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Last post Author Topic: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips  (Read 41132 times)

mouser

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Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« on: January 26, 2009, 02:45:06 PM »
My friend and I used to have a term for when we were running low on money and had to be careful about what we spent it on, it was called going into "Frugality Mode".

With the global economy heading into the toilet, what are your tips for surviving a prolonged period of existence in "Frugality Mode" ?


mnemonic

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 03:22:17 PM »
Use distilled vinegar for cleaning.

  • Mix it 1:1 with water and keep it in a spray bottle for cleaning kitchen surfaces.
  • Use it instead of fabric softener (the smell evaporates away whilst drying - make sure you don't use malt vinegar though...).
  • Put bicarbonate of soda down the sink plughole and pour in vinegar to keep it from blocking up.

Loads of tips here.

If you feel so inclined, knit your own computer peripherals - just bonkers.

mouser

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2009, 03:26:08 PM »
I'll add what seems like easiest and best cost-benefit action: Cancel Cable Tv.

Darwin

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 03:45:19 PM »
bicarbonate of soda

For those in the darkest reaches of North America, bicarbonate of soda = baking soda!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

40hz

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 03:45:31 PM »
1. Review everything you pay for via "automatic" payments. A lot of unnecessary expenses can slip through undetected when you don't need to think about paying the bills. This is especially true when you get your account information either online or via e-mail, and no longer receive a hardcopy statement in the mail.

Out of sight is out of mind. And sometimes, it's also right out of your wallet.

2. Think about magazines, subscriptions, and memberships. If you really do read them regularly, subscribe and save quite a bit of money. And if you don't regularly read them, let your subscriptions expire. Same goes for memberships to clubs and organizations you have outgrown or just lost interest in.

3. Do not economize on food or health care unless you're about to get bounced out on the street. (And maybe not even then.)

You don't need to get extravagant to eat well. And a timely trip to a doctor or dentist can save you a huge amount of money, pain, and grief down the road. Deal with health issues early and decisively. Staying healthy will always be less expensive than being sick, no matter how good your insurance coverage.

4. Stop smoking if you smoke. Stop drinking if you're a drinker. Neither one does you much good. And they're both expensive habits. And completely forget about so-called recreational drugs.

5. Check your cellphone and cable/satellite TV plans. Get rid of anything on those plans that you aren't using or could do without. I reduced my cellphone minutes and coverage area and saved a tidy sum when I realized I didn't use half of what I was paying for.

My girlfriend and I also dropped movie channels from our cable plan after we tracked what we were actually watching for a few weeks. (Next to nothing, in case you're wondering.)

We took out a NetFlix subscription. It not only saved money, it also  finally allowed us to see the movies we wanted to see.

Big improvement over the "200 channels and nothing on TV" scenario we were previously enjoying. :Thmbsup:

And if you're not getting your web connection via your cable provider, consider dropping the service completely. :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 03:48:55 PM by 40hz »

Darwin

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 03:57:03 PM »
Ah yes, I cancelled cable on Jan. 1... potential savings?

How does $730 a year grab ya? We had the top of the analogue package with no pay-tv options (move channels, pay-per-view, video on demand), which amounted to about 65 channels. 99% of the week the only channel that the tv was tuned to was Treehouse (young childrens' programming - Franklin, Little Bear, Dora the Screeching Explorer, etc.), so we decided to save money off our childrens' backs   ;D
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

40hz

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 04:43:07 PM »
we decided to save money off our childrens' backs   ;D

Like it! ;D

(Don't worry. They'll get you back when it's time for college.)

40hz

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 05:03:25 PM »
If you live in the USA, read Gotcha Capitalism by Bob Sulliven.

A friend told me about this book after attending a financial fitness seminar.

It's amazing the number of fees that get tacked onto things if you allow it to happen. Now you can fight back.

Check out the excerpt up on Amazon for a better idea of what's in it:

http://www.amazon.co...233010026&sr=8-1

Quote
What is Gotcha Capitalism?

Coughing up $4 fees for ATM transactions. Iron-clad cell phone contracts you can’t get out of with a crowbar. Paying big bucks for insurance you don’t need on a rental car or forking over $20 a day for supposedly “free” wireless internet. Every day we use banks, cell phones, and credit cards. Every day we book hotels and airline tickets. And every day we get ripped off.
How? Here are just a few examples of how big business can get you:

• You didn’t fill up the rental car with gas?
Gotcha! Gas costs $7 a gallon here.

