Archive for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ideas on saving money

10 ways to be frugal in Lawrence

Shopping at used clothing stores, working out at the city's Community Building, planting food in a garden and checking out books, movies and music from the local library are all ways to save money in Lawrence.

Shopping at used clothing stores, working out at the city's Community Building, planting food in a garden and checking out books, movies and music from the local library are all ways to save money in Lawrence.

March 25, 2008


On the street

What do you do to save money?

I try to buy things that are used instead of new. We have quite a few vintage clothing stores here in Lawrence, so I try not to shop for new clothes.

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Sure, there are ramen noodles.

Yes, there are those funny-looking light bulbs that require a home equity loan to purchase, but energy experts swear they will save you money in the long run.

And, of course, there's a seat waiting for you on the bus.

Even the freest of spenders have heard of those routine ways to save a little money during tight times. But for those of you who are still getting used to being cheap, here are 10 ideas that can work to save a little money in Lawrence right now.

1. Get used. Buying used merchandise isn't what it used to be. There are still the traditional thrift shops, but there's also a whole new class of stores that resell other people's lightly used merchandise. Anjelica Burris, with the Lawrence-based used clothing store Plato's Closet, said the store only accepts merchandise that is less than 2 years old. She said consumers often can get an outfit at half the price of new. The concept isn't just limited to clothing. Lawrence also has several stores where you can buy used home improvement products as well.

2. Head to the pool. The carpool, that is. The city of Lawrence is part of a partnership that promotes carpooling opportunities. Go to the Carpool Connection Web site at http://marc.greenride .com. According to a savings calculator on the site, a commuter who drives 40 miles per day could save about $20 a day by carpooling, once gasoline and wear and tear on your vehicle is factored in. The Web site is free, and it simply serves as a forum to connect potential carpoolers. Kind of like an online dating service. But guys, when is the last time a date ever saved you money?

3. Check it out. Everyone knows the Lawrence Public Library has books, but the place also offers free DVD rentals. With some new releases costing $3 or more at a video store, the savings can add up. The library offers both new and nostalgic releases, but their quantities are less than that of a video store. That may mean you have to wait to get your favorite movie. One way to manage that is to go to the library's Web site - - and put the item on hold. The library will notify you when it arrives.

4. Free kids. Several restaurants have special nights where kids eat free. There are Web sites that attempt to list the various restaurants, but the best bet probably is just to call ahead. Sandwich shops and pizza buffets in particular have adopted the practice. The freebies likely won't be on a Friday or Saturday evening, so it won't be that special night on the town type of experience. But, hey, you have kids - you're not going to have one of those anyway.

5. Grab a hoe. Food costs can be tough to control. But Jennifer Smith, horticulturist with the Douglas County Extension Service, said growing a garden might be a good strategy. She said a tomato plant, for example, will cost less than $5 but might produce 50 tomatoes during the course of a summer. Corn, peppers and beans are also good bets in Kansas. And contrary to popular opinion, gardens aren't overly difficult to grow. Smith said most people actually do too much - too much fertilizer or too much water - rather than letting the crops just naturally grow.

6. Laundry low-down. The folks at Consumer Reports offer a couple of easy tips on laundry. First, wash your clothes with cold water. Making your hot water heater work less will add up to savings. The second tip is just to let it all hang out. Put your clothes on an old-fashioned clothesline to dry. If nothing else, your neighbors will get to know you a little better.

7. Corporate welfare. Lots of companies will send you free stuff if you just ask. Some sites - is one - will send you new products from companies if you promise to talk the products up with your friends. Not a talker? Not a problem. Some national retailers allow people to sign up for free samples via their stores' Web sites.

8. Risk reward. Increasing the deductibles on your car or health insurance programs is a pretty sure way to lower your monthly premiums, said Jennifer Hodge, an agent with Douglas County Insurance and Financial Services. Whether it is a good idea is another question. Hodge said the practice is a gamble because it could cost you big bucks if you end up having to make claims on your insurance. But if you're the gambling type, at least this bet doesn't require airfare to Vegas.

9. Free Ride. Take a spin on a stationary bike at one of the city's three recreation centers. There is no charge to use fitness and weight equipment at the Community Building, 115 W. 11th St.; the East Lawrence Center, 1245 E. 15th St.; and Holcom Park Center, 2700 W. 27th St. Sometimes, though, there may be a wait. The facilities generally have fewer pieces of equipment than health clubs, but they also don't have the monthly fee.

