Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, April 1

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


vit / February 17, 2009 9:24 AM

Set up a savings account with a separate bank from your checking account and schedule a small amount to transfer into it each week (what a 'small amount' means is different for everyone), when it is automatic, you don't think about it that much. I've managed to squirrel away $2100 doing this, that may not be much to some people, but it is a nice little cushion for me. Be careful to only transfer amounts that you know will not put you in dire straights with your checking account otherwise you'll just end up transferring it back over to cover bills. Oh, and for those who have 401ks, really now, just put a little something in them, even 1% of your check will add up after awhile.

HOP / February 17, 2009 10:23 AM

I second what Vit wrote. I've saved over $5500 in my savings by using an automatic transfer from my checking and then putting any extra in there at the end of the month.

Another simple option: Put your change in a change jar. I know it sounds silly, but my boyfriend and I have been doing this for a year and we easily have over $500 saved up. It may not be much, but it's easy to do, without being easily accessible which is key!

sarah / February 17, 2009 11:27 AM

to paraphrase a steve martin sketch on SNL:

stop buying crap you don't need!

David / February 17, 2009 11:29 AM

Get thee to a budget. Cut up your credit cards. Make CONSCIOUS choices about your spending. Get on a budget. Pull together recipes and go grocery shopping for the week, and don't buy any extraneous shit. Listen to Dave Ramsey. Did I mention getting on a budget?

My wife and I got on this plan (living on less than you make, basically) and in two years we paid off $15K in debt, saved up and paid CA$H for an engagement ring, paid for our whole wedding ourselves, paid for our honeymoon, and have saved up about $18K for a down payment on a house, on a combined income of about $80K.

In conclusion, debt = risk, and credit card companies are evil incarnate.

Baldeesh / February 17, 2009 12:03 PM

I have a bunch.

I cook my own meals, and bring my lunch to work. I buy a lot of generic brands. And on those things that I can't or won't buy generic (like cat food) I use coupons and try to buy while the item is on sale.

I also do the change jar thing and deposit part of my check into my savings account. I also put any extra money I've earned into my travel savings account.

I don't have cable, don't have a landline, and I've got the cheapest cell phone plan.

I use my credit card quite a bit for regular purchases for the rewards points, but I pay it off every week.

One thing that helped me big time was a shift from the, "Hey, that's a good deal! Let's buy it!" mindset to, "I don't need it" mindset.

It's awesome, because I was able to afford a 2-week trip to the UK.

Cheryl / February 17, 2009 12:28 PM

I got rid of my landline and have a cell that I pay for minutes rather than a monthly fee. Instead of spending $60 a month on cell service and a landline, I spend about $10 a month on a phone.

vit / February 17, 2009 1:06 PM

While I certain do not advocate using credit cards irresponsibly. I could not imagine trying to live without one, Have you ever tried to rent a car or book a hotel without a credit card?

David / February 17, 2009 1:14 PM

Yes. Enterprise will let you reserve a car with a debit card, and Hertz will let you do it upon request.

There are many hotels which also book rooms with credit cards.

These days, almost anything you can do with a credit card, you can also do with a debit card.

Plus, y'know, the evil and all.

V / February 17, 2009 1:45 PM

I agree with Sarah, or Steve Martin or both, I guess, but I'll simplify a little:

Seriously, stop buying crap.

vit / February 17, 2009 1:55 PM

David - true, but then they also tie up a fair amount of cash. I've managed to use my credit card the way it was intended, so I'm planning on keeping it.

Dan / February 17, 2009 2:24 PM

The main thing that has helped me save money is to track *all* spending. This way you can analyze in detail where all of your money is going. Using a credit card even for small purchases makes this tracking much easier. You may find that you spend an obscene amount of money on something that isn't worth it.

Think about dropping cable if you have it. We get much better digital over the air reception with rabbit ears than we ever got analog reception.

Think about going with a pay as you go cellphone if you aren't a big talker. This costs me $7 a month.

Think about how if you have to finance something like a TV, then perhaps you cannot afford it and would do better to go without.

The wife and I also have a certain amount budgeted each month that we can spend on non necessities, such as going out to lunch or dinner, beer, toys, etc. This helps you get into the mindset of having to go without Y if you spend on X.

anne / February 17, 2009 3:39 PM

Follow your Hints from Heloise and save a bunch on cleaning supplies.

DaveDave / February 17, 2009 3:49 PM

I know a lot of people who go out to dinner with friends A LOT. This amazes me. Not that going out to dinner is bad, but I wonder how they afford to do that all the time on their salary (most of them I have a good idea of how much they make, since they're bartenders, etc.) It's no big deal for them to go out almost every night and spend $40, $50 bucks at a time. Doesn't anybody cook dinner anymore? I was getting suckered into this too recently and had to say enough. I mean, sure there are a lot of other places that can be cut that eating out stuff adds up. Maybe once every two weeks.

