Money 202: Tricks To Shave Down Costs

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Money 201: Wise Spending Concepts

Food & Drink

  • Eat out less, since eating out usually costs about 5 times the cost of eating in
    • Calculate the tip into the cost of eating out
    • Eating out will not only cost more, its lack of proper nutrition will decrease your willpower to pursue other money-saving habits
    • When you do eat out, find ways to save
      • Get discounts
        • Use promotional sites like Restaurant.com or Groupon
        • Find mailed coupons you can use
        • Take the customer survey that comes on the receipt to repeatedly get discounts
      • Try to pick up things they don’t want
        • Call any pizza place and ask if they have any orders that people didn’t pick up to negotiate a discount price on it
        • Near closing, most food establishments are trying to get rid of their excess
          • You can often negotiate additional items into your order for free if you’re nice
          • Order KFC just before closing time to sometimes get extra chicken thrown in
          • Most bakeries can give you a trash bag full of day-old bread if you ask
      • Pay attention to the value items tucked away in the corner of their menu presentation
        • If you’re a senior citizen, look at their menu as well
        • Find ways to combine cheaper items to make the same item for less
          • Value fries can go with a $1 sandwich
          • Ask for a cup of ice cream at McDonald’s topped with root beer to make a root beer float
      • Some specific restaurants give very nice promotions that give you more value
        • Domino’s Pizza: online orders are less than half the price as in-store orders
        • Five Guys: extra bacon and extra cheese are free
        • Papa John’s: use the code 25OFF online to get 25% off
        • Starbucks: get their membership card and use it 5 times to get unlimited refills every time afterwards
      • If you eat out and have kids, go somewhere where kids eat for free
      • Avoid dessert or any drinks, since their prices are usually extortionate
        • Avoid the illusion of “saving” when buying the combination value meal, since the drinks and fries are usually not worth the additional cost
    • When going to a coffee shop, order a medium drink in a large cup for them to occasionally overfill it
    • When going to a bar, pay as you drink instead of having an open tab
    • Try to avoid vending machines when you can, since you’re paying for convenience
      • If you do use one, insert the lowest-value coins first to ensure that it works before you waste money on it
      • If your food is stuck, buy the item above it instead of the same item to try to knock it loose
  • Don’t buy Girl Scout cookies, since Keebler sells them year-round by different branded names
  • Cook every meal you can at home
    • Create a weekly cooking and meal plan to make the burden on your time and food spending decisions more manageable
      • Find every way possible to not throw food out
        • Use the things in the back of the fridge first, since they’re more likely older
        • Cook large batches that can be stored in the freezer, canned or repurposed as ingredients for other meals
        • Turn any bad food into compost or pet food
        • Try to use every part of a vegetable
      • Make “leftover meals” that combine the leftovers into a new meal
    • Pack your lunches for work
      • Bring a drink
        • Freeze a water bottle to make an ice pack for a cooler
        • Put tube socks over the bottle to make a bottle holder
        • Put Press’n Seal wrap around the top of any cup
      • Make your own cooler for it
        • Soak a sponge or damp paper towel in a plastic bag and put it in freezer
        • Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water in freezer bags for a pack that gets cold but not hard
      • Wrap a rubber band around a cut apple to take it with you without it browning
      • Squirt condiments into a straw, pinch with needle-nose pliers, heat to seal it and repeat for the other side
      • Make individual coffee packs instead of buying them
        • Press coffee filter into 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill, cinch and tie with unscented dental floss and store in plastic bags
    • Drink tons of water in between meals
      • Drink tap water instead of paying a large premium on bottled water
        • If you can’t stand the taste of tap water, get a water filter or purchase gallons of distilled water
      • Learn to drink water or tea over soda, milk or sweetened drinks
    • Learn to eat less meat, more vegetables and rice, and use more affordable staples
      • Breakfast – oats with raisins or a banana, milk, tea bags, 3 egg omelette with peppers and cheese
      • Lunch – peanut butter & jelly sandwich, banana, leftovers from dinner
      • Dinner – rice and beans, ground beef, cheese, avocado, homemade bread, homemade salad, pasta
      • Snacks – granola, carrots, produce
    • Learn unconventional replacements with Great Depression Cooking or find other techniques that may make things cheaper
      • Buy tougher cuts of meat that can be cooked or slow-cooked on lower temperatures for longer
    • Make your own food when it makes sense for you
      • Baby food
      • Bread
      • Brewed coffee and coffee mix drinks
      • Frozen fruit bars
      • Fruit (from trees you grow)
      • Gourmet ice cream
      • Granola
      • Pickles
      • Sandwiches
      • Tomato-based pasta sauces
      • Trail mix
    • For profitability purposes, most food manufacturers place their expiration dates long before they actually go bad
      • Stores still honor those dates and will sell it near that date at close to half-price
    • Consider investing in a good-quality freezer to store food that goes on sale
    • Find the best way to store different types of food to avoid wasting money on spoiled food
    • Try to avoid junk food to avoid binging
      • Sugar cereals
      • Chips
      • Frozen dinners and snacks
    • Keep easily-made meals on hand for when you feel lazy
  • Find ways to save when buying groceries
    • Don’t buy something on impulse
      • Make a list before you go
      • Make sure you’ve just eaten before you go as well
      • Go by yourself to avoid peer pressure to buy something else
    • Communicate with your spouse or partner about your plans so you don’t double-purchase
    • Avoid one-item trips, which waste gas and inspire you to buy more than one item
    • Use a food-sharing website or join a co-op for produce
    • Avoid needlessly overpriced food made more convenient or diluted in quality
      • Bottled, prepared or powdered teas
      • Boxed rice or side-dish mixes
      • Frozen pre-made meat patties
      • Gourmet frozen vegetables
      • Individual 100 calorie servings of anything
      • Parmiggiano-reggiano cheese
      • Pre-mixed alcoholic drinks
      • Salad kits
      • Snack/lunch packs
      • Spice mixes
    • Some items need to be compared in-store
      • Canned goods are sometimes more expensive than frozen or fresh
    • Engineer your grocery store experience to save money
      • Give yourself a time limit to avoid stalling and buying more
      • Listen to upbeat music to get through the store faster
      • Grab a smaller cart to be sure you don’t fill it unless you need to
      • Avoid the deli counter or the fresh bakery
      • Learn when the store stocks its fresh fruits and vegetables
      • Go during the slow times, such as late at night or late morning
      • Look at the price per ounce, not the price, which will usually show how drastically cheaper store brands really are
        • Many brand coupons will only mark down the price to store brand price
      • Grab the items in the back of the rack for things that expire quickly like milk or eggs
      • Look in the clearance bins, discount areas and Manager’s Special meats, since they are still perfectly fine
    • Try going to all the stores at least a few times to find out which ones stock the cheapest items
      • Avoid going to a corner store or gas station store for any food, since they’re built for impulse buys and are expensive
      • Check the weekly ads online to see what is best to stock up on
      • Use services like LOZO or get the Sunday newspaper to get grocery coupons
        • Only use coupons for items you were already planning to buy
      • Look for sales and specials in-store
      • Observe the expiration dates on the food, then come back a day or two before it expires to see it in the clearance rack
      • Track every grocery item’s price with a spreadsheet
        • Find out the pattern at your store for sales and what they discount
      • Visit discount grocery stores where you bag your own groceries and rent carts

