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Old June 15th 09, 04:25 PM posted to misc.consumers.frugal-living
Ablang[_2_] Ablang[_2_] is offline
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Default Money-Saving Tricks from the Editor of "Living on a Dime"

Money-Saving Tricks from the Editor of "Living on a Dime"

Tawra Kellam

Eight years ago, my husband and I found ourselves $22,000 in debt as a
result of medical-related bills, unexpected expenses and poor
financial choices. At the time, our average income was about $20,000.
With two kids and a disability that doesn't let me hold a regular job,
I knew I had to be very crafty and reprioritize my life. I learned
that self-discipline is cumulative -- you get better at it over time.

Result: Within five years, we had paid off all our debt.

Our secrets...


Stop eating at restaurants. It's one of the top sources of
overspending for people who have trouble saving. You easily can save
$2,000 to $4,000 a year by eating at home. A family like mine could
spend $72 a month just on sodas at restaurants.

My family hasn't sworn off restaurants entirely. We limit them to
birthdays and anniversaries, and we avoid items that pad the bill,
such as appetizers, drinks and desserts.

Helpful: Come up with 10 basic dinner menus that are tasty and easy to
make. Rotate them each week. Otherwise, you wind up going to
restaurants because you're tired from work and don't want to think
about what to cook.

Buy large quantities of ingredients on sale, and freeze them. The
prices of meats that are still fresh but near their expiration dates,
for example, drop by 50% to 75% at most stores, and sometimes they can
be as little as 39 cents a pound. Two essentials to help you keep

Vacuum sealer. It shrink-wraps food, keeping it fresh up to five times
longer than foil or plastic wrap. Cost: $75 and up, at Target and


Alternative: Zipper-sealed plastic bags and a straw. Zip the bag
almost closed, then insert a straw and suck out the air. Do not use
this method with raw meat or poultry.

Energy-efficient stand-up freezer. It can cost about $400 but consumes
only a few dollars of electricity a month. Available at Best Buy,
Sears and major appliance stores. Avoid chest freezers -- itís hard to
see what's inside and easy to lose track of what you put in there.
Helpful: Use tape and a marker to label food when you put it in the

Annualize savings. To help cut back on extras, I figured out what they
cost per year. For instance, eliminating one bag of potato chips a
week from my grocery bill saved us $104 over the course of a year.
Cutting out one liter of bottled water a day saved $456 a year.


Visualize it. My husband was the spender in our household. It was hard
for him to find the discipline and awareness to save until he saw
positive progress -- and kept seeing it -- on paper.

On the refrigerator, he posted a graph showing our progress toward our
savings and debt-reduction goals. He updated the graph about once a
month. Seeing our success inspired him to continue saving.

Take small steps. It's unrealistic, for example, to reduce your food
bill from $600 a month to $250. Instead, start by trying to spend $25
less a month, then $50 less, etc.

Calculate the cost in work hours. Tempted to splurge? Calculate how
long you would have to work to afford it. For example, my husband
would like a home theater, but after calculating the cost of his
friend's setup, he figured out that he would have to work full-time
for four months and put every dollar of income over that time toward
the cost in order to afford it.

Play the credit card game. The proliferation of credit cards with no
interest or very low interest rates on balance transfers is a godsend
to people trying to save. A key reason I was able to get out of debt
was that I paid just $1,900 in interest over five years. I reduced
most of my card rates from 21% to no more than 2% by transferring
balances numerous times. I went from paying $100 a month in interest
to $15 a month. I received most offers in the mail, or I called the
card companies until I found the best deals. Important: Zero-percent
interest on your balance doesnít mean that you get six months or a
year off from debt reduction. You need to maintain a steady level of
payment from beginning to end.

Choose your money battles with your spouse. You can't argue over every
dime, or saving money becomes too stressful. We agreed that we didn't
have to discuss small purchases for necessities (basic groceries, gas,
etc.). I also recommend allowing some amount of personal money for
each spouse to spend "no questions asked." We didn't do this in the
beginning, because we were on a tight budget, but later, we allowed
ourselves $25 each per month. The amount a couple chooses depends on
their income and how fast they want to pay off their debt.


I have determined that being neater and more organized saved me at
least $1,000 a year. You don't realize how much money you waste buying
items that you already have but canít find.

Examples: I threw out a lot of spoiled food because it went unnoticed
in the back of the refrigerator.

My favorite strategies...

Schedule a family "pick-up time." Before bed each night, I set an egg
timer for 10 minutes, and each member of the family has to put away as
many items as he/she can in that time.

Estimate how long each task takes. You're more likely to stop
procrastinating if you time how long a chore actually takes you.
People usually spend more time dreading a task than doing it.

Examples: It takes one minute to make the bed... three minutes to
unload the dishwasher... five to 10 minutes to clean the bathroom...
five minutes to go through the mail and dump and file.

Have rules for getting rid of stuff. When the kids' rooms get messy,
we put the things they no longer play with in a box in the garage. If
the kids haven't asked about those toys for a few months, we give them
away. The same goes for me -- if I haven't worn an article of clothing
in the last year, I give it to charity.

Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Tawra Kellam, editor of the free,
twice-weekly E-letter Living on a Dime.

.. Based in Wichita, Kansas, she is coauthor, with her mother, Jill
Cooper, of Dining on a Dime Cook Book

(Newman Marketing).

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Old June 17th 09, 09:19 PM posted to misc.consumers.frugal-living
Al[_3_] Al[_3_] is offline
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Default Money-Saving Tricks from the Editor of "Living on a Dime"

On Jun 15, 11:25 am, Ablang wrote:
Money-Saving Tricks from the Editor of "Living on a Dime"

I guess Ab just needed a group hug because for all that pasting, there
is nothing new or interesting in the article.
Keep track of your money and don't go out to eat.
Done in one.

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