Finance

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Crazy and Creative Ways to Save

May 28, 2009
by Rachel Balik
“A penny saved is a penny earned” may seem archaic to us, given the current rate of inflation. But when juxtaposed with the current rate of unemployment, saving even a penny is starting to seem like a really good idea. The bad times have inspired plenty of people to adopt some pretty radical ways to trim the budget.

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

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In April 2008, when the recession was beginning and gas prices were at an all-time high, U.S. News and World Report suggested “9 Extreme Ways to Save Money,” one of which was turning off your car while it’s still moving. That way, you can save a bit of gas by gliding into the driveway or a parking space. Apparently, it’s not recommended by the American Automobile Association, but it does save a few dollars a month. Only experts, or people who value saving money more than their lives, should try it at high speeds.

Another way you can save money in your car is by using it as a substitute oven. The magazine found a blogger who reported a technique for using the heat that’s already in the car for baking cookies. She recommends ensuring your car is parked in the sun, baking when the temperature outside is at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and preventing the heat from escaping, the car if possible. Place the cookie sheet on the dashboard and set your timer!

Cutting the Grocery Costs

Of course, if you really want to save money and indulge in some cookies, why not just hang around outside the grocery store and wait to pick up some day-old cookies that they’re throwing out? It might seem shocking, but in fact, there is a whole underground culture of people called “freegans” who, in their desire not to waste, have committed to mostly eating food that’s considered no longer good enough to sell, but not really bad enough to throw out. The Web site freegan.info is a hub for freegans in New York City, but the movement is nationwide.

The New York Times called freegans “scavengers of the developed world.” They might have a reputation for “eating garbage” but any freegan will tell you that while they’re technically eating garbage, the food is clean, not rotting, and well-packaged. They also get most of their possessions, such as furniture and clothing, from dumpsters as well.

But if you’d prefer a more conservative approach to saving money on groceries, SmartMoney recommends some ways to cut down on your bills without cutting your ties to the capitalist system. Tips include buying the store brand, cutting coupons, stockpiling sale items and thinking outside the box. For example, Amazon.com now sells groceries, and your local drugstore might offer a coupon to encourage you to pick up some milk while you’re there.

DIY

If you’re serious about saving money, it’s a good time to learn to do a few things yourself that would otherwise cost you.

For example, cleaning supplies may be a larger drain on your wallet than you realize. Fortunately, not only can you make your own highly effective, inexpensive cleaning fluid from ingredients you already have at home, but in many cases, these cleaning supplies are more environmentally friendly than the ones you would buy. The Baltimore Sun suggests several types of DIY cleaning supplies. Some are as simple as mixing vinegar and oil as a wooden floor cleaner, using toothpaste to restore the shine to chrome or reusing dryer sheets for dusting.

If you’re digging the DIY vibe, why not make your own underwear? While sewing yourself a work shirt or party dress is quite the endeavor, making your own underwear is simple and doesn’t require perfection. Even if you’re not an experienced sewer, you can use easy patterns from CraftyStylish and save a chunk of money every few months. (Or however often you purchase underwear—that’s your business, not ours.) All you need is an old T-shirt for cloth and a bit of elastic.
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