Healthcare

  • Multivitamins are a waste of money if you have a balanced diet
  • Try to quit smoking, since it’s expensive and can hike up healthcare costs
  • If you need eyewear, buy glasses instead of contacts
    • Look at online optical shops like Zenni or Warby Parker to update eyewear
    • When your glasses break
      • Apply clear nail polish to keep eyeglass screws from coming undone
      • Use craft glue to secure the frames when they bend
  • A gym membership used regularly is a lot cheaper than a medical emergency
    • If you get a gym membership consider haggling for a better rate, a few free months or to have the initiation fee waived
  • Use generic prescription drugs whenever possible, and price-compare between pharmacies
    • Buy a 3-month supply instead of purchasing month by month, since it’s usually cheaper
  • Look into an HSA (Health Savings Account)
    • It’s a tax-sheltered savings account for medical expenses with high-deductible insurance policies
    • It rolls forward every year and gains interest, while an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) is lost if not used during a year
  • Learn about and explore some unconventional alternatives to health insurance
    • Joining a health care sharing ministry
      • It operates the same as conventional health insurance, but uses different terminology
      • Voluntary charitable membership organizations that share medical expenses among the membership
      • Operates entirely outside of ACA (Affordable Care Act)
      • Benefits are usually half the cost of similar health insurance
      • You’ll be exempt from the non-insurance penalty
    • Purchase a short-term health insurance policy
      • Usually lasts 1-11 months
      • Not regulated under ACA
    • Buy alternative insurance plans
      • Can be fixed-benefit insurance, critical illness insurance, accident insurance, etc.
      • Gives cash directly
      • Max out medical and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage to mitigate healthcare costs
    • Visit cash-only doctors and retail clinics for primary healthcare
      • If primary care is needed more than a few times a year, join a direct primary care practice for a monthly fee
    • Sign up for a telemedicine service
      • Doctors will answer simple medical issues via phone calls, email or video chatting
  • When you absolutely have to visit the hospital
    • Research the price for various services with resources like Healthcare Bluebook or Clear Health Costs
    • Work with a medical bill negotiation service
    • For surgeries, go to facilities that offer up-front “package” prices for self-paying patients

