July 14, 2022

Reader Tips: Saving Money!

I really loved reading the responses to last week's "Reader Tips" about cleaning and organizing, so I'm excited to share this one today about saving money. I asked on Facebook for your best money-saving tips and the responses were fun to read through!

I spent way too much time last week putting each tip in its own colorful box; it made the post pretty, but rather than spend an entire day doing that again, I'm going to just share the responses here like my usual typing. (This actually gave me an idea for next week's reader tips--time savers!)

I've always been a frugal person for the most part. There are some things that I don't mind splurging on, but some things don't matter to me and I look for ways to save.

My mom has always been big on garage sales and I grew up looking for thrifty finds like that. Garage sales are the best! I know that a lot of people don't like to wear used clothing, which is totally fine; however, I'm cool with it and I've saved a FORTUNE that way. When I was losing weight, I was going down a size about every 10 pounds--so going from a size 24 to a 4 meant dropping 10 sizes, and therefore, 10 different wardrobes over the course of a year. Who can afford that?!

I got a lot of items from garage sales, but also from thrift stores. I don't typically spend more than about $5 on an item. At garage sales, I'll spend about $1-2 per item. I've gotten tons of brand name items, some with the tags still attached. I have a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans that I bought for less than $3, and still had the tags on them!

I've even bought things just to sell them again; my best clothing find to resell was a vintage Kurt Cobain shirt that I bought for less than a dollar (I want to say it was 80 cents?) and then sold it on Ebay for about $100 (I can't remember the exact amount, but I know it was about that).

Because who doesn't want a vintage Surf Style jacket? (Can you believe it's been 30 years since these were super popular?)

Anyway, thrift stores are awesome for saving money and super fun to go to because you never know what you might find. So, that's my money-saving tip: If you're cool with it, used items are a LOT cheaper--whether it's from garage sales or thrift stores.

Okay, here are some great tips that readers/followers suggested. Enjoy!

ALWAYS have a frozen pizza on hand, so you have a quick and easy dinner everyone likes without resorting to dining out.
-Amy Wilson

"Convenience meal” in our house. Nuggets and tots are frequent favorites- and when it gets used it gets replaced the next shopping trip.
-Cindy Smerdon

Find out what foods have good store brand dupes. I’ve learned that I like Kroger Oreos, Rice Krispies, and other things my kids want without having to pay for the name brand. Also making potatoes or rice the basis of the meal saves a lot because those are pretty inexpensive.
-Kimberly Hermansen Thomas

Never leave the house without a water bottle!
-Tara Quesnel Trudo

Saving tip: When/if you get a raise, if you are not currently strapped for cash, increase your 401(k) or savings amount by half of that raise. Example: 4% raise, increase 401(k) by 2%.
-Jessica Kurts Lockwood

1. Walmart (or whatever store is available) grocery pickup. I’m a terrible impulse grocery buyer even when I have a list.

2. Meal planning. I’m not strict on the schedule but when I do my weekly shopping I plan out at least five dinners to make sure I have everything I need. Additional trips to the store inevitably increase grocery costs.

3. Keep leftover or soon to expire food front and center in the refrigerator. Wasted food is wasted $$$.
-Jen Mitchell

I started the grocery pick up during the height of Covid and continue to use it. I am also a huge impulse shopper (mostly of crap food) so this saves me money and calories.
-Melissa Connole Kelly

Instead of takeout when I’m too tired to cook, run into the grocery store and grab a rotisserie chicken, bag of 90 second rice, and microwaveable frozen veggies like petite peas or sweet corn.
-Theresa Marie

Meal Planning! If I don't we end up shopping every day, having food in the house that doesn't get eaten, or having a lot of take away.
-Aimee McKean

Utilize Amazon's "subscribe & save" feature. We have set up toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, zip-loc bags, toothpaste, etc. on automatic delivery and we end up saving quite a bit on staples.
-Krista Howell

Use cash for groceries, pet products, eating out, etc. When your cash is gone, you are done until next payday.
-Nancy Rice

Borrow books [including ebooks and audiobooks] from the library instead of purchasing.
-Natalie Tremblay

1. When you find jeans, pants or shoes that you love and fit exactly right, buy two of them. I’m picky so this prevents me from buying four or five other pairs that I don’t really love and therefore won’t wear.

2. We splurge once a year on house cleaning usually right before the holidays. It’s well worth the money to have that checked off the list when the holidays have so many other priorities.

3. Always go to the grocery store with a list and stick to it.
-Colleen Wheat Reprogel

Sometimes buying good quality clothes may cost more at first but it beats buying a dozen other items that you aren’t happy with, don’t fit well, or are poor quality.
-Jen Mitchell

For groceries I love Aldi, I can get a lot more for my money there. Also, shop around for deals. If there are 4 grocery stores close together see whom has the best deals and buy it there. You can also shop around for LP. I live in the country and I call around every year to see whom has the best deals. People don’t realize you can switch providers every year and you’re not stuck with the first one you went with.
-Michelle Wachholz

Honestly... just don't shop, especially recreationally. If I don't go to Target or wherever, I don't spend money there. Evaluate every purchase as: do I need it, do I want it, and is there a cheaper alternative that will serve the purpose as good. 

Also... don't buy things just because they are on sale. You aren't saving money unless you would have bought it regardless of the price. That said, stock up on staples when they are on sale. Our Kroger has a few times a year the pasta we eat is like 49 cents a bag with coupon. I buy a few of each shape and am good for a while.

Hubs found out one local grocery grinds up steaks that are nearing sell by dates and puts it out for like 3 bucks a pound. Better quality ground beef for less so he always grabs what he can when he catches the deal.

