· Bright Ideas · Money Saving Tips · 27 Surprising Ways To Save Money!

27 Surprising Ways To Save Money!

When I first started this blog all I really wanted to do was share cool stuff I found through the course of my daily life with whomever would listen. :-)  That really was the extent of the thought that went into it……in the beginning. Thanks to your input and participation in this website community, it has evolved into something much more, and while it’s been exciting and fun…it also gives me pause when I realize there is a very large audience of people who regularly are coming to this website for information that is relevant and useful for their lives.

So I decided to verbalize (or at least type out) some of the guiding principles that apply to the information I present on this blog:

  • Saving time, money and resources.
  • Being your best self….physically, mentally, spiritually.
  • Nurturing family.
  • Being happy.
  • Making life beautiful.
  • Being a wise steward over the part of the world you are responsible for.

Of course, these aren’t set in stone. As life happens, changes and shifts in priority and focus are bound to happen. But for now, these are the areas that I will be trying to bring you the best information on in the coming year.

Today I’m going to be focusing on saving money. As I watched the evening news last night with all the talk of a “Fiscal Cliff” looming in the near distance…I was reminded of how many people are on their own personal fiscal cliffs right now. I know from the comments and emails that I get that the vast majority of people are wanting/needing to be more careful with their money and looking for ways to save in just about every area of their lives.

Related:  11 Smart Ways To Save Money As A Pet Owner

After hours of research on the subject…here is my list of things we can all do to save money in the New Year. Some are tried and true favorites, some may surprise you, and all of them I personally believe in.

laundry detergent

1. Make Your Own Household Products

This one I think goes without saying, especially on this website. :-) I love making my own DIY laundry detergent, etc.  It’s MUCH cheaper than buying the commercial versions and much more satisfying! Not to mention eco-friendly!

saving money

2. Cook At Home

It helps if you have a menu plan, so you don’t give in to the temptation of eating out, because you don’t know what’s for dinner. (See “Menu Plan” below.) Also, consider freezer cooking if you tend to eat out, because you don’t have time in the evening to cook.

saving money

3. Use Store Discount Cards

You can shave an average of 18 percent off the cost of your groceries by using your stores loyalty/rewards card.

saving money

4. Menu Plan

Planning your meals for the week based on what’s on sale at the grocery store is a solid strategy (as long as you stick to your list). Make a careful plan of what you’ll buy before you go, then stick strictly to that list when you go to the store. Don’t put anything in the cart that’s not on the list, no matter how tempting, and you’ll come out of the store saving a bundle. If planning meals prevents just one last-minute call for delivery pizza, you’ll save at least $20!


5. Brown Bag It

You can save a LOT of money by taking your lunch to work. Even if you only did it HALF the time…the savings are substantial! And it doesn’t have to be boring sandwiches if you have access to a fridge and microwave at work. You can even plan your dinner menus with the intention of having leftovers to take for lunch.

saving money

6. Eat What You Have

Buy food that you are going to eat and eat what you have. You can drastically cut your grocery bill by eating the food you have on hand and not wasting any.  Just putting a little bit of thought into your grocery list each week is an easy way to save money.

saving money

7. Invest In A Deep Freezer

A deep freezer, after the initial investment, is a great bargain. You can use it to store all sorts of bulk foods, which enables you to pay less per pound of it at the market. Even better, you can store lots of meals prepared in advance, enabling you to just go home and pop something homemade (and cheap) in the oven.

saving money

8. Avoid Bank FEES Like The Plague!

I can’t think of a more WASTEFUL use of your hard earned dollars than paying the BANK or CREDIT CARD COMPANIES MORE MONEY in ridiculously inflated fees.

  • Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees. Get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate the payments. If you find yourself forgetting to pay your bills on time, set up a free Google calendar and you can put reminders of when each bill needs to be paid. You can even set it up to email you to remind you to pay it on the correct date. This is what I did and it has helped me a lot!
  • Be aware of your bank balance and avoid over draft fees.
  • Avoid ATM fees. Be sure to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees, or withdraw directly at your bank. If you’re out of town and not near your bank, it may be possible to avoid ATM fees by using your debit card at a nearby supermarket.
  • Avoid credit cards with annual fees.

saving money

9. Improve Your Credit Score

Of all the painless ways to save money, improving your credit score is arguably the most important. From home loans and car loans to credit cards and auto insurance, a good credit score can save you a small fortune. Over a lifetime, the savings can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars.

saving money

10. Save Money At The Library

Public libraries are home to a wealth of resources. Of course you can borrow books instead of buying them, but they also often have large collections of popular CDs and DVDs. So, it can be a cheap (free) ways to catch a few good movies.

saving money

11. Unplug Appliances: Save Energy AND Money

Some appliances use power—called standby power—even when they’re turned off. Biggest culprits: Televisions, computers, printers, VCRs, DVRs, and power tools. If you leave town for a week, unplug everything possible. The rest of the time, use power strips to switch off power so you’re not constantly plugging and unplugging, which risks fraying cords and causing another set of problems.

saving money

12. Entertain Economically

Consider having friends over for dinner rather than going out. Assign everyone something to bring. Search for knock off recipes, so you can have your favorite restaurant food at home, for half the cost.

saving money

13. Get Your DIY On!

For very little money (or possibly for free) you can take a course at your local college to improve the skills needed to tackle most household repairs.

saving money

14. Buying “Pre-Owned” Stuff

This is one of my favorite ways to save money. I love going to our local thrift store and seeing what treasures I can find there.  Sometimes you don’t even have to PAY for stuff. Send out an email to family or friends, or just ask around. You might be surprised at what people have sitting around that they would love for someone to take off their hands. Freecycle.org and craigslist.org are also good places to look.

saving money

15. Gasoline

  • You can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing prices at different stations (Use gasbuddy.com to search for the lowest prices), and using the lowest-octane called for in your owner’s manual.
  • You can save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure.
  • Fill your car up when you’re down to a quarter tank of gas. You won’t be stuck going to the nearest, most expensive gas station when your car is on empty.

