1. I pick up pennies from the ground and put them in a jar o’ change. It’s also the receptacle for change in my purse. Then I cash it in at a Coinstar.
2. We buy groceries at Wal-Mart and cook at home most nights. There’s generally a good deal of wine involved, which we buy for $36 a case at Whole Foods. (The brand is Three Wishes, and it is pretty good.)
3. I sell clothes at Buffalo Exchange, books on Amazon, furniture on Craigslist and random stuff on eBay.
4. We use airbnb to rent out the extra bedroom.
5. I bike to work at least once a week, and usually only bike on weekends to save gas. Plus, I don’t like driving all that much.
6. I don’t eat meat. Groceries consist of beans, rice, pasta, nuts, cheese, tofu and produce…all pretty cheap stuff.
7. My health insurance has an incentive plan to get people to exercise…I get a discount on groceries and free money (like 15 cents, but still) each time I work out.
8. Speaking of working out, I run instead of paying for a gym membership. My yearly expenses are sneakers and entry fees for whatever races I decide to run.
9. I make purchases on a credit card that offers points, then cash those in.
10. I rarely buy new clothes. I get them in thrift and vintage stores or as hand-me-downs. Often I find great stuff discarded on the street.
11. I go to a salon to get my hair trimmed and dyed twice a year. The rest of the time I trim my bangs and color it at home with vegetable dye or henna.
12. When traveling, we stay with friends and family or we couch surf.
13. I own a 12-year-old car that gets good mileage and keep it insured with liability only.
14. I bring dinner leftovers to work for lunch each day.
15. I have a super no-frills phone. All I can do is text and call, but it’s only $25 a month.
16. I have library cards for both Orleans and Jefferson parish. No need to ever buy a book.
17. I have a lot of coffeeshop meetings with freelancers for work, so I go to the same shop (a few blocks away) and use a rewards card so I get the 10th coffee free. The cost of doing business is cheaper that way.
18. I don’t have cable or a home phone. I watch a friend’s Netflix account when I feel like seeing a movie.
19. We snagged a bread machine (they’re really cheap since everyone hates carbs now) and use it to make pizza dough and fresh loaves. Cheaper than buying bread and so much more delicious.
20. We grow herbs. Basil and mint proliferate like weeds, but are pricey in the supermarket.
21. We hit the international markets for cheap bulk spices. Another overpriced grocery item.
22. We always buy generic.
23. I clean using homemade products: white vinegar and water gets almost anything sparkling. I use washcloths that can be re-used rather than buying paper towels.
24. I have washable maxi pads and mineral salt deodorant, which has lasted years. It’s nice to always have these basics on hand and not have to buy them each month. I use Dove soap for my face and body.
25. I use up the stuff I have before replacing it. This mostly applies to makeup. If I see a red lipstick I like, I finish off my old tube first before buying the new one.