Oh, and I try to pay for things with cash as much as humanly possible. Make it a lot easier for me to track what I'm spending. Those debit card/credit card purchases don't always show up immediately and I'm lousy at balancing expenses. Dumb ol me, there have been times when I thought, "Oh, wow, I have mor than I figured I did in the bank" and suddenly that charge for that thing I bought pops up and ... oh shit! Until I can afford a personal accountant, I have to know EXACTLY how much I spend at any moment.

Steven / February 17, 2009 6:03 PM

Get rid of your general credit cards and keep only a select few store cards. I don't have a Visa or Mastercard, but I do have a Home Depot card in case an appliance suddenly quits and I also have a Nordstrom card that I use at the Rack. Pay them off each month or take advantage of no interest payments over a three-month, six-month or 12-month period.

Don't carry cash. Carry an ATM card only. Cash has a way on ending up in vending machines or Starbucks' cash register. Resist the urge to use that ATM card as a debit card for little amounts at Walgreens. Come to think of it, STAY OUT OF WALGREENS.

Do your own work. Make your own morning coffee at home and put it in a thermos. Bring your lunch. Make your own dinner. Do your own laundry. Sew on your own buttons.

Don't pay attention to TV commercials. Don't buy magazines. Don't watch channels like HGTV or TLC.

Use the library. Take advantage of free admission at local museums and free exhibits and events sponsored by Chicago's Department of Culture.

Get rid of your car.

Get rid of your friends that can only be happy with more. They are a bad influence.

Be happy with what you have. Generally, if you are visiting this web site, you probably don't have to travel far in Chicago to see people who have less than you do. So unless it has huge holes in it, be happy with the coat you have. Perhaps those five sweaters are enough. You don't really need another pair of shoes. Unless they are guaranteed to get you laid. There are exceptions.

elementaryfinance / February 17, 2009 7:30 PM

On my site, I advocate finding money within your current budget to "pay yourself" If you made coffee at home rather than buying it at the local coffee shop, "pay yourself" that $4 straight in to your savings account. Read my article (linked here) to read the rest.

Brian / February 18, 2009 2:12 AM

Dear Chad and Trixie,

Now that hard times are upon us, and mommy and daddy lost a bundle in the stock market and their 401K is worthless, you need to go on a monetary diet. Here's my guide for you.

Stop grocery shopping at Jewel, Dominick's and Whole Foods. Seriously. Go to Aldi's or Trader Joe's. Everything there is just as good if not better. Stay out of Walmart. And Target. And Kmart. Cook at home. Just because [insert favorite nearby restaurant] is down the street from you doesn't mean you have to go there.

Stop getting coffee at Starbucks (you shouldn't patronize Starbucks anyway because of the way they stifle small business, but that's a different matter). Brew your own at home. Hell, even if you buy Starbucks beans, it's still cheaper.

Get rid of your car. Stop taking the L. Stop taking the bus. Get a USED bicycle (preferrably from freecycle) and ride that everywhere. Milwaukee and Harlem to the loop? In 2ft of snow? Quit whining and pedal!!!!

Sell your jewelry. You don't need it. You're not impressing anyone with it anyway.

Disconnect your cable. Drop your landline. Keep only internet service (either DSL or cable internet) and a LOW PRICED cell plan.

Stop buying paper towels. Use real towels.

Cut up all credit cards, store cards, gas cards, debit cards, check books, etc. Close your checking account. Close your savings account. Deal ONLY in cash.

No more clothes shopping, shoe shopping or accessory shopping. You have enough crap.

Have a garage/yard/apartment sale. You have too much stuff.

charlie / February 18, 2009 8:15 AM


You seem bitter and jeleous. That, or your humorously poor fitting "track bike" and skinny jeans are pinching your nuts.

Daddy still calling you his little girl?

David / February 18, 2009 8:47 AM

Hey Brian, why don't we just go the next logical step and lay down and die? Or, better yet, why don't we all become monks and nuns and live in caves and use our dried excrement to make gifts for the few tourists who wander through our post-apocalyptic Mad Max world?

Point being, saving money doesn't have to be some crazy huge sacrifice. Telling people they already "have enough crap" only turns them off to the better parts of your message.

Good Luck / February 18, 2009 9:58 AM

Well, if you stop putting democrats in office, you would be able to keep more of the money you earn in your paycheck.

But otherwise, I guess reducing your standard of living is a perfectly reasonable sacrifice for ideological concerns.