saving money

16. Stretch Your Clothing Budget

Swap hand-me-downs with friends (especially helpful with kids’ clothing), don’t be afraid to shop at thrift and consignment stores, and mend clothing instead of tossing it.

saving money

17. Plant A Garden

Gardening is an inexpensive hobby if you have a yard. Just rent a tiller, till up a patch, plant some plants, keep it weeded, and your new hobby will produce vegetables for you to eat at the end of the season that are MUCH cheaper and better-tasting than store-bought!

saving money

18. Find Fun, Free Stuff To Do

Dig into your community calendar. There are often tons of free events going on in your town that you don’t even know about. Stop by the local library or by city hall and ask how you can get ahold of a listing of upcoming community events.

saving money

19. Don’t Spend Money To “Relax”

To wind down from a stressful day at work, sometimes it’s tempting to go shopping! Instead of spending to de-stress, try some basic meditation techniques, stretching, or yoga. You’ll feel much happier than blowing all that cash.

saving money

20. Drink More Water!

Not only does drinking plenty of water have great health benefits, water drinking has financial benefits, too. Think of how much you could save by replacing your soda and coffee drinking habits with water! Also, drink a big glass of water before each meal, and not only will you digest it better, you won’t eat as much, saving on your overall food bill.

saving money

21. Avoid impulse buying!

Use the 48 hour rule. Make a commitment to wait 48 hours before making any unplanned purchase. Often the urge to buy will disappear after a few hours. If it doesn’t, find out if you can borrow it, get it used, or wait for a sale, before you pay full retail price.saving money

22. Become a Landlord

Rent out an extra room in your house: Help pay down your mortgage by renting out that spare room to a relative, a tenant, or a tourist! saving money

23. Take Up A Money-Saving Hobby

Hobbies not only open your mind to new experiences but they also take up your time – important if you would otherwise spend it in the mall shopping away your hard earned money. Think about it. Take up painting. Go fishing. saving money

24. Avoid Extended Warranties

Electrical goods are more reliable than ever. If your new radio won’t last three years perhaps it’s not worth buying in the first place. Think about it: how many times has your fridge broken down in the last five years? If you need additional warranty, use the extended warranty feature for free on your credit card.

25. Gift-Giving From The Heart (Not The Wallet)

When it comes to gift giving, the gifts we remember most are the ones that made us feel the best. A gift of service — whether it’s an evening of babysitting, lawn care or boarding a loved one’s pet — costs nothing, and for the recipient, it means you really thought about their needs.


26. Make A Budget

(One of the hardest things I’ve ever done! But SO worth it!) When money in a given category is gone, don’t spend anymore. Here are some guidelines for how much of your money should be going towards what:

•30 percent: Housing and debt (mortgage/rent, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc.)
•26 percent: Living expenses (food, clothing, utilities, transportation, medical, entertainment)
•25 percent: Taxes (federal, state, local, and property; FICA and Medicare)
•15 percent: Savings and retirement (401(k), stocks, mutual funds, college savings, etc.)
•4 percent: Insurance (life, health, disability, auto, homeowners, etc.)

saving money

Last but not least….

27. Stop Trying To Keep Up With The Joneses!

Trying to keep up appearances is a costly proposition. Remember, you cannot judge someone by what they have because you don’t know how they got it. Chances are they’re in more debt than you are!

Of course this list is not all-inclusive…but it’s a good start!  I would LOVE to add YOUR ideas to the list!  What are your best money saving tips?

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Bright Ideas

  • diy com where is love it or where is hgtv’s love

    27 Ways To Save Money = A Very Happy New Year! | One Good Thing by Jillee

  • I love all of these ideas. One thing I use is manila and the mint.com apps to keep up with my bills so I’m never late!! plus it lets me know when I’m over budget .

  • I recently discovered that my cell plan gave me the ability to use my phone as a mobile hotspot. Since both hubby and I have smart phones and a huge data plan we just got rid of our home internet all together. It saves us $50 a month and we can use the internet everywhere, not just at home.

  • There is a trend of networking home appliances together, and combining their controls and key functions. For instance, energy distribution could be managed more evenly so that when a washing machine is on, an oven can go into a delayed start mode, or vice versa. Or, a washing machine and dryer could share information about load characteristics (gentle/normal, light/full), and synchronize their finish times so the wet laundry does not have to wait before being put in the dryer.**,;


    Talk to you later

  • Housecleaning is done to make the home look better and be safer and easier to live in. Without housecleaning lime scale can build up on taps, mold grows in wet areas, bacterial action make the garbage disposal and toilet smell and cobwebs accumulate. Tools used in housecleaning include vacuum cleaners, brooms, mops and sponges, together with cleaning products such as detergents, disinfectants and bleach.*-“,


    See all of the most popular content on our own web blog

  • An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him.
    .. lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!

    ! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this subject here on your site.

  • Hello! I simply wish to give a huge thumbs up for the good info you’ve here
    on this post. I will likely be coming back to your weblog for more soon.

  • Cloth Diapering (it’s much easier than it used to be.), Homemade Cloth pantiliners (and even cloth menstral pads.) Most of the time you don’t even have to buy materials to make it yourself, if you look around the house for stuff you need first. I go through my closet once a month and get rid of what I am not wearing. I either sell it, give it to someone I know, or repurpose it. An old rain coat with tears around the pockets is made of an expensive fabric called PUL, and is great for making cloth diaper covers, wet bags, and backings for pantiliners. I already had some I wasn’t using so I repurposed it. Old towels that don’t match your set, are torn or have holes, make great core fabric for bibs, pads, and even curtains to block out cold and light which saves on your electric bill. Old flannel sheets can also block out light behind your curtains, and help with heat. Microfleece is moisture wicking and when cut into liners for cloth diapering, they make cleaning up baby poo a cinch! Also, when you have a “set” don’t get into the mind that you have to keep it together to use it. Sometimes a set of something serves you better split up into different rooms. You have a set of two matching table lamps, but you need one in the office? Don’t be afraid to split them up! A set of three matching rugs you bought for the master bedroom? Maybe one won’t be missed if it is brought out to the living room. A set of end tables you got from your great uncle? Use one in the nursery for a mommy station. Your house will love you back for repurposing things instead of buying more to clutter it up. Less (stuff to clutter your space) is more (room for you)!

