50 Ways to Stretch a Dollar

In 2008 when the economy took a nose dive, several of my family members and friends felt the pinch. I asked a variety of people representing different areas all over the United States (men and women, single and married, those with kids and those without kids) for some money-saving tips. I went back over my list this week and tweaked it.  No matter what our income we can all adapt to a simpler lifestyle and utilize the resources we have…and share them with others.

  1. Use cash instead of credit cards and better yet designate your cash in categorized envelopes like the Dave Ramsey system.

    This is the ugly envelope system holder we have had since we were married ten years ago! It’s a coupon holder my husband purchased from the Dollar Store.

  2. Drink water at restaurants instead of ordering a $2.00 soft drink
  3. Cut dryer sheet in half
  4. When making meals, use more items like vegetables, pasta, and rice and fewer items like meat which tends to be more expensive.
  5. Turn the thermostat down when you leave the house or long periods of time and during the night.
  6. Make your own laundry detergent.  It works just as well as the store-bought stuff!My homemade laundry detergent
  7. Plant your own vegetable garden or do a co-op with other families.  Many churches are also sponsoring community gardens.
  8. Pack a lunch to work and pack the night before!  When I used to work outside of the home, I was tempted the morning of (if I did not have a lunch packed) to say, “I’ll just go through a drive thru.”
  9. Buy from the bulk foods section–especially items like sugar, flour, oatmeal, and even snack-like foods such as pretzels and crackers.
  10. Go through your house a couple of times a day and shut off lights.
  11. Sell your children clothes to a consignment store and use the money you make to buy gently used clothes or baby items for them.
  12. Buy a box of greeting cards for the whole year or have your children make handmade cards for friends and family members.
  13. Ask around (utilize facebook, e-mail, twitter) before you buy a baby item.  It could be someone has a good quality one sitting in their attic they are willing to donate or let you use!
  14. Empty all your change at the end of the day and put in a change bucket.  Use the change for a special occasions.

    We are using our change jar money to take a cooking class this fall

  15. Have an “errand running day” and do everything at once to save money on gasoline
  16. Ask about discounts especially for students or senior citizens or Triple AAA members.  Or utilize daily deals or websites like Groupon or Deal Chicken.
  17. Save on barber bills and learn to cut your son’s/husbands hair with a pair of clippers
  18. Eat out at restaurants such as Applebees, Shari’s or IHOP on Kid’s nights.  Sometimes kids get free or reduced meals and these restaurants are “kid friendly” too.
  19. Change your shower head to a low flow type or set a time limit on your kid’s showers if they use up too much water.
  20. Go through attic/storage once a year and either have a garage sale or sell items of Ebay or Craig’s List.
  21. Team up with your neighbors and have a street sale.  They tend to generate more business if there are multiple sales.
  22. Do not change your oil every 3,000 miles.  Wait until you have reached 5,000 miles.
  23. Tear baby wipes or better yet, make your own!
  24. Look for free children’s events at your local library, the mall, Humane Society, or churches in your area.
  25. Ask friends, family members, or neighbors if they have a tool before buying one.
  26. Make scratch pads by stapling papers together from the office or recycle paper box.  They make great “t0-do” lists or message pads.
  27. Invite company to come over for a barbeque and play games instead of going out to eat
  28. Make your own baby food.  It’s fun and fairly easy!

    Make your own baby food and freeze it in ice cube trays. 1 cube usually equals 1 serving.

  29. Use a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water
  30. Use a travel mug for coffee at Starbucks–some locations will even give you a discount
  31. Buy three ties for each color shirt, three color shirts for each suit (6 outfits, two suits)
  32. Do a kid swap with other friends or couples to save on babysitting costs.
  33. Eat a snack before breakfast or lunch meetings so you can get away with a lighter order
  34. Before you make a phone call, think if you can make it from a land line instead and save your minutes.
  35. Have your children split meals at restaurants.
  36. Cut your cable package.  We switched from having cable to using Roku and we are saving SO much more money–and getting almost all the same shows.
  37. Shop for fall/winter clothes in the month of January after the holidays.  I was amazed how everything is on sale!
  38. Do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
  39. Make a meal plan every 1-2 weeks and purchase groceries based on that plan.
  40. Use grocery store bags to line trash cans.
  41. Price check before buying anything expensive.  Shop around and utilize on line coupons.  If you are buying something used, don’t settle for the first item you see on Craig’s List or Ebay.  Check it daily for updates.
  42. Pets are great companions, but can be expensive!  Check with your humane society or animal rescue group about low cost vaccinations clincis such as Good Neighbor Vet.
  43. Make your own coffee.  Did you know a cup of coffee taken out costs almost twenty times more than what you can make at home!?
  44. Avoid the vending machine at work!  Most of the items are not good for you and have a huge mark up.  Take an extra snack to work or keep a stash of snacks in your desk.
  45. Keep your distance from lavish friends with the latest toys especially if you are in debt.  They are probably nice people, but you may be tempted to spend money you do not have on items you do not need.
  46. Plan your vacations ahead of time.  Shop around for flights, motel rooms, and rental cars.  We use Kayak the most for travel and vacations.
  47. Check books and magazines out from the library instead of buying them.  If you are a book collector, sell ones you do not use anymore.
  48. Live within your means.  Even saving $20.00 every month adds up fast!
  49. Make a monthly budget TOGETHER with your spouse and do everything in your power to stick to it.
  50. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, tutor a student, run a winter coat drive–when you help someone else you are reminded of how you much have and how much more you can give away.

7 thoughts on “50 Ways to Stretch a Dollar

    • We always joke that Dave Ramsey saved our marriage. Our first year of marriage pre-Dave Ramsey we got in squabbles in the grocery store about what to buy and same thing at restaurants.

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