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100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 5


If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Here's the fifth installment in this series of ideas of ways to save $100 or more this year:

20) Brown Bag It. If you're willing to put in a little time to plan ahead so you have the necessary food on hand and then to take a few minutes every evening or morning to put together a sack lunch, the return on this small investment of time can be quite remarkable.

In fact, I figured out that most of the lunches I've packed for my husband cost anywhere between $0.75 to $1.50 each (remember, that's mostly because I shop the sales, use coupons, and stock up on items when they are at their lowest prices!). A lunch at a fast food restaurant is likely going to cost at least $4-$5 at a minimum.

Based upon these calculations, it is very safe to say that packing a lunch has saved us at least $3 per day. Over the course of the year, that's $750 saved! And that's a very low figure. If someone is eating out at nicer restaurants most days and spending $7-$12 per lunch, the savings are significantly higher!

In addition to the savings, there's also the added benefit of homemade lunches also often being much more healthful for you as well–especially when compared with fast food meals.

21) Utilize PaperBackSwap. My husband and I are both avid readers and books are something we could spend a fortune on–if we had that kind of money to spend! In order to stick within our meager budget when Jesse was in law school, we put ourselves on a self-imposed book-buying moratorium. Our rule was that any book we read had to be checked out from the library, borrowed from a friend, or given to us as a gift.

Then, I discovered PaperBackSwap. For the cost of shipping out a book via Media Mail (usually somewhere around $2-$3 maximum), you can choose from a constantly-changing selection of hundreds of thousands of books.

Not only do I love the concept of passing along books you no longer need or use to someone who will appreciate them, I love the fact that you can acquire books you really would like to own so inexpensively through PaperBackSwap

I'm especially appreciative of PaperBackSwap now that we've moved to a town where the libraries aren't much to speak of (at least not compared to our beloved neighborhood library in Kansas City where we could put hundreds of books on hold at a time without ever paying a dime!). Instead of mourning the loss of a wonderful library system at our disposal, we're building our own home library now, courtesy of PaperBackSwap!

(By the way, PaperBackSwap also created a site in the last few years for swapping DVDs: Swap-a-DVD.)

22) Exercise at home. I'm a big proponent of staying fit and healthy but I don't think it needs to cost you an arm and a leg to do so. The gym memberships and fancy workout clothes are great, but they are not necessary to stay in shape. If you have a little personal self-discipline and some accountability, you can be very successful at a fitness program right in your own home.

My husband bought an elliptical for me off of Craigslist two years ago for $100. It was in like-new condition when he purchased it and I have spent hours on it and its still going strong. A similar product purchased brand-new would be around $300-$400. So not only did we save $200 to $300 at the outset by buying it barely-used, but it was a one-time investment which I can use again and again and again. It doesn't require a monthly fee to use, I can work out at any time of the day or night, I don't have to drive to another location to use it, and I don't have to worry about childcare.

I also have found–a free nutrition and fitness tracker–to be enormously helpful to me in maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically fit. This was especially helpful to me in getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight after my second baby was born and I'm anxious to begin another weight-loss regimen as soon as Baby #3 makes his or her arrival.

If you are interested in other ideas for frugal weight loss and fitness, I've written more of my thoughts and what has worked well for me here.

photo by Refracted Moments

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  • Catherine says:

    Don’t forget that you can transfer credits between PaperbackSwap and Swap-a-DVD! This basically means you can trade DVDs for books (at a 2 to 3 ratio). My sister in law was going to give away an old DVD. I put it on Swap-a-DVD instead, and because it was a 2-disc DVD, I got 2 credits, then I transfered that to 3 Paperback credits, and got 3 new novels! All for the cost of shipping an old DVD (about $2.00)!
    I like to trade DVDs because the shipping is so much less than books, and you don’t have to go to the post office! You can print the label/wrapper with postage right off the Swap-a-DVD site

    Money Saving Mom here: You learn something new everyday! I did not know this and really appreciate you sharing. Thank you!

  • Another great site to measure exercise/activity levels AND calories (including your nutritional intake and percentage of protein versus fat, etc you’re ingesting) is

    You can set up your own profile, and update it every day. It will tell you how many calories you’ve burned versus how many you’ve taken in. There are graphs and charts galore, if you’re into that kind of thing!