Personal Care

  • Use bar soap instead of body wash
  • Get pedicures, manicures, eyebrow shaping and most hair appointments at a nearby cosmetology school
    • Ask for a more experienced stylist trainee if you’re nervous about your hair being ruined and ask for them to be supervised
  • Learn to do your own nails and hair coloring
  • Choose hairstyles that don’t require much maintenance
  • Learn how to cut your own hair
  • Get massages at local massage schools or cosmetology schools
  • To get the remainder of shampoo out of the bottom of a bottle, turn it upside down in the shower
  • Shampoos and conditioners can be found at discount stores or even dollar stores
  • Hair styling tools can be bought used online and refurbished
  • Hairsprays and lotions can be tested in the travel-size bins at many stores

Clothes & Linens

  • Only get clothes that can match everything and don’t go out of style quickly
    • You can get clothing larger than you wear if you know how to shrink them
      • Wear a leather jacket in the rain for it to shrink
      • For shoes too big, glue a piece of velvet inside the shoes, taking care to avoid wrinkling
  • Shoes should all have a purpose or outfit attached to them
    • Go shoe shopping in the evening, since feet grow by about 5-10% during the day
  • Trade clothing with friends or rent them with Rent the Runway
  • Only purchase handbags that can still look good after a few scratches
  • Learn to mend and repair your clothes
    • Apply clear nail polish to stop a run in a stocking
    • Use clear nail polish on the threads of your buttons to keep them from unraveling
    • If pants zippers keep falling down
      • Flip a zipper downwards to “lock” it
      • Run a keyring through the zipper, then loop it over the top button
    • If zipper teeth get stuck, rub it with a graphite pencil tip
    • Repair broken flip-flops by slipping a bread clip underneath the hole
  • Don’t buy more linens, blankets, sheets, towels or comforters than you actually can use
  • When you think you’ve lost jewelry
    • Turn off the lights and look with a flashlight to see it light up
    • Find it with a vacuum by stretching pantyhose over a vacuum tube and secure with a rubber band

School

  • Get textbooks for free online in PDF form instead of buying them
  • Use a free office suite instead of Microsoft Office
  • Use your local library or the internet to learn what you really need to know instead of paying for classes
  • If a pen’s ink has dried out, expose the tip to an open flame
  • To keep pens from being stolen, put a blue ink cartridge inside of a red pen casing

