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The Tightwad Gazette: 10 Painless Ways to Save $100 This Year

I’ve really enjoyed reading the first few chapters of . Believe it or not, I’ve not read any
of the three volumes before. It’s rather fun to hear from another
frugal zealot and I have a feeling I’ll be gleaning a lot from this.
More than anything, I’m being inspired all over again as to why I am
frugal in the first place.

One of my favorite parts of the book so far was Amy’s list of 10 Painless Ways to Save $100 This Year:

1) Purchase 10 articles of clothing at thrift shops and yard sales this year instead of paying department store prices.

I the only person who automatically zeros in on the clearance racks
even if I have a gift card or someone else is paying? I think I can
count on one hand (if that!) the times I’ve paid full price for any
article of clothing. I usually head straight for the 50-75% off racks
and those are often priced much more than I can bring myself to pay.

am so frugal that I go on thrift store clearance days or dollar days.
Unless I really, really love the item, $1 is about my top price to pay
for any item in a thrift store.

Garage sales are my favorite of all – especially when it’s the kind where everything is marked under $1!

2) Hang four loads of laundry per week instead of using the dryer.

I also the only frugal person who doesn’t hang their clothes? I know I
should, I really do. I just keep coming up with excuses for not getting
the right equipment to do it. It’s on my list of changes to implement
this year.

3) Once a month make a pizza from scratch instead of having one delivered.

Better yet, teach your family to like
more than restaurant pizza and than you’ll pretty much never have to
order out. We order pizza about once a year around here and I always
decide it’s really not worth bothering. My
is so much better!

4) Write a good letter instead of making a monthly long distance phone call.

does email count? That’s even cheaper than a letter, though not as
personal. Most folks, like us, have free long distance on our cell
phones, though, so this one is a bit out-dated.

5) Reduce your soda consumption by four cans per week.

suggestion? Learn to drink water and like it. It’s better for your
health anyway. Don’t get me started on my soapbox on soda addictions,

6) Bake one batch of bread per week.

When it’s
easy to make, I have no excuse. Except the excuse that we’ve not gotten
completely accustomed to homemade bread for sandwiches. Any other time,
though, we much prefer homemade.

7) Save $50 each on two children’s birthday parties by making homemade decorations, cake, wrapping paper, and one present.

Or be a minimalist like me and skip the decorations, give the gift of time or a special outing, and bake a simple cake.

8) Reduce your smoking by three cigarettes per day (or give up smoking altogether and save even more).

offense to anyone, but this is about the biggest money-pit ever. And
that’s not even talking about what it does to your health.

Reduce your whole milk consumption by two gallons per week,
substituting dry milk in cooking, homemade cocoa mix, and in
half-and-half for drinking.

just decided to cut out milk in most instances except on cereal and in cooking (I
sometimes water that down, too.) so we go through about a half gallon
per week. I’ve heard that dry milk costs have gone up so it’s not
really much cheaper anymore to substitute. Can anyone confirm or deny

(Note: We eat a combination of yogurt, cheese, nuts, beans, and green leafy vegetables in place of drinking lots of milk. We prefer this, and from the research I’ve done, our bodies actually assimilate these forms of calcium better than the calcium in milk. I know some disagree on this, but let’s just agree to disagree, okay?)

10) Pack four inexpensive school lunches per week.

don’t have to bother with school lunches right now, but my husband does
almost always take his lunch to work. We’ve figured up that this saves
us at least $1,000 a year!

Inspired by Amy’s list, I wrote my own list of Read it and see other people’s lists too. What would your list say?

The most encouraging thing to remember is that a penny saved, is more than a penny earned. Why? Well, check out
excellent and simplistic explanation. Quite the motivation for focusing
on reducing your outgo first and foremost before seeking to increase
your income!

We can make millions of dollars, but if we don’t
know how to wisely steward it, we’ll be no better off than someone who
makes below minimum wage. In fact, we might even be worse off than them.

Another great quote from

"The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket book."
-Frank McKinney Hubbard

 What are some painless things you do in your home that save you $100 or more each year? Tell us in the comments, I’d love to hear!

Originally published January 2008.

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  • says:

    We pray our clothes in around here. All during the summer, I pray for some hand-me-downs for the kids that need them. We rarely buy new clothes for our 5 kids because God is so good to answer our prayers in this area.

    • Kim P. says:

      My fave $$ savers are:
      1. Using $$ saving apps like: ibotta, checkout 51, Walmart, RetailMeNot dot com (has stores coupons etc stored there, if in a store – look up the store on the app & all money savers linked with that store is at your fingertips), GoodRx (prescriptions – cuts costs way down)! holler is good to shop for presents… Ridiculously on the cheap! Our thrift shops are mostly awful, so I don’t shop there! Also have a yard sale app that will let you know where the garage sales are w/o having to get a paper! Usually with pics & a good description of the garage sales – easier not to use all my gas this way!