10. Volunteer for fun. Lots of businesses and organizations need volunteers, and sometimes they'll give you free admission or free services in return. For example, the Lied Center has a volunteer usher program. You have to work a little, but you get to see some shows for free. Golf courses also have been known to give free rounds to folks who offer a helping hand. One downside, unless you volunteer as a couple, you may have to leave your significant other at home. What, you say? Oh, you can live with that.


LogicMan 10 years, 2 months ago

But whatever you do, don't cancel your print-subscription to the LJW! :-)

Flap Doodle 10 years, 2 months ago

I see that cool is still plugging Marion's "forum" through its misleading site name.

blessed3x 10 years, 2 months ago

Many of our current financial woes would have been lessened or negated had people been practicing these types of habits long before now. How long did you really think we could spend 110% of our annual income in a year. Tell the credit cards to take a hike and then you do the same, it's a cheap outing that's fun. The Nineties taught us, and the credit card advertisements are still teaching us, that we DESERVE to have everything we want and we DESERVE to have it NOW!!! Save? Are you kidding me? One credit card commercial even uses a song that goes "you want it all and you want it now". Ever see those commercials where the check out lane is humming along like a well oiled machine until some idiot use...dum dum dummmmmmm...CASH! Then all heck breaks loose. Please people. Quit being stupid. Cancel your credit cards and pay them off. Quit borrowing against your house and quit buying houses you can't afford (do ARMS ring a bell). Unfortunately common sense isn't so common.

I find it laughable that if gas goes up 50 cents or milk goes to $3.50 everyone starts talking about how bad things are, but they have no problem dropping a $2000 plasma tv on the 'ole VISA.

coolmarv 10 years, 2 months ago

I thought 'grabbing a Ho' cost extra money. Not to mention the possible fines if you get caught.

Marcus DeMond 10 years, 2 months ago

Redbox at McDonalds can send you a text message for a free movie rental every Monday. You won't find a movie worth watching at the library. This town, despite it's shortcomings, has some great food and drink specials that KC can't touch.

smartmomma 10 years, 2 months ago

Marcus said :Redbox at McDonalds can send you a text message for a free movie rental every Monday.

How do you go about this?

Nate Poell 10 years, 2 months ago

"You won't find a movie worth watching at the library."

Not true. There are thousands of movies at LPL. Just searching for the terms "science fiction" (hey, it's what I like) and the location "Media Room - Feature Films" yields 396 hits. "I am Legend", 2001: a Space Odyssey", "The host", "The core", "Children of men", etc. If you truly believe what you said in your comment, Marcus, it's because you're simply too lazy to look.

As for the article, it has some good points. Carpooling is a great way to save money and build social connections; the library is, of course, superb; and buying perfectly functional used stuff is just smart. I'm not certain increasing deductibles on your insurance is not the best idea, but whatever. Also, the whole "become a viral marketer for us in exchange for a tiny sample of our crappy product that we can't get people to buy through normal advertising channels" thing is creepy. Oh, and why did the article push "free kids" dining instead of, you know, cooking at home? Home cooking is far and away cheaper than eating out.

average 10 years, 2 months ago

One the LJW really doesn't want you considering: drop cable TV. $675 a year after taxes, and it's still mostly ads? With a rooftop antenna and a digital converter box, I get the networks from both KC and Topeka razor-sharp, as well a multiple feeds from the two PBS stations. You can still get cable internet, or there are cheaper internet options in town.

If you can shut up most of the time, consider a pre-paid cellphone over a normal "plan". I pay under $100 a year for a Tracfone. It's nothing special, except $550 a year cheaper than a plan.

I like clotheslines, but I doubt the effort is worth the savings (40 to 50 cents a load in an electric dryer) for most people. I really enjoying being outside for a few minutes with Morning Edition on and hanging clothes, but I am a morning person.

average 10 years, 2 months ago

Oh, and what's with the "home equity loan" comment? Compact fluorescent bulbs are under $2 a piece now. I have a number I bought when they were quite a bit more expensive, and they're still going 6 years later.

Nate Poell 10 years, 2 months ago

average, I couldn't believe your cable bill tally at first, but I just checked Sunflower. You're actually underselling it -- Sunflower cable costs $1300/year if you get the Gold package. (I haven't had cable since 1999, though, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked that it's so much now.)

