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How to Save a Few Dollars – part 1

2012 May 15
by Charlie

Most people that visit, Three Thrifty Guys, will notice that we post on a number of topics from avoiding pre-mades to investing to holiday gift ideas. However, today I’m getting back to basics and focusing on how to save a few dollars for our readers. Here are a numbers of ideas that I implement in my life that may help you:

  • Couponing – since having our third child in 2009 we’ve started couponing to help save on our family a few dollars. A few websites I utilize are MoneySavingMom, iheartwags, CouponGal, and MojoSavings. I also used YouTube to find how other people were organizing their coupons.
  • Buying in bulk – when I read Teri Gault’s Shop Smart, Save More I realized that coupon with buying in bulk with help compound your savings. The biggest take away I had from the book was that most products go on sale in 3 months cycles. This way you should buy enough of a certain product (i.e. toilet paper or cereal) to last you at least 3 months until the next sale.
  • Making our own cleaning products – by watching my grandparents live I realized that a lot of expense cleaning products can make at home and a lot cheaper! Some products I make at home include window cleaner & all purpose cleaner, and Swiffer wet jet wood floor cleaner. I’m still looking for a good organic laundry detergent, so if you have any tips, then post in the comments!
  • Detesting debt – after watching my dad go through bankruptcy and seeing my grandparents live debt, I knew I wanted a life not like the typical American. To the point where I detested debt like agent Smith detested “reality” in the movie the Matrix. Agent smith “hates this place, this reality. It’s a zoo!” While you watch this Matrix scene think of the correlation to how people in debt are in bondage to the slavery of debt.
  • Stop buying crap – I love how Aaron’s grandma put it in her 2010 interview when Aaron asked her what advice she had for people. Simple put she said, “Stop buying crap!” Buy things that last and not stuff that is cheaply made in China or that will give out in less than a year. I wish more people today would say obvious truths like Aaron’s Grandma, June!
  • Learn new trades – don’t pigeon hole your self into only knowing one skill. Diversify you knowledge either through online training or shadowing someone (i.e. Mentor/Mentee). When tough times hit, then you’ll hopefully be in a better position to weather the financial storms.
  • Buy used  (Goodwill/Garage Sales) – when I was in 7th grade one of my classmates stopped me on the playground, and said to me, “Charlie, I think you are wearing my old jacket. Ya, that is my old jacket! My mom sold it on our garage sale this weekend. See my last name’s on the inside liner.” Talk about a major embarrassment for a middle school student!! Regardless of what society says it isn’t shameful to buy used!

These are just a few ways that my family and I save money on a daily basis. I’d love to hear some ways you save money!

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An IT professional, Charlie also buys and sells liens, lives on the cheap, runs marathons and helps to run his family farm. In his spare moments, he raises 3 children, does the dishes and writes one post a week. His former blog, Frugal Retirement Plan, has been cited by US News and World Report.

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6 Responses
  1. May 15, 2012

    My wife and I don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do we always have a coupon to help lower the bill.

  2. Angel permalink
    May 15, 2012

    Some real good ways to reduce expenses are less driving more walking, more public transportation(bus pass)(light rail) (park and ride) if you can, biking, if you own your car reduce your insurance to the minimum plus add uninsured motorist for a cheaper bill, take a multivitamin for less illness, reward yourself so you don’t overspend if you don’t give yourself a little perk now plus then, to save electricity do what you can by hand (use sunlight too), read what you can for free on the net, barter, trade, turn in all scrap metal, get free items off of craigslist, double coupons at k-mart, church pot-luck dinners, book exchange shops, don’t be too proud, swap coupons, moonlight ,ask for well desserved raises and just watch every penny to see where it goes. Make a change for the better.

  3. May 16, 2012

    I’ve been trying to eat healthier (and save money while doing it). Our cereal bowls are too small for me to eat a salad for dinner. Instead of spending $20 at Target for a salad bowl (which was a little bigger than our current bowls) I bought a huge dog food bowl for $5! Some say it was stupid, but I definitely enjoy saving $15 while trying to eat healthier :)

    It looks pretty cool/delicious too!

  4. May 16, 2012

    Here is how it looks :)

  5. May 17, 2012

    @Justin – I agree with ya! It’s always helpful to have a coupon to help stretch your dollars!

    @Angel – You had some AWESOME points! Don’t be surprised if I use them in my part 2 post! Great info.

    @Luke – I don’t think that is a stupid idea at all. It’s practical! It reminds me of when we went to buy a new dresser for our master bedroom. We were looking at a dresser that costed about $399, but found almost the exact same one in the kids section for $325. I’m surprised how much of a different childrens furniture is compared to the adult furniture.

  6. May 23, 2012

    Great list! I’m really excited about making my own cleaning products– that sounds more natural and cheaper! A friend of mine recently gave me her recipe for homemade laundry detergent ( I hope that works well for your family, too!

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