Utility Consumption

  • Make new habits
    • Close the curtains at night to stop heat from escaping and use a draft excluder where necessary
    • Make changes to your heating and cooling
      • Set the thermostat timer to maximize efficiency
        1. 70-78° F when waking
        2. 60-85° F when nobody is home
        3. 70-78° F when people are 15 minutes from being home again
        4. 60-85° F when going to sleep
      • In general, only keep the temperature within 5-10° of operating temperature when people are around in order to save wear on the HVAC system
        • Keep the temperature as high as you can stand in summer and as cold as you can stand in in winter
        • Heat or cool only the rooms you use, either by closing doors or using zone thermostat control
      • Wear layers of clothes and keep your feet warm in the winter and wear loose-fitting clothes in the summer
      • Turn the heater down when using the fireplace and close the damper when not using the fireplace
      • Close doors and windows when heating or cooling
      • Use unconventional tricks to save on air conditioning
        • Place a shallow bowl with ice or a frozen water bottle in front of a fan
        • Tape a fan to blow into a cooler filled with ice, then run a duct out of a hole on the other side
    • During the day, keep the drapes closed in the summer and open in the winter
      • Spray the drapes with water and spread them across the window
    • Open the windows on hot season nights and on cold season days
      • Use two box fans in the windows facing outward and inward on both sides of the house to get better air flow
    • Avoid using excessive heat in electrical appliances
      • Time your appliance usage for off-peak hours when there is a non-peak discount
        • 6 p.m. to noon on weekdays and all day on weekends
      • Turn off all appliances you aren’t using
        • Unplug appliances that go on “standby” like laptops, video games and cell phones
        • Remove operating second refrigerators or freezers
      • Research the fridge and freezer’s optimal fill level, then keep it at that level with water-filled containers
      • Only open the fridge with an intended purpose in mind
      • Prepare food with minimalism in mind
        • Plan one-dish meals or prepare several meals at a time
        • Only boil as much water as you need
          • Reduce the heat once you start cooking
          • Cover the pots and pans
        • Preheat your oven only when necessary
          • Keep the oven door closed, repeated “peeking” wastes heat
      • Only use full (but not overfilled) loads in a washing machine
        • Run the wash on cold or warm water
        • Only run the washer on 5-10 minute cycles, which should usually be sufficient
      • Use only full loads in the dryer
        • Clean the lint filters after every use
        • Cut your dryer sheets into smaller pieces to make them last longer
        • Alternately, sun-dry your clothing
      • Efficiently load the dishwasher and only run on maxed-out racks
        • Rinse off all the pieces of food on the dishes
        • Load plates on the bottom facing the center
        • Utensils should have the handles facing downwards
        • Anything with a rounded side should go on top facing downwards
        • Large flat objects like cutting boards should not be placed flush against the front or it will block the detergent from dispensing
        • Use a good dishwashing detergent
        • Disable the drying feature if it has it and use the “energy saving” setting
        • Run it at night after 8 p.m. when there is a non-peak discount
      • Instead of preheating the iron, press light garments as the iron warms, and turn it off as soon as you’ve finished
      • Keep pool cleaning and heating equipment clean and lubricated and
        • Reduce the pool’s water temperature
        • Reduce the number of months the pool is heated
      • Use foam pads and side insulation on water beds and turn the heat setting down
    • Turn off the lights when leaving a room
    • Don’t let water run when washing or shaving
      • Take shorter showers to use less hot water
  • Make minor changes
    • Keep your heating and cooling costs down
      • Clean out vents for heating and air
        • Open up all the vents, closing vents will actually increase energy costs
        • Check all air filters and replace or clean monthly
        • Keep the furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted
      • Find a way to shade the windows and the air conditioning condenser for the summer
        • Tape aluminum foil facing outwards on poster board onto windows that get a lot of sun in the summer
      • Buy electric fans you can move from room to room and mist yourself with a spray bottle in the hot months
      • Turn off the furnace pilot light during the non-heating season
      • Invest in good blankets for winter
      • Spin the ceiling fan blades in the right direction for the season
        • When it’s hot, blow the air downward to make a breeze
        • When it’s cold, pull the air upward to help distribute heat
    • Pull the fridge back from the wall by at least 1 inch
      • Keep the coils on the back of the fridge clean
    • Lower the water heater temperature to 110°F (140°F if you have a dishwasher)
      • If your lifestyle needs hotter, don’t go over 120°F
    • Install light switches that control the plugs or power strips with switches
    • Buy power chargers that turn off when something is fully charged
  • Make improvements and repairs
    • Insulate your house
      • Exposed hot water heater pipe
      • Doors and drafts
      • Windows
        • Energy-efficient glazing around window frames
        • Insulated curtains, plastic or blankets over them
        • Insulation shutters
      • Under the floor boards
      • Between floors and skirting boards
      • Attic access, basement trap doors and walls
      • Get free hot water heater blankets from the government
      • Plug any leaks in the HVAC venting system
      • Plug any gaps around pipes, ducts fans and vents
      • Seap off electrical receptacle and switch boxes with foam gaskets or fiberglass insulation
    • Get more energy-efficient appliances
      • Make sure that the cost is justified by doing a break-even analysis
        1. Get the cost of the appliance
        2. Calculate your monthly utility expenses
        3. Figure out when the appliance “breaks even” and starts actually saving you money
    • Install a time clock onto your water heater so that it only operates on non-peak hours
    • Look at buying an automated thermostat if you don’t have one
    • Fix leaky faucets
      • Install low-flow showerheads and faucets
      • Install flow restrictors
    • Replace standard light bulbs with energy-saving fluorescent and LED bulbs
      • Put timers on lights
      • Install dimmer switches
    • Do the math to find out if solar energy will save money
    • Look into a radiant heat floor if it makes sense for your situation
  • Comparison shop for your utilities with WhiteFence
    • Look for government rebates for low utility consumption

