10 Creative Saving Strategies
Budget living doesn't necessarily mean sacrifice. If you're buried in debt or facing foreclosure, small changes aren't going to cut it. But if you're simply embracing a more frugal mindset, economizing can actually be cathartic. Here are 10 creative -- and even enjoyable -- ways to snip your spending:
1. Clothing swaps 2.0.
Friends have been swapping their unwanted duds for decades, usually in small groups and over a few glasses of wine. Today, self-professed "swapaholics" are organizing larger, more sophisticated clothing swaps with hundreds of participants, and they're held everywhere from auditoriums to city parks. Some of these events operate on a one-for-one model, in which participants receive one ticket for each item they offer up, which can be traded for another, says
2. Lunch clubs.
Brown-bagging it is one of the best ways to slash your weekly spending, but it requires a lot of planning and prep. These days, groups of co-workers are sharing the load by taking turns providing lunch for each other during the week. It can be as easy as making an extra lasagna on Sunday night, or packing the ingredients for a large chef salad on Monday morning. "Even a fast-food meal can cost
3. DIY ideas.
Along with other innovative savers, Massello's looking to the past for inspiration, " sponging up all the Depression-era wisdom spilled by her gregarious Greatest (and first-) Generation Italian-American family back in
[Read more of Yeager's advice on How to Be a Savvy Cheapskate.]
4. Make your own beer or wine.
The basic supplies and ingredients will cost you, but making several gallons of beer or wine -- which can be done in an afternoon -- can be quite economical, says blogger
5. Crowd buying.
When it comes to discretionary spending, the collective buying power of crowds can help you nab some great deals. The concept: Local businesses offer their products or services at a large discount -- think
6. Freeganism for non-extremists.
You don't have to climb into a garbage bin. You don't even have to get your hands dirty. Instead of buying clay pots for your container garden, ask your local nursery for its unwanted plastic ones. Day trip to the woods -- or park -- to forage for fresh herbs, or check sites like VeggieTrader.com, where gardeners offer up their surplus. At FallenFruit.org, downloadable neighborhood foraging maps are available for finding fruits and vegetables on public land, where they are free. "It's completely legal, but there are ethics, like taking only what you actually can eat," says Massello, who once spent a week living as a freegan for research. During that time, she took advantage of community calendars, which list free events such as concerts and art gallery openings that offer free food and wine. She also interviewed other freegans: "I heard from expert Dumpster divers who worked with local bakeries to the point where food never actually touched Dumpster. They knew what time day to go."
7. Bartering for beginners.
If you're uncomfortable with the idea of bartering but want to try it, take baby steps. Start by reaching out via social networks like
House-swapping is another form of bartering.
The practice has exploded in popularity over the past decade, and plenty of websites now offer directories of available houses in cities throughout the world. There are even companies like KnowYourTrade.com that vet home-exchange agencies, but some people are still turned off by the idea. For the anxious,
8. Get hitched on the cheap.
Weddings need not be
9. Eat lentils.
Well, not just lentils, but they cost little and have tons of nutritional value. Yeager recommends "eating lower on the food chain," which means focusing on fresh, healthy foods, and aiming to spend no more than a dollar a pound. "It's a myth that it costs more to eat healthy. You can spend a lot, but when you think about the kinds of things we should eat the most of -- whole grains, legumes, and produce -- they tend to cost less per pound than things that are bad for us like red meat and many processed foods that are high in trans saturated fats," he says. Yeager's list of 50 healthy foods that cost less than
10. Extreme measures.
Chew a half stick of gum at a time. Time your showers with a stopwatch. Use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste. These particular things may out of the realm of what you're willing to do to save a buck, but "most people, I think, have one or two things they tend to be really frugal with," says Foreman. "Why, I don't know ? we see a lot of people saving in interesting ways. What they're trying to do now is maintain their standard of living." The bottom line: Don't feel guilty about reusing plastic silverware or squirreling away restaurant soy-sauce packets. "My take is that if it bugs your family and friends to the point that they tease you, it's probably too extreme. But if not and it makes you happy, go for it," says Massello.
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Personal Finance - 10 Creative Saving Strategies
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