Ways I Don’t Follow Common Financial Advice and Still Save Money

I’ve never been much of a follower. Even as a youngster, I had to find my own way to do things, even if they didn’t measure up to what everyone else was doing. As a single parent for many years, I learned a few things the hard way. I learned not to follow common financial tips and that one size does not fit all. Here are a few things I do differently, they may or may not help you on your financial journey, but they will give you something to think about.

I don’t use coupons: I can’t tell you how many times people have bragged to me about how much they save by cutting coupons. I’ve tried it. In fact, I’ve tried it several times. But I just don’t see the savings. Why? Because most coupons are for brand name items that cost more to start with. I’m not a big brand name user. I shop and compare prices and usually come out cheaper than I would have if I used a coupon and bought a brand name.

I don’t use a Monthly Average Billing Plan for Utilities: I suppose this might be a good thing for some people, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Why pay more all year long when you can pay more for part of the year and save for the rest of the year?

I don’t buy food in bulk: Yes, I understand that when you buy larger packaged items the price is less per ounce or per pound. But can a normal person really consume a gallon of peanut butter before it turns rancid? Buying in bulk might make sense if you have a family of 4 or more, but we are two and we like things to be fresh when we eat them. I save money because I buy the size we need when it is on sale. We have very little waste that way.

My husband never turns off lights: I used to worry about all that electricity we were using and go behind him from room to room, switching off the lights. I don’t do that anymore. I replaced all my regular light bulbs with those corkscrew florescent bulbs and use only one bulb in multi-socket fixtures. Now we have a bright house at night and I still save money on electricity.

I don’t wash only full loads of clothes or use only cold water: I wash small loads of clothes and I have to use hot water to get my husband’s greasy clothes clean, but I rinse them in cold water.
The way I save money is by setting the water level appropriately. I also save money when drying the clothes because it takes a much shorter time to dry a small load.

I don’t turn up the thermostat on my forced-air furnace: I set the thermostat at 68 degrees all winter. We regulate the heat and help the furnace by opening heavy curtains to let the sun shine in and closing them at night to keep the cold at bay, keeping the filters clean, using area rugs and snuggling under blankets while watching TV. My heat bills are cheaper than most folks I talk to.

We eat out regularly: Every frugal advice column will tell you to stop eating out if you want
to cut your spending. You can eat out if you do it with common sense and it won’t cost any more than eating in. Dollar menus are great. If you want a sit down meal, consider that most restaurants give huge portions, we often order one meal and take it home. Then we divide it between us
and have plenty to eat. When you tally up the cost of going to the grocery store, the electricity used in storing and preparing the food and everything else involved, eating out can be a money saver and a time saver.

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15 Responses to Ways I Don’t Follow Common Financial Advice and Still Save Money

  1. dasparky says:

    Nice! Makes sense to me. I do almost all the same things, and for the same reasons. I do buy some food in bulk, but I also have a portion sealer and chest freezer to store extra portions.

    We also have a programmable thermostat, but due to passive solar heating during the day and heavy drapes at night, it hardly ever turns on.

  2. C.S. says:

    Well, these are the things that make sense to the author. If there’s only two, of course you wouldn’t buy in bulk, and perhaps eating out is sensible. If it’s four or more, it probably would make more sense to buy bulk and refrain from eating out as often as possible.

    The only thing I really disagree with is the coupon bit. Maybe you’re just not finding the right ones or the right sales on the right name brand products at the right time. Sometimes coupons ARE a hassle, but I’ve found they are worth it.

  3. Julie says:

    I agree with the eating out tip. we eat out a lot. we go to a restaurant that allows us to brown bag (no charge for drinks.) Our meal usually averages about $16 (for both of us) and we have enough left overs for the next day’s lunch. (or dinner) By the time I buy the food, the charcoal for the grill (we cook out almost everything) and the time and money it takes to clean up and do dishes, we can almost eat out cheaper for many meals.

  4. Annie Jones says:

    I agree with some of your points, but not others.

    While I use a few coupons, I find, like you, I can usually spend less when I don’t use them.

    I use the monthly bill averaging because it’s easier to budget that way; our utility companies recalculate the average twice a year, so the average stays fairly close to actual usage.

    There are only 3 of us, but I do save by buying some food in bulk, making good use of our freezer and pantry.

    We use compact fluorescent bulbs, but still make sure they are off when we aren’t using them; why leave them on if they aren’t being used?

    I wash only full loads and only in cold water; I have a front loader with no option to adjust the water level.

    We use a programmable thermostat that turns the heat to 60

  5. Sue says:

    All great tips but I would be careful about eating out, especially with fast food. Even though you may be saving money now you WILL be paying for it (or more) in the future. Being frugal and saving for the future is something we should all strive for but not when it comes to sacrifying something more important that can’t be replaced no matter how much money you have.

  6. Stephen Waits says:

    Dollar menus? Sick.

  7. Maismom says:

    It shows not one method works for everyone. I use coupons and saved a lot of money for me. But, like I said, it worked for me doesn’t mean it works for other people. We all should have our own method of saving money as long as it works.

  8. Eliminate Debt Blog says:

    Quite interesting to hear someone on the other side of this topic. Great valid points and advice. I never noticed that coupons were really just brand named stuff.

  9. I loved this post. Thank you for pointing out couponed products still cost more than generic!

    The dollar menu thing scares me though. I’m a $5 footlong kind of guy.

  10. Mr. GoTo says:

    Nice list. I’m not sure I could get away with all of the eating out, either for the money or the dollar-menu nutrition. I would be interested in seeing your monthly spending history on food, including eating out, so we could examine that part.

  11. L says:

    About the lights.. i have an acquantice father has been an electrician for years, he’s an electrician now too, and they both insist that leaving lights on does VERY litle to increse electric bills. This is their advice, you may want to double check it:)

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  13. thomas says:

    I like clipping coupons. Sure, I try to avoid brand name items, but some things just aren’t the same. Most recently I tried to save $0.40 on hand soap by buying offbrand. What a mistake.

    These seem to work for you, although the light thing is a little weird.

  14. Bill Payne says:

    I really don’t disagree with your comments as they pertain to the two of you. A lot depends, not only on the number of people, but the circumstances that come into play. Case in point would be coupons. One would have to consider how much time they really have to devote to coupon cutting and saving and how valuable their time is. Since I am in construction, I only mess with coupons during our slow time in the winter.

  15. Cindy M says:

    Wow, I identify with much of what you say. I cut coupons for household goods for years but found I always, always end up buying more than necessary and coupons kept me thinking about shopping all the time, kind of foolish if your real goal is to kill the consumer mindset and slow down, which is what I’m after. I’m generic now for most of what I need, don’t truly need that much but will stock up a bit on a few things. Eating out for me is maybe once a week lunches, dollar menu, a 2-for-1 deal or freebie that my running buddy and I split while we’re out running errands, something we don’t like to fix at home; we actually bring our own drinks, how’s that for cheap? For the most part, I do my own cooking and am pretty darn good at it. I don’t get mad at myself for leaving lights on anymore as mine are small ones in corners or windows at night all over the house in the winter. I’m doing budget utility bills right now but am thinking about going back the other way, makes better sense to me with my habits. I do all laundry in cold water. I leave my furnace turned at 68 during the day in the winter, turn it down to 65 at night or when I leave the house. My new thing is I’m sick of buying kleenex so decided to buy some of the old time ladies hankies at a dollar store, ditto using nice cloth napkins now for dinner instead of buying so many paper towels. This is working nicely. Again, my goal is to do less and less shopping of any kind unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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