Monday, September 13, 2010

Cutting Expenses (First Edition)

I originally posted this to my facebook account but thought more accessibility to more people might be in order. So here it is! I put this together out of concern for those who seem to be struggling financially but inexplicably--where both the husband and the wife work and they still barely get by, for example. I could tell stories of how our financial picture doesn't make sense...but that's not the point of this blog. God has been gracious to help me be a frugal sort, which has been very needed in my life, and I want to help others to have that mindset as well, especially in these times.

My area of financial skill is more in the area of knowing a bargain and getting by on the least possible. I’m not a financial guru or a budgeting fanatic, but I also enjoy compiling resources and I love getting the best deal possible; I hate wasting money. I don’t personally know the quality of each and every one of these resources. Use God’s wisdom and the common sense He gave you in how you use them, but generally I think they could do most of us a great deal of good!

Another note: How did I find this stuff? I looked in magazine articles (from magazines I’d already bought at the library for 25 cents each); I used google; and I checked out library books. When I reserved the library books, I was shocked at how fast ALL of them showed up on the holds shelf waiting for me. Apparently no one checks out books on saving money. I don’t know why, in this economy.

Please respond with any further information (including warnings about websites) that you would like to share...

Crown Financial Ministries, originated by Larry Burkett

Dave Ramsey
Sound Mind Investing

Debt-Proof Living, originated by Mary Hunt
(has an optional $29 membership fee that enables you to use their repayment plan.)

Tip Hero: Your Guide to Saving Money:

190 Resources for Saving Money:
168 Frugal Tips to Make Your Dollar Stretch:

125 Tips to Save Money:

101 Ways to Cut Your Spending This Year:

Compare low rates on monthly bills:

Frugal Living worksheets:
40+ Ways to Survive a Recession:
How to Get out of Debt Fast:

16 Rules about choosing which debts to pay first:

Woman’s Day Magazine articles on saving money (some by Mary Hunt; Look at “Debt Reduction” rather than their “Saving Money” articles):!.html

Miserly Moms:

Rapid Debt Repayment Plan:

Debt Management Resources:

Check out these books at the library for free!
Debt-Proof Living: the complete guide to living financially free, by Mary Hunt, 332.024 HUNT
The Complete Cheapskate, by Mary Hunt
Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey
The Money Answer Book: quick answers to your everyday financial questions, by Dave Ramsey 332.024 RAMSEY
The financial peace planner: a step-by-step guide to restoring your family's financial health, by Dave Ramsey 332.024 RAMSEY
Pricele$$: Straight-shooting, No Frills Financial Wisdom, Dave Ramsey332.024 RAMSEY
Financial Peace Revisited, by Dave Ramsey 332.024 RAMSEY
More Than Enough: the ten keys to changing your financial destiny, by Dave Ramsey
Grow Your Money! by Jonathan Pond
Your Money, the Missing Manual, by J.D. Roth
The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom
The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Roadmap to True Riches, by Jeff Yeager
The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Build Community, by Janelle Orsi & Emily Daskow
Money Talks and so can We, by Ron and Judy Blue (Christian)
The Little Book of Big Savings, by Ellie Kay
Living Rich for Less, by Ellie Kay
Half-Priced Living, by Ellie Kay
101 Small Business Ideas for Under $5,000,by Corey Sandler and Janice Keefe
Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World, by Richard Foster
The Busy Family’s Guide to Money—USA Today, by Sandra Block, Kathy Chu, and John Waggoner

How to Handle a Money Crisis:
How to Deal with a Financial Emergency—Coping with a Financial Crisis:
Why You Need an Emergency Fund:
The Bankruptcy Dilemma:

ING Direct

HSBC Direct

Find out which ATMs are free for your bank; avoid others; use point-of-sale machines (such as at grocery check-out) instead to access cash. Don’t use for-fee transaction machines at gas stations.

The Best Budgeting Tools:
Budgeting 101: Everything You Need to Know About Budgets:
Managing Money: Budget Basics:
How to Create a Frugal Budget:

ECFA: “Helping Christ-centered organizations earn public's trust through developing, maintaining accountability standards and God-honoring ethical practices.” You can find out a lot about charities through this website.


