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How do YOU make every penny count?

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  • How do YOU make every penny count?

    I would love to hear from those who have already been there, done that. Those who are in the midst of the process. Those who are out there who are still trying to decide.

    We're all in the same boat ~ or have been. When you realize your ship is sinking and it's time to make some major changes: How have you done it?

    I DO believe that every penny counts, but I also know that when you are in this situation (pre-bk) it is easy to feel that a penny doesn't make a damn bit of difference. Or a dollar, for that matter.

    So I'd love to hear from you: Whatever your top money-saving strategies are.

    I'm sure there have been discussions here in the past ~ but I'd like a fresh, new discussion with the people who are "around" more recently. It has a completely different feel than reading through posts of visitors long-gone.

    I think this could be a great place for us to share our small successes, as well. You never know what you may be able to spark in others by sharing something you are proud of ~ no matter how small it may seem.

  • #2 should get lots of details of what people did. I bargained with my internet provider and Directv and got the best savings possible. I mostly ate in; but if we ate out I had to use a coupon for buy one, get one free or some other major discount. I only shopped at sales (when it was absolutely necessary to shop) and took advantage of dollar stores for miscellanous supplies (eg. light bulbs). Always collected my change when making purchases in cash until it grew to dollars and then used them. Followed a very strict budget; that budget always allowed a little something but once it was gone it was gone. Became a big user of the library - didn't buy books or magazines, etc. Leanred how much I really loved reading. Was honest when I was asked to take part in activities that i couldn't afford, just says for now I can't. Didn't get down on the whole situation, it is what it is. Short term pain for long term gain. Colored my own hair. Always, always asked if any purchase was a true necessity as opposed to a want. Manged to save money that i can now spend - if i choose to. I learned a lot and i'm never going back
    Filed Chapter 13 - 07/20/12
    Discharged 8/2/16


    • #3
      Thanks, sophieanne! All great points ~ and I'll be back to post more later.

      Last night I finally got on Kohl's site and stocked up on some things we've been needing. Every member of the family needed a few things, and I've been waiting until I had good coupons/sales to place an order. I stacked up a bunch of things, and of course got free shipping.

      After figuring in Kohl's cash and rewards we will get back, I spent a grand total of $83.65 for 17 items = average of $4.92 per item. I don't think this is too bad! Yet I still feel like, "dang, that was a bunch of money all at once......."


      • #4
        It really helps me to plan a menu for the upcoming two weeks (that's how often I grocery shop). I make the list according to what is on sale and stick to a budget. Not stopping every few days and getting additional impulse buys has really cut down on the grocery bill. I'm also not tempted to just get a pizza because I have already taken out meat from the freezer and have everything I need to prepare the meal. Cuts way down on the restaurant expenses too. A surprising side benefit to it is that I post the menu and my family loves to know what's coming ("OOOH, carnitas tacos tomorrow!!"). I started a notebook with meal ideas that we like so it's easier to make the list and not get stuck in a rut. I try something new at least once or twice a month and add that if it's a hit.
        I have also learned to look at every bill that comes in. I used to do that sporadically, especially since most of them are electronic, but I have really discovered a lot of errors. I have recovered somewhere around $250 from Verizon in the last several months. I just contacted them last week about an unapplied promotion that they are in the process of correcting. Direct TV billed us for a movie no one ordered so I called them. It is AMAZING how many errors there are. If I don't understand a charge, I call or chat with the company. When the Verizon rep could not explain the way a charge was computed on my bill and couldn't get the supervisor to figure it out, I got a $20 credit.
        As sophieanne said, reviewing your accounts regularly and renegotiating is necessary. Companies aren't usually going to give you the best plan/rate for your needs unless you instigate the conversation. We were talking on the insurance thread, but it pays to shop around every couple years.
        I don't buy any piece of clothing unless it's on sale and try to refresh the wardrobe on the off season. We actually just went clothes shopping yesterday and I got six tops for about $48 at Younkers on clearance and with coupons. I live in Michigan so even though today is the first day of spring, we'll be wearing long sleeves for a while and they'll be nearly new next fall. It's funny how many things I coveted when they came out and were full price end up at 75% or more off by the end of the season. Patience and delayed gratification are way more satisfying than I would have ever thought!
        I'll be watching this thread. I am interested to see what others say.


