How to $ave Money Without Really Trying

17 Mar

photo copyHow can I save a buck? That’s the million-dollar question.

I’ve experimented with various cost-cutting measures over the years. One time I cut my own hair rather than pay exorbitant beauty salon prices. I did such a hack job that I refused to leave myself a tip and swore I’d never go back to me again. So did my husband and kids.

As a person whose idea of keeping my checkbook balanced is to rely on credit cards, I’m probably not the best person to give financial advice. My friend Jane, on the other hand, is a pro at saving money. Jane is so cheap she eats cereal with a fork to save milk. She wears a parka when it’s 48 degrees, and that’s inside her house. One time when she invited me over to her home I panicked when I saw smoke until I realized it was my own breath. I figured if anyone is qualified to offer ideas on how to save money this season it’s Jane.

Jane, of course, wanted to charge me for her suggestions until I reminded her that her only credential is extreme couponing. So she backed down and offered me, free of charge, three simple money-saving tips that are relatively painless:

1. Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw wine: Nicknamed “Two-Buck Chuck,” this easy on the budget wine is “quite good for the price tag,” says Jane. Although the store recently raised its price to $3.79 in some states with higher distribution costs, causing some customers to rename it “Inflation Chuck” or “Upchuck,” Jane still thinks it’s a good deal. Made largely from California-grown grapes, the wine is offered in a wide array of red and white varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Jane says Two-Buck Chuck goes well with franks and beans.

2. Recycled ink: Jane recommends refilling your printer’s ink cartridge once it runs out instead of buying an entirely new ink cartridge. That way you replace the only part of the cartridge that’s spent and pay a fraction of the price you’d spend on a full replacement. There are lots of places you can buy ink, such as Walgreen’s and Cartridge World. Jane says Hewlett Packard may not approve, but her wallet does.

3. Listen to free audiobooks: 
Jane says all you need is some audio-playing device, such as a PC, tablet, MP3 player, or smartphone. Audiobooks from major online retailers can range from $7.50 to $35. You can find a number of websites such as Project Gutenberg, Books Should Be Free, Ambling Books, and LibriVox that offer free audio editions of the classics. An option for audiobooks from best-selling authors is your local library, which may lend audiobooks for free. Jane is a big fan of audiobooks but avoids them in the winter; she complains that it’s too hard to hear the words over her chattering teeth.

Since receiving Jane’s advice I have been listening to audiobooks more and more. In fact, I just finished listening to one while sipping “Two-Buck Chuck” and printing out this article with recycled ink.

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57 Responses to “How to $ave Money Without Really Trying”

  1. I suck as a parent March 17, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Buying books is my secret addiction (although, I guess the secret is out now). My husband cut off my Amazon account because we recently had to buy more bookshelves to house all of the books I’ve bought. (Hoarding books is also an addiction) Although I love the library, I love shopping on line at 1 am more. I guess I’ll be heading back to the library now

    • Main Street Musings Blog March 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

      As an avid reader, I’d say if you’re going to have an addiction, buying books is the one to have!

  2. paywindow7 March 17, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Just ordered a fifty gallon drum of “Upchuck”. When placing the order I asked if it would be red or white, their answer was “Yes”. Delivery pending.

  3. G M Barlean March 17, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    She eats cereal with a fork to save milk. HA!!! Best line I’ve heard in a while. I’ve actually cut and colored my own hair many times. Does it look good? Heck no. But i didn’t have to endure the beauty shop chair.
    Sorry…2 buck chuck sucks. Always buy decent wine. Cut your own hair… sure… but never skimp on wine!!
    You have a great sense of humor and I enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

    • Main Street Musings Blog March 18, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      I’m impressed that you got a third rhyme out of two buck chuck! Glad you enjoyed reading my post. I appreciate your kind words.

  4. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer March 17, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Stream movies instead of paying to watch them. But if we invite friends over to watch with us we’d all have to fit into our bed. That could lead to a whole different entertainer form, so be aware.

  5. Carol Balawyder March 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    I’ve tried the recycled ink cartridge but it was so messy:) Maybe I just didn’t go to the right place.
    Fun post. Good to laugh a bit, especially on a Monday morning.

  6. Professor Taboo March 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    For 60% – 80% of Americans today in this economy, these are 3 good tips, especially #1! That’s why I have my 48 ounce wine glass! Cheers! *raises his glass* 😉

  7. rebecca2000 March 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Overdrive is my favorite app on my phone because I can get books for free from my library.

  8. Carrie Rubin March 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Recycled ink–never heard of such a thing. Knowing my luck, if I tried it, I’d have black all over my fingers. Hmm, I wonder if the “Upchuck” wine would help clean it off…

  9. Your uncle Gary March 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Dear Lisa, I am going to the Lazer’s Edge today to get a recycled ink cartridge. I will demand, in you name, that I be allowed to fill my own, at a huge discount. Do you think this is a good way to save money, or do you think I will be thrown out of the store? Your uncle Gary

    • Main Street Musings Blog March 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Dear Uncle Gary,
      I think it’s a good way to save money. And you’ll be thrown out of the store.