FLEXIBLE EMPLOYMENT (I don't personally know these sites):

Home-based Working Moms:

Grocery shopping: Make sure you go to the least expensive stores: Winco, Walmart, Costco…
Even then, know your prices and only buy when the sales are good!
Locate Organic fruit and veggie co-ops:

Couponing: - Type in “grocery stores that double coupons” (I don't know about the others, but this has a fee-based service; still, it might save you money.) (This is a nationwide ministry.)

Saving money on groceries:
Shave $150/week off your Grocery Bill:

Free Recipes:

Cheap recipes:

Saturday Throwback: 65 Cheap, Healthy One-Dish Meals with Good Leftover Potential
20 Cheap, Healthy Dishes Made from 10 Pantry Staples:
Cheap, Healthy Salad Dressings: 102 Light Recipes:

Find recipes that use ingredients that you already have at home:

Low-cost healthy recipes from the USDA:

Once-a-Month Cooking, by Mimi Wi
lson and Mary Beth Lagerborg
The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook, by Erin Chase
Refinance for a lower rate, and a shorter term if feasible.
Best Financial Move: 15-year Mortgage

A 15-year Mortgage Isn’t for Everyone

Adjust withholdings?

DAYCARE:Does it pay for Mom to work outside of the home and put the kids in daycare? Snohomish County median childcare rates for school age children was 412/mo.; for infants to preschool, $758/mo.
Enter that into the following website:

You’re likely to find that even having one young child in daycare often causes the mom’s income to evaporate completely. If not, you’ll at least find out what your hourly earnings are coming out to. I quit working when my husband was earning $9.50 part-time. We never went on public support...and it was 1 1/2 years before he got a better job. I don't remember clearly, I imagine we were in debt by the time that was through...but we probably were to begin with, too! I do remember realizing how little difference it made in our finances that I wasn't working.


Consumer Credit Counseling Service

Debtors Anonymous:

National Association of Personal Finance Advisors:

And never sign up for store credit cards for any one-time bonus! Their interest rates are sky-high, and they won’t do your credit rating any good.

(Always read the fine print.)

Free credit report

FICO Score report with $16-50 fee:

Your Credit Score, Your Money, and What’s at Stake, by Liz Pulliam Weston

Check your charge card statements and make sure each month that no automatic renewals are applied for things you don’t want any more.

If there is a stay-at-home mom or you work from home, see about getting “For Pleasure Only” car insurance coverage rather than the usual which covers commutes etc.
Don’t sign up for roadside assistance if you also have another program such as AAA.
Read this article for other ways to save.

Various articles on saving money on insurance:


Rate doctors, hospitals and nursing homes:

NIH re: Medical trials:

Financing plan for Medical C

(payment over 90 days without interest)
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs:

Partnership for Prescription Assistance:

Healthcare for Less: Getting the Care You Need—Without Breaking the Bank, by Michelle Katz, MSN
99 Practical Ways to Save on Prescription Drugs, by Noel Magsino, 615.1

Home Energy Audit:

Energy-saving resources:

Light Bulbs: Compact flourescents.
Lower your electric bill:

Tips for Saving Energy:
Low-income energy bill assistance:
Save Money on Heating Costs:
Save Money on Your Home Expenses:

Do you often have more garbage than you can fit in your trash can, and have to pay for extra pick-up? Make sure you’re recycling everything you can, especially if pickup of recycling is free; it will reduce the amount of trash pickup that you’re paying for.


The Simple Dollar

Five-Cent Nickel

Cancel Unwanted Catalogs:

Do Not Call:

Avoid Junk Mail:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
11 West 42nd St.
P.O. Box 3861
New York, NY 10163-3861
(Send them a postcard with “Take me off your mailing list” and with your address on it.)

If you don’t use them, cancel your memberships.


If you want Red Robin or other restaurant food where takeout is an option, you’ll save yourself the cost of a tip by taking it home with you rather than sitting there in the restaurant. You’ll also be less likely to buy the drinks that cost $4-10, or desserts, that you can provide at home for so much cheaper.
Restaurant Gift Certificates: Coupon Books:

Trade with or borrow from friends. Go to the library or buy used at thrift shops.