$13 a week in tax relief. Gonna make a huge difference.

DaveDave / February 18, 2009 10:18 AM

Get rid of your car. Stop taking the L. Stop taking the bus. Get a USED bicycle (preferrably from freecycle) and ride that everywhere. Milwaukee and Harlem to the loop? In 2ft of snow? Quit whining and pedal!!!!

I'm sure the 80 year old grannies out there will get right on this. So do they barter for their ensuing medical bills with pelts or homemade candles?

DaveDave / February 18, 2009 10:20 AM

BTW, Brian. Unless you're using the free computer at the library (which I doubt), there's one more expense you can cut out... How do you power your laptop at home, with a bicycle-powered generator?

mike / February 18, 2009 10:21 AM

Brian refers to the 401(k) as belonging to the parents and not the individual. This makes me think he's probably young and new to Chicago ... fully engaged in the ol' I'm-cooler-than-you stereotyping, (with outdated 'trixie' and 'chad' generalizations). Welcome to Chicago Brian.

Brian / February 18, 2009 11:06 AM

Actually, no. I'm not bitter or jealous. People today tends to try to live well beyond their means, and then cry foul when they're in debt up to their eyeballs. Isn't that partially what got us into this mess of an economic meltdown to begin with? What's wrong with living simply and within your means?

People don't like being told the truth that they have too much crap and that their spending is out of control. I can see I touched a nerve with several people.

Oh, and mike, my message was aimed at the young and new to Chicago. Why? If they change bad habits now, they'll be more careful in the future and not spend more than they'll ever make. I myself am 35 and have been here a while. I know the futility of speaking to my age group about living within their means.

DaveDave / February 18, 2009 11:15 AM

Go to Aldi's or Trader Joe's.

yeah, but, Trader Joe's? Really? You consider that "living within your means"?

Brian / February 18, 2009 11:24 AM

You wouldn't think so, would you? Surprisingly, Trader Joe's is affordable. Much more so than, say, Whole Foods or Dominick's. Trader Joe's was, after all, started by one of the brothers that started Aldi's.

zoenotcool / February 18, 2009 11:28 AM

I made a list of stores/websites that are my biggest shopping temptations. It reminded me of how much of my $ is spent on fun/silly/not very useful "stuff" and what places I need to avoid. It was a long list!

Mucky Fingers / February 18, 2009 12:06 PM

A few things I've learned...

* Avoid chain grocery stores when it comes to poultry, fruit & vegetables. It's always cheaper to buy produce locally. Use chain grocery stores for specific sales items (frozen pizzas, etc.)

* For toiletries and cleaning products, Target is usually the cheapest, followed by K-Mart.

* Avoid contracts for services you don't actually need (cable/satellite TV, cell phone, DSL, magazines). You can always find a better deal elsewhere if necessary. If you cannot escape a contract, don't sign for more than a year.

* You'll save money and your waistline by insisting that 50% of every dinner consist of vegetables.

Agreeing with the chorus...

* Stop eating out. Restaurants should be reserved for special occasions. Cook all your own meals. For ethnic cooking items, buy from local places, also WAY cheaper.

* Pay-as-you-cell phone is way to go, it will cut monthly costs by at least half compared to packaged minute plans.

* Bicycle whenever you can. Get storage racks installed on either side of your rear wheel for carrying goods. A storage rack is usually about $20.

Spook / February 18, 2009 1:38 PM

"bartering { with pelts}" Hell-larious!

Actually, Brian is not the only person in this conversation who needs to slow their roll a scosh ah bit!

I mean live with in your means but remember to live, cause you only got one shot that this life any way.

Remember eating out at restaurants is not only a joy but supports working class folks.

Especially eating locally and remember to tip at least 20 percent! Because the Depression has our neighbors who work in the service industry

And please tip a dollar per beverage when drinking at a bar. This includes water as its just as much work as getting a beer.

With that said I second what HOP said about the "change jar" and I got one better. At the end of day and especially after a night of drinking, save your one dollar bills!

In two months, I've saved over 130 dollars. I kinda dig that it looks like a drug dealer's roll, just no big bills. I'm not sure what I'm gonna due with it as I'm not going to Mexico any time soon.

mary / February 18, 2009 2:44 PM

i dont have anything new to add, except advice that's more "green" than "saving green" which is to unplug unnecessary appliances.

DaveDave / February 18, 2009 4:15 PM

You wouldn't think so, would you? Surprisingly, Trader Joe's is affordable.

