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Prestigious Contributor

Financial advisors usually offer the usual very good advice, but I sometimes wonder if there can be more advice added to use immediately that will make a huge difference in the typical household.  I have never been in an untenable debt situation since being on my own (fifty+ years, so far), but I can offer a few hints that really make a difference in cutting personal spending.  Since I retired I have had the opportunity to chauffeur my wife to the grocery stores and I am astounded at the prices of what Americans have become brainwashed as necessary.  To wit:

 

Unless you have a blue collar job or kids clothes with ground-in dirt requiring some serious washing you can ditch the $10 detergents.  A $1 bottle of soft soap from the Dollar store will do the job.  Ditto the $1 bottle of pseudo Woolite for hand washing or cold washing the woolens and silks.

 

Do you really need all those tablespoons of sugar in all those the sugary drinks?

If you are not above being seen in the "Dollar" stores, it can help.  (No, I'm not affiliated in any way with any retail merchants.)

 

Estate sales are a gold mine for household cleaning products, tools, furniture, lotions, almost anything you can imagine shows up at these things and if you live in a retirement heavy community the sales are around town somewhere.  Try Googling estate sales in your town.

 

Cable TV.  It is hard to believe how much people pay for the weekly installment of Game of Thrones, etc.  You may suffer a little but buy a digital TV antenna, a good one, to pull-in the local digital channels and PBS for free.

 

Consider a WiFi home phone.  Ooma.com   Ooma is the leader with incredibly clear calls and top service.  My bill on the better-than-basic plan is $16.48 per month.  Basic service is free.  You pay $99 one time for the Telo device that sits on your desk and connect to your router.  WiFi cell phone can be had from Republic Wireless - really honest-to-God unlimited $15 talk and text, $20 with talk, text, and 1 gig of data.   They have a great forum of community members and the service and support is a dream.

 

The library has DVD's.  Yes, they are older but its worth checking the racks with a library card.  Some libraries have used books for 50 cents or a dollar.  Magazines are dirt cheap there instead of the mega subscription costs.

 

Do it Yourself projects are actually possible with videos on YouTube by people, some experts, who have done it before.  Example:  replaceing that valve insert in a Moen shower faucet:  $115 to the plumber.  $28.95 for the part on Ebay.  The instructions on YouTube.  I felt foolish for shelling out the cash when, for the second replacement, it was so simple to do.

 

Those YouTube videos would be especially helpful for Moms who are the designated home maintenance man whose Dad is deployed.  Search for how to adjust that toilet!

 

Less fast food and more real food, but I guess that's an on-going battle, anyway.

 

Can you bike to the drug store, Post Office, etc. instead of every trip being in a car?  Probably not many places in the car culture U.S. where sidewalks are something quaint and walking downright dangerous on too many streets.  Wow, the world looks different when the weather is good for walking...and thinking on the way.

 

Hit the thrift stores for...God knows what.  Most of the time it will be a time travel trip to the junk from thirty years ago, but surprises do show up.  Former President Jimmy Carter's "Restore" stores are worth a look before buying the sink, window, tile for example, at the Home store.

 

I've heard of groups of Mom's trading kids things with each other.  Find 'em.  I had no kids so, I'm not much help on this hint.

 

Before long you will enter a mindset of alternative thinking instead of being herded to what us former copy writers convinced you of things you just could not do without.  Or, you can wait until America is all marvelous again.  Ain't much trickling down, so far, for us peons in the day-to-day economic trenches.  We do, however, have a large variety of long lasting wars for you to choose from with new ones being stocked 24/7/365.  Obviously, that money faucet is not for the rest of us.  We have to be smarter than the average congressman which really is not a difficult task.

 

Stay thrifty.