    • I forgot about cloth napkins in the kitchen and cloth hankerchiefs for your nose. I don’t even use paper towels at my house anymore (I do keep some on hand for the really bad jobs, but rarely need it.)

      And washable plastic containers keep the same foods that disposable ziplock bags do, and for less. You can even replace sandwich baggies with small sandwich sized plastics. Also, if you must have ziplocks, you can often reuse those for non-food stuffs like organizing screws in the tool box, and keeping small items together.

      Anything reusable you can get to cut down on having to go out and replace staple items all the time, puts more money in your pocket and gives you more control over your life rather than letting the big corperations tell us what we “need to buy”.

      Think about it. Write down everything in your house that you will have to “refill” in the next two weeks, in the next month. Is there anything you can replace with a reusable item? If you can replace one thing with something you can wash and reuse, you are saving money. And everything you replace with reusable, washable items, adds up to a whole lot of savings. And with that savings, is a better quality of life for you and your family!

      You would be surprised how just replacing paper towels with cloth napkins can be rewarding, just knowing that you are not buying that one item over and over again.

      Remember one thing, when you are trying to recycle, make a place for your reusables, and keep them together where you can find them. Organize your plastics and designate a place in your kitchen for them. Keep your cloth hankerchiefs in one of those plastic tissue box containers and put it where your tissues used to be. You don’t have to change the way you are living to save money, just take care of what you have and treat it with care.

      Taking care of what you have, and being mindful of what you use, you will surprise yourself!

      Maybe you can help me:

      One thing I am struggling with are trash bags. The only disposable items I am buying right now are toilet paper (which I don’t see a way out of), and trash bags! Trash bags are so expensive, 20 bags for $7.50? How will I reduce my use of disposable trash bags? Any suggestions? I was thinking of all the grocery bags we have saved up, and I use them in the small trash cans. I know that putting these small bags into a larger one is an idiotic waste of the kitchen trash bags. I was using the large black bags in the kitchen, and realized that it was the most expensive bag I could use. So I switched to the smaller 13 gallon kitchen bags. Also, I have figured out that if I keep my large plastic garbage can out in the garage, just inside the door, it is easy to throw away the smaller grocery bags of trash without rebagging them. And I already burn my paper trash (there are no recycling centers around where I live.) Any other suggestions on how to reduce the use of trash bags?

  • The best tip I got was to think about retailers and other places you spend money as people who are trying to take your wealth from you. That 50% off coupon doesn’t seem so great if you consider that you are still giving your money to someone else and getting something that is probably not essential to your life (though that’s a different story if it IS an essential or much-needed item, like a new pair of work pants when yours are shot).

    Stop thinking that our lives revolve around shopping, shopping, shopping! Take a mental inventory of all the STUFF you have, including clothes, entertainment items, necessary items, sporting goods, craft supplies, kids’ toys, etc, and I can all but guarantee you will find plenty to do, make, play, use, wear, etc. Once I start thinking about all the stuff I do have and how now I now need to figure out a way to organize it all, I stop shopping!

    Another great tip I heard was to try not to spend money on Saturdays, since Saturdays are when we tend to have the most time to spend in stores.

    • I agree! Less is more. Look around at what you have. When you think of something you need, look around at what you already have (Shop at home) and see if you can repurpose something that you are not using to it’s full capacity to get what you need!

  • They forgot one very important one. GET OUT OF DEBT!!! When you’re in debt you pay fees. When you’re out of debt and start saving money you receive interest.

  • I found myself sitting on my “1goodthing” clean floor meditating and chanting ” the winning gift card is in my “1goodthing” soft hands..

    TIP- My daddy taught me ” Daughter, you are responsible for your own happiness. Each day you make the choice if you have rainbows or thunderstorms .


  • A great way to organize and keep recipes close at hands:

    TIP: take a picture with your cell phone. Save in an “Album” named Recipes. Find yourself at the grocery store and the grocery list at home- not to worry, just whip out the ole cell phone. At a party and everyone raves about your dish- just whip out the cell and with a tap of your finger you can send them the recipe.

  • Whoops…. Let me start again….

    TIP: For those tape rolls (ie: mailing, masking or duct tape) that challenge your patience when you try and try again to pull off a whole piece. Toss in microwave for a few seconds and like magic the heat reactivates the glue.

  • I’m really enjoying all the comments already left by other readers, but here’s my “one good thing.” It’s my favorite kitchen tip: I save the wax paper bags from inside cereal boxes. Whenever I have to use a meat mallet to reduce the thickness of chicken, pork, or beef, I slip the meat inside the bag before using the mallet. Yes, I do get the same thin meat I’d get otherwise, but it’s what I don’t get that makes the difference — no messy splatters to clean up or cross-contamination juices to worry about. And then I simply throw the wax bag away. Try this tip; you’ll love it!

    • Olwyn, that is very clever. I’ve been using store bought bread bags. They’re not very expensive but it still costs money. I’m saving all my bags from now on!

  • This idea from a son-in-law. When traveling and using your favorite shampoo, etc that you had brought with you, don’t leave it in the shower and forget it. Throw the tube out on the floor by the shower so that you will see it and pick it up when you are done. Thus, getting it back in your travel kit where it belongs.

  • Great list, thanks! One thing I’ve been meaning to try, but haven’t been brave enough yet is to take spending holidays. One day a week, one week a month, one month a year (!) – no extraneous spending. Of course you still pay your obligations, but no movies, no eating out, no new shoes, no fancy groceries, etc. Maybe 2013 will finally be the year!

  • We use mint.com to track our spending and I love it. My husband and I took the time to set out our budget and since we can see how much money we’ve spent on each category it helps to stop extra spending. Since we’ve been using mint.com we’ve been under budget nearly every month.
    I also like to buy in bulk and freeze extra food we can finish before it goes bad. I love doing this for fruit when it’s in season and cheap. I think it’s much better than buying the already frozen stuff.

