Consider cheap dates rather than planning dates around expensive entertainment. You and your date can hike in a park, have a picnic, or attend a free festival or amateur sporting event, such as a high school football game.
Get your hair cut at a beauty school rather than a salon, and buy cosmetics at your local drugstore or grocery store rather than a department store.
Minimize your lawn size by planting bushes, ground cover plants, and flowers in your yard. Water your lawn before 10 a.m. so the moisture won't quickly evaporate; this will require less water.
When doing laundry, wash large loads rather than small ones. Check clothes after you've worn them to determine whether they're truly dirty, and if not, hang them up to wear again before washing them.
Buy classic clothes such as white shirts, jeans, and khaki pants to form the backbone of your wardrobe. Avoid faddish clothes that you probably won't wear for very long. Buy clothes that will serve you well in all seasons, such as a raincoat with a removable warm lining for winter. Look for clothes at garage sales and in thrift and consignment sales. Mend your clothing rather than throwing it away.
Buy bleach, ammonia, and vinegar rather than name brand cleaning products. These basic ingredients can serve you well in just about all your household cleaning. You usually don't need a separate type of cleaner for each part of your house.
Drive your car at a steady pace, since jerky stopping and accelerating wastes fuel. Consider taking public transportation when you can, and participating in a carpooling program. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, and remove any excess weight from your car (for example, take out sports equipment after coming back home from a game). If you're not using your car for a period of time, suspend insurance coverage on it until you begin using it again. When buying a new or used car, do thorough research so you know what type of car you want to buy (and why), the specific options you need, and the best prices available. Save money to buy a car with cash rather than taking on a car payment.
Never just pay the minimum payment on a credit card. Pay the entire monthly amount, or at least as much as you possibly can. Carry just one credit card with no annual fee; close out all others. Read the fine print on your credit card statements to know the interest rates your bank will charge you in different situations. After your statement arrives each month, check it against your receipts and notify your bank if you spot any inaccurate charges.
Adapted from Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends, copyright 2001 by Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks. Published by Starburst Publishers, Lancaster, Pa., www.starburstpublishers.com, 1-800-441-1456.
Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks are the founders of Frugal Family Network, Inc. and regularly appear on television and radio.
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