If I'm on the ball, I meal prep my lunches to keep from eating out. Pay off debt, evaluate your insurance regularly, pack a cooler when you travel, etc.--so many things hubs and I have done over the years. Have a good savings (though market is tough right now) and should be able to retire in about ten or so years.
-Christina Luebbert

Get familiar with the best products for regularly used products. I started a notebook awhile ago, and kept a list to compare. I know Big Lots has the best price on cat litter and napkins; Walmart best prices on body wash, shampoo etc; Aldi pan spray, Stevia and other favorites. Publix always has BOGOs, so I stock up, and if I have coupons for the items, even better.

I also check the clearance sections at the back of the grocery stores, and at Walmart for clothes. I know the prices for the produce guy down the street and he has great prices on in season stuff. I’m also not product loyal - a lot of the time the generic or store brands are just as good. Also - I do as much as possible in one trip to save gas - I put a cooler in the car and it keeps everything cold or frozen!
-Ellen Mocarski Bedford

Another money-saving tip: Buy a dependable vehicle, maintain it well and drive it until there is no more life remaining. My 2013 Honda CRV has 160k miles and runs great! I will likely have it another 5 years at least. My last car was a 2001 Toyota Corolla we drove 17.5 years and then sold it for $2k! It’s a poor man’s mentality to always need the newest vehicles. Invest instead!
-Melinda Wolf Miller

Use the library! -Elizabeth Dehling

1) I used an app and tracked every cent of my spending for a month to find out where I was spending my money… turns out I buy a lot of coffee out so I bought a coffee machine and saved lots by making it at home.

2) Snowball your payments, make all of your minimum payments but any extra money, pay off your smallest bill first and when that is paid off put that money into your next bill.

3) Don’t buy on credit if you can’t pay that credit card off monthly. Delayed gratification leads to financial freedom!
-Amanda Hood

My mother always said to never buy something you already have that works.
-Olga Carr

BUDGET! Three years ago I went through all my accounts, credit cards, etc. and figured out where my money was going. I cancelled the subscriptions I didn’t use and listed my debts in order from smallest to largest and also what the interest rates were. I started by paying off the smaller debts which allowed me to put bigger amounts on the larger debts and it snowballed. I’ve paid off over $90,000 this way (including my student loans which were $40k). Only a little bit more to go!
-Taryn Blair

Best money-saving tip: Cook and eat at home. Make coffee at home instead of $8/drink at Starbucks. Shop for as much as I can at Aldi and then supplement from other stores. Dining out/Food is by far the biggest over-spend in most households!
-Melinda Wolf Miller

Costco!! Totally worth the subscription fees. The savings in my contacts alone was worth it, on top of paper products and bulk essentials.
-Emily Marshall

The public library is a huge money saver! I have to have saved hundreds by “shopping” there for reading material. If your library isn’t near by, you can access lots of titles through ebooks with your library card.

Give your kids their own clothing budget and let them decide how to spend. The money goes further and they learn some great lessons in the process.

I’ve discovered Sally Beauty toner instead of boxed color or salon color for my blond hair. It is easy and doesn’t damage my hair as much either.

This is a little against natural instinct, but spending more of great quality or exactly the item you want is usually cheaper in the long run. I’ve wasted lots of money over the year trying to make do and then replace multiple times. It ended up being much for expensive and wasteful.
-April Edwards Bright

This is a tip I aspire toward but haven't fully done, just rudimentarily. It's called reverse budgeting. You take all the money that's allocated for bills, savings, groceries, etc. and use it accordingly. Whatever you have left you are free to spend as you wish. It feels so much more free than a rigid budget.
-Jill Marie

If you you watch Netflix and channels like Hulu, do not get tricked into a “free 30 day” offer. You will be charged the monthly fee if you forget to cancel. I did for many months! Never again and I canceled Netflix too. “Freevee” has ads but it is FREE!
-Caroline Triplett

Join your local "buy nothing" Facebook group to get stuff for free and give away items you want to donate.
-Natalie Tremblay

...and there you have it! Lots of great advice on simple ways to save money. Thank you thank you thank you to all of you that commented with a tip!

For next week, I'd love to share tips about ways that you save TIME--whether it's multitasking certain things, meal prepping for a week at a time, or even putting away dishes while your coffee brews--every minute that we have counts! Since we all have the same amount of time in a day:

What is your best TIME SAVING tip?

You can comment here, email me, or comment on the Facebook post that you can find here. I'd love to share the compilation next week! (If you don't want me to use your name, no problem--just let me know). If you don't want to (or aren't able to) comment, feel free to email me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. I look forward to seeing what you come up with! I'm great at saving money, but time? Not so much ;)


  1. All of these are great ideas! CONGRATS to Taryn, who has paid off $90k!!! THAT is impressive! You should be proud of your dedication, determination, and sheer will power! Way to GO!

  2. Small typo -- I think your follow up question is "time saving" not money saving. :-)

  3. These ideas are so good!

    I wanted to add some detail about paying off credit cards using a rolling system. First, figure out the interest rates on all the credit cards. Apply any additional payments to the card with the highest rate first until that balance is paid off. Then, roll that additional amount plus that card's monthly payment into a payment on the card with the next highest interest rate. Continue that until all the cards are paid off. It feels so good to watch those balances go down.

    For example, Card #1 has a 31% rate. The monthly payment is $20. You have an additional $5. Pay $25 on Card #1 until it is paid off. Then, start working on Card #2 which has a 27% rate. The normal monthly payment on Card #2 is $10. Pay $35 on that card until it is paid off ($20 monthly payment of Card #1+ the extra $5 + the monthly payment of Card #2). Once Card #2 is paid off, you have an additional $35 to put toward Card #3. Continue with each card.

    Then, do your best to pay the full balance each month. It's not always possible since things do come up, but debt-free is wonderful.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

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