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100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 6

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If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Here's the sixth installment in this series of ideas of ways to save $100 or more this year:

23) Recover your furniture instead of replacing it. When my husband and I were first married, we spent a total of $100 to furnish our apartment. We accepted hand-me-downs for almost everything and then purchased a used matching sofa and chair we found in the newspaper.

Four years later, when we had made it through law school a had a little more wiggle room in our budget, we decided it was about time we replace our living room set. We had scrimped together a few hundred dollars and naively figured we could likely find something for this amount. However, we quickly found that a few hundred dollars doesn't go very far when it comes to furniture.

We scoured garage sales, second-hand stores, surplus stores, and Craigslist, all to no avail. Either the furniture was very used, hideously ugly, or just plain too expensive.

Finally, a friend suggested we consider buying slipcovers instead of replacing our furniture. We'd never considered that, but after a little digging, we discovered you can buy brand-new slip covers off of eBay for about half of what they'd run retail. And the price of these slipcovers paled in comparison to buying new furniture!

So, after buying two slipcovers and making some matching throw pillows, we re-did the entire look of our living room for less than $150!

(If you were more handy with a sewing machine than me, you could likely make slipcovers or just up and recover your entire sofa for even less than we paid.)

24) Constantly challenge yourself to improve. My husband and I are fairly competitive people so we've found we can really use this to our advantage when it comes to saving and giving. We set goals every month for how much we hope to save and give and how we hope to accomplish it and then we have a running competition to see if we can actually pull it off.

Some months, we'll commit to not going out to eat, or reducing our energy usage, or driving less, or spending less on groceries, or not spending any money on anything but basic necessities. Each month, it's a little different so that it keeps life interesting and we never grow bored of the challenge. In addition, we always set our goals a little higher than what we think we can pull off, just to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and be more self-disciplined.

Making it like a game to see how well we can live while still reaching our financial goals makes it fun and exciting. Who says that living on a budget and living beneath your means needs to be a miserable experience?!

The biggest benefit of challenging ourselves in this way is that it really does seem to allow us to save and give more. We don't always quite make our monthly goals, but I am positive we go a lot farther than we would if we didn't set any goals and didn't come up with creative challenges each month to help us try and meet them.

25) Drink water. Okay, so this might not be your favorite way to save $100 this year, but if you want to spend less and save more, curbing the caffeine addiction is something to seriously consider.

Water is the beverage of choice in our home. We enjoy coffee and even soft drinks on occasion, but these are reserved as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. And we've saved a lot of money over the years because of this.

I know you often hear about how you can save money by "cutting the Starbucks habit" and I'm sure it has almost begun to seem cliche at this point, but have you ever really done the math? If you regularly get drinks from the soda machine at work or stop in often at the drive-thru at a local coffee shop, have you ever taken the time to add up how much these little expenditures are really costing you? If you spend $3 five times per week on lattes, that's over $750 each year! Or even if you only spend $1 five days a week on a drink, that still is over $250 a year.

If giving up your daily latte is unthinkable, perhaps you could consider learning to make it at home? You'll save a tremendous amount of by doing so and you might find you can make it even better than the local coffee shop. But I still recommend water–it's a lot fewer calories than most caffeinated beverages and it's really good for you, too!

To be continued…

photo by Refracted Moments

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18 Comments

  • Suz says:

    Great ideas! I have to admit, some of them are harder than others, but I’m frugal myself and sometimes find myself holding down the fort so to speak when we’re talking about something that costs money. Hubby’s better than he used to be, but we still don’t always see eye to eye on money. Sometimes he says, we’ve gone 13 years without a new…. fill in the blank….. isn’t it time we deserved a new one? Or, we’ve never had a new .. fill in the blank…. in all the time we’ve been married, most people would’ve had 2 by now 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    Ooh I love the monthly challenge idea! We will have to implement that one! Wouldn’t that be a great blog meme?

  • jessica says:

    As to the water: in the United States, you can drink water right out of the tap for less than $0.001 per gallon. Bottled water is often the same water as tap water, and creates tons of waste.

    Packaged drinks, including disposable softdrink and coffee cups, lids and straws create a lot of waste and litter, which is another reason to drink good ole water out of a reusable bottle.

  • Ann says:

    Thanks for the ideas Crystal. I need to work on reducing my cola intake. Even if I switched to iced tea (made at home of course) I will save a lot. I will be giving it a try. Soda is such a rip off.
    This also reminds me of when I was a little girl and both of my parents were smokers at the time. They both gave up the habit for health reasons and they tucked the money away that they would have been spending on cigarettes. By the time I was 12, they bought an RV for traveling with their savings.
    My Mom also would put her “coupon money” aside (the money she saved with using coupons) and used that to buy all of her grandkids’ (16 of them at the time) Christmas presents.

  • Shelly says:

    I completely agree about the slip covers! When my husband and I moved into our new house back in November, our budget couldn’t accomodate new furniture. So, I bought nice slip covers off of amazon and they are amazing! So soft and comfy, easy to clean, and nobody can tell the difference :o)

    Love your idea about having a different challenge each month. I’ll have to try this with my husband!

  • songbirdtiff says:

    I actually managed to get wonderful slipcovers on clearance for $3 each at Walmart. Not to brag or anything, but you can see it here…http://songbirdtiff.blogspot.com/2009/04/good-stuff-b-52s_16.html

    Paint and slipcovers have saved me hundreds over the years.

  • Homemaker Barbi / Danelle Ice says:

    I agree about the water point wholeheartedly. Not only is it good for you, but completely free! We’re lucky that our oldest daughter will NOT touch soda, and even though she likes to drink milk and juice, still prefers water over all other drinks.

