perfectly fine dishes at most thrift stores. There is also plenty of other things you get cheap used instead of new. I draw the line at buying used underwear, but I don’t mind a nice pair of jeans that someone else has broken in. Just launder the hell out them before wearing… many stores don’t bother.
I’ve completely eliminated soda and the like from my diet. I instead make my own beverages by adding fruit juice to sun tea and putting it in reusable bottles in the fridge. I also make lemonade+juice mixers. Again, way cheaper and usually healthier.
Buy in bulk when getting stuff that does not go off, like paper products, cleaning supplies, and even many foods. We buy stuff like rice, beans, lentils, pasta, and oatmeal from our local food-coop, getting the hippie organic versions, and still pay far less than the boxed stuff from the typical grocery store.
Shop counter-seasonally. Buy lawn furniture at the end of the season, not the beginning. The same with clothing. Shop for Christmas gifts after the season, not right before. Buy last year’s model of car when the new one comes out… you’re sure to find a few on the lot they are desperate to get rid of.
Get produce from your local farmers market, but wait until the end. Vendors don’t want to take stuff back with them, so you can aggressively haggle and get plenty of stuff for pennies on the dollar.