  • I confess that I’m a little short on time today and didn’t read all these comments but I wanted to give you a nice tip that my credit union shared with me about avoiding ATM fees. If you have a debit card with a Visa or Mastercard brand logo on it, you can walk into any bank or credit union and use it to get a “cash advance” against your checking account. My credit union does it without a fee but I don’t know if banks would be so generous. It would pay to call and check though and it’s still much easier than trying to cash a check.

  • I wanted to expand on Jillee’s tip to meal plan; meal planning can feel overwhelming with everything else we all have to do, so to take it one small step at a time, instead of matching meals to what is on sale that week (which feels overwhelming to me!), I pick 5 dinner recipes for the week (for Monday to Friday) and get all the ingredients for the week in ONE shopping trip. I also match any coupons I might have for items I am buying at that time too. Picking the recipes and writing a shopping list takes me all of about 10-15 minutes a week – at the most! Then, each night I pick a recipe for the next night, take out whatever has to be defrosted (meat, etc), and everything is ready to cook when I get home from work. This process has not only saved me money (I only buy what is on my list), it has helped me lose weight (I pick healthy, but quick, recipes), it takes the “what’s for dinner” stress out of my weeknights, and I really don’t have to go the supermarket during the week. Plus, my husband will even start/cook the meal if I leave the recipe out for him and make sure all the ingredients are ready! Now THAT is a pleasure to come home to!

  • […] One Good Thing by Jillee shares 27 ways to save money this new year. Be encouraged and get creative as you strive to better your finances in 2013. […]

  • I just found your blog today, Jillee. Pretty fun and now, bookmarked.

    Had to giggle at a couple of your saving ideas:
    1. Planting a garden: I live in a state with lousy soil. By the time we added up our soil amenders, fertilizers, etc., I think our Roma tomatoes (with tip rot, no less) cost about $4 each. (Labor not included.)
    2. Take up painting: Have you priced brushes and oil or acrylic paint tubes lately? Ohmygawd, did I spend a slew getting my supplies a coupla years ago. My local paint store salivates when they see me walking in. Although it failed to deter me much. Definitely not a cheap hobby!

    My money saving tip: Never, ever buy or lease a new car. It depreciates by hundreds, if not thousands, as soon as you drive it off the lot. Do your research (Consumer Reports) and wait patiently for your model after it ages a year or two. Used car loans aren’t tough to find and rates can be just as low as new car loan rates. Buy from a private party. You’ll easily save over $100,000 in your lifetime, believe it or not!

  • Fabulous advice, a good way to save money is giver your children an allowance, it teaches them a valuable lesson in budgeting and stops them pestering you at the store!

  • This year money has been tight for everyone. So my sisters and I decided to give our time to each other.I love to paint. One sister wants her upstairs painted so it makes for an easy trade. This same sister is a born organizer so she’s going to help me get my home organized. Another sister is an amazing cook so she’s willing to trade delicious meals or teaching us to make her delicious meals for a service, she just hasnt figured out what she needs or wants yet. We also recycle clothes. Our children are close in age but far enough that we have been exchanging clothes for 15 years. My oldest is almost 16 and my youngest is almost six. My little guy is wearing clothes that belonged to my older boys, but that have been worn by four other boys in our family. We have some pictures of each of the boys in the clothes. It’s fun to reminisce, “I remember when Bear, Mike, Ethan, or Luke wore that” and my little guy thinks he’s the coolest because his big brothers or cousins wore it too.

    • Love the trade system. My son got free saxophone lessons from a family friend while I gave his daughter sewing lessons. He normally took lessons at school (free) and this kept him playing over the summer. When he got back in school his playing was leaps and bounds better than his classmates.

  • Would like to comment on the idea of turning off your electronics by flipping the power switch ON the surge protector itself. When you do that, you also turn off the surge protection. The power being on allows the protector to work which keeps surges from power fluxes (as well as from lightening) from ruining your electronics. Best way is to unplug the surge protector itself, which will also have the effect of unplugging your electronics and killing the power drain. Of course, if you’ve still got the cable/sat. hooked up to the surge protector, it won’t stop surges from coming down those wires, so you’d want to d/c the cable/sat/phone into the surge protector while you’re gone.

  • I would say those were 25 VERY good ideas for all of us to save money. What a help you are to so many! Congratulations on your successful year. Thanks for all the help you have given me. You are the best! I tell everyone I can to check out…One Good Thing By Jillee. I figure if they do, they will not be sorry. :-)

  • Where I am in Ontario, Canada; when you use debit cards the only time you are charged for using it is when you use it to withdraw cash at an ATM that is not your bank brand.

    Another way to save on those trips to the bank … use the cash back option at the stores that you shop at. Here, there is no fee for using your debit card at places you shop.

    One thing we have done is purchased a membership at Costco for $75 per year split 5 ways. We all get together monthly with our lists, take one or two trucks (depending on the amount we are buying) do our shopping. When we get home we then split everything amongst the five families … huge savings!

    We swap babysitting, dog sitting, house sitting services among all of us in the family.

    We all live outside the city so when we do go into town … we car pool for our trips and make a day out of it. Sharing in all the expenses for that day drip into town. We always plan our trip so that the last stop is the grocery store so that the cold food items are not left sitting in the vehicle to long. We load the coolers with ice bottles to keep the food cold, if we need extra room in the cooler we drink the extra ice bottles. For those of us who like to drink coffee on our outings we bring a thermos of coffee and our thermal mugs.

    For birthdays, Christmas etc .. we exchange services rather than gifts. If the in-laws need their walls washed, we do the washing for them, they cook some meals that are packaged and frozen for us or they dog sit … that kind of thing. There are always services that can be shared out in the family or amongst friends.

    We do a lot of shopping at the Dollar stores as well. Just be careful with that … there are often things that are on sale at other stores for less. Know your prices.

    Use as many of Jillees’ ideas that you can … more huge savings.

    The best tip I can give … is share your time, love and joy with everyone. Pay it forward when you can. Life is too short to waste time in being angry.

