As you may already know, the Too Thrifty Chicks declared this the year of “Operation Do Better,” which means we are getting our financial house in order and have taken a much needed break from frivolous spending. Refraining from spending ain’t easy and what you do after a period of abstaining from anything can make you feel like it was all a big waste of time.
After a fast — be it from eating, spending or even watching too much TV — people often binge on the very thing they gave up. We don’t want Operation Do Better to succumb to this fate. When we get our allowances back, we want to spend but when we spend, we want to spend wisely.
So we’ve come up with 25 ways to continue to be conscious savers and spenders:
Save on BEAUTY
1. Instead of dry cleaning, pick up some Magic Sizing Starch and bust out the (deep sigh) iron. We both hate ironing, but we do it a lot more now ... or go wrinkled.
2. Skip the salon for at-home manicures and pedicures. It’s a lot of work, but you’ll love the results almost as much as the savings.
3. Learn to do your own hair. Ricks had been doing her own hair since she went natural nearly six years ago, and Reese has given up hair color which is the only thing she went to the salon for regularly. YouTube and blogs can be super helpful. And remember, it’s OK if you mess up. It’s just hair — it grows back.
4. Brazilian waxes are amazing but very expensive. Ditch ‘em. Shave.
5. Before heading to the mall for a new outfit, check with friends and family to see if anyone wants to swap clothes, accessories or anything else.
Save on FOOD
6. Before going out to dinner with friends, eat at home. You’ll enjoy the same company but just order dessert, or at least not be tempted to order an appetizer.
7. Drink at home. Depending on the wine, you can get a bottle for around the cost of a glass or two at a bar.
8. When cooking, make at least enough for dinner and lunch the next day.
9. If you’re not big on cooking or don’t have the time, partner with a friend or a neighbor for a homemade-dinner swap.
10. Pack your lunch the night before. This protects you against that inevitable “I’m running late and don’t have time to pack my lunch.”
11. Grow your own herbs. They’re easy to grow and maintain, especially in small spaces.
12. When grocery shopping, give store brands a try before springing for expensive labels. If you don’t like it, you can always try something else next time. But if you do, you’ve avoided the temptation of falling in love with a costly, name-brand product.
Save on ENTERTAINMENT
13. Redbox is cheap but the library is cheaper. If you don’t have one already, get a library card. We’ve enjoyed so many books and DVDs for free that we might have purchased in the past.
14. Got an instrument you haven’t played in a while? A cheap hobby you’ve let fall to the wayside? Pick it back up — this will reduce the urge to go to the mall or a restaurant.
15. Check out local museums and parks. Often the cost of admission is free or by donation.
16. Don’t want to show up empty handed but don’t want to skip the party either? Give homemade gifts.
17. Sign up for free classes at local stores. Stores like Home Depot and Michael’s offer classes that teach you how to build something or make a craft.
18. Get rid of Livingsocial and Groupon. Unless you’re a really disciplined person, these discount sites can come back to bite you in the butt. Most people load up on deals and never use them. If you do use these sites, set limits on how many deals you can buy.
Save on TRANSPORTATION
19. Take public transportation more and drive less, especially if you’re in a city with excellent public transportation. If you don’t, it might be time to carpool, or get a bike.
20. If you have a car, clean it yourself rather than taking it to a car wash or detailer.
21. Taking a trip? Book a megabus ticket and stay with friends instead of flying and staying in a hotel.
More ways to SAVE
22. Use cash. We notice that if we only take cash to the store, we’re more likely to think about what we’re spending. Debit and credit cards are nice, but they encourage overspending because they’re so easy to use.
23. Quit paying for your money. Too many banks offer free checking to pay for ATMs and ridiculous overdraft fees. If you’ve noticed an uptick on fees, find a new home to park your funds.
24. If you’ve noticed your interest rates creeping up, call your credit card company and ask why. If you’ve got pretty good credit, ask for a reduced rate or change cards. Even if your credit score isn’t the best, it still can’t hurt to ask.
25. It’s time to master the art of extreme couponing. Get out your scissors and learn how to save money, and even get cash back, with coupons.
Got a thrifty tip for getting a grip on your wallet? We’d love to hear it at firstname.lastname@example.org.