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Members Share Their Money-Saving Tips

10 Easy Ways to Pinch Pennies

-- By SparkPeople
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Gas prices are rising as we speak; food gets more expensive with each trip to the market; and the U.S. dollar is weakening. Meanwhile, paychecks don't seem to be getting much bigger.

Are you looking for new ways to pinch pennies—and see real results? Try some of these pain-free and ingenious tips for saving a few bucks, shared by SparkPeople members.

  • "I've cut back on my trips to Wal-Mart. When I go, I buy stuff that I either don't need or could have done without."
    --VHASKEW36

  • "For things like deodorant, toothpaste, etc, coupons can save a huge amount if you're not picky about the brand you buy. Last week I bought enough deodorant to last me 6 months for under $1.00 after coupons. If you use the little rebate catalogs at the drug store along with coupons, sometimes you can even MAKE money buying toiletries!"
    --ANARIE

  • "Pay off your credit cards every month. No interest charges—that's money in your pocket! Also, we combed through our insurance to make sure we had exactly what we need and no more."
    --LOVEROLLS

  • "We swap kids' clothing around with other families from our church. A nice outfit can go through four or five kids before it is too worn out to wear."
    --DEMIKIT

  • "Go for generic medications and vitamins. They're much cheaper than name brand versions. Just make sure of the dosage, though, because it's a false economy to buy cheap vitamins and then find out you have to take three times as many."
    --NELLGWYN

  • "I shop (mainly) in thrift stores and garage sales. Other people can shoulder the burden of depreciation, and I can pocket my money."
    --LOVEROLLS

  • "I save money and the planet at the same time. I changed all my light bulbs to low energy (CFL) ones. Always turn off lights in rooms when you leave them. Turn the heat down or the air conditioning up a couple of degrees. You won't notice the difference but your fuel bills will be lower."
    --LOVEROLLS

  • "I go 'curb shopping' for things that others may not need. This is how I got a lot of toys for my son."
    --TRILLIANTOO

  • "I used to have the cats toilet trained, and that definitely saves money as you then don't need to buy litter. I also have an area set outside for the cats to use, which reduces the overall litter usage."
    --LOVEROLLS

  • "The biggest change we made is watching our incidentals. No sodas, no coffees, no fancy drinks whenever we stop by the gas station. I keep snacks in my purse for hunger-emergencies. You wouldn't believe how much those 'extras' add up!"
    --TRILLIANTOO
Do you have a great money-saving tip that's not listed? Share it in the comments section for this story.
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Member Comments


  • before i do my shopping i look up the sale and usully buy what i need that are on sale

    but if i really need something that is not on sale i will get it, but food is so expensive now
    thqt trying to do you meall on what is on sale is a good idea and if chickey is on sale i
    will buy 2 so thwst i can ave it for another time . - 9/13/2012 1:59:59 AM
  • The ones I can easily stick to...make a list before shopping and stick to it. My husband & I also each get a weekly "allowance" that is tied to how well we eat & exercise. We take that out in cash & that is our discretionary money. - 3/4/2012 7:16:12 AM
  • oh, wow! so many good points here... saving money is a way of life for me as a plain quaker. i "rescue" stained clothes with a tide pen and a little detergent, keeping my wardrobe to the absolute minimum at all times, which reduces wash day backup, and allows for fewer loads. also, drying outside in the summer is a must. i observe a "replace" strategy - what you buy must not add to the clutter, so be prepared to get rid of something. if it isn't broke, don't replace it! i have a "wish" list... i write down what i think i want, then when i have "extra" money, i check it... and usually i don't remember why i wanted that stuff so bad. i try to avoid purchasing disposable items, like plastic water bottles and napkins and paper towels, since these can be kept to a minimum by reusing a sturdier bottle and keeping rags (i use red handkerchiefs in bulk from oriental trading co.) around for most messes. my rabbit uses free newspaper in his litterbox in addition to natural litter. i have almost all my drugstore needs down to generics which saves tons (especially at dollar tree!) when you can get what you want for less and not feel that you must have one certain, more expensive, kind. i only buy what i can afford to now, but i do live alone and i think that has a lot to do with not buying in bulk, which can also be great. i don't use a basket when i'm "browsing" a store, i don't believe the first price i see on something i like (check around... or wait till they go on sale, or substitute), and the library and amazon used books are better than any other solution (except possibly e-books). finally, i love borrowing several copies of a magazine i like that is archived, because it is new to me even if it isn't new chronologically! thanks sparkfriends for all the great comments on this topic!! - 6/6/2011 4:45:20 PM
  • I love the Dollar Tree--not just any $ store, the Dollar Tree--Absolutely everything is for a dollar, no more. There are many name brands there as well, so where something may be generally going from $3-$4 at other retail stores @ the Dollar Tree it will go for just a dollar. Sometimes other stores may just charge a dollar, and a similar product will also go for a dollar at the Dollar Tree, but it is a superior quality--go figure. So we generally buy name brand toothpaste, after shave, general cleaners, hard candies, canned beans and other canned foods, cookies, some food items, and snack items at the Dollar Tree. Other items are not such a great value, such as paper goods, light bulbs, and batteries. We go there once a month with $20 for products that will last the entire month. If we went somewhere else for our list of products we would likely spend well over $60, so the Dollar Tree is very economical. - 1/6/2011 4:17:55 PM
  • i use freecycle.com to acquire things that others no longer want. i have gotten wrapping paper and gift boxes, plants, veggies. everthing is required to be free, all that is asked is that i give away things that i no longer want or need.