    Much love, Telina

  • Great ideas, Jillee. I would also recommend avoiding the theater and instead waiting patiently to see *new* movies in the comfort of your home. Eventually all those *new* movies will be free to view online (hulu.com) or available to check out from your local library. In the meantime entertain yourself at home by watching other free movies or shows and enjoy your own (practically free) popcorn and drinks.

  • In regard to your tip about using the library I would add return your items on time! Fines can add up quickly. I work in a library and routinely see high fines on patron’s accounts because they are too disorganized to return things on time. While we appreciate the donation, wouldn’t you rather have that money in the bank?

  • Always, try to use your bank card as CREDIT, NOT DEBIT. Even if your card has DEBIT CARD emblazoned across the front, put it through as CREDIT. Reason being, Credit sales are run through the VISA NETWORK and there is NO FEE TO THE CARDHOLDER, store merchants are charged a fee per transaction for the service.. DEBIT transactions are run through the STAR NETWORK or other similar network, which forces the CARDHOLDER to pay the fee, instead of the merchant. So next time you are sliding your card for groceries or gas or ANYTHING ELSE, when it asks for your pin, that’s your cue to say “CREDIT NOT DEBIT”. This is true when using PAYPAL too. When paying online using PAYPAL, immediately after you log into your PAYPAL account, always be sure to CHANGE BILLING from debit to CREDIT by clicking on the “funding source options” link, found in the top 1/3rd of the page. Change to VISA NETWORK and click OK. Now it will say bill to credit/debit card, as opposed to debit/credit card, and you will never be charged a fee. Easy way to remember is say… U PIN – U PAY. Hope this helps.

  • I’ve been following your blog for about 6 months now and it is a real joy, so many good ideas-can’t even recount how many of your ‘formulas’ I’ve tried, but I love my homemade cleaning products and high end face cream that have been inspired by you. This new years blogpost is brilliant. I have already started doing most of this over the years and have realized real savings without one ounce of sacrifice (we have even found a ‘new to you’ clothing boutique which is both swanky and CHEAP–top that with Goodwill and frugal never looked so good). The real kicker for us after the ‘new to us’ household furnishes that we have acquired at the local thrift stores was household appliance acquired thru Craigslist. As our appliance reach the 15 year mark, things are breaking at a prodigious rate, and our budget just couldn’t handle it. Careful daily (and sometimes twice daily) checking of the listings for the things you need, plus quick responses (calling if a phone number is supplied or emailing your phone number) as well as an offer of cash and willingness to be there quickly will supply you a GREAT selection of lightly used high end appliances and a fraction of what they cost new. Don’t be afraid to by electronics this way. This past year has gotten a nearly new, high-end eco-friendly stainless steel lined dishwasher, high-end over the stove microwave, and an all stainless gas 5 burner gas stove with convection oven (a little dirty, but less than a year old). ALL this set us back a total of $400. I would have had a hard time getting even ONE of these appliance, in a lesser brand for this price new, and I’ve had them several months now, and all have been fabulously and without a single issue. In fact, they are SO much better than what I had before (that I bought new once upon a time) that I feel absolutely decadent (expecially the stove, OH MOMMA is it nice). Anyway, I encourage everyone to buy second hand….keep you $$ in your community, be eco friendly by buying 2nd hand, be frugal, and if you play your cards right, SPOIL yourself in the process :0)

  • Jillie,
    recycling glass jars has saved us lots of money. It makes it so much easier on the budget to reuse them instead of buying new flimsy containers.
    I love recycling glass jars!
    I have one question about this, though.
    How do you remove those darn sticky labels from the jars!!!???
    Sometimes I end up scraping the little sticky bits of labels with a paring knife to get them off the jar.
    There has to be an easier way.
    Do you have a post on this in the files? Or will you do a new post on this?

  • First time reading your blog and it is wonderful. Thank you pinterest pinner. I would like to add, if you have the money to pay off credit cards in full, use them and earn the reward points. We have not paid a cent to fly our daughter back and forth from college for any breaks thanks to our world points. They add up fast and the savings are huge.

  • I would add just a couple things to your wonderful list, Jillee. Maintain an attitude of gratitude, it really is all about attitude, if you choose to feel deprived by trying to save or get out of debt, you will be, if you choose to feel wise, and strong by reducing debt and building savings, you will find it much easier.

    Avoid the middle of the grocery store. If you shop the perimeter, you will find produce, dairy, bread and meat. Everything else, except staples dry beans and rice and canned goods, you can make from scratch much cheaper. I rarely use coupons because I rarely buy name brand anything, and almost never anything that comes in a box. All those items that are designed for “convenience” can generally be made from scratch, and usually will be healthier and cheaper and no more labor or time intensive once you learn how to make them.
    Don’t assume fresh is best, often frozen is actually fresher when frozen than the “fresh” stuff in the store. I bought a pound of raspberries yesterday frozen for $3.00, I have never seen a full pound in the store fresh for that kind of price.
    Eating out really is a waste of time and money. A lovely meal can easily be prepared from scratch in 30 minutes, if you actually think about it, by the time you travel to a restaurant, order, wait for your food to be prepared and delivered, you can make the meal, eat it and do the dishes.

    I take packets of oatmeal, and fruit to work with me every day, I eat breakfast while checking my e-mail first thing in the morning. I carry some snacks in the car for if I find myself starving away from home, the snacks often keep me out of a fast food line. Make your own coffee, for the price of a cup at the gas station you can make a pot, the price of a cup at Starbucks, you can make coffee for a week at home.

    Before you buy, anything, make sure you don’t already own something that will work just as well at home or stored in your shed. I wanted to buy a book case for my office, only to realize I had one stored in the shed.

    I hope everyone has a happy and prosperous new year!

    • This one is absolutely great. Before I buy anything, I google to see if I can find a recipe (which usually makes extra for freezing/storing).

      I make my own Chai Tea mix (which makes almost 2 quarts) which I love. I would never pay for anything to drink. We rarely go to restaurants, but if we do we get water. Drinks are outrageously expensive in restaurants now.

