I would like to say with a mouth-only smile (You know what that means right? It's when you smile just with your mouth but your eyes stay kind of frozen because the smile is totally fake.) "The economy is totally picking up!" but I'm not going to lie. It sucks. I do feel optimistic. After all things can't get much lower than zero. But in New York, it's hard to escape daily reminders of the "new economic climate" (aka how flat broke everyone seems to be).
I was too young and economically challenged in the 00's to spend excessively. However, many of the people around me were not and witnessing their efforts to downsize over the past three years has taught me a valuable lesson. I now believe that whether you are doing fine, struggling, or just worried about struggling down the line, people at every level will benefit from using their money in the most efficient way possible by upping their cheap frugal factor. With that in mind, I would like to share with you some things you can do to stretch your dollars.
So here is the first episode of my weekly penny pinching tips:
1) Shop at Costco: To all of our friends we sound like a big fat broken record, but we just can't help it. We lowered our monthly grocery bill from around $450 to $250 simply by shopping there. Costco sells amazing high quality, specialty and organic foods and household supplies (Including natural detergents! Yipee!) for half the price of what you pay at any other store. Plus their family-size packaging means shopping every three weeks instead of weekly. And yes, their produce is so fresh it actually lasts three weeks.
2) Quit the gym: Don't get me wrong here, physical health is my biggest passion. When I was pregnant, I was so terrified by all of the body-after-baby horror stories that (against sound advice from the Mister) I signed a gym contract that began the month after my due date. Nine months postpartum I was actually a size smaller than I had been before the pregnancy, but the gym had nothing to do with that. I had been to the gym all of three times and one of those visits I spent lounging in the sauna. My advice to you: baby + housekeeping + breastfeeding = totally free workout. Add to that no time for eating or sleeping, and the constant schlep of baby gear, and you will have some really nice muscles. If you find the need to work on your flexibility, tone specific muscles groups or trim down, there are tons of home workouts. My favorite is the New York City Ballet workout. More on that in another post...
3) Don't pay to bank: If you're paying fees for your personal checking account, save by switching to a free account such as Bank of America's new eBanking account. You can also avoid monthly fees on your small business account by signing up with Capital One's aptly titled "Completely Free Small Business Checking". It may seem like small potatoes coming out of your account each month, but at the end of the year it could be the equivalent of a few bags of groceries or a nice deposit into the mini's college fund.
[Photo by Kristin Lloyd / bonbon mini]