• Your bank balance fell to $999.99 for one day?
Gotcha! That’ll be $12.

• You miss one payment on that 18-month same-as-cash loan?
Gotcha! That’ll be $512 extra.

• You’re one day late on that electric bill?
Gotcha! All your credit cards now have a 29.99% interest rate.

But not for much longer. In Gotcha Capitalism, MSNBC.com’s “Red Tape Chronicles” columnist Bob Sullivan exposes the ways we’re all cheated by big business, and teaches us how to get our money back–proven strategies that can help you save more than $1,000 a year.

It will set you back about $10 on Amazon. Well worth it. Especially for the model letters you need to send in order to protect your rights under the Fair Credit Act. I've successfully used some of the ideas in this book to get decent reductions in interest rates from my bank. Gotta love that.

If you're really looking to economize, try reading it while sitting in a Borders or Barnes & Nobel coffee shop.

Just make sure you don't go and buy one of those $4 cups of coffee because you're feeling guilty. :-[;)

« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 05:05:46 PM by 40hz »

mouser

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 05:15:20 PM »
Nice.  :up:

I think it's even worse than your examples illustrate.  More and more i see evidence of companies and services charging fees that they KNOW are erroneous -- and it's just a matter of letting those who catch the error complain, at which point they remove the charge without issue.  Then the rest of the people who never notice.. they pay the price.

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 05:47:44 PM »
It may seem obvious, but: Don't use Credit.

We also use VoIP for all our Phone calls, which reduced our phone bill from hundreds to less than a hundred.

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2009, 05:56:50 PM »
I think it's even worse than your examples illustrate.  More and more i see evidence of companies and services charging fees that they KNOW are erroneous -- and it's just a matter of letting those who catch the error complain, at which point they remove the charge without issue.  Then the rest of the people who never notice.. they pay the price.

We recently read Tim Harford's The Underground Economist [Amazon Link] and found it to be a very revealing book! Helps us decide if we were being ripped off and to make better purchasing decisions. I highly recommend it.

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2009, 06:17:09 PM »
Three months ago I decided to record what we harvest from our home garden. Always wanted to know what the financial benefits of the home garden were.

I was surprised to see that in one quarter that we'd harvested $219 worth of fruit and vegetables (using averaged prices)!

Admittedly, a good proportion of that was Raspberries (which are expensive here), which we probably would not have bought anyway, but when you're being frugal treats like this completely transform the humdrum that you normally would have been confined to  :D

cranioscopical

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2009, 06:50:05 PM »

I'm probably preaching to the choir round here but...

If you're a meat eater, drop it from your diet.
Meat's expensive, vegetables aren't nor are (some) alternative sources of protein.



Edvard

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 07:35:27 PM »
I'm probably preaching to the choir round here but...

If you're a meat eater, drop it from your diet.
Meat's expensive, vegetables aren't nor are (some) alternative sources of protein.

I don't know where you are, but up here in the Great Northwest, vegetables are a spendy proposition for daily consumption. I know, because my wife recently had her gall bladder removed and complications from it are turning her to a fresh vegetable and juice diet. Not cheap.
Now to be fair, meat is expensive, but I never understood how come the warmed-over goo they so graciously pre-package for you is pennies by comparison.

So... eat Ramen, Mac & Cheese, bread from the "day old" shelf and you'll probably save a bunch.
And for the love of your pocketbook, don't eat at restaurants:o

cranioscopical

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2009, 10:17:42 PM »
Now to be fair, meat is expensive, but I never understood how come the warmed-over goo they so graciously pre-package for you is pennies by comparison.