      • Great suggestion– LOVE the the “nickle and dime you to debt” phrase. Been avoiding plastic for food/drink items like the plague. So I store leftovers in mason jars or Pyrex with lids . I freeze the same way. Jillee’s post about marinated freezer chicken meals is great–I freeze them up in pint or quart mason jars. I find them much easier to organize in a freezer. The jar upright with a plate under it (for condensation) defrosts in the refrigerator without leaking, unlike the bags. BTW the wide mouth jars clean up in the dishwasher better than the regular mouth.

    • I love this comment. People think I’m crazy when I say I rarely use coupons, but there are not coupons available for produce, fresh meat, and generic items, and I still get by cheaper than I would if using coupons, and eat healthier on top of that.

      My husband is also an avid hunter and we both love to fish. It may not always seem like the cheapest hobby ever, but considering that it provides days (not hours, DAYS) of entertainment and healthy food for our family, I think it’s a pretty good trade-off. And I know that I could easily spend what we pay for a year’s worth of fishing & hunting licenses fees during one trip through the mall.

  • My tip is to get/stay healthy to save money. Eating correctly, getting sufficient exercise and taking care of your mental health goes a long way to keeping your whole self healthy and out of a doctor’s office. Even with insurance, your savings can be eroded with payments made for treatment of preventable illness/disease. I haven’t always followed my own advice but plan to make a change in 2013.

  • Awesome tips! I especially loved the last one about trying to “Keep up with the Joneses”. One day soon I will try making my own laundry products… but for now I take advantage of the stores that offer double coupons and give you gas points to use @ their stations! I never pay full price for gas. I regularly save $0.40-$0.80 off PER gallon of gas by doing this.

    • Hi, I would be interested in how you save even $.40? The most I have found by purchasing in advance is 12 cents. Please let me know what you do to get the higher savings. Thanks, Karen

      • Hi, I say 20% on gasoline at my Publix store when they have a promotional coupon for a $50. gas card for $40. with a $50 purchase in groceries. They offer these quite often.


  • I love the reminder about using the public library. I am an avid reader who probably could not even add up the money I have saved by going to the library or downloading eBooks.

  • Open a Christmas–Holiday Account at your bank–it usually pays the highest interest rate in a savings account and will give you a buffer for this years holidays–I usually spend half for gifts and put the other half back in the account.

  • My husband and I put ALL our change into jars, coffee cans, butter tubs, etc. At the end of the year we add it up, take it to the bank and usually have around $1,000. to $1,500. saved for our Christmas shopping. I also exchange homemade crafts (table runners, curtains, place mats, pillows, etc.) for services such as free electrical work and free lawn care just to name two.

  • Great list and happy new year! I’m trying many of your suggestions and now make laundry detergent, foam soap refills (a huge money saver), and your granite spray, as well as many of your recipes. My only other suggestion is to save for a big purchase like a car; paying cash for vehicles saves lots of interest debt and frees up cash to maintain that car and make it last. Our vehicles last 10 years plus this way. Have a great 2013!

  • Loved the tips. I will be putting most of them into place this year. I am also cutting out our cable bill with my Netflix and Hulu accounts. I am also a member of booksfree.com, don’t let the site name fool you though, I have a membership for about 18.00 a month for a few books out at a time. This way I am not buying new ones all the time.

  • I would add to cut out disposable items such as paper towels, plastic baggies, paper plates etc. Those things are the “nickel-and-dime-you-to-debt” of our generation. Use reusable items like tupperware containers and dish towels and skip the expensive, trash-producing disposables.

  • Love all your great ideas, but I don’t love your picture of the family biking. Please, adults, your heads are just as important to protect as your little ones’. PLEASE wear helmets.

  • Great Tips to save money, here are a few more. Drive under 60 miles an hour and you will save on gas. You only need a pea size bit of toothpaste not a whole tooth brush line full. If you live where lemons grow, (or buy when cheap) squeeze them and put them in ice trays, freeze and then store cubes in freezer bags. Throw a few in a pitcher, add water and you will have fresh lemonade all year long. You also can freeze grapefruit and orange juice just don’t dilute.
    I went to have a tire fixed and was told I needed new tires. That was 6 months ago. Not only did I not buy new tires, my car passed inspection this week and I am still driving on those tires. Don’t believe everything they tell you, always remember where you are and what their business is. Theirs was to sell tires and Machanical work, you have to be careful and vigilent all the time.
    I also took my slow running laptop into a popular office supply store that advertises that they will check out your computer, free, no matter where you bought it. The sales person told me I had a Trojan Virus and I needed to have it repaired at the cost of $149 by their people. The sales person also made changes on my laptop without permission and installed their store software. I left with my laptop and spoke to a computer geek friend who checked out my hard drive, ran a scan and cleaned it up for free. My neighbor also went to the same store and he was told his hard drive needed to be replaced. It cost him $197 before he got out the door. He had the same friend check and there was nothing wrong with his hard drive. He went back to the store and complained and they refunded his money no questions asked. The moral to this story is there are unethical people who wear a smile on their face and will scam you in a heartbeat. Don’t believe these sales people who tell you that you need work or products from their business without investigating further. The sales people are either making a commission off what they sell you or they are being offered incentives by the companies for their sales.
    It truly is sad that the eithics in this world are disappearing and we as individuals have to question the professionals that are suppose to be there to do a good job. Be careful my friends, be vigilent and very careful. Happy New Year!

