As a college student living in an absurdly expensive city, I have to be frugal (even cheap sometimes). In the last four years, I have accumulated quite a stash of money-saving habits- some from books and blogs, others I’ve gleaned from friends, and still others I came up with all on my own!
To enjoy fun new restaurants without spending a fortune, I periodically purchase LivingSocial coupons (and even though they will soon be paying my bills, I promise that’s a real endorsement).
When I go to Starbucks, I buy a Pumpkin Spice Coffee instead of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (thank you to my friend Dominique for this great tip!). It saves about $2 and tastes pretty similar (even better than the latte, I think). I also have the Starbucks Gold Card, which gives me free milk, free syrup, free refills, and every 15th drink free.
Even better than the tricks above? Brew coffee at home- I’m still working up the motivation to do this
Cooking at home is an easy and fun way to save money. My policy is not to eat things at restaurants that I could easily make at home. In addition, I try not to buy “grab and go” food. Instead, I will splurge (frugally, of course) on experiences, like dinners out with friends.
There are tons of ways I save money when I grocery shop. Simple things like buying whole carrots instead of baby carrots saves about $.75 each shopping trip. When buying things like spices, take the time to compare prices. For example, Trader Joe’s has spices for $1.99, but they have a very limited collection. Safeway sells bottles that are half the size for twice as much, but they carry spices TJ’s doesn’t. Host a wine tasting party with a $6 bottle limit- you’ll find out about tons of new and affordable wines.
Adding a bit of water to dish soap makes it last longer. Reuse plastic containers, like the ones crumbled feta comes in. Don’t throw away hardened brown sugar- place the open bag of sugar next to a cup of water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Buy a rubber oven mitt and use it for opening jars too. Grow your own herb plants- you get the great smell and save money.
Split a Netflix account with friends (or just mooch off a friend, like I do!). Cut off your cable and watch TV on your computer. Use iTunes radio or a YouTube playlist instead of downloading songs. Have a “magazine club” with friends (each person subscribes to a different magazine and then you rotate). Get a library card or find cool used bookstores in your area.
Host a bi-annual swap party with friends. The person who brings the most items gets first pick of everyone’s donated clothing, jewelry, books, movies, etc.
Use Mint.com (it’s free!) to track your purchases and multiple bank accounts. Use a credit union (they tend to have better interest).
Take up knitting and make homemade gifts for holidays and birthdays. Make Meals in a Jar for friends.
Follow people like @FrugalGirls, @thriftydccook, @frugalrocks, @kimberlywilson, and me (@cmroman) on Twitter for coupons and tips.
What are your best tricks?