Housekeeping & Furniture

  • Instead of paying for high-end interior decorations, places like Pinterest provide thousands of great ideas to make your own
  • Don’t buy more dishes than you need to share a meal with your family and another family
  • Buy furniture used at yard sales, and never buy cheap particle board furniture that will break apart in a few years
  • Either buy dollar-store cleaning supplies or make at-home alternatives
    • Try getting melamine foam, typically branded as the Magic Eraser
    • Buy detergent pods, even though it may seem counterintuitive they will space out the usage of the soap to a proper level

Personal Electronics

  • Avoid buying premium-grade products that offer convenience and simplicity at a cost (e.g. Apple)
  • Buy the latest technology of at least 2 years ago
  • Look at the cost of a cell phone plan with a third-party carrier
    • Buy your own phone outside of the plan
    • It sounds counterintuitive, but primary carriers actually charge more
    • If you feel you must stay with a mainstream provider like AT&T or Verizon, stop into a store in person and negotiate the price down
      • Ask for features that you’ve wanted while you negotiate such as headsets, waterproof covers, routers, etc.
      • Pay attention to the long-term phone contracts you sign, especially regarding fees for cancellation
      • Often, it’s easier to negotiate over the phone, so it’s worth experimenting
    • Look at how much data you use monthly and bring that into your decision, but watch out for overage charges
    • Get rid of your cell phone entirely and only having a house phone
    • Get rid of your home phone that came bundled with the cable and Internet bill, especially if you’re not running a business from it
    • When overseas, use a video chat service instead of a cell phone plan
  • Find ways to extend the lives of your technology
    • Keep laptops from overheating by placing 2 identical forks underneath the laptop
    • Keep video game consoles from overheating by putting bottle caps from 20 oz bottles underneath the console
    • If the keyboard feet break, use binder clips
    • Protect the charger by running the cord through an old pen spring
    • Protect your mobile device’s screen by putting it inside a plastic bag
    • Extend the battery lives of computers
      • Turning off flash on a phone’s camera will improve battery life, even when it’s not being used
      • Turning on and off a phone burns more battery than just putting it in airplane mode
      • To extend a laptop’s battery life, keep the battery between 40% and 80%
      • Don’t use a phone while it’s charging, since it will ruin its battery life
    • Store batteries in the freezer in sealed plastic bags to double their lifespan
      • Even if you don’t store them in the freezer, put them in the fridge for a day before using
      • Rechargeable batteries will actually charge inside the freezer
    • Test your batteries before throwing them away
      • Drop it from 6 inches onto a flat surface, if it barely bounces it’s still good but if it bounces a lot it’s dead
      • Lick your finger and place on one end, then put your tongue on the other, if it tingles there’s still a charge
    • You can use battery substitutions if you don’t use an item that much
      • If you only have one battery, use a steel screw on the other side to close the circuit
      • To make a AA battery with a AAA battery, put a small wad of tinfoil on the positive side of an AAA battery
    • If you ever lose your phone or tablet
      • Ring, erase, or lock it remotely with Android Device Manager, and ringing will work even in silent mode
      • if you lost an Android phone and it’s on vibrate, go to Google Play>Android device manager>’Ring’
      • You can also Google find my phone to locate your Android
      • Often, calling Apple customer support will allow them to find your phone for you
    • If you’re not sure if a speaker or headphones are blown, play Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to hear all the sound ranges
  • Avoid paying for accessories for electronics
    • Make a laptop case out of a hoodie
      1. Put it on the main jacket
      2. Wrap it up
      3. Close the hood over it and tie the strings together
      4. Tie the hands together to make it into a sling
      5. Make a phone accessory case by reusing a glasses or sunglasses case
    • To hold a portable hard drive, use a beer coozie
    • Make an armband for a music player out of a tube sock
    • Extend the length of your phone or laptop charger with Christmas lights
    • Make your own phone/tablet stand
      • Use the packaging the device came in and cut a groove into it
      • Bend a paperclip into a stand
      • Use an old cassette tape case
    • Make a spiraled cord by wrapping any electric cord around a pen and blow drying for 5 minutes
    • Create amplifiers instead of buying speakers
      • To amplify a laptop’s speakers, cut a plastic cup in half and put over the keyboard
      • Attach plastic cups to the ends of a toilet paper or paper towel roll and cut a hole in the roll
        • Prop it up with push pins
      • Cut a tennis ball in half, then cut a slit in it to make a tablet speaker amplifier
  • Save on software
    • Find free software alternatives to commercially sold softwares with AlternativeTo
    • If you need to upgrade your computer, look into Linux
      • If you have no computer skill whatsoever, get Ubuntu
    • Download the Free App of the Week, even if you don’t use it, to ensure that you have it if you ever need it

