How I Save $17,000 per Year
Frugal Living Blog for a Day
Welcome to my frugal living blog for a day.
Today was an ordinary day for me, but I decided to look back through my day and write a "frugal living blog" about things I did today to save money. If I would have known that I would be writing a blog about my day, I may have done some extraordinary things to save money so I could impress you by writing about them. But since I just now had the idea to write about it, you'll get to read about the kind of ordinary things that I do to save money on a typical day.
Individually, these things don't seem to amount to much savings, but by the end of the day, the things I did to save money add up to over $17,000 of savings per year.
5:30 AM: Make Coffee for 60 Cents
Today was not totally ordinary—I had to get up a bit earlier than normal to take my son to a school event. I followed my normal routine, only everything was early. Coffee is important every day but even more important today since I was up early.
I make great coffee at home by grinding my own beans and brewing coffee in a coffee maker with a thermal carafe and a cone filter system. This may sound expensive, but it only costs me 60 cents to make 16 oz of coffee that is better than coffee shop coffee. If I wanted, I could make really cheap coffee for a few cents, but I find that having a good cup of coffee is worth the money to me—especially if it only costs 60 cents.
Savings: $1.50 per day by making my own coffee vs. buying coffee at a coffee shop
5:45 AM: Check the Weather Forecast on Free TV With an Indoor Antenna
Since it is the middle of winter in Iowa, a quick check of the weather forecast and a check for school delays or cancellations was in order. I turned on my TV and enjoyed a few minutes of the morning news with free high-definition TV from a local station. I use an indoor TV antenna to get HD TV. I saved about $120 per month by dropping satellite TV and using free TV and Netflix instead.
Savings: $4 per day by using free TV instead of satellite TV or cable TV
6:00 AM: Put on Cheap Winter Clothes
Today I was really glad that I found tons of cheap winter clearance clothes last year. I wore a name brand button-up shirt that I got for $5 and a nice heavy winter fleece that I got for $8. I picked these items up at 80% off at winter clearance sales. The trick to finding the good bargains at winter clearance sales is finding the sale at the right time. The good stuff goes fast!
Choosing shoes every morning is pretty easy; I have black dress shoes and brown dress shoes. I also have tennis shoes, but tennis shoes aren't suitable for work. Today I went with the black dress shoes after moving my shoe inserts from my brown shoes. Using shoe inserts allows me to wear older shoes without hurting my feet.
Savings: I save about $1.50 per day ($500 per year) buying cheap clothes instead of full-price clothes
6:15 AM: Pack a Healthy and Cheap Lunch
I packed my giant lunchbox for the day. I put a couple frozen ice packs in the bottom, then placed a Tupperware container of leftover pasta with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese on the ice packs. Next, I added some red grapes, clementines, and a container of Greek yogurt.
I also packed my breakfast: a Tupperware container of Golden Grams cereal.
Packing lunch can save you about $165 per month compared with eating out for lunch. Not only can you save money by packing your own lunch, but it is healthier than eating out as well.
Savings: $10 per day by bringing my own breakfast and lunch vs. eating out and buying food at work
6:30 AM: Drive to Work, Getting 40 MPG in a 12-Year-Old Car
It was time to drop my son off at school and head to work. Actually my wife decided to drive my son the short trip to school and I headed off to work in my 2002 Honda Civic. This is a car that I bought as a 7 year old used car and it has required almost no repairs or expensive maintenance. This car is paid off, so I don't have to make monthly car payments.
My car gets 40 mph overall with my mix of about 15% city and 85% highway driving. Back in 2002, cars with manual transmission got better gas mileage than automatic transmission. When it was time to pick out a car, I reviewed the fuel economy ratings for cars I was interested in driving. The Honda Civic with manual transmission had one of the best fuel economy ratings for that model year and was highly rated for reliability as well.
Most people spend a lot of money every month on gas- driving a fuel efficient car saves you money every day. Most people spend a lot of money every month on car payments. If you can find an older car that is affordable and reliable, driving an older car that is paid off can save you money every day.
Savings: $16 by driving a small car with no car payments. $13 per day by not making a car payment ($400 per month) plus $3 on gas per day vs driving a bigger car or SUV.
Workday: No Extra Driving Around
One way that I save money every day is by minimizing extra driving around. I got to work early, found a great parking space, and left my car parked all day. You can save wear and tear on your car simply by driving it less. You can also save gas by avoiding unnecessary short trips during the workday.
Since eating my lunch that I brought with me took only a few minutes, I had plenty of time to take a walk. Since it was below zero outside, I walked inside. Walking is a great activity that you can do for free without any special equipment.
Savings: Short trips can easily use $1 or $2 of gas every day. I included the gas savings under another section.
After Work: Stop at Library
I stopped by the library on the way home to check out the rack of books for sale inside. Of course, you can check out books and movies for free at the library, but sometimes I like to buy used books to keep for awhile.
Savings: $5 per day. Small impulse purchases, such as buying a book, movies, or computer games can add up. You can greatly reduce this expense by avoiding stores, or going to libraries and thrift stores instead of more expensive places to shop.
Dinner: Buy Pizza With a $5 Coupon
It was Friday night, and everyone wanted pizza. I carry pizza coupons in my wallet at all times to help handle this situation. You can certainly make dinner at home for less than buying a carry-out pizza, but sometimes it is nice to bring home a hot pizza. A $5 coupon certainly makes it easier to get a pizza without spending a lot of money.
We ended up with left-over pizza that will make a great lunch on Saturday.
Savings: I saved $5 with my handy coupon!
Evening: Enjoy Free Hobbies and Entertainment
After dinner, I watched some free HD TV with my family. It happened to be the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. I also read a free Time magazine. I was able to get six free magazine subscriptions by cashing in some frequent flyer miles from trips for work that were about to expire.
Next, I worked on my free hobby: blogging. You can write a blog for free, and with minimal computer equipment. Not only can you write a blog for free, you can even make money if you work at setting up passive income streams from on-line writing and blogs.
Savings: $5 per day. Hobbies can be expensive, especially if you buy a big "toy" that you have to make payments on. I'll estimate $5 per day of savings by having a free hobby.
Total Savings for a Day of Frugal Living
Individually, the small amounts of money saved by choosing simpler options don't seem like much- but the savings add up quickly.
Savings for a Typical Day
Savings- One Day
Make Coffee at Home
Free TV Instead of Satellite TV
Wear Cheap Clothes from Clearance Sales
Pack Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks
Drive Fuel Efficient Car without Car Payments
Avoid Small Purchases
Cheap/Free Hobbies and Entertainment
Total Savings- One Day
Total Savings- One Year
As you can see from the table, I found a number of ways to save a small amount of money every day. My savings from a typical day was $48. Over a year, if you can save $48 per day this adds up to over $17,000!
A Day With a Penny Pincher
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the ways that I saved money on a typical day. None of the things I did to save money today require much effort or special skill. If you put a bit of thought into the things that you spend money to buy every day, it is easy to find alternatives that are cheap or even free. Part of the fun of being a penny pincher is the satisfaction that comes from living efficiently, without all the extra stuff that you don't really need.
© 2014 Dr Penny Pincher