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.