        • #5
          Thanks, kberly ~ good to hear from you, too!

          On the subject of cable/internet providers: We switched to Comcast last spring, when AT&T raised our prices and simply wouldn't make a deal. We don't watch much TV and we can use internet on our phones -- so we were like, forget you! Got a good deal with Comcast and thought we were set for the next 2 years with them.

          Well, we've had nothing but issues. First they started charging for HD. Then they wanted to charge us for the one DVR we have. This was all supposed to be included. It was part of the package in the brochure, which drew us in.

          We have been on the phone with customer service for hours. Yes, literally hours trying to get $10 straightened out here, $10 straightened out there........ Ridiculous.

          Anyway, I think MAYBE we have it taken care of now, but we'll see how long it lasts. Our bill for pretty basic channels and internet is supposed to be a total of $101.34 each month. How does this compare to others?


          • #6
            I'm curious if people have tried to bring in more $$, such as doing odd jobs, online surveys, online or in person focus groups, rewards apps like Ibotta, yard sales, social media selling sites, etc.
            Filed Ch 13 Fall 2013, 60 month plan


            • #7
              Hi switch ~ I can't speak for others, but our current situation is that our income has been gradually coming down, and we actually need it to come down some more to qualify for Chapter 7. I am trying to figure out how we can live on less money. We have made a lot of little changes, but in the overall picture it's just not enough.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chrysalis View Post
                Hi switch ~ I can't speak for others, but our current situation is that our income has been gradually coming down, and we actually need it to come down some more to qualify for Chapter 7. I am trying to figure out how we can live on less money. We have made a lot of little changes, but in the overall picture it's just not enough.
                I was thinking while in 13 post-confirmation. I can understand getting you income under the 7 wire. to qualify for 7.
                Filed Ch 13 Fall 2013, 60 month plan


                • #9

                  When I filed, my attorney advised me I didn't have to kill myself working overtime like I had been, and that is would be helpful for my filing to only work my regular hours. He was right as that made the difference in allowing me to file chapter 7. Post discharge, I have worked extra shifts here and there when I wanted extra money. It's very nice for it to be 100% optional now.

                  Also, I had extra money due to not paying the huge credit card minimums.

                  Chapter 7, above median, no asset. Discharged with no UST involvement.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TXskyblue View Post

                    When I filed, my attorney advised me I didn't have to kill myself working overtime like I had been, and that is would be helpful for my filing to only work my regular hours. He was right as that made the difference in allowing me to file chapter 7. Post discharge, I have worked extra shifts here and there when I wanted extra money. It's very nice for it to be 100% optional now.

                    Also, I had extra money due to not paying the huge credit card minimums.

                    This is where we are. My husband has been working so hard, so much, for so long, that it is a complete shift in mindset to back off a little. This is why I am still just hanging around this forum, not knowing when we are going to file ~ but not seeing any other viable option down the road. His 6-month window is still too high to even talk to any more attorneys right now. Part of that is due to a yearly bonus in February. Some years they pay it, some years they don't, sometimes it's big, sometimes it's small -- definitely not money we can "count on" ... but gets figured in, just the same. Sigh.


                    • #11
                      I just set the water softener to run every other night, instead of every night. We'll see how this goes, and if anyone complains. That means we could buy HALF the amount of water softener salt we normally do.

                      I am a big fan of Amazon and we do have a Prime membership. But I don't just blindly buy things, thinking they must be a good deal. For years, I've made good use of the Amazon price tracker: -- where you can copy & paste the URL of any product page, and see the price history for that item. If it's not something we need right away (or not really a "need" at all), I will put a "price tracker" on it, where I tell them the price I want the item to be, and they will email me if/when it ever goes down to this price. This happens pretty instantly, which is great, because Amazon will change their prices OFTEN, and sometimes a deal is only available for a few minutes.

