I had the gift of growing up without a lot of money. There are actually a number of gifts that come from that: Knowing that money and joy are completely unrelated. A level of expectation that allows deep gratitude for most everything I receive. And the ability to make a little bit go a long way...which, in turn, means that we have the blessing of giving a lot away to others.
Certainly, we indulge in the occasional luxury: travel, delicious food artfully prepared, art, books. But, because of the way Mike and I understand stewardship, I don't imagine we would ever be comfortable spending recklessly even if we were crazy rich...which we are not.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to save a buck. Painless. Easy.
Used Clothes At least half of my wardrobe is bought at Goodwill or consignment stores. I can buy wonderful brands there I would never splurge on new. I have to be selective of course and careful to check for tears or stains. But most of the things I buy look new.
Bed & Breakfasts/Hostels We are gypsies at heart. Travel is our one great luxury. Finding inexpensive, organic lodging has enabled us to go places we couldn't have gone otherwise, and it puts you in close proximity to other travellers. Sometimes the best part of a trip is the people you meet. Besides, a big ole English breakfast can keep you going until dinner. Several on-line services have provided invaluable aid. www.tripadvisor.com is my fave. You can read user reviews about B&B's and apartments as well as hotels, then click through links to make reservations. (domestic and international) www.hostels.com proved indispensible as Kelsey and I hostelled our way across Europe.
Mainstay Candles (from Walmart) I have candles burning in my house all winter long. I love the fragrance and the fire. These candles are intensely scented, and a large jar candle is only $5. They make pillars, votives, and candlesticks as well. These are prettier, of course, but the fragrance is not as strong.
Store Brand Groceries Almost always as good as the name brand--in fact, sometimes produced in the same factory.
Half Price Meals I am not a dedicated couponer like some of my friends. But there are a couple of sources that enable us to eat cheap at places we love with very little effort. Groupon emails me every day with great deals. I just buy or delete. Some friend's kid sells an Entertainment Book pretty much every year. I keep one in my car so I always have the coupons with me. Happy Hour specials are another way to enjoy great food (and libation) for less.
Suave Hair Care Products My hair is really long...meaning that some of it has accompanied me through two summers of sunshine and hundreds of sweaty hours of running. My $1.29 bottle of Suave Clarifying shampoo removes the salt and sweat, and the Almond Shea Butter conditioner keeps it soft and smelling YUMMY. Know who told me to use Suave? My hairstylist!
What are some of your favorite ways to save money? Do tell!