In honor of my little sis' who is getting hitched this summer, I thought I'd post my best "how to be poor and happy" tips for her. There are many ways to be cheap and still have fun - here are the ones that work for me:
* No need for cable TV. Buy a set of rabbit ears for the TV if you must. ($35 saved each month) Public television has some fascinating shows that you would miss if you were watching TLC.
* "Rent" movies from the library. Your local library is a rich source of cheap fun. They have free internet. Free books. Free audio books. and Free movies. ($15 netflix savings each month, and endless free books!) It's also one of my favorite cheap dates - all of the fun of shopping with none of the expense!
* Cell phones are money suckers. No matter what plan you have you will be wasting money. If you feel you must have one, consider limiting yourself to just one phone, or limited minutes or even a Trac Phone plan. (monthly savings of $50-$100)
* Stay away from the mall. There is something about walking into the mall (or Target or Walmart) that makes me spend money. And it turns out there is rarely, if ever, a time that I really NEED something from the mall. I can buy lotion and t-shirts cheaper somewhere else.
* Share a car. You will save in parking. You will save in gas. You will save in insurance. Poor Nathan rode his bike to work and school for a couple of years. And I don't even remember really feeling sorry for him. He even had this rather attractive green rainsuit - a jacket and pants - to wear in the winter. (Sorry Nathan) AND we didn't even live that close to school! We are back to one car in Hawaii, and though sometimes it's tricky, it can work (to be totally honest, Nathan did recently buy a motorcycle)
* Hand me downs can be fun! Goodwill, garage sales, and friendly neighbors are a great source for furniture and other interesting items. I am typing this from my neighbor's old desk. It's not the one I would have picked out, but I loved the price!
* Do laundry at Mom and Dad's. Try to go one day a week and get it all washed and folded at the same time. A bonus to washing clothes at mom and dad's house is getting to use their laundry soap and eat their snacks. But be nice while you are there and thank them by vacuuming or weeding or doing the dishes!
* Take advantage of all the free/cheap fun at BYU
* Have Sunday Dinner at mom and dad's. They are going to miss you, and you are going to enjoy that roast! Just offer to set the table, make the juice, and do the dishes, 'kay? And maybe you'll be really lucky and you'll get to take home some fudge with you.
* Don't join a gym. You live in a beautiful place with a lot of great paths and trails. Start walking. Go hiking together. Ride bikes in Provo Canyon. (Monthly savings $35-$65)
* Pack a lunch. I know it's not as fun as a taco bell bean burrito with no onions, but it will save you about $5 a day for each of you. Here's what Nathan takes: 2 turkey sandwiches (on whole wheat with mayo (blech), mustard, and pickles) a baggie of chips or pretzels, an apple, a refillable water bottle of water or juice, and sometimes a treat.
* Don't buy water. Get a nice refillable waterbottle and take it with you. Do you know how much a waterbottle costs? Anywhere from 50 cents to 2 dollars! Bring your own, and think about how good you are to the environment by not adding plastic to the dump. Also, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge along with a few of those refillable water bottles. Mmm. Cold water...
* Don't move to Hawaii. Even the $1 menu at Wendy's is $1.29 over here. Ouch!
I want to hear your best money saving tip? Do you rinse out and reuse plastic baggies? Do you save the rubberbands off of the newspaper for your hair? Do you sew all of your own clothes? Do you only vacation if you can stay with relatives (come, stay with us)? Do you keep the heater set at 55 degrees in the winter? Do you pump the water from your kitchen disposal directly to your garden?
Give me your best, I'd could use more of these myself!