                      I also use the Amazon thread which is constantly going on the Fishing For Deals website, under "Catch of the Day". People are posting new deals all day long. In the past, YES, I bought some things I shouldn't have -- because I got all wrapped up in the excitement of "what a good deal" it was. But I have been very careful lately, only clicking on something we actually need, and making sure to look at my spreadsheets and other sites to make sure it is actually a killer deal.

                      We've also taken advantage of their Subscribe & Save program for many years -- again, only for things that are actually a good deal. NO, I don't just leave it and let them send me things every month. Every month, they send a reminder email a couple of days before they're ready to fill your orders. I'm often delaying things until a later date, or canceling them altogether. You can cancel anytime after an order has been shipped, and they won't ever send you that item again unless you sign up again. So I am often stacking deals I've found on FFD + sometimes coupons on the product page + the 15% S&S discount. We have saved a TON of money this way, vs. what we would pay in any local store.


                      • #12
                        We decided not to renew our Costco membership this year. Although, with their rewards program, our membership only cost us about $10 last year -- we realized how much these trips were costing us in reality.

                        1) Gas back and forth to Costco every few weeks -- an hour away.

                        2) These trips almost always involved us getting food at Five Guys (we don't have one here) -- even just for two people, you're looking at $20. Imagine when we were also feeding our 3 boys.

                        3) Costco has the "cool" factor -- you can find things there that you don't find anywhere else. This leads to impulse purchases in the beginning, and then even more reasons to go to Costco if you want more of _______ in the future (cool pencils, cool sweatshirts, unique food items).

                        4) Spending more money at one time than you may realistically be able to have in your food budget. How much did this cost us in interest when we were charging it... How much did this cost us in interest, having to put other things in life on the credit card, because we spent all of our available cash at Costco?

                        I realized that we are surrounded by good neighbors who have a membership to Costco. If there is something that we really, really miss and want to have -- we'll ask them to pick it up for us on their next trip. One thing is for sure: We won't be "needing" $400-500 worth of stuff from there if we do ask them! ;)


                        • #13
                          Another small success I want to share, because it was such a powerful moment for me:

                          The handle broke on our ancient wheelbarrow last year. Have you ever tried to use a one-handled, one-wheeled wheelbarrow? Yeah, it doesn't go well.

                          So there was a discussion a few days ago, about how I REALLY need my wheelbarrow fixed. Husband says he could buy a handle, but the bolts are so old and rusted, he wasn't sure if he could even get them off, etc etc. So we start looking at new wheelbarrows online and we see that we can get a new one for around $40.

                          $40 now sounds huge to me. Things are super-tight, and I am trying not to spend, because we have NO savings and NO credit at this point for backup. Not long ago, we'd have just bought one and not given it a second thought. We'd have put the old one out by the road, and someone would have taken it away.

                          So as I'm debating about whether to spend $40 on that right now, or just live without a wheelbarrow... My husband's wheels are turning, and he remembers that he has "all of these broken handles" in the garage. (The guy is rough on shovels, lol).

                          Not only did he not make a trip to the store and spend $13 on a new handle -- or $40 for a new wheelbarrow -- he decided to stand out in the driveway in the baking sun, and he and my teenager rigged up an old, broken shovel handle to replace my broken handle. It works GREAT!

                          It gave us all a sense of pride and accomplishment, you know? Not only that, but the whole thing reminded me of times long ago when every penny did matter to us. It reminded me that we haven't always been so nonchalant about just charging things -- we developed into those people because we were so far in the hole, and we had no hope.​​​​​​​


                          • #14
                            I started using cash for my weekly "allowance" in my budget. How does that look for me? It is $100 per week for grocery, pet food, and gas. The first bills spent are the big bills. All change and singles from that day go in the coffee can. As those $20's decrease in my wallet, I go to the 10's and the same rule applies to any change I and coin in the coffee can. By Friday I am down to a whole fiver in my wallet, but Friday is pay day too. The fiver is my reward for a great financial week and I treat myself to lunch at my favorite restaurant via take-out.

                            Everything else is in the checking account to pay bills or future taxes.

                            Oh...what about those singles and coin in the coffee can? Savings...small, but will be mighty overtime.


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