  • I agree with Rebecca–most things are not built to last–not even if you take care of them properly. My pet peeve these days is the quality of clothing. For years now I have seen clothes that come apart at the seams, disintegrate when washed, tear easier, lose a button etc. These days I turn clothes inside out to check for material contents, quality, & seam allowance. Zippers are the worst they have ever been–I only zip skirts and dresses when I wear them; when they hang in the closet they are all unzipped. You only get so many zips from a zipper. I have a dress that I paid more than $150 for, wore it 3 times- went to wear it Christmas and the zipper broke while DH was zipping it.
    For savings: 1. Libraries carry books for Kindle that you can download for free at home.
    2. When our children were younger they played school sports, took school instruments & vocal, dance you name it-they did it at school. If your school doesn’t offer much in the way of extra curricular meet with other parents, go to the school board meetings & get it on the list. When our youngest wanted to learn SCUBA, he & 5 friends went to the Marine Bio teacher & got him to be their adviser, next they found a certified instructor who taught & brought all the gear to site. Because they were a school activity they got to use the school pool free. All they had to do was split the fee for the instructor 6 ways. Their certification came at the local lake. All this for $120 instead of $300 plus gear.
    3. I love a parade–free entertainment. On the east coast every major & minor holiday has a parade. Major holidays have 2 or 3 indifferent/times location. Our town in NJ had 4 on July 4th. Now I am in CA & not so lucky. Bet Los Angeles has them.

  • One thing I would add is don’t buy something if you don’t have the money, instead of paying for it afterward, save the money ahead. My husband and I were in deep financial trouble about 5 years ago. We developed a budget, my husband and I both worked two jobs, doing what it takes to get out of debt. We were doing this while making sure our 5 children (4 of them teenagers) were at all the activities they were involved in. Now we have been able to not work two jobs each, we have a budget, and are able to put money away for emergencies. You know what, now that we have the emergency money, and budget it seems like we have less emergencies! Have a plan and stick by it. It has been a lot of hard work but it is worth it, We both feel like life is not one big emergency and we are able to enjoy all the activities, we still are very careful about where our money goes, we control it, it doesn’t control us. I also must add that I have used OneGoodThingByJillie a lot for homemade household items and I share it with people who ask. Thanks for making yourself available and all the work you do that makes our lives easier.

  • That’s genious, thank you…. Being your best self, easier said than done but it is my focus this year… Running around being a mom and a wife I do forget myself and it is something I’m learning to do, to give my family the best I do have to start with me, this way I’m not stressed out all the time, giving me some me time makes all the difference.

  • Great suggestions! Breaking the year down into baby steps to accomplish all these things makes it seem a little less overwhelming! But a new year is filled with lots of promise…so here’s to a great 2013 for everyone!

  • I just wanted to give you a shout out and a big generous thank you for helping me change my ways! You have taught me so many wonderful things in 2012, capping off the old year with the delicious Gluten Free Upside Down Cake (that I made with apples and cinnamon sugar) for dessert! On my never ending journey of finding ways to better our lives, I really couldn’t of done it without you! Have a Blessed Year!

  • I love your blog!! Our family is already doing most of these things, but our BIGGEST resolution this year is to set a budget and ACTUALLY stick to it LOL!

  • love your blog – I’ve been following you for almost a year and you have so many good ideas. This is a great list – I’m trying to do all of them. Thanks and happy new year.

  • Grocery coupons!!! Match them with sales and you can snag some pretty cheap food! And if you have a store that will double them…stock up. Many times, I am able to get items for free!! (If it’s not something I normally use, or if I have several already- I drop it by the local soup kitchen on my way home)

    There are a lot of online sites that will let you print coupons, and I have started a coupon swap box at work (not everyone buys the same items!!) Also look for rebate forms and read the fine print. (in NC for instance, you do NOT have to purchase beer/wine to use their rebate form- just buy the other items and send in the form to get your $!!)

    I also use my rewards credit card at the grocery store (2% back). MAKE SURE YOU PAY YOUR BALANCE IN FULL EACH MONTH or you lose your savings paying interest fees.

    I keep a separate money market account for my “fun money” and every month I deposit what I saved that month. I figure I would have had to spend it anyway- so I just pay it to myself!!! We’ve gone on several vacations that we otherwise couldn’t have afforded.

    • amen to that! and although the making your own household products is a great concept, if you simply don’t have the time, then couponing can get you free and extremely cheap household products…even cheaper than the materials to make your own. Either way….couponing is a wonderful way of life!

      • Crystin, I started making my own laundry detergent, thanks to Jillee, about 6 months ago and I have only bought the supplies once! The cost of the supplies was close to what a month supply of pre-made would cost…you may want to check that out. Her “recipe” makes 2 gallons at a time and you only use 1/2 cup for each load…and I still have about 1/2 box each of the washing soda and borax so now all i have to get is the bar soap and I should be good for another 6 months :) I am so glad I started making it and it gets easier each time I make it, so I make it much faster :)

  • I disagree with the part about appliances/electronics are more reliable than ever. This is not true. Research has been done that when design engineers design a product, if it is built to last more than 5 years then their bosses say no… it never goes into production. The key is for consumers to re-purchase every few years. Same with cell phones. Who the heck has a cell phone from 5 years ago? Very few people, and for sure not smart phone users.

    Back in our grandparents day they made things built to last. If you have a fridge from the 1950s, it may be a mint green color, but it most likely still works. :) These days you may be able to get 10-15 years out of a fridge, max, not 50+ years like they were built to do back in the “day” — sad, huh?

    Also, who pays only 25% in taxes? Lucky! I am so jealous. And I think I am getting ripped off by our government! :)

    • I so agree. My parents have been married 54 years and still have the toaster they got at a bridal shower…and they use it almost everyday! Also, I have her waffle iron that is at least 35 years old. She decided to “upgrade” a few years ago and gave me her old one. Boy, did she hate that move!! Her new waffle iron broke after 2 years and never made waffles as good as the old one. She raised me on that waffle iron and now I’m raising my kids!!! I actually offered to give it back to her but she thought it was sweet that my kids like it so much and bought herself another one instead – which she also doesn’t really like!!LOL!!

      • Forgot to add – she also had a fridge that she wanted so badly to “upgrade” but it just wouldn’t breakdown!!! Dad even painted it for her….twice. She finally talked him into it and has never been happy with it. She had that fridge a long time….and it was used when she got it.

      • Linda, my mom gave me the sewing machine she sewed my baby clothes on for my 18th birthday and I am 56…then she bought herself a new one and never liked it as much the old one. She just had it rewired & refurbished for me this Christmas for my gift and I ADORE it all over again !!!