    i also use mint.com. it allowed me to set up budgets for everthing, it tracks my spending for each budget, and i can see every single transaction and account all in one place. it allowed me to find where i was blowing money. after three months, i have a months worth of expenses saved and am on an aggressive plan to get out of debt. i figure this site will have saved me thousands in the course of just a couple of years. :) - 11/17/2010 1:23:26 PM
  • I car pool. There are 3 of us. Saves about 1000 per year. - 6/3/2010 11:38:34 AM
  • Great ideas! One thing I learned from a friend is to make a list of things you want, need, etc. and make an envelope for each. The first one should be "Financial Freedom". I have others such as education, vacation, home improvements, emergency fund. I do as the experts say and "pay myself first" out of every paycheck. I take a reasonable amount of money, maybe $50 and divide it up between all of the envelopes. I then take my spending money at the end of each week and divide that between the envelopes as well. I put my change in a piggy bank. I stopped smoking 12/29/09 and put the $6 savings in an envelope everyday and I've saved and as of today, I've save $312 in cigarette savings (not to mention the most important health savings)! I set a limit after which I deposit the money in a CD and start over again until I have enough saved to do the things I want or need to do. And, it is a very visual method of watching your savings grow as the envelopes grow thicker and thicker! - 2/19/2010 4:08:16 PM
  • One way that I save money is by buying previously viewed movies.Last Sunday,I saw a movie that was in the markdown pile with a few of my fav actors/actresses and at half off would have cost me $3.50 before tax.When cashier rang it up the movie totaled a whopping $2.90 so there must have been a discount on the discount. - 2/11/2010 5:26:34 PM
  • I make as few trips as possible to grocery shop. The fewer times I am in the store, the less money I spend. Making a list results in avoiding special trips. - 1/13/2010 8:58:45 PM
  • One way I have learned to save money is by shopping with a catalog. I am not pressured by pushy sales people, and I put a sticky note on the item I am interested in buying. If I am still interested in the item a week later ( or a couple of weeks later), then I go ahead and order that article, usually by phone. It is very easy to spend money quickly on the internet, so beware of online shopping! - 1/10/2010 12:53:04 AM
  • Excellent aticle. - 12/30/2009 4:02:24 PM
  • Helpful story! - 12/5/2009 11:35:26 PM
  • MSALWILLIAMS
    I do everything mentioned in the article. I also have cut back my cell phone ... I went with the smallest package available. We also got netflix and dropped the movie channels on our cable. We get to watch a lot more movies for a lot less. We just do one movie at a time. We also get the new movies this way and IF we really enjoyed a movie then we will buy it for repeat watching. Otherwise we saved money on not purchasing. At one point we were buying 5 or more movies a month...that's at least $100 a month now we might buy one or two movies every couple of months. That might be $20 to $40 every two months place the $8.99 a month for netflix. But it is worth it to us as movies is one of our main entertainments that does cost money. - 9/15/2009 6:16:19 AM
  • WALMART'S "Great Value" store brand is really NAME BRAND products, as I noticed in two product recalls that they announced on the news that the NAME BRAND and Walmart's "Great Value" was affected. One was Peanut Butter, etc. So, I buy the 'Great Value" and know I'm getting the name brand for MUCH less. - 9/7/2009 11:18:58 AM
  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make a shopping list! I buy family packs of meats and frozen veggies even though I live alone now. I can separate into smaller portions and it saves me money on food and in the long run on gas because it means fewer trips to the store! I'm also using the dollar store less than 2 miles from my house for household supplies. I walk to pick things up which means I sae money and get in some cardio! - 8/23/2009 12:03:01 PM