All about the challenges of Midlife Finance

Another 25 Tips for Saving A Buck or Two

Money-saving articles have been popular around the MLF site… especially in bleak months like January, when you’re counting the change in your pocket and wondering where all the celebrations went. Once you try these ideas, you’ll want to read the 50 tips that started it all.  Then save a buck or two with 25 more. (We’ve also got 25 tips for summertime use.)

THIS IS THE WAY WE WASH OUR CLOTHES

1. Help your clothes last longer. Turn them, especially the darker shades, inside-out when washing. Don’t use the dryer, either; over time, it encourages pilling and fading. Hang them up to dry. On the other hand, 10 minutes in the dryer quickly removes white dog and cat hair from black sweaters and jackets. Don’t ask how I know this! (Yes, those are our dogs below.)

2.  Wash new black clothes — jeans, especially — with your other darks. They’ll give your older clothes an extra shot of dye — and a new lease on life.

3.  Hand-wash ‘dry clean only’ sweaters with — shampoo! Your hair is a fiber, too. (Sweaters, especially cashmere and wool, can be invisibly mended with human hair.) Squeeze gently to remove the water, then dry flat on a towel, shaping as needed.

4.  Wear the same socks. Ok, not the same ones — but the same style and color. When one sock inevitably goes missing, you’ll have more socks to match with.

5.  Baking soda is your friend. Large bags are available at Sam’s Club at a fraction of the price you’d pay for those little boxes. Use it to give your detergent a boost, make into a paste for gentle cleaning (it soothes rashes and bee stings, too), keep some in the refrigerator to mask odors. While you’re at it, fill a little box for baking use.

AROUND THE HOUSE

6.  Use kitty litter to keep sidewalks slip-free. (Keep some in the car — pour into icy ruts for traction when stuck.)

7.  LED and CFL lightbulbs save money.  You’re also less apt to burn yourself — or start a fire, if the bulbs come in contact with paper or other flammables. Money Beagle‘s comparison guide will help decide which bulb works best for you.

8.  Need firewood? Try pallets. They cut easily with a saw into ‘logs’ and kindling. Try Craigslist for easy sources. You’ll want plenty, because you can also:

9.  Use pallets for building. What do you need — a compost bin, bedframe, Adirondack chair? Even houses and decks have been built using pallets. Start here with furniture, then see where it takes you.

10.  Ever considered a tiny house? These are built on a trailer frame, and as a result, don’t generally require licenses or permits. Build it now, and use as a studio until you retire…or move. Or use it for other purposes. (Like renting out on airbnb!) More on the tiny house trend here.

11.  Superglue’s handy around the house — and the medicine cabinet. Got a cut that keeps getting dirty? A thin coat of superglue coats and protects it. Superglue can also help winter-chafed cracks and splits heal. Doctors have been using glue-type products in recent years, instead of stitches, to hold cuts together.

GLORIOUS FOOD

12.  Baked oatmeal — fast, delicious…and can be made ahead the night before. Try this alternative to more expensive breakfast items.  (From MoneySaving Mom)

13.  Make your own sauces.  White sauce is just flour, butter and milk — and can easily substitute for mushroom and other cream soups in a wide variety of dishes. Check online; you’ll find all sorts of different recipes, from bearnaise to teriyaki.

14.  Save the bones.  Add them to a crockpot, along with any vegetable peelings and ends (celery and onion are especially good), and cook all night on low. In the morning, you’ll have homemade broth superior to anything out of a can.

15.  Bouillon cubes make anything tastier. No time to make broth? A chicken or bouillon cube will add richness at pennies a use. They’ll also make your dish taste meatier. Try adding a beef bouillon cube to chili for a meatier taste. (Plenty of good cooks also swear by the Better Than Bouillon line of flavorings.)

16.  Eggs and cheese. Keep these two staples in your fridge, and you’ll always have a quick meal on short notice. Add bread (grilled cheese, scrambled or fried egg sandwiches, french toast), pasta (spaghetti carbonara, macaroni & cheese) or rice (kedgeree).

17.  Deli meats and cheeses all come to an end. Ask for these ‘roll ends’ — they’re usually discounted. Slice thin for sandwiches, then chip the rest for use in soups and casseroles.

18.  Stale bread should never be thrown away! Cube the slices first.  Possibility one: toss them in olive oil, herbs and a little garlic; bake in a warm oven for amazing croutons. Or pour 3 beaten eggs, plus 1/2 cup of milk, over the cubes, then top with grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees for a half hour, for a filling casserole.

19.  ‘Hide’ your leftovers. Minced fine, all sorts of vegetables disappear into cream and tomato sauces, giving them added flavor….making them lighter and healthier, too. Fruit can be slipped into baked goods, or sprinkled on puddings and cakes.

20.  Save on late-night food. Some fast-food chains discount their last items toward the end of the evening, so they don’t have to throw them away. (Kentucky Fried Chicken is famous for doing this.) Grocery stores do it, too, for sandwiches, chicken and salads. Usually the cut-off date is around 9 p.m. — ask, the next time you visit.

21.  Are you a veteran? Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11 this year) is your perfect opportunity to get all sorts of freebies, including free meals and all sorts of discounts on travel and retail items. Go here for more.  

     But please, if you haven’t served in the Armed Forces, don’t fake it. Your reputation, and possible jail time, aren’t worth the price of a steak dinner. You also diminish the hard work and sacrifices of those who really did serve their country.

 

 ENTERTAINING THOUGHTS

22.  Get rid of cable tv! Using Hulu, Netflix and free movie websites is a lot cheaper. Besides, you can:

23.  Watch the tv series you love, even without cable. Netflix has a wide range of tv shows, including classic ones like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Andy Griffith, and modern shows like Blacklist, Continuum and even The Walking Dead. (Find these at your local library, too; request them if they’re not on the shelves.) Watching a series, one episode after another, helps increase the intensity. No commercials to put up with, either…

24.  Go to twilight movie shows — or the dollar theater. You’ll save up to half by going to a matinee…or wait until it hits the second-run theater. (In our neck of the woods, in Colorado, it’s the Elvis cinema chain.) Use rewards cards at the movies. They’ll often give you discounts on tickets, as well as free popcorn and drinks. (Be sure to check coupon sites like Coupon Sherpa and Groupon, too.) Even better:

25.  Go to first-run shows for free. Sign up at Gofobo, and you’ll be eligible for advance screening tickets. In some cases, you can even make money at these premieres by counting audience members — and other tasks. While you’re there, grab a movie poster. They’re often out at premieres. They’re a reminder of a memorable experience, and make wonderful presents.

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