Nor do you want to understand if you plan on eating it...   ;D

zridling

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2009, 10:24:44 PM »
I've been doing frugal since I left college... 25 years ago! Something that being $161,000 in debt causes. But here are pieces of my ascetic lifestyle:

  • Cultivate cheap hobbies. Hunting, fishing, season tickets to Pro sports, motorcycles, etc. will eat you alive over the years.
  • Switch to free, open source software (knowing I won't be paying for the next MS Office or Win7 tickles me)
  • Instead of upgrading your entire computer, upgrade only your motherboard, chip, and memory. Save the spare parts just in case.
  • Turn out the lights (the old man was right about this one)
  • Drive that used car until the gas tank falls off. A car for most of us is a necessity, but a new one isn't.
  • Never ever get involved in a lawsuit, and if you do, settle. You'll be pissed, but you'll save money.
  • Don't buy expensive furniture. Why do you care what someone thinks. Unless you entertain regularly at you home, forgettttaboutit.
  • Cancel as many subscriptions as you can live without, including cable TV (nod to mouser), and stop spending so much money on that damn phone. It's the single most profitable item ever invented.
  • Combine trips to the store, to a friend's house, to an appointment, etc.
  • If it doesn't come in a box or a can, I can't cook it. (I don't have the patience.)
  • If you can manage it, work off the grid, and don't pay taxes. The government will always throw it away on someone/something other than what you want from it. (And no, I don't give a fap about a new runway.)
  • If you subscribe to porn sites, cancel the subscription the same day. Most sites offer you a half price discount if you stay signed up. But with broadband you can download all the site's content in a day. Or just wait to find it on Usenet.

Deozaan

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2009, 12:18:49 AM »
We also use VoIP for all our Phone calls, which reduced our phone bill from hundreds to less than a hundred.

My wife and I were getting a really good deal on my mother's Family Plan cell phone service. But then my mother decided she wanted to switch carriers and spend $100 a month on a service that was only for one person instead of for 4 people, and she told us to find our own cell plan.

So we looked at our options of having cell phones or a land line, and ultimately decided to get neither of them. We bought a subscription to Skype and also "purchased" a phone number from them. Total cost = $60 for an entire year of phone service. $60 is about 2 months of land-line service here and just over a month of service on the most basic cell phone plan. :Thmbsup:

Not only is it nice to save all that money on phone service, but it's also very nice to never hear the phone ring. Life is so much simpler without a phone interrupting everything.  :-*


Josh

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2009, 12:20:48 AM »
Life is so much simpler without a phone interrupting everything.  :-*

Until you are in an on-call position and don't hear the phone ring and miss a 2 hour recall for your unit.

Djiezes

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2009, 06:39:37 AM »
I happen to know these circumstances very well, so here are my 2 cents (they're free ;-):

* If you don't need a car, then don't buy one / get rid of it. Especially when you live in a city, you can opt for this & choose public transport. If there is an occasions when you do need one, just ask a friend or family and offer to pay for the gasoline (most of the time they won't accept that offer).
* Do all your groceries in a cheap store (we've got Aldi & Lidl here in Europe) and don't buy other stuff than what you need and buy there.
* Cook yourself, and don't go out eating.
* Recreational activities: do something with your friends without spending (much) money. For example: organize poker nights, those are cheap + you can win something too). If you organize such activities at your home, make a pot & share all costs (drinks, chips, etc...)
* Limit or refrain from doing unnecessary expenses: no theatre, cinema, buying music. Don't be afraid to use the internet as entertainment channel & get rid of your cable tv. Download your music & video from the nets (+ there's a lot of free & legal stuff too on the net).
* Do not buy new stuff if it isn't broken yet. Don't upgrade your computer, etc.
* Stimulate a cheap hobby, for example: digital photography, walking, reading, writing ; put a stop on hobbies that cost you (gym membership, etc.). Go to the library in stead of buying books.
* Turn out lights, close doors, get rid of lightbulbs & choose the less power hungry variants.
* Sell stuff you dont need on ebay.
* Track your expenses & evaluate what costs you too much, get rid of that / replace it with something cheaper but equally valuable.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2009, 10:54:42 PM »
  • Cultivate cheap hobbies. Hunting, fishing, season tickets to Pro sports, motorcycles, etc. will eat you alive over the years.
Oh no, you don't get to pick on my hole-card. When gas here hit $4.25 a gallon I parked my truck which ran $60+ to fill (a week), and got my 1987 Harley FLHTP back on the road (Dress up job be damned). My scoot gets 54mpg and will still go 0-60 in under 3sec ... Try that in a Toyota Prius ;)

Beyond that my job is my hobby (60-70+hr weeks), I have always done all of the general household/vehicle/etc. repairs (altho at 44 it's starting to take longer), and the wife and I haven't "Gone Out" much in years.

