Twelve Easy Ways to Save Money

By Carlos Portocarrero

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I’ve seen these kind of posts all over the web and I always kind of looked down on them — “everyone knows that stuff already, they just don’t do it!” It’s part of my problem of assuming too much. So anyway, in a remarkable bit that’s part bravery, part “late to the party” — here are some tips I’ve actually used to save a ton of money:

  • RedBox: Right now M and I are obsessed with The Wire, so we have our Netflix (try it for free here) account going (which can actually save you money too, as long as you turn movies around quickly) to get through the seasons as quickly as possible. But for most people, these red kiosks are a great deal. Search for “Redbox Codes” and you’ll find tons of codes for free rentals. Savings: $8/month.
  • Library Card: This is a no-brainer. You get access to every book you could ever imagine, tons of DVDs, audio CDs, audio books, etc. I’ve written about how underappreciated the public library is before, but no one should pass up these savings. Savings: $30/month.
  • Shave with a Straight Razor: This one I owe to Trent over at The Simple Dollar. I am going to write a whole post on this at some point, so I’ll save some of the magic for that. But since I started shaving with a straight razor in January, I’ve spent around $30 in blades. The days of grumbling every time I pick up a three-pack of Gillette blades for $11 are over! My blade of choice? The Merkur Classic. Savings: $15/month.
  • Skype: I have to admit I’m late for this party too — just signed up last week. The program is free and lets you make free “phone calls” to other computers using the same software. Added bonus: If you have a webcam ($30) you can see and hear the other person. No more long-distance charges and no more calling cards. And the sound quality is actually really good. Savings: $25/month.
  • Take Lunch to Work: I’m a creature of habit, so this is easy for me. I’m very boring, so I don’t suggest this method to everyone, but here’s what I do: I buy stuff to make sandwiches every week, take them in to work on Monday, and it lasts me until Friday. Same sandwich every day. I don’t mind it but I could see some people hating it. Find what works for you and stick to it, the secret here is to prepare ahead of time. Savings: $80/month.
  • Change your cell phone plan: I did this one last month. Go over your previous bills and figure out how many minutes, on average, you’ve been using. I found out I wasn’t going anywhere near the minutes I was paying for — in fact, I was under the next-lowest tier of minutes. So with a couple of clicks I changed my plan and saved a few bucks. [I have a new phone now with new rules] Savings: $10/month.
  • Upgrade your computer: Most people don’t really need a new computer when they think they do, they just want one. I know all about it — I go on and build my dream machine every few months just to see how much it costs. But for most of us, upgrading is the way to go. Check out sites like 4 All Memory and First Choice Memory that will find which memory is the exact type that fits in your machine. It’s dirt cheap too and you’ll see a nice boost in performance. If you’re dead set on buying a new machine, make sure to check out my post on buying a new computer without spending a cent! Savings: A LOT.
  • Buy Used: If you can’t find a book at the library, buy it used. You can find great deals online at or any of the other sites out there. Video games are also a great used buy because you’re getting the same exact CD for sometimes half the price. Savings: $10/month.
  • Split a meal when going out: Most portions are ridiculous anyway, so it’s probably healthier to eat half an entree anyway. If you decide to get your own dish, don’t feel like you have to eat all of it! Take it home and you can have lunch the next day at work to break up the routine. Savings: $10/month.
  • GOOG 411: I wrote about this a while back but there are still a lot of people that don’t know about it. Instead of calling 411 and paying $1.25 (or whatever it is), just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 and pay nothing! They’ll even connect you for free! Savings: $7/month.
  • Find a great deal: Before you buy anything, run an online search on Google (then click on Shopping at the top) to compare prices. Then check deal sites like for other great deals (that’s how I got Dragon Naturally Speaking for $40 with shipping included) and also make sure to search for promotional codes if they have a box for them at whatever site you are checking out from. Savings: Depends.
  • Keep Track: This one is hard to quantify, but if you’re measuring how much you spend and save every month, it motivates you save more. I know there are times near the end of the month where I notice I have an extra $40 to spend and instead of blowing it on something stupid, I pocket the cash — looking forward to dumping it in my ING account. Savings: Depends.

I don’t want to add up all those savings because then you end up with a huge number that doesn’t really apply to everyone. Not everyone reads books a lot and no one likes to change their shavings habits (I’ll convince those folks in a future post), so you can add up whichever savings apply to you. The gist is that little things can add up to a lot of money and once you start doing some of these things they’ll become a habit.

And whatever money you do save, make sure you save it in your ING account. Even if you’re saving up for a big-screen TV or something — that’s OK — but make it a goal to reach that amount and when you do you’ll be satisfied and you’ll have earned some interest during your quest for HD bliss.

PS - This article was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance over at No Debt Plan. Take a look at some of the articles over there, they are pretty good and cover a variety of topics.

8 Responses to “Twelve Easy Ways to Save Money”

  • QL Girl Says:

    I use a lot of these already, but its always nice to see them “on paper”. (I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only person out there that can eat the same lunch everyday without getting tired of it, hehe).

    I have a question about the straight razors…has your wife ever tried to use them? My BF swears by them, and has tried to convince me to do so as well. I haven’t. Any insight on this?

  • Lazy Man and Money Says:

    You can buy Gillette Power Fusion blades on Ebay in bulk for under $2 a blade. If you want to go with Mach 3s (still a very good blade) it gets to just over $1 a blade. I paid around $70 and got 40 of the Power Fusions in November of 2006. I looked the other day and I still have 24 left. (I get a lot of time out of blade by using an electric razor at times.)

    As for 411, I like to either send a text message to 4INFO (44636) or browse to

    Paperback Swap is how I get most of my books now. I’d recommend it above buying used on Amazon.

  • SuperCheap Says:

    I use 1-800-411-SAVE for free directory assistance. A friend of mine sent me an email about it a while ago. The service is done entirley by people so you don’t have to fight with any machines to get your number. I have found that it is much easier and quicker to speak with a person than a machine.

  • courtney2011 Says:

    Thats correct! Instead of dialling any other directory assistance, you can just program the number 1-800-411-save on your phone. It surely is amazing. Live agents are available to assist you, giving out accurate phone numbers. Their service is very fast that you wont believe its free. But it definitely is! Try it and you”l see what I mean

  • Jay Says:

    Another free directory assistance number is 1-800-FREE411. We’ve got business, gov’t, and residential listings. We’re compatible with Skype. You can search by Name or Category. You can choose to have a listing texted to your phone. You can also have turn-by-turn driving directions texted straight to your phone right after a call.

    All the above reasons are why we’re the #1 free directory assistance service, in terms of number of users. For more info:


  • Moab Says:

    Seems like everybody here have some momey-saving tips with regards to directory assistance. This may sound spam but I agree with courtney and super cheap. I’ve been using 411SAVE for quite some time now ever since it got back, and I have no complaints. It’s much easier to talk to humans than to machines. Best of all, it’s absolutely FREE! Thanks Nut for this entry, we were able to share our opinions with other people. :-)

  • » Unorthodox Ways to Earn Extra Money Says:

    […] thumb through it and find a bunch of tried and true tips for earning extra money, or maybe some money saving ideas — the kinds of things that you see on personal finance blogs all over the […]

  • David Wilson Says:

    Thanks for the post, great information. People forget that making small changes can make a huge difference in their overall financial status.

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