      2. We have way too many allergies – so we do use our dryer – I love the smell of bounce so I get a big container of it at Sams & cut them into 3rds! Also, I use homemade stain remover – 1/2 dawn dish soap (actually these days it’s more like a 1/3) & 1/2 water! Works so much better than all the commercial ones personally speaking!!!

      3. Cheap entertainment for my toddler! We go with friends or family to PlayZone ($5/ kid for them to run off their energy for as long as you want to be there & so much better than McDonald’s & chick-fil-a combined!), the zoo, the park, neighborhood pool, etc.

      4. Drink water, milk, or juice (unless special occasion) juice is 1/2 water, 1/2 juice. Although I do tend to occasionally get crystal light etc.

      5. Shop Amazon. Be a prime member! Stay out of stores & have items freely shipped to my home! As a stay at home mom, I’m usually here, & when I go out, I combine it all in 1 day & chart it out in the best way to make the best use of my gas!

  • Hannelore says:

    1. We mostly drink water-unless we get something for free or nearly-free.
    2. Always get kids clothes at thrift store
    3. Mostly sell kids clothes at consignment shop when done with them
    4. Garage sales
    5. Coupons, sales, rebates combined with buying on sale -as opposed to when you desperately need it and have to pay their asking price!
    6. This last year we turned the heat down at night and used space heaters in the three bedrooms-I think this saved us some.
    7. Shopping at Discount grocery store for whatever’s not on sale elsewhere and also buying generic for what’s not on sale or that I don’t have a coupon for.
    8. Exchanging homeschool materials with friends
    I’m afraid I went over 5 items. Good topic! Everyone’s tips are helpful!

  • Jodi W says:

    1. We used to have a monthly cell phone contract for $50 per month. We rarely used the phone, traded to a Tracfone and got a $100 card good for one full year. That was like giving us 10 months free! We also trade unused minutes from one phone to our other so they aren’t wasted.
    2. Drop collision insurance on your cars when they get older.
    3. We get our haircuts at a place called HeadCutters. There are many in our area, but I’m not sure if it is national. There are other low-cost hair salons such as Supercuts, too. I used to pay $40 for a simple haircut–now I pay $11. My husband and kids pay even less. We saved almost $500 a year by switching salons.
    4. I do use my clothes dryer, but I find I only need to use dryer sheets in the winter.
    5. I plan my dinners a week at a time when making my shopping list to insure I have what I need. Making additional trips to the market can be costly.
    6. I bulk buy when items are on sale and buy enough to get me to the next sale, about 12 weeks worth.

  • says:

    Here are some things that we do to save money besides for CVSing and couponing:

    (1) My husband is in the military and requires a haircut about once a week. My dad gave us a really nice set of clippers and i taught myself to cut my husbands hair. This saves us about $12 a week.

    (2) We do not water our lawn. We only hand water our flowers.

    (3) We switched our lightbulbs to the energy efficient bulbs.

    (4)Turned our water heater down to 112 which is the minimum.

    (5)Hang dry clothing

    (6) Make sure cars are maintained.

    (7)Turn the ac up when we leave the house.

    (8)Ink cartridges are expensive! While i have a super nice printer which i got at an estate sale i only print coupons in black and white.

    (9)I drink organic soy milk which costs about $1.60 for one gallon.

    (10) I dont know if anyone else does this, but we pack drinks and snacks when we go to movies.

  • CTalley says:

    “The benefit of the hangars is that they are ready to hang in the closet and the kids can pick theirs out and take them to put away themselves (we have 6 kids.)”

    Wow, never thought to hang them on the hangers…that would make it super easy…thanks!

  • Michelle H. says:

    5 easy, painless ways we save:

    1. We use the library for books & movies, or borrow DVD’s from a friend who buys the new ones each Tuesday when they come out. (I know, he’s crazy!)

    2. I bought clippers and started cutting my husband’s hair. He wears it short, and he’s not vain, so the two times I have screwed up in the last 5 years I just buzzed it off and waited for it to grow out.

    3. We both take our lunches to work.

    4. Husband carpools the 30 miles to work.

    5. We don’t buy new clothes for my 2 year old. We were blessed with tons of hand me downs when he was born, and didn’t need to buy clothes until he was 26 months old. Since then I’ve been hitting the thrift stores. I can get a sack of clothes for the cost of one t-shirt at Walmart!