*Sigh*

These days my life is to boaring to be expensive. :( ...I did try to quit smoking awhile back, and was then told not to as a public safety issue (guess I was a bit tense that day...) :)

CWuestefeld

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2009, 12:04:05 PM »
I've got to disagree with one of the posts here. During heating season, turning off lights does not save you money in the big picture; all of the energy they burn is turned into heat. So the only savings is the difference in cost between electrical energy and whatever heating method you use: probably pretty trivial in the number of kwh we're considering.

Perry advocated staying away from credit cards. I disagree strongly: this may be the single largest saver I've got. You must pay the full balance each month. But assuming that you do that, you can really benefit from them. My cards both give 1% cash back, so I'm getting that savings off of everything I buy -- a tiny percentage over a really big base number. Also I have two cards, with the closing date staggered two weeks. I always use the one that has closed most recently, which means I've always got 4-6 weeks before I have to pay back any charge. This means that I effectively have a free loan to myself in perpetuity of a couple of thousand dollars.

One post mentioned VoIP, and that's a decent savings for me. A plan like Vonage gives all the features you're used to from your circuit-switched landline and then some, and can save you lots of money -- especially if you have a high-speed data connection anyway.

As was mentioned at the top, smoking and drinking having to be the biggest money pits ever.

One post mentioned keeping your car longer, and another mentioned cell phone plans. Both excellent advice, and put the two together: there's really no need to keep turning over cell phones. Usually most of the cost is underwritten by the carrier, but you're paying that back to them -- with interest -- over two years at the (high) service level they require.

Here's my own contribution, sure to be unpopular. Avoid the so-called "organic" section in the grocery store. I'm not arguing with the idea of organic foods, I'm arguing with the marketing of them. As with so many things, the government (in America, anyway) defines what can be called "organic", and you'd be surprised at that definition. There are plenty of fertilizers, pesticides, and preservatives that are still used. It's quite likely that when you buy that product with the Organic label, you're not getting a pure unadulterated food. And the prices of these are grossly higher than the "standard" foods elsewhere in the store.

When you are shopping, be prepared to buy in quantity. There are certain foods that are staples in my diet, and I know that the store puts on sale regularly. For example, I love Langer's cranberry juice cocktails, which are a little on the expensive side (~$4/half gallon). But every couple of months they go on sale at half price, and I buy a heap of them. If you're prepared to invest a little up-front and have the space in your basement to keep the stock, you can save a lot by using sales like this.

Here's one little thing that I've been doing recently. Save some money by making your own yogurt. It's trivially easy to do, and costs less than half of what you're paying in the store. (And if you want Organic foods, this is really the way to get it).

zridling

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2009, 05:28:20 PM »
I happen to know these circumstances very well, so here are my 2 cents (they're free ;-):

* Recreational activities: do something with your friends without spending (much) money. For example: organize poker nights, those are cheap + you can win something too). If you organize such activities at your home, make a pot & share all costs (drinks, chips, etc...)
__________________GREAT IDEA!!

* Do not buy new stuff if it isn't broken yet. Don't upgrade your computer, etc.
__________________YOU BASTARD. YOU ABSOLUTE BASTARD. THIS IS THE ONE THING I WANT TO DO THIS YEAR.  ;D

* Sell stuff you dont need on ebay.
__________________I USED TO DO THIS, EXCEPT eBAY TAKES TOO BIG A PERCENTAGE. CRAIGSLIST IS PREFERRED NOW IN THE US.

* Track your expenses & evaluate what costs you too much, get rid of that / replace it with something cheaper but equally valuable.
__________________VERY GOOD IDEA!!

Thanks!

app103

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2009, 06:06:17 PM »
Unplug the TV and cancel the dish, cable, or whatever you are subscribing to. There is plenty of free content online that you can enjoy to replace it. (this saved me over $60/month) Once you get used to living without it, you won't miss it. I certainly don't.

Get rid of all the extras on your phone service that you really do not need or use. Do you need call forwarding, distinct ring, voicemail, etc? Are you really using them enough to justify the costs? Are there replacements that would make more sense, like maybe using an old fashioned answering machine instead of voicemail? (there is no monthly fee for using an answering machine)

Speaking of phones, do you really need both a landline AND a mobile? A lot of people are saving money by dropping their landline and using strictly their mobile.