Pets

  • Adopt your cats and dogs instead of paying at a retail store or farm
  • Learn about animal biology to understand what animals should and should not eat, and find more affordable options than premium pet food
    • Avoid gourmet pet food, which is usually not worth the price tag
    • Stay away from generic or discount pet foods as well, since they can lack nutritional requirements
  • Train your cat to use the toilet to save on cat litter, which is fairly simple to do with a cheap kit
  • Brush your pet a few times a week and bathe them when possible to reduce costs at the groomer
    • Many places like PetSmart or PetCo will groom them more affordably
  • Don’t buy pets expensive toys, since they are more likely to play with the box
  • Keep up with routine vetrinary care to avoid larger bills later

Traveling

  • In your car
    • Don’t buy premium gas, the quality difference is negligible or not there, and additives are cheaper in the long run
    • If possible, find ways to carpool
    • Consider a rewards program if a gas station provides one
    • Learn to drive slower and more carefully to avoid unnecessary wear on the car
    • Use cruise control to avoid stepping unnecessarily on the gas pedal
    • Keep the tires inflated to increase fuel efficiency and increase tire lifespan
    • Consolidate errand runs that save gasoline by combining locations
    • Try alternate routes that can get around traffic
    • Change your work hours to avoid rush hour
    • Research if the bus or a car is cheaper for a routine trip
    • Consider a bicycle or smaller motorized vehicle if your lifestyle can allow it
    • Try telecommuting if your work is open to it
  • When flying
    • Timing
      • The prices usually change about 3 times a day
      • Book the flights 330 days before you plan on going to score the first cheapest seats
      • About 6-8 weeks before the flights are scheduled the prices will drop
      • Try to not schedule the flight for a Sunday
    • Pay close attention to the myriad fees that can come unexpectedly from not paying attention
      • Booking with a phone
      • Cancelling or changing it
    • Always search in incognito mode on your web browser to avoid the increase in price from you repeatedly coming back to the site
    • Look at secondary markets that sell underpriced tickets to fill the plane (e.g. Priceline or Skiplagged)
      • Use budget airlines that are either lower quality or more local whenever you can
    • Consider direct flights (one stop flights) versus adding a stopover with the same or a different airline
    • Sign up for airline newsletters and airline promotions
    • Use a service like SeatGuru to find the most affordable seats on a plane
    • Be prepared
      • Bring your own things for the plane trip
        • Food, but make sure it doesn’t smell strongly to disrupt others’ lives
        • Blankets
        • Take empty water bottles and fill them up after getting through security
        • Have enough entertainment or reading for the trip
      • Use a coupon service like Groupon to get discounts on airport parking
      • Checking in
        • Don’t expect to get a free upgrade with the ticket agent if you didn’t pay full-price for the ticket
        • Travel without a checked bag
          • If you need to have a bag sent to the location, mail it to the hotel
      • At the terminal
        • Watch out for the highly priced items at the airport
          • Avoid going into any of the shops
      • Ask for anything free you need during the flight, which you can usually get if you’re nice enough
        • As long as it’s not disruptive, you can always ask for a tour of the flight deck and meet the pilot
        • Children’s activity packs
        • Dental hygiene kits
        • Ear plugs or sleep mask
        • First aid supplies
        • Leftover meals from first-class
        • Slippers or socks
        • You can have as many refills of your drinks as you want
      • At your destination
        • If you ever lose your phone’s charger ask the front desk of your hotel, since they often have extras that other people have left