    The neighbor kids wander over with sodas in their hands all the time, and I have to wonder how much their parents are spending to buy enough extra soda for their kids to drink it too!

    Danelle Ice / Homemaker Barbi

  • LC says:

    Just a note on the water\coffee comment. It took me MONTHS to fully break my DH of his coffee habit. What finally did it for him was investing in a nice to go container. Apparently, many of the chepaer containers spill easily. We spent $19.00 on one and he uses it everyday 🙂

    Just got to keep working at it until you find a solution.

    http://www.manateemomssave.blogspot.com

  • Indymoney says:

    Amazing post. Thanks a lot. I love your monthly Challenge.

    I love Starbucks Choco Chip Frappachino. So, I make it a habit that I can buy 1 C.C.Frap a month.

    About Slipovers, This is the first time I hear about slipovers.

    Would definitely try this.

    Thanks again for the great post..

  • Jessica says:

    The monthly challenge idea has really helped me the past two months on our grocery/household budget. I used to spend $275-$300/mo for our family of 6 (not too bad!), but the past two months I’ve kept it to less than $200 just by challenging myself to do even better!

    Drinking more water has helped us save money, and it’s better for your waistline, too! Water is filling and has no calories! We also always get water when we go out to eat, and hubby has learned to make his coffee at home with a scoop of my homemade hot chocolate mix mixed in, which has helped him to quit the Starbucks habit. He says it’s just as good, and a whole lot cheaper! If you’d like the recipe for the hot chocolate mix, you can find it here:
    http://momforhim.blogspot.com/2008/11/mmmm-hot-chocolate.html

  • Amy Stricklin says:

    We moved to the Midwest where there are few Dunkin Donuts franchises. We decided to buy their coffee by the pound and make our own iced coffees everyday. This alone has saved us about $6.00 a day if you include the 2 coffees and coffee roll that would go with it. We are so used to making our own now, that when we visit back home I really rethink going through the drive through daily. $9.00 Lb (sometimes can get for 2/ $9 or mom sends as gifts 🙂 can last almost a month and has given us a lot more room in our budget and we don’t miss it one bit!

  • Indymoney says:

    Forgot to mention, Instead of water (Sometimes we want some beverages instead of Water) you can try Fruit Juice. I prefer V8 fusion Juices. Whenever I find coupons or sale, I stock up V8 Fusion Juices. I love their taste.

    Mostly I bought almost all my V8 fusion juices (46 oz) for $0.99

  • MacKenzie says:

    I agree with the challenge idea. Last month we did a grocery challenge and I was able to take our normal grocery budget from $200 to $80. We won’t be able to keep it at that every month but we did learn a few new ways to cut back that didn’t affect our quality of life…and it was fun to see how great we did!

  • Wendy says:

    This month we’ve been line drying all of our laundry to see how much of a difference this will make in our electric bill. I’m actually looking forward to getting our bill for a change!
    On a side note, I was just over at beautyandbedlam.com. She has a wonderful post titled “no spend vacation”.
    Wendy

  • angie says:

    Thanks for the advice. I have a question. I would LOVE to see a post about how to help my DH save more (by using coupons or otherwise). I see in the comments above one person invested in a nice coffee mug to prevent coffee buying purchaces. My DH knows not to order pizza without coupons, but I am still training him on the rest. I especially would love hime to use coupons when he grabs breakfast or lunch on-the-go once in a while. (Subway, McDonalds, or other coupons).
    Any ideas?

  • Danielle says:

    Oh I love the drink more water! We love water at our house!

  • Slipcovers are cheaper than recovering your couches yourself. Even bought at 50% off, it takes a lot of fabric to cover couches. Several years ago, we had custom furniture made (back in the days when we had cash to do that!) and I bought the fabric for the furniture on sale for 50% off. It was a lot less than the companty who made the furniture would have charged for the fabric, and better quality. At this point, however, we are needing to have our furniture recovered. It will cost several hundred dollars just in fabric! Slipcovers use much less fabric, as they don’t have to worry about covering the bottoms and side of cushions, or covering piping, etc. In the meantime, I have made arm covers for the arms of my husband’s chair, and I have a piece of fabric siting on each ottoman and on my husband’s chair (which is also the children’s favorite, so it gets a lot of wear). It’s not what I would like, but for now, it will have to do.

    We drink water here at my house. The water is heavily chlorinated here, so many people in town think they have to have filters or softeners to like the water. We have neither. We also do not have a water dispenser on our refrigerator. Instead, we just keep empty platic jugs (with lids; you could use milks jugs or juice containers) and we refill them with water. In the summer, we have 2 gallons of water in the refrigerator. After a few hours, the chlorine taste is gone, and the water is cold. We don’t have to run the water for a long time to get cold water (wasting water and money, as well as time).

    Milk jugs tend to leak after a few months of use. The harder containers that juice come in will last a little longer, and because they hold less, it is easier for children to pour them, so we have switched to using those. Juice is a special treat, but it is part of my food storage. I use apple juice in cooking a few sauces instead of alcohol, so I try to keep it in the pantry.

    We haven’t always had money to buy milk, so when our jugs leaked, we asked a neighbor for their empty jugs, and we just washed those and used them. Now that we’re using the juice containers, even my 2-year-old can help pour the water in everyone’s cup in the morning (a chore she LOVES to do!–it’s supposed to be her brother’s chore, though she asks to do it!)

  • Jodi W says:

    Those who don’t want to drink water can drink free Kool Aid this month, as you posted! I put Splenda in mine.

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