  • Along with saving money on gas, do not buy ethanol blend gas you will get poor gas mileage. All the mechanics that I know tell their wifes to not use it, so there must be something to it. My husband worked the numbers and figured that if the regular unleaded is up to ten cents higher you are still more ahead on gas mileage to buy it. Oh, and by the way I’m from Nebraska, live on a farm and that is my advice.

    • Oh that I could find ethanol free gas…it’s so much easier on your car also! Ethanol makes it run much hotter. Problem is A) we live in Co and can’t get the real thing….we had one station that carried it and they stopped a year ago..WY is 30 min away and might be worth it. B) our car is 2005…I just wonder if that is relevant to vehicles after 2000. What year is your wife’s car?

      • I guess I don’t know the answer to your question. We just got a new “used” vehicle Yukon XL 2002 but it is not a flex fuel. I just still fill up on Regular unleaded. Do they regulate it in CO so you have to buy ethanol blend? Gas is usually way cheaper in Wyoming anyways, I went to school in Cheyenne. I don’t think I will ever see the days when I could fill up at a full service station for 85 cents a gallon.

  • Thanks Jillee! I do almost all of those things that you mentioned. Hubby has been laid off for a year now. Sigh. The hardest one is not eating out!! The easiest one is getting things from the library — because I work there! :-)

    Here’s to a great new year for all of us!!

  • This is an awesome post Jillee ! ! ! I made a New Year’s resolution a couple of days ago to “brown bag” my breakfast and lunch…. I work at a supermarket and it is soooo easy just to pick up something there to eat, but I am still spending $5.00 for lunch… So I make a sandwhich or bring soup and if I want a “treat” like a bag of chips or a roll, I don’t spend more than $.50 or so… I also made my laundry for the first time and I love it….

  • First, thank you Jillee! I love your blog and I will be using many of your tips in 2013, as we have some significant family issues, financial and health, coming up! My tip to share: only spend paper money. It will help in two ways…one, change can add up more quickly than you can imagine, and you can used that saved change at the end of the month to either add to a debt payment or perhaps make it your ‘date night’ fund. The second way it helps is that it often prevents impulse spending. For instance, if you only have a $20 bill in your wallet, are you going to be willing to break it for a .99 cent cup of coffee?

    • I agree with you totally Vicky!! We put all our change in a jar (and here in Canada we have $1.00 and $2.00 coins!) and roll it up when we need that little extra cash. We leave it for as long as we can though and it can be up to $200.00! We also put 10% of any money that goes into our Chequing account into a separate account that we have no debit accessibility for. That way if we have something big to purchase (Snow tires, large home project) we have to plan to go into the bank to get to the cash.

  • These are all GREAT ideas!!! The only one I’ve had problems with is the budget.. spending only 30% for housing.. there’s NOTHING that cheap around here. The cheapest apt would be small & take about 45-50% of our budget. :(

    Most of your suggestions we do already & I’m looking forward to trying the other ways you mentioned this year!!

    • Same here. apartments are not cheap and when they are cheaper the electric and heat are not included and it gets very pricey. more than 60% of our income goes towards rent and electric. Just cant make ends meet these days.

    • TOTALLY agree on this. I was introduced to the program when I was 17 and I will NEVER manage my money any other way. I go back and refresh myself every couple of years to make sure my financial life is on track, and every time I am so happy to have been introduced to Dave’s financial genius. Several old coworkers asked about my envelopes and ended up taking the course which has changed their lives as well. He makes money management SIMPLE. I cannot recommend his program highly enough. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

  • Loved the list, however I laughed out loud on #24. I got myself a mini-fridge for Christmas this year and already it has broken down and won’t get cold anymore. Thankfully I have a nephew who is an appliance repair guy so he is coming over to see what the problem is (once he is recovered from the flu). Another thing I do is turn the heat down before I got to bed every night and snuggle down in my covers. I sleep better knowing that my gas bill won’t be as high!

    • Plus you sleep better in a cool room….we’ve gone by that for years and now have hot water heat in the baseboards and zoned heat…which I love, but our room is warmer than our daughter’s room (tempted to switch with her–but I don’t have time to paint a pink room) Anyway, I can testify that you sleep much better. I have a fan blowing on me and toss the covers off half the time…and I honestly don’t think the menopause thing is the problem…it really IS warmer in our room!

      • Check the placement of your thermostat. If it’s in one room it determines whether to turn on from that spot.

  • Thank you so much for the inspiration! I was not feeling very motivated this morning and reading this renewed my desire for a less expensive and healthier (therefore, happier :)) 2013!!

  • a lso I try do do all my errands and shopping in one trip, and those hobbies may be marketable, check local festivals to get a booth to sell them. I buy fresh produce instead of frozen, much cheaper.

  • What a great list!! We had our first baby last year and (thankfullu) I found your site last year too! I have saved soo much on laundry products, cleaning products, and have also found so many adorable crafts, gift giving ideas etc. I LOVE bragging about how much I save on things we all buy every month! It’s nice knowing my friends are jealous about all our savings too :) This year I am really buckling down on cooking at home, taking a lunch to work, and SAVING every penny we EARN.

    Thank you so much Jillee!

  • Wow… I love this…. “Being a wise steward over the part of the world you are responsible for. ” so true… I have some pretty great tasks on my list for this year – 1. being my best self 2. assuming the best in others 3. loving and forgiving 4. Keeping in mind that life is short 5. Choosing the high road – learning to bend 6. Being a peacemaker. Of course I have to add making my own laundry detergent…and some of the facial scrubs and lotions… LOL.
    I’m so thankful that you have a heart to share these things. I have enjoyed your blog for months- You touch lives in so many ways – what a blessing you are! Thank you so much!

  • This is a great list! And if you take all the savings from these ideas and put it into your retirement account, or other savings account, you will be amazed at how it adds up. Another simple idea is to use a water bottle instead of buying water in plastic. This is a win-win situation. Another idea is to disconnect cable and/or satellite TV. Go with a basic Netflix account. Big savings. There are lots of free TV options if you just look for them. And finally, take advantage of BOGO (buy one, get one) offers at your local grocery store, but don’t buy the junk – eat healthy. Happy New Year!

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