And yeah, CF bulbs are cheap, efficient and last way longer than incandescent bulbs.

myvotecounts 10 years, 2 months ago

I think the CFL bulbs do save money. My last electric bill showed about 1/3 less usage than the same month last year. Other than the bulbs, I can't think of anything else that was different about my usage last year.

I cancelled my cable TV service about 8 years ago, to see if I could go a month without it. I really never missed it, and still don't have cable. If KU is playing on ESPN I can go to a sports bar to watch, which is more fun than at home anyway. Life is a little better without feeling bound to that monthly cable bill and the dozens of channels I had to buy just to get the few I wanted.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 2 months ago

Regular incandescents bulbs that people use generally range between 60-100 Watts. I think the highest wattage I've seen on a CFL so far is 24 Watts. So you could have four of those going and you'd be just shy of one single 100 Watt bulb, and they'll last years longer.

They do contain mercury, but if they continue to gain popularity, I think there will be an increasing infrastructure for hazardous waste disposal.

Centerville 10 years, 2 months ago

Elect officials who will cut and eliminate taxes.

simplifying 10 years, 2 months ago

I do a lot of the suggestions already noted. Some other asnOther things I do are to combine my car errands. I usually try to do at least 5 stops in the same area. If I can combine it with a business-related trip, all the better. I bring along some bottled water and a snack or two so I am not tempted to stop at the fast food places. If the weather is hot, I have an ice chest to throw in food items.

I "make" my own bottled water. I have saved glass bottles (Drew's salad dressing for eg have the best shape and the neck of the bottle fits well in the mouth), fill them with filtered water from the Pur water filter on my faucet, and store them in the frig. I put the bottles and caps in the dishwasher each week. They chill fast and save a lot of money and also do not have to worry about plastic chemicals floating around the water.

I make my lunches on Sunday and eat all week at the office. I do not go out to eat except rarely. Saves gas and money on food.

I put cellular shades on all the windows and use them extensively in the summer heat and winter cold.

Might sound weird, but I keep 3 water buckets in the shower and flush the toilet with the water from the daily shower.

I have purchased about 30 cheap men's hankies from Walmart and use them instead of buying kleenex. i wash them and the more I use them, the softer they get.

GretchenJP 10 years, 2 months ago

  1. Grab a hoe.

I'm with Coolmarv... SAVING money on grabbing a ho? I think you have that backwards.

Godot 10 years, 2 months ago

Wow, I am impressed by simplyfying's efforts. In the early 70's when we were in a recession with high inflation, I captured the rinse water from my laundry (used a hose) to drain onto my garden (we were in a drought.) Cut the milk half and half with powdered milk. Shopped once a month for groceries. Had a freezer for veggies and fruit from summer garden bounty, and for half a side of beef from the butcher. Made our own catsup from home grown tomatoes and applesauce and apple butter from three apple trees in the yard. Joined a babysitting coop so we did not have to pay for babysitters for our infrequent nights out. Did not have the option to spend money on cable and cell phones and internet back then, and life was really quite simple. Played the piano, listened to radio and LP's and read books.

Godot 10 years, 2 months ago

forgot to second the idea of drying clothes on a line outside during warm months; add putting a filter on the dryer in winter to vent the hot air inside; converting the fireplace to an insert or a wood stove for secondary heat; insulating the walls and the attic; using solar panels for extra heat or hot water. Buy in bulk when items you use on a regular basis are on sale. Clip coupons. Learn how to make bread. Sew your own clothes.

jayhawks71 10 years, 2 months ago

"Might sound weird, but I keep 3 water buckets in the shower and flush the toilet with the water from the daily shower."

It doesn't SOUND at all weird. It IS weird! Please humor me and tell me how you get the shower water into the buckets for toilet duty? Do you shower with the buckets between and around your feet? Are you plugging the drain and standing "in a tepid pool of your own filth" (cite: Kramer)? Help me out here. :-)

If its yellow let it mello... if its brown flush it down.

Daytrader23 10 years, 2 months ago

Pasta, rice and a Jamie Oliver cook book. Easy to make gourmet dinners that cost pennies. That way you can afford a good bottle of wine to go with it. (sorry but I can't save on wine) life is too short to drink wine from a box.
Ride a bike to work or school.( No gym fees no gas). I make a few grand a day and I still save like I was in college. Any body can get rich, only a few can keep it. Pennies make dollars which make euros (hint, hint)

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