Cancel your newspaper and read news from various providers online.
Top 100 newspapers by circulation:
World Magazine (Christian):
Fox News:
Voice of the Martyrs:

Bundle onto one carrier. Make sure that you don’t pay for any services that you don’t need, such as call waiting and premium TV channels.
Maybe drop your land phone line and just use cell and Skype.
Get free TV online:
Free long distance:
Free directory assistance:
800-FREE-411 (you have to listen to a brief ad first)


Ten dos and don’ts of online shopping:

Go to a beauty school or find out how to do your hair for yourself. Same with manicures, pedicures…
How to Do Your Own Manicures
How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

Buy them at thrift shops; trade with friends; rent from Redbox for $1/night; watch those that you’re already getting free with your cable channel; rent them on your cable channel; or if you go to Regal Cinemas theater, see to buy tickets in quantity and get a discount. Buy a coupon book that has movie discount coupons.

Make lattes at home and save $3/day, $15/week, $60/mo., $720/year!
Use a reusable metal filter to make coffee; then put the coffee in a thermos to keep it hot.
Bring your own mug to refill at your coffee shop if it provides a cheaper price.
Find specialty coffee recipes online.
How to Make Flavored Coffee Syrups:

Give your kids a job chart. Learn to make your own cleaning supplies using things such as vinegar and baking soda; but if you have a front-loading washer, don’t make your own laundry detergent like so many people are doing, thinking they’re saving so much money. You need “h-e” detergent (not a brand, a designation of low-sudsing detergent) or the suds will get into the mechanics and wreck the washer. That’s what happened to our last washer. If you hear it sounding like a plane taking off and you’ve been using ordinary or homemade detergent, it’s probably already on its way down. Ours sounded like that for a year or two and then just gave up. Homemade Cleaning Products:

Become acquainted with doing things yourself. Chances are, with 90% of maintenance and repair, you can find out enough information and buy enough tools to accomplish a task without professional help. (I've fixed washing machines, a microwave, a dryer, ranges; replaced electrical outlets and plug-in cords, installed sinks...after a while it's a little frustrating not to have to hire someone, since you can do it yourself, when you really would rather not.) Find a website that can help you or if that fails, go to a hardware store and ask any store employee or even a friendly customer who might be able to answer your questions. Before you leave home, get all the necessary details: brand, measurements, etc.; maybe bring in some parts that you've taken out to replace. Appliance stores often sell appliance parts; you can't expect to find them at hardware stores.
Do It Yourself
Popular Mechanics

I spend about $40/year on fertilizer; a mailer comes around with an estimate that they could fertilize our yard throughout the year for more than $400. Why would I pay them?
Gardening websites:
Lawn care:
Lawn and Garden Almanac (specific to your zip code):

LOCAL SIGHTSEEING: (sometimes available at Costco)
Entertainment Coupon Books:

40 Most Useful Travel Websites that can Save you a Fortune: – sign up for “top 20” (searches the other discount travel sites)

Business cards:
Small Business classes:
Small Business Planner:
“The Small Business Know-How Resource”:
The Entrepreneur Network:

Website Creation:

Serv-U FTP File Server:

(don’t ask me what this is…I found it categorized under starting your own business…)
Women Entrepreneur
Top Ten Work-at-Home Scams:
How to Make Money at Home:
National Association of Women Business Owners
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
Smart Money and their Small Business page too:
National Association for the Self-Employed
$120-$480/year; can get you group health insurance rates
Work at Home Kit:
Moms Work at Home Site:

Retire Rich: A Seven-Step Plan to Jump-Start Your Savings and Quit Work in Style:
Social Security benefits:
How to Find a Job in Retirement:
Retirement Breakthrough: The Safe, Secure Way to Guaranteed Income You Can't Outlive - In Any Economy, by Richard W. Duff 332.024
401(k) MATCH: Sign up to participate in whatever amount your company is willing to match. If a company matches 5% at $40,000/year, that gives you an extra $166/mo. income!

Craig’s List:

Thrift Shop: Value Village (Bring a bag of castoffs in when you come, and get a coupon and a tax receipt in return.)

Custom Online Radio: help:
Foreign Language instruction: Photo Organizer: