Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saving Money. So Hot Right Now.

I’ve been voraciously devouring two fantastic books: Craft Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube by Michelle Goodman. I am alternating between the books at whim, but I just can’t get enough of them. They are seriously amazing. Part of me worries that I’m getting my hopes up too much – they make it seem quite possible to do what you love for a living. I’m admittedly a wee bit nervous to allow myself dream up grandiose ideas – what if they don’t come to be? What if I am disappointed? And worse, what if I fail?

Anyhow, we’ll talk about my career aspirations another time. I noticed that both books, particularly The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, place a lot of emphasis on downsizing your lifestyle in order to do what you want. To not be limited by your Starbucks habit, shoe addiction, or huge cell phone bill, but be free to pursue your deepest desires and aspirations.

Let’s say you despise your job, so you invest heavily in retail therapy. But then you're trapped in your job in order to maintain your standard of living (like those pretty designer handbags and those yummy lattes). Would you be happier with a job that you dread and lots of expensive things or a career that you adore and living simply?

Many of the authors’ suggestions on how to downsize your lifestyle or spend less are things we already do, so I thought I’d share some ways that Mike and I are frugal and ask you to share your ideas as well!

  • No cable. We had free cable last year, but when it came time to choose spending $40+ a month on TV? Nope.
  • Library instead Netflix or buying books and CDs.
  • One car for the two of us. (I walk to work.)
  • Biking to the grocery in the summer. Mmm, summer.
  • Aside from washing dishes, I do all our cleaning with baking soda and vinegar.
  • Buying in bulk – rice, oats, almonds, etc.
  • Dried beans instead of canned beans. So super cheap it’s amazing!
  • I cut the coffee habit a few months ago – which means my coffee runs have drastically reduced.
  • Planning meals – less waste, more eating healthy, and less chance we’ll decide to just order a pizza instead!
  • Reusing everything you could ever imagine. I reuse packaging and brown paper bags for my Etsy and Amazon packages, I rinse out Ziploc bags, I reuse aluminum foil, our “Tupperware” is reused yogurt containers, and we have almost no disposable paper products in our house.
  • Love hand-me-downs, thrift stores, consignment shops, and ridiculously cheap clothing stores.
  • Never spring for manicures, pedicures, salon hair cuts or coloring (Best Cuts is my friend. As is hair dye-in-a-box!).
  • No pre-cut, pre-washed veggies or fruit. I'd rather do it myself and save a lot of money.
  • Try to make do with what I have. (My husband is laughing at me right now. I kind of like Target. And Joann Fabric.)

Here’s to spending less money and living more.

[ETA: I think it's important to point out that I don't advocate cutting costs at the expense of human rights, the environment, or so on - I choose to spend my money more intentionally - instead of buying a whole lot of junk I don't need from Wal-Mart, I buy it from Target one nice, quality item that is fair-trade, made locally, or something like that. :) I'd never want to promote saving money above all else. It's about spending it more wisely. Right?]

{Don’t forget to share your frugal tips. Be proud of your penny-pinching prowess!}


  1. I need to buy The Anti 9-5 Guide ASAP. Will get back to you about it...

  2. i also don't have cable and i 'borrow' internet from someone in my building who gave me their password (how nice of them!). i live in a cheap, utilities paid studio even though i could afford more. i take my laundry to my parents when i can to save my quarters and get cheap haircuts at the aveda institute. i always shop from the sale rack and super target is my best friend for groceries (way cheaper!).

    but, while i save in those areas, i definitely splurge in others like travel and entertainment so it all evens out in the end.

  3. You are one mean green environmentally friendly machine ...er, woman! :D

    I totally respect you, and your hubby!

  4. Yessss, I totally need The Anti 9-5 Guide too. Like, immediately.

    This post is one of the maaaany reasons I absolutely adore your blog. I LEARN THINGS HERE. (And things I already know, get reinforced) :)

    Muah! You're a gem.

  5. Those books sound intriguing! My friend got me a crafty book for Xmas, alternative crafts or something. It's all about ideas to use things you already have and turn them into cute crafties :) I liked what I've look at so far (although there's not TONS of things in there..)

    You rock for doing all of those things. I'd like to pretend I could even do even half of those, but YIKES!!! We shared a car for a year and a half, it wasn't too bad but it would be now since our works are on opposite ends of town, and our house is far away from BOTH of them :-/

  6. Your tips are great! & very similar to me & Jonathan's.

    We compost -- actually, he does it because the buggies that form in the bin give me the willies -- we recycle EVERYTHING, we buy mostly organic (unless we need to drastically save on groceries that week) & I'm making it a point to stop using paper towels as often. We also don't have cable, either. Our bill for cable was $80 a month, so we nixed that & now just watch local television. Whatever shows we miss, we watch them on the internet. Oh, & we use Netflix, too. :]

    But I do have a question for you: What is your formula for the baking soda & vinegar? I mean, how much of each do you put in? & what do you use it on? I'd really like to start making my own products, too. :]

    (You're very inspirational to me, Ashley!)

  7. I would love to make a living doing what I love. Le sigh...
    As for my tips, I plan our weekly menu around coupons and what's on sale at the grocery store. I usually end up saving at least $30 per grocery store visit!
    I also never buy anything full price! To see my full list of tips, click here :)

  8. your posts are so inspirational, i love reading your blog b/c i feel like i get so many ideas and learn so much! :)
    I'm not fantastic at cutting costs...we have cell phones, internet now and satellite. But bc I guess I'm spoiled in some ways, i consider these semi essential ;) So i really do try and pick up the slack in other ways.
    I neeeeever buy anything unless it's on sale, we recyle everything we can, I try and make meals that can be eaten more than once, whether it's the same way or the ingredients can be turned into another meal with little help. The majority of my kids clothes are from thrift stores & consignment shops and we most definitely do hand me downs.
    Now that we're living in an apartment I bring my laundry to my moms house as often as possible to save quarters, oh! and i got a job at starbucks to reduce the amount of $$ i was spending there ;-) Haha! free drinks!
    there is SO much more i need to work on there and i've loved reading other people's ideas!

  9. I have a second job in the field I would pursue if I could "afford" to. (Hopefully someday it will be my one-and-only?) I use the income mostly for saving right now.

    My savings tips involve a little initial spending: I replaced my outdated, energy hungry washer and dryer with high efficiency models, and added solar screens to my house to cut down on cooling costs. The changes paid for themselves quickly (and I was partially reimbursed by my energy company), and they made me a little "greener." Since we live in a small condo with no yard, I have a hard time line-drying all of our clothes, but hopefully that will be a next step. We try to make instead of buy when we can. We have a loooong way to go, though.

    I like all the tips!

  10. All I can say is that you are amazing. Follow your dreams, girl! If anyone can do it, it's you!

  11. Those books sound interesting, I will check if my library has them. You might also want to read "Your Money or Your Life". It's not about turning hobbies into jobs, but about reducing your spending so you are free to do what you want. I thought it was pretty good and definitely changed the way I view money.
    Like you, I reuse all the plastic that comes into the house. I wash the plastic produce bags and use them over and over again. I wash all the ziploc baggies and reuse those. We are going to use fabric napkins since we ran out of paper ones. I try to use paper towels as little as possible (only to clean up after my cat). I buy food through the coop in bulk. I use my CSA share as a basis for all meals so I don't need to spend much extra on other food. I bring my lunch to work. I bring tea from home to work so I don't have to buy it here. And snacks too. Buy second-hand clothes. Seek out free entertainment. We still have cable, but I will be reducing our service shortly.

  12. How well does the baking soda/vinegar concoction work? I've been seriously wanting to switch to non-toxic cleaners.

    Does it work in the tub, for example?

  13. i can't wait to get my 1st paycheck from my new job.. i'll be saving more money!! thank goodness!!!