Recreation

  • Find hobbies and pastimes that are cheap or free for yourself, your date or your family
    • Avoid going to the mall or some other shopping center to kill time, since the temptation to buy will be huge
    • Cancel your subscriptions and memberships
      • Get rid of cable TV and switch to streaming Internet video
        • With Hulu, select “cancel my account” to get a free month of credit
      • Stop subscribing to magazines and newspapers, since the Internet has it
        • If you really want to subscribe for crafts materials, pull the discount cards out from copies in the library or a waiting room
      • Cancel a gym membership if you’re not using it
        • Get home workout equipment
        • Make your own workout equipment with a duffel bag, contractor’s bags and pea gravel
      • Cancel satellite radio
      • If you want to keep your subscription, research current specials and ask for the same rate that’s being advertised
        • Many times being newer with a competitor will give big discounts
        • If they refuse, then politely reason that you can leave and come back just to get the discount
        • If there is a grace period where the rate then climbs, offer to renew only if you can get the prior year’s rate
    • Learning
      • Try to learn a new language or create one
      • Find new recipes
      • Get better at chess
      • Consider classes at a community college over more expensive options like private classes
      • Grow a garden
      • Anything else that takes focus and effort but doesn’t cost much
    • Alone time
      • Practice meditation
      • Pick up blogging or writing
      • Read more online articles and free e-books
      • Don’t go shopping when you’re bored, upset, lonely or unhappy
    • Movies & TV
      • When going to theaters bring your own snack in, but pay attention to how much noise you make from wrappers
      • Watch movies at home online streaming or rent one
      • Find free or inexpensive movies during the summer months
      • Avoid the discount movie bin, unless it’s a movie you’ve been dying to own
    • Parks
      • Look for free entrance days for national parks and beaches
      • Hike in a local park, since most of them are free or very reasonably priced
    • Local tourism
      • There are many free museum days, depending on your city
      • There are many free guided tours available, especially in larger cities
      • Many schools and junior theaters have very affordable or free plays and productions
      • Look for free concerts in your area
      • During the holidays, drive around and observe the Christmas lights
      • Check out the promotions in your area or get an Entertainment book
    • Swimming
      • Find a local community swimming pool where you can swim for little to no cost
    • Kids’ extracurricular activities
      • Plan for the expenses and event in advance
        • Keep in mind what is and what isn’t necessary for the experience
      • Many crafts and hardware stores have free workshops where they can play freely
      • Bowling promotions are insanely affordable
    • Save on childcare costs
      • Recruit the help of extended family
      • Find a college student pursuing teaching or nursing that needs experience caring for children
      • Look into what your employer provides
      • Send the kids off to day camps or overnight camps
      • Send them to sleepovers with their friends
      • Start a babysitting co-op to give you and several other parents freedom multiple weekends of the month
  • Find friends who share your values on money and lifestyle decisions
    • Create a mastermind group to achieve your goals collectively
    • Invite others into your low-expense lifestyle with local community events or holiday festivals
    • If your friends or family make a lot more or a lot less than you, then find common ground with activities you both can do
      • If you make less than them
        • If your financial goals are in place, don’t be afraid to let them know why you don’t want to do something
        • Be careful with borrowing money, but if you absolutely must then do the following
          • Make a concrete deadline
          • Draw up a contract
          • Pay interest on it
      • If you make more than them
        • Expect to lose money when loaning to friends
          • If you ever loan something to a friend and want to be sure you get it back, take a photo of them with the item when you give it to them
        • Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself
          • If you must share something, bring up a situation in your experience similar to the one you see
  • Have affordable get-togethers with family and friends
    • Invite everyone over for tea
    • Have a movie night or a board game night
    • Visit a bookstore and read or share experiences about reading with each other
    • Go rummaging together through a thrift store
    • Start a neighborhood block party
    • Find other creative ways to spend time affordably with others
      • Video game nights
      • Scrabble competition nights
      • LEGO nights
      • Card game nights
      • Group rates at various locations

Professional Services

  • You can do many services yourself
    • Home repair
    • Housekeeping
    • Lawn care
    • Pest control
  • If you do need a service performed, it should be done by experts in that particular niche
    • A bankruptcy attorney will not be naturally skilled at navigating an estate
    • You may have an audit CPA as a friend, but they will not do as well as an experienced tax CPA or proficient EA
    • Typically, this means that many of your best services will be from referrals by friends who have had good experiences
    • Though it can be tempting to have services performed based on a metascore (such as Yelp) that score can be easily manipulated unless it is regularly examined (like Angie’s List)
Next: Money 203: What To Do With Your Freed-Up Money