For most people, it’s not the big thousand-dollar purchases that bust the budget. It’s the small, seemingly insignificant money leaks, one piled on top of another, day in and day out. How to stop the leaks? Pay attention, get committed to cutting costs and take tips from smart people like today’s great readers.
CUT COFFEE COST: Even if you prefer your coffee mild, buy the strong variety (each manufacturer offers a range from strong to mild), and just use less. Even if you use only 25 percent less, that’s the same as getting 4 pounds for the price of 3. — Rob, email
ALTERNATE COFFEE GRINDER: Here’s a great way to make your own coffee grinder. Unscrew the blade assembly from your blender pitcher. Find a small jar that has matching screw threads (small canning jars work great). Fill the small jar with coffee beans, attach the blade, and return it to the blender motor base. The confined space in the small jar keeps the contents close to the blades and makes it grind evenly.
Buy whole bean coffee in bulk when it goes on sale, and store it in the freezer until needed. The finer you grind the beans, the less it takes to achieve your desired strength.
You can also grind spices in this way to restore their flavor. Use a different jar for each item you grind, and just put the regular lid back on the jar to store leftovers. — Beth, email
COLOR SET: Tired of your colored clothes and towels fading after several washings? Do this: To set colors in new clothes, soak them in cold water and ordinary table salt. I use about 2 cups of plain table salt to a small sink of cold water. Soak for about three hours. This will “set” the colors and helps clothes not fade. Always launder colors in the coolest water and for the shortest wash cycle you can. Water and detergent can leech out color and send it down the drain. — Jane, Oregon
BETTER THAN BLEACH: Instead of adding chlorine bleach to your white laundry (it is very hard on clothes and also makes clothes smells funny), add 1/2 cup powdered automatic dishwashing soap and 1/2 cup Super Washing Soda (available in the laundry aisle of some supermarkets) to each load of white laundry in addition to your regular detergent. The combination will keep your whites bright and beautiful without the negative effects of chlorine bleach. — Bettie, email
COST BY THE HOUR: Before I make a significant purchase, I stop long enough to figure out how many hours my wife and I will have to work to pay for it. For example, if you earn $20 an hour, your take-home is more like $16. That new computer you’ve had your eye on is $1,900. Simple math reveals you will have to work 119 hours.
Now imagine having to perform the task you like least for that amount of time.
This simple process will help weed out frivolous purchases because you’ve taken the time to think the true cost in after-tax dollars. — James, email
Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.
Include your first and last name and state.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 23 books, including her 2013 release “Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day.” To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.