  • says:

    1. I cut my DH’s hair rather than him going to a barber.
    2. Free long distance on my cell phone weekends/after 7, so we don’t pay for long distance calls.
    3. Email- I email rather than snail mail *most* of the time
    4. Internet printable coupons
    5. Take public transportation to work
    6. Use the library for DVDs rather than Netflix or cable or movie theaters
    7. Thrift stores, rummage sales, yard sales, freecycle!
    8. Don’t toss leftovers- freeze or eat quickly
    9. I play the Drugstore Game!
    10. I breastfeed my DD. We didn’t buy a single can of formula, and we donated over 25 gallons to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio. She’s still breastfeeding at 21.5 months of age, so she doesn’t need additional milk either, which is also a savings.

  • says:

    Here are a few things we do.

    The majority of our food is homemade including breads, snacks, and even those cream soups that are called for in so many recipes.

    We use the library a LOT!

    We use a menu with a shopping list to cut down on non essentials.

    We have started making our own cleaning products.

    We don’t go to the store everytime we run out of something but try to make do if we can.

    We combine shopping trips into 1 big day every couple weeks.

    One thing that we are going to hopefully be doing soon is bartering for services wanted – piano lessons and cross-stitching – for baked goods/dinners.

  • Patti says:

    I am so glad you have discovered The Tightwad Gazette – like others, this was my intro into frugality and how I was able to become a SAHM (son is now 15 yrs.old). It can be overwhelming to read so many ideas at once so I like your “five ways to save”. It encourages us to just try a few at a time. That said, my five new ways I have saved this year are:
    1. Rain Barrells to collect water for garden and plants. It is amazing how much water you can collect even in a severe drought!
    2. Changed all light bulbs to CFLs.
    3. Ride bicycle to work and library.
    4. Gave up pool membership and athletic club membership to walk with friends.
    5. Learning to cut coupons and use them after reading your web site.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • says:

    Actually if you are buying whole milk straight from the farmer it is fairly healthy for you, I guess sometimes the process they use for taking out the fat can be bad for you.
    Anyhow, part of the clothes drying thing is a science, leaving them up until they are crunchy is not good either, but they can dry very fast, faster than a dryer is nice warm dry weather here and are not crunchy and smell nice! However it saves us about $10 a month on electricity.

    we do drink milk as in some families cutting it out is not a option. I still do not drink milk usually though, but check on how much milk you are actually supposed to have. Often it is less than you think, if you have other dairy products like cheese and yogurt, then 1-2 glasses or 1 glass and cereal is plenty.

    Good tips!
    We do most of those, and probably others too!
    Walking instead of driving saves alot too!

  • says:

    One note about hanging laundry — (and an excuse for you, maybe!) it’s a bad idea if you have environmental allergies. I didn’t think of this until aftr we’d dried two loads out on the line. I was miserable for weeks afterward, because I was stubborn. My allergist said it was a very bad idea for people with pollen and ragweed allergies to line dry clothes.

  • says:

    Without trying to make this an extremely long comment, I’ll try to make my story short and sweet!

    I work outside the home. I long to quit my job and become a stay at home wife (and eventually mother) but right now I need to work to help our finances out. Just to clarify, I have discussed this with my husband numerous times and he and I have come to the conclusion that my income is important.

    My husband and I work together for a civil engineering company and since the economy is bad right now, our company is struggling. My hours were cut back in May and we had to make some adjustments then. We got rid of our satellite service and I stopped getting my nails and toes done (that was hard at first, but now I don’t miss them!).

    Quitting those things alone helped us save over $1,800.00 a year!

    A few other things I am working on is cooking more from scratch, not shopping at Target (I always impulsed buy when I shop at Target, so I decided to just not go there) and quit eating out so much.

    Now that my hours (as well as my husband’s) have been cut further, I will be more diligent in CVSing and coupon clipping so that we can save more money!

  • says:

    Grow your own tomatoes… even if it’s in a container. The price of tomatoes in stores are outrageous.

    The flavor of homegrown tomatoes are far superior to the bland ones in the stores.

    One plant costs you less than $2 and will yield you many tomatoes (just keep it watered!)

  • Leigh says:

    Just wanted to comment. There is only me in my household. I buy expensive milk, as when I am home I consider it to be a treat. It is either a gallon of organic milk, which lasts over 5 days. Or a half gallon of a milk called “nutrish.” I use the milk to take with some meds. I take. And, I often have it as a tye over, before my next meal.

    I live in an apaprtment. My washer is in my bathroom. When the clothes are done, I take them out and hang them on the shower cuurtin rod. They dry over night. Iuse my dryer for sheets and undies and towels. If I had my own house, I would invest in fencing for my yard, and put up lines, and use our wonderful sun. 🙂

    Just my thoughts.


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