  10. Adventures of a Middle Age Mom March 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    I’ve never tried Two Buck Chuck…the nearest Trader Joe’s that’s allowed to sell it is too far away. (Can you tell I live in NJ?) I’d make up in gas what I save in wine price.
    I need to replace printer ink cartridges so I’d better get busy. I have a feeling my new nickname will be Inky.

  11. Amy March 17, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Wonderful tips! I like the recycled ink 🙂

  12. Perfecting Motherhood March 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    The dollar you save is the dollar you don’t spend… I’m glad your #1 is how to save money on wine. Once you start drinking that wine, you may not need much more paid entertainment. 🙂

    Should I tell you I cut my own hair? It’s long and layered and it takes 15 minutes every 6 months. I’m always disappointed when someone else cuts my hair, this is the best outcome for me. I would have added the library to your list. Free books, free audiobooks, free movies. Can’t get any better than that!

  13. atempleton March 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    I have tried to cut my own hair, pretty much with the same results as you! Will think about trying $2 wine. . . maybe. : )

    • Main Street Musings Blog March 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      I figured cutting my own hair was easier than making my own wine, but the latter probably would have had better results.

      • atempleton March 19, 2014 at 8:49 am #

        Maybe make the wine first, drink it, and then cut your hair. Or maybe not. ; )

      • Main Street Musings Blog March 19, 2014 at 8:55 am #

        How about I make the wine, drink it, and then cut YOUR hair. ha ha ha! 🙂

      • atempleton March 19, 2014 at 9:23 am #

        Oh, no. . ..

  14. March 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Jane’s right on with her suggestion of Charles Shaw at Trader Joe’s. Sadly, in my town it’s “Three Buck Chuck” but still a bargain for those who drink alone and don’t care if the recycle guy counts the bottles.

  15. pattisj March 17, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    I tried trimming my own bangs and would not venture there again.

  16. LuAnn March 18, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Making my own lotions and cleaning products has saved me lots of money and I know they are chemical-free. 🙂

  17. Kathryn McCullough March 18, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Had to laugh at the comment about Jane eating cereal with a fork to save money on milk. TOOOOOOOO funny! Hope you are doing well. I’m pretty thrifty. My partner is less so. I suppose it all balances out in the end. But we do buy milk! LOL

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  18. Traci March 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    I’m guilty as charged about keeping my thermostat on 52 at night. I’ll relent and raise the bar to 62 during the day, but it’s still fuzzy socks and flannel pants season anytime you cross my threshold.

    • Main Street Musings Blog March 19, 2014 at 8:21 am #

      52! I’m all for trying to save a buck but as a CA native I’m only willing to go so low. Though I do love fuzzy socks. 😉

  19. The Domestic Fringe March 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    We always refill our printer cartridge…been doing it for years. Sometimes things get a little messy (my fault), but it does save a lot of money in the long run.
    Great ideas!

  20. earthriderjudyberman March 22, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    If you drink enough of “Two-Buck Chuck,” I’m betting you’ll forget all about the other things you might have spent your money on. Thus … saving even more money. Thanks for the tips and laughs, Lisa. 😉

  21. Lou March 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Saving money is right up my alley. I an an old penurious chap. Eating cereal with a fork, pure genious. Saving a penny here and a penny there, before you know it, you’ve got two cents. Also, one recommendation, try eating spaghetti with chop sticks.

    My best,

  22. Dilip April 3, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Interesting post. Recycled ink cartridge does work out cheaper but we should be sure of the quality. I use a laser printer more economical in long term but only black and white prints.

    • Main Street Musings Blog April 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

      True, a laser printer is economical too!

    • Estella August 2, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      That’s a subtle way of thinnikg about it.

    • levitra February 12, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      You have the monopoly on useful information-aren’t monopolies illegal? 😉

  23. reocochran April 5, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    You had me in stitches, all over again, when I reread this! I had to add that all those inquiries to buy things, open new credit cards, etc. come with envelopes. I am so cheap that I use these white stickers that come on rolls at work, that are thrown out. The warehouse has label rolls with numbers for the totes we ‘mail’ or send off in trucks to e-commerce or Advance Auto stores. There are ten a day that I run across! I get them, take them home, cover up the companies’ info. and the places where the they say No Postage necessary with the white stickers, 3 usually will do it. Add a stamp and put in my outbound mail pile. I send them to my Mom, who does the same thing, only she re-uses those envelopes they enclose by using Wite-Out! Smiles, Robin

    • Main Street Musings Blog April 7, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      Sounds like you’ve got the system down pat!

    • reocochran May 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

      Great line, by the way… your friend, Jane, using a fork to save milk! I just wrote a post on Friday about that ‘penny pincher,’ Jack Benny! Smiles, Robin

  24. Delila April 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Hi there fantastic blog! Does running a blog similar
    to this take a massive amount work? I have very little knowledge of
    coding but I was hoping to start my own blog soon.
    Anyway, should you have any recommendations or
    tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic but
    I simply wanted to ask. Thanks!

  25. Holistic Wayfarer April 9, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I keep hearing good things about that Shaw. We keep TJ’s running. =)

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