  • Learning2CouponFL says:

    Following along the same lines as PaperBackSwap, I buy my books at Goodwill unless I’m in the middle of a particular series. Paperback novels are $0.99 at every location I’ve gone to, so I can read the books then give them away or donate them back without feeling guilty.

  • Kama says:

    When my son was born, my husband and I canceled our gym membership and he bought some weights off of craigslist. We were also able to get a few other things from family members who just had them sitting in their garage! It has worked out well–our son hasn’t had to go to that nasty play area where they often had notices of diseases up that the kids were exposed to, we don’t have to spend time and money driving there, and we’re saving a lot of money! It was definitely worth it for us!!

  • Jessica says:

    Another option for books is

    You sign up and pay a monthly fee and it is like NetFlix- you have a queue of books that are shipped.

    I think I pay $15 a month for 4 books at a time- at the rate I read them I have saved a fortune not to mention that I don’t have to store those books!

    It is not as cheap the the library, but if you go through a LOT of books it is very cost effective and you don’t have to spend any gas money- they come and go from your mailbox.

    I think I have a 20% off your first month code so come to my blog and comment or email me (should be on my blogger profile) if you are interested in it.

  • Ashley says:

    I swear by Spark People. Great site!

  • Shannon says:

    We are big fans of Paperbackswap and the sister sites at our house, especially SwapaDVD! You can also transfer credits between SwapaCD and the other sites and CDs are the least expensive of all to mail (less than $1-$2 in most cases.) We posted a bunch of CDs that we no longer needed and it was a cheap source of credits for books and DVDs.

  • Lisa says:

    Bringing your lunch is a huge money saver. I am working on getting better at this, one thing I did was put myself on a $10 a week budget which forces me to have to eat out for cheap and also bring my lunch to keep at that goal.

  • Maureen says:

    Yes, I’m all for exercising from home! Instead of paying a recurring gym fee, I bought a double jogging stroller and now take my little boys for a run any day when the weather is nice (we live in Rhode Island, so this is only 8 months out of the year). They love being outside, we often run to and from playgrounds, and I get a great workout by pushing two little bodies in front of me! Besides, we can use the stroller anytime we are on the go, not just for running.

  • Janet says:

    That was a bonus when we moved from Sedgwick County to Butler county. No more fees to reserve library books. Andover has a lovely new library which is great! They even have cake pans you can check out.

  • Michele says:

    I love Craigslist. We have practically furnished our home from it. And we have sold quite a bit, too.

    Another fantastic source of cheap books is used book sales at libraries. Our local library has one twice per year. I can get books for 25 – 50 cents for my children and 50 cents to $1 for me. And they have a great selection! Yardsales and thrift stores are good, too.

  • Amanda says:

    Bringing your lunch is a great way to save money! I bring my lunch to work everyday and only go out to eat with friends occassionally. My lunches are not quite as cheap though because I like to bring microwave meals, so that I do not have to pack a sandwich/meal in the morning. I do get them on sale of course and try to always use Qs. I do not pay more than $2.00 a meal and usually always buy the healthy ones. Then I usually have a granola bar, fruit, pretzels, goldfish or chips and water or diet soda, all bought on sale too. These items are easy to gather in the morning. Gotta love the $0.50 deal on Quaker Granola bars after sale and Qs the other week at Kroger! I occassionally take leftovers as well, but need to get better at cooking regularly so that I can always take something the next day. Sometimes I have left overs from when my husband and I go out to eat to take to work also. For example, I get the 12″ $5 sub at Subway and have half for dinner and half the next day. I always seem to have left overs. My husband is getting better about also taking his lunch. He is a sheriff’s deputy though, so he has to eat in his car and it limits what he can bring. When he does buy lunch, they usually give them 50% off or free, which is nice. He is trying to eat more healthy meals though as he likes to work out. Working out at home is also a great way to save money. I am trying to get my husband to not go to the gym anymore because he has been paying for a membership and we have gym equipment and a room designated for it at home. For awhile he did work out at home and not have the membership. Hopefully, I can convince him to not renew next year!

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