  14. Saving money has always been, and always will be, hot! One thing I always try to have going on for me is to have at least one savings goal--whether it's building up the emergency fund, a trip fund, new iPod fund, whatever. Considering purchases in light of a savings goal makes me think twice about what I'm spending.

    My parents' washer finally gave out and it is crazy how well the new H.E. model does the laundry, saving time/energy/money!

  15. I'm so excited that those were checked in at the library - I've been looking for books like that but haven't known where to start, thanks for the recommendations!

    As for your saving money tips, I'm right there with you. We use detergents and stronger cleaning products, but we do the rest of what you guys do - down to the one car and the meal planning.

    Two months ago we had our washing machine & dryer completely die, so we bought compact high efficiency versions that are amazing and are saving us money on our energy bills- and because our house is very old the kitchen is small, so we do dishes by hand in the sink without using the energy that a dishwasher requires.

  16. Really great tips for saving money. I try to do a lot of those now, but will definitely be putting more of them into practice.

  17. Very interesting topic. I really believe that if you moved out of a job you hated, you could easily make adjustments in your personal life to support something you're happy with.

  18. I'm liking this and ALL your tips. Alas, I don't really have any. I need to get better at saving money, but I'm thinking about moving in with a friend whenever our leases run out in May. It'd save A LOT of money for both of us.

  19. I just bought Craft Inc. and am looooving it. I love hearing about people who have started from where I am right now, and especially when they are doing exactly what they love without having any big fancy degree or anything.

    Gives us all hope, right? Right.

    So, I'm right there with you. :)

    And amazing job on cutting down cost for things in your life! My hubby and I recently did that with a few things and it truly does add up. There are still alot of things I need to cut down on, though, even though I've never been a splurger...ah, well. :)

  20. I'm a HUGE fan of clearance racks...although I've certainly been known for bringing items home that I did not NEED but just had to have b/c it was SO cheap! ;) I really loved all of your tips...I may have to steal some of them! Great post!

  21. As difficult as the recent downturn in the economy has been for a lot of people, I think there are some positive things coming out of it. There are many people (yourself, myself included) who are looking at our lives and figuring out ways to simplify. Alternative means to the same end. And so on. I think that's a fiscally responsible exercise everyone should go through on an annual basis, don't you?!

  22. just a little tip, but we've started buying block cheese and grating it ourselves. more cheese for less money, and less packaging!

  23. Those sound like great book recommendations - always looking for a way to spend less time at the office and more time behind the camera. Thanks!

  24. I love going to a blog & learning something new.
    These tips are awesome. Especially since I'm a poor college kid in every sense of the word- I need all the tips I can get. :)

  25. i love everyone elses tips too! the anti 9-5 guide is amazing, i got it as a christmas gift and have just paged through it so far... but i'm inspired.

    when i had my house *sigh* i cleaned everything with vinegar and baking soda, it was amazing stuff. anything else i used was natural, i don't like harsh cleaners. if it eats the enamel off of my tub, imagine what it does to the earth?

    i've been trying so hard to be more conscious about how often i drive my car and i try to loop places to go all together so i just have to make one trip.

    now i'm saving up for my big house purchase in the spring, i need to save every dime i can... but my only issue is how do you save money when you don't make any money? man, i need another job.


  26. I am going to put The Anti 9-5 on my reading list. It sounds perfect. As for my saving habits...I could definitely imporove and I appreciate your tips! Right now the biggest thing I can think of is taking my lunch to work...shame.

  27. Why you gotta be so badass?! ;)

    We don't have cable because I'm cheap and would rather not spend my time watching pointless stuff -- cuz once I get around cable I can't stop myself!

    I'd like to stop going out to dinner/lunch so much and cook more, bring my lunch to work.

    Great tips, Ash! :) You seriously rock!

  28. We had free cable up until this month, and I was thinking about canceling it so as not to pay for it, but then I watched the new Real World last night and I'm waffling. :(

    But we already do a bunch of the things you listed. :)


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