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Real Simple’s "71 Ways to Spend Smarter (and save a lot)"

by J. Money on Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Real Simple (March ed.)Yup, ’tis the season to break out the ways to save! Last week I reviewed Kiplinger’s list of $50/day savings tips (which wasn’t all *that* impressive), so this week I try again & dig around Real Simple’s List (March ed.) for some better finds. And boy was it chock full of some interesting stuff.

Before I get into the list though, i couldn’t help but to notice a quick excerpt on page 8 which showed “5 Bizarre (but actual) excuses employees have given for missing work”.

OMG. If it weren’t done through CareerBuilder.com I would have totally thought this was a joke. Although it very well could have been – sorta like those kids who “try out” on American Idol only to try and make it to TV w/ their crazy randomness. But anyways, here were their weirdest lines:

  • Dog was stressed out after a family reunion. (wtf?)
  • Swallowed too much mouthwash. (haha…okay, i can *sorta* see this one)
  • Hit a turkey while riding a bike. (that would def. hurt! i wonder if it was around Thanksgiving? Cuz then there’s no way in hell i’m believing that..)
  • Got kicked by a deer (around Xmas? shooooot.)
  • Psychic said to stay home. (just plain weird.)

And apparently 1/3 of the 6,800 workers interviewed admitted they played hooky too. Now THAT I believe ;) Although sadly i wasn’t one of them. I always feel bad cheating the company like that, although I also really enjoy going to work too so that probably has something to do with it. Either that, or i’m getting old.

But okay, back to this list of “71 ways to spend smarter”. So yeah, some of these tricks I didn’t relate to all that much (probably because I’m a guy and this magazine seems to be geared towards women), but overall I was pretty impressed by it. The designer in me was also wowed by all the colors and layout, so i could also be pretty biased here…

I actually wanted to breakdown the list of all the ones i hated, followed by all the ones I enjoyed (like my Kiplinger’s post) but none really hit me over the head like that – at least in the hating department. So instead, I present to you my list of the top 6 ideas that either intrigued me, or at least seemed smart to do – whether I used them or not :)

  1. Buy a house plant that blooms throughout the year. They suggested Angel Wing begonias, Kalanchoes, and Flowering maples instead of spending $20 on fresh flowers every week (or $1,040/year). I’m not one to spend $ on flowers, except for my gentlemen duties of anniversaries and bdays, but if you’re one to shell out the money here it’s probably not a bad idea to check out some of these weirdly-named plants.
  2. Measure your dollops carefully. Hahha.. “dollops” – that word gets me every time :) The Mrs. can tell you how much I SUCK at this game. I use like a quarter of the shampoo every day, as well as half the body wash…i dunno, it just feels that the more i use the cleaner i can get! if i could master this one, i’d probably save at least $200/year no joke.
  3. Check out the best websites for scoring deals. Etsy.com, Overstock.com, Aandmshop.com (that’s a first), and a bunch more on the list. See, in *theory* this works, but not in the real world. And that’s only because once you log on you can spend hours digging around and spending way more than you initially meant to! So yeah, killer deals there, but only hit ‘em up if you have the willpower.
  4. Share a babysitter with a neighbor. Similar to one of Kiplinger’s ideas, except it’s to help shave the costs of day care by splitting the cost of a nanny with a friend. The nanny would watch both children at a friend’s house and could save you up to $400 a month! Not sure how much this stuff costs anyways, but that would be awesome if you could work it out.
  5. Use your library card! Get books, new releases, and even a go at Amazon’s Kindle – all for free. Might even get free delivery too! I like this idea a lot, but for some reason i don’t ever do it…but at least i know where the closest one is….more than I could have said 2 years ago.
  6. Donate food – for FREE! All you have to do is go to thehungersite.com and click on the big yellow “donate” button and the site will donate a cup of free food to the needy! How the hell have i missed this one? It’s totally going on my list of daily links now. (in fact, I actually JUST clicked and donated! you couldn’t tell because this wasn’t posted yet, but if you could you’d realize how fast i was….and i was pretty damn fast)

There’s a whole bunch more on their list, but those were the ones that stuck out to me. But even cooler was their “day in the (frugal) life” spread on page 130 where they show how you can apply some of these skills even more in a given day. Here’s a miniature snapshot to give you an idea of what i’m talking about – it’s pretty creative:

  • 7:37 am – Swap out your latte for a “misto”. Brewed coffee w/ steamed milk, as opposed to espresso with steamed milk. That will save you $1 off the bat.
  • 12:15 pm – Bring your lunch. Instead of boring sandwiches though, cook up a pound of pasta the night before and create 5 different meals out of it! (listed in the magazine, which actually look pretty tasty)
  • 6:10 pm – “Sip on recession-minded varieties (of wine) at $3.” Woahhhhh nelly! $3.00? You’ve def. got my attention now ;) Yup, accordoing to Real Simple you can pick up a bottle of Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon for 3 George Washingtons. They also list 5 others for less than $8 if your interest is piqued.
  • 7:12 pm – Break out the ramen and create some new dishes. Yeah, at first this one had me stumped, but i read on and found out that someone took the time to write up a book of 101 things to do with ramen – one of which is making chicken lo mein (recipe in mag)

So yeah, a lot more money-saving ways to digest and add to your collection. I hope you enjoyed them, because I think I’m overloaded with ideas now…whew, so much to take in all at once, ya know? But I must admit, this one was much easier and fun to go through than Kiplinger’s…must be all the bright colors and pictures ;)


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