If You’re Broke, Then Yes, You Do Need To Sweat The Small Stuff

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: -- Building Wealth, -- Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Saving today to build your future tomorrow by Molly Greaves


I’m talking the ATM fees, the extra gas you use by not planning your route properly, all of that! I grew up without a silverspoon in my hand. I’ve been working since legally possible in Vermont at the time, and have been saving hard to create opportunities I dream or  read about. Luckily,  I’m able to save the easy way, by cutting back on all of the little, simple things that are easy for me to do without or with less. It’s also been a positive lifestyle change.

I thought I’d share with you some of the secrets to my success with saving. The money I’ve saved in the past I’ve used to do all sorts of cool things. It really adds up once you save and continue adding to it.

For example–I used all of the quarters I’d find, and extra rebates I could, and it all paid off. I went to Europe, and I also lived in Hawaii. I did it simple ways like this: when I’d go out with my friends, let’s say they brought $10, and I brought $10. Their money went to 3 $3 draft beers and a $1 tip. My $10 was spent like this: $6 on 3 beers by buying local,$1 on tip, $3 to my savings. Moral of the story: We both drank the same amount, we tipped the same amount, but I paid myself money and they didn’t.   

I’m teaching you a few other things that I have done over time to make money stretch as long as possible.

1. Refuse to pay ATM fees. There are plenty of banks out there these days that will be more than happy to give you an account that offers refunds on ATM fees. If you have other fees in your life–like an annual fee on a credit card–I’d get rid of those too.

2. Keep your savings –if you have any–in a high interest yield savings account so you at least beat inflation. I use MWA Bank– mwabank.com, which I love. Before the Fed started slashing short-term rates, that effect savers like you and me, they were paying me something like 4.61%, and that was compounding daily and paying me monthly! Yowza. 

3. Get your haircut a few weeks–or months later than usual. I know, I know, you have to look ULTRA fabulous, but let’s face it, for women, this can be a HUGE bill. I recently stopped putting highlights in my hair so I cut the coloring cost, and now I wait an extra month to get my trim.  Saves me a lot of money at the end of the year now!

4. Use it. Don’t spend all sorts of money on food if you arent going to eat it.  How often are you throwing away food? Not good. It’s probably the food that gives you all of your nutrition too. Everything you throw out is money you could have put toward your credit cards. At the very least, cook two meals out of the food and freeze it for later.

5. Bring your lunch to work. Yep, it’s time to cut yourself back (or I would say off) from dining out for now. If you have a meal that is $10 and you put that on an 18% credit card (!) , that’s no longer a $10 meal if you dont get that paid in time. Plus, you wont eat as much salt and will probably be healthier for you. 

6. Keep your car at home. Ride public transportation! It’s fun and you can get a lot done while you arent sitting behind the wheel in traffic. I use my time while on the bus to read the news, catch up on podcasts, etc.  

Public transportation is cheaper than you think. Almost so cheap that you cant afford not to use it. In Austin, 10 bucks lets you ride all day for FREE*. Give it a test run at the very least, which in Austin would only put you back 50 cents. Or, you could carpool or bike. In Vermont, where I grew up, it’s still safe enough to use your thumb if you really need a lift. 

7. Stop using your dryer. Yep. Try hang drying your clothes and then if needed, you can put them in the dryer once they have dried to give them some fluff and the nice, clean dryer-sheet smell =) Not having the heat generated will also keep your A/C from kicking into overdrive.

8. Drink economically. I try to only drink water, unless I’m out at a bar. It’s free, and it’s really good for me. It’s helped me save tons of cash actually. And I dont mean BUY water either, because that’s like buying a thing of juice or a soda. When I drink alcohol, I also cut back to American or local Texas beer. These are usually the cheapest that are offered, but just to double check, I always check in with a polite “what are your specials” just to make sure I can compare prices.  You’d be surprised how much this can save you for money.  Plus, if you’re broke, do you really need to be ordering high-end drinks? 

9. Buy used. Not everything is better used, but there sure are a lot of things that are. Have you used Craigslist.org before? Ebay? It’ll give you better pricing, especially since there are some great deals on “just like new” items. 

10. Buy generic. I’m talking down to deoderant. It can save you a bunch of money and the products should be exactly the same. Not all taste exactly the same though, so beware, which is why I dont recommend sacrificing quality over price. Even if you cut back to some generics and still eat some name brand things, it’s still a step in the right direction. Be sure to do this for your prescriptions for sure. Generics and brand names are supposed to have the same ingredients.

11. Use less. A pea sized amount of toothpaste is supposedly adequate enough. So why then do we all go nuts with toothpaste? You can do this with shampoo and conditioner, cutting back on papertowels, etc. If you want to be really frugal, you could save cut back on your salt and pepper shakes. Ha. I’m totally kidding, I havent done that yet.

Generally this amount is adequate for cleaning products as well. Not everything needs overkill. Plus, it’s better for the environment.  

Since we are talking about cleaning, I want to advise against buying the latest and greatest things to clean your stuff. If you clean regularly, a broom and mop should be just fine.  

12. Get organized. When things dont have a “place,” they tend to get shuffled around, often times making you think because you cant find something, you automatically must have run out… causing you to run to the store and buy more. The funny thing is though, that right after you go to the store, you find what you were looking for. Still, it’s too late, you already overbought. 

13. Get rid of your car even if you are over-turned in your loan. My car is sort of cheesy, but it gets 33 miles to the gallon, has cheap yet wonderful insurance coverage, and is cheap to maintain. If you have an SUV and the gas is killing you, get rid of it. Even if you’re upside down. Try selling your car for cash, getting as much as you can. Take that money and put it toward your loan, and then continue to make payments for the rest of the loan. By replacing your car with a cheaper one, you’ll ease up your cash flow, enabling you pay off and get rid of that SUV payment forever, all while you move yourself into the seat of a nice little “I’ve Gone Green” car. 


2 Responses to “If You’re Broke, Then Yes, You Do Need To Sweat The Small Stuff”

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After reading through this article, I feel that I really need more information on the topic. Can you share some resources ?

I think there is a lot of synergy and I was wondering if you are interested in discussing them

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