If you like to read, get and use a library card. Never buy a book you don't plan on reading more than once. Reference books make sense to purchase, fiction does not. Whatever books you do buy, try to get the best deal on them, even buying used books if they are cheaper. Swapping the books you don't want for ones you do, (like on bookmooch) makes sense, too. I know people that are paying a lot more in rent just to house their enormous book collections, because of the need to have extra rooms just to store all those books. If they got rid of the books they are never going to read again, they could move to a smaller cheaper apartment.

There is so much good free music out there that one doesn't need to ever buy another CD for as long as they live. Services like Pandora, Last.fm, and Garageband make it easy to listen to stuff you will actually like, without spending a dime. And last.fm and Garageband are capable of filling your hard drive very quickly with a ton of free MP3's. (I have downloaded almost 15G of free music, close to 3000 songs, since October!)

Learn to sew. Even if you never become good enough at it to make all your own clothing, at the very least you should learn to repair what you have. If you can fix it, why throw it away and buy new? A couple of spools of thread and a pack of needles is a lot cheaper that a whole new wardrobe.

When you buy clothing, go for quality. Buy clothes that will last for many years. And if you buy classic styles, they will be as fashionable today as they were 20 years ago, and still be in style 20 years from now. And don't shun the thrift stores and rummage sales. You can find some real bargains on what would normally be very expensive stuff, for pennies on the dollar, sometimes with the original price tags still on them.

You can substantially cut your electric bill by doing the following:

An empty refrigerator is very expensive to run! Fill the excess space in your refrigerator and freezer with bottles of water. This will keep it colder, longer and reduce the frequency and duration that the compressor has to kick on to keep it at the desired temperature. This single tip can cut the electric bill in half, for some people. Also clean the coils on the back and keep them free of dust.

Start buying your light bulbs by lumens. Wattage tells you how much electricity it will use, but lumens tells you how much light you will get for that electricity. It is possible to buy lower wattage bulbs with the same amount or higher lumens if you compare brands. Use table lamps to light the area of the room you are in with lower wattage bulbs, rather than the ceiling fixture with 6 bulbs that lights the entire room.

Use a clothes line instead of a dryer. I have an extra shower bar in my bathroom that goes across the center of the tub, specifically for hanging wet clothing so they don't drip on the floor. (I prefer not to hang my clothes outside and have them fade from the sunlight and get all full of pollen & pollution)

Use a coffee maker that doesn't have a heating element under the pot and brews the coffee directly into a thermal carafe. This can keep coffee hot for hours without using any extra electricity. Bonus is that it also won't cook your coffee or evaporate it.

Use a non-electric carpet sweeper for quick daily maintenance cleaning and only use the vacuum cleaner once a week or less.

Use that electric blanket only to preheat your bed. Shut it off once you climb under the covers.

Get rid of the screensavers and use power management to shut off the monitor.

And finally, invest in a used copy of The Tightwad Gazette and make it your money saving bible and keep reading it over and over again. The information in its pages can enable anyone that lives below the poverty line to have it all and live like a king (this is not an exaggeration!), so imagine what it can do for you.

redstarnyc

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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2009, 08:22:12 PM »
I've been in Frugality Mode since we bought a co-op.  Here are some of the things I've been doing

Bringing lunch to work:  I live in NYC so this easily can save me $10 a day
Tea instead of coffee at work:  I bought a package of tea bags from the .99 Store.  So long Starbucks and hello a few bucks a day
Library instead of the bookstore
Downgrade cable:  All we really watch are the basic stations and I only need HD for football.  Thinking about ditching cable TV altogether after the move.
VOIP over the phone company

Tracking what you spend is also a great idea.  There are plenty of online tools out there.  I use www.buxfer.com but there are plenty others.

I also have a spreadsheet I use to track not only what I am spending now, but what I used to spend before I got cheap.  I then add up the "savings" as a way to keep myself motivated.
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Re: Going Into Frugality Mode -- What are your Tricks and Tips
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2009, 08:30:52 PM »
Quote
I also have a spreadsheet I use to track not only what I am spending now, but what I used to spend before I got cheap.  I then add up the "savings" as a way to keep myself motivated.

very cool idea!

that gives me another idea.. what about a kind of game where family's can challenge each other to see how little they can spend (or how much they can save), and make a kind of game of it.. maybe someone could make a website or program to help keep track of scores or whatever.