Frugal Ways to Get the Stuff You Want Faster

7 years ago

I noticed as I was pulling together ideas for this section of BlogHer that I'd written a post referencing the tanker economy in 2008. That was a long time ago. And the economy still sucks eggs. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of tired of waiting -- I want to be frugal, but I also want my pretties!

I have realized about myself that if I restrict money too much for too long, I end up exploding and buying something really stupid, or a series of small really stupid things that I didn't even want in the first place. But if I save up for something I really want, I don't feel deprived. Well, not as much, anyway.

I know how to save money (although I'm currently putting most of it toward debt), but there are still birthday presents, home improvements and home maintenance, and every once in a while I'd like to go to get a nice dinner I didn't cook or clean up. I talked to Paul Vazquez from keycode.com to see if he had any ideas for me. (He didn't say this, but I've discovered since I started extreme couponing with Denise that there is a keycode for almost anything you can buy online. People amalgamate them and test them out and everything. It's insane. I found a promo code for LADYBUGS.) Anyway, back to Paul.

This is not a picture of Paul.

Paul's Tips to Get What You Want, What You Really, Really Want, for Less
  1. If you don’t need it, sell it: All of us have stuff that we no longer need or want, and much of it has value. If you have lots of small items, consider having a garage sale. If you have large items or items that have significant value, post them on Craigslist or eBay. Selling your “extra stuff” has the double benefit of clearing out unwanted clutter and giving you some extra cash.

  2. Don’t pay retail: Almost anything you need or want can be purchased at a discount. Shopping at discount retail stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx lets you wear the latest fashions without having to pay full retail price. Use coupons and buy in bulk whenever possible. Know retailers’ seasonal sale cycles and wait for sales. And don’t overlook shopping online. Not only is it easier to comparison shop, but many online retailers offer promotions and discount codes that can save you tons of money.

  3. Avoid the hype when purchasing electronics: We live in an electronic age, but camping outside of Best Buy to get the latest iPhone isn’t the way to save money. Lower-priced electronics from well-known manufacturers will, for the most part, reliably perform the task they were designed to perform. Typically, higher-priced electronics are the newly released models or models with unique and numerous “bells and whistles.” The easiest ways to save money on electronics are to be patient and to not pay for features that you don’t need or will rarely use. As with most purchases, a little research goes a long way towards saving money. Spending a few minutes doing some online comparison shopping and looking for deals and discounts can save you a lot. And don’t forget to check the online auction sites and sites like Amazon where excess inventory or “last year’s” models are often sold at discounted prices.

  4. Brew your own coffee: Sometimes it’s the small things that are the difference between budgeting success and failure. That cup of coffee you buy on the way to work probably costs you between $2 and $5. On an annual basis, that can easily cost you $400 to $1,000! For much less than what you would spend on your favorite latte, you can brew your own premium brand coffee and add just about any flavor imaginable. Your morning Cup O’ Joe will be even more enjoyable when you think about the money you are saving.

  5. Be conservation minded: Thinking green is not only good for the environment, it’s good for your pocketbook. Save on your water bill by fixing leaks, using water efficient fixtures, and by reducing your water usage – take shorter showers, turn off the water while you brush your teeth, water the lawn early in the morning to reduce evaporation. To save on your electric bill, turn off lights and ceiling fans when you’re not in the room, replace your thermostat with a programmable model and set the temperature several degrees higher when no one is home, check your windows and doors for leaks, and make sure you have sufficient ceiling insulation. Buy online - not only will you save on gas, but you will be better able to comparison shop and to find deals and coupons, which are readily available from many online retailers.

From this list, I do all but number three. I don't buy a lot of electronics, but when I got my Blackberry, I wanted it to do as much as it could at the time. If I'm using something every day, I go high-end. If I don't use it very often at all, I go bargain basement. Example: I buy notepads that cost $10 each for work. There is no good reason for this when legal pads are like 10 cents. BUT! I use them every day, and I love them so. There are little details in life that might be worth it. I will happily use off-brand toilet paper to have high-end stationery.

Which of these tips do you do? Did he miss anything?

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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