I've been to Trader Joe's.. many times. It's not "affordable", meaning that an average family that is on a budget would do well to stay the hell away from there. It may be cool for the single person with a "disposable" income, but to me they're got nothing there... not real selection of veggies and fruits, a bunch of expensive cheeses, expensive "organic" chips and stuff... if this is the "doing without" that you spoke of earlier, we have a different interpretation of "doing without". I don't shop at Dominicks or Jewels. I shop at Devon Market. Decent cuts of meat for a good price, great big veggie section, even a nice wine selection. A real deli counter! And special ethnic foods you can't get too many other places. For instance yesterday I picked up a whole chicken for less than three bucks! Spatchcocked it (look it up), rubbed in some special spices I bought from an Indian store on Devon and viola! I have dinner for TWO DAYS for less than three bucks. Was the chicken "free range", "organic", "cruelty free"?. Probaby not. But since this whole discussion is about economics, let's stick to that. Trader Joe's may have been started by an Aldi brother, but he clearly did it becuase he had higher aspirations.

DaveDave / February 18, 2009 4:21 PM

Bicycle whenever you can. Get storage racks installed on either side of your rear wheel for carrying goods. A storage rack is usually about $20.

A friend gave me a bike a couple of years ago with a rack and I finally bought the saddlebags online last year for about $20. I was LOVING it last summer. I used to try to cram all of my clothes into a backpack and ended up looking like I slept in my clothes. With the saddlebags I can put them in relatively neatly. I zoom to work on the lakefront bike path (sometimes the street) and get to work at about the same time, but only with the bike,I'm a little more invigorated. Great! I now use the bike when I can to go to the store and pack stuff in the side. Except in bad weather (winter, rain...). I'm a chicken when it comes to that.

cookie / February 18, 2009 4:44 PM

If you have to keep a landline, consider asking AT&T for the Consumer's Choice plan. It was created by the Citizen's Untility Board and it's really cheap. By law AT&T has to make it available to you if you ask, but (surprise, surprise) they don't advertise it:

Also, cut out linebacker on your phone bill. I always thought it was mandatory - it's not! And keep an eye on your phone bills to make sure any requested changes actually take place. Took them a coupla months to get my phone bill right. I'm saving about $10-15 a month now....

w / February 18, 2009 5:17 PM

Stop eating out! Seriously I stopped months ago, and I've saved hundreds of $$$$.

I automatically stick 20% of my monthly pay in an ING savings account, and I pay multiple-times the minimum payment on my credit cards (and I don't use them) - I went from owing $6k to just under $2k in about 8 months.

Cook at home and take your breakfast and lunch to work with you. I spend Sunday making enough food to eat dinner all week for those night I am too tired to cook.

My car is paid off, but I don't drive ANYWHERE, so my insurance is about $130/year, and I fill my tank up ONCE a monnth.

I take out a certain amount of cash to keep on me with each paycheck (AFTER PAYING MYSELF FIRST VIA SAVINGS ACCOUNT) and only use THAT cash, no debit purchases.

I travel much less.

I buy new clothes/shoes only when I seriously need something, which means once every 3 months rather than 2-3 times a month I used to do.

I stopped smoking. Much $$$ saved.

I invite friends over for dinner rather than having us all go out somewhere. They usually bring the alcohol, I make a good meal, and no money spent. When I DO have to go to a restaurant, I order a couple appetizers and a non-alcoholic drink, or a salad, and keep it cheap. Fills me up and I can be social too.

I am single so rent is a lot for me (I live alone); if you can, live with others and split everything.

Until I am comfortable enough with a secure job/income, I have REDUCED all my student loans to INTEREST only. Once I have job/income security, which I do not, I will raise what I pay each month.

The main thing is, always pay yourself first, pay off high interest loans/credit cards quickly and take your time with low interest ones (like student loans) especially if you have a large principle amount - they'll be with you for a while!! With people losing their jobs left and right, save your cash!!

cklaus / February 18, 2009 11:24 PM

Cut dishwashing sponges and dryer sheets in half. Carry like $10-$20 and don't eat out - esp if you have a wife that does. Latino Marts for produce, specialize on the meats (peoria Meats is good) make a delicious meal even though to the untrained eye there's nothing in the fridge or the cabinets. See movies once a month in winter once every 10 weeks in warm months. don't own a dog. I just stepped in shit today it really pissed me off - that ultra gooey feb thaw doggie shit send em' to 26th and cali!!!

Spook / February 19, 2009 12:16 AM

Find a Hispanic old man bar run by a Greek family and drink there. You will be welcome. If you are really broke you and you have the stomach for it, you can drink yer self silly on dollar drafts. Or if you can afford it charm the Greek owner into ordering you good beer and scotch at a discount( to take home) from his other bar in Bucktown. Seriously, yall should pass the collection plate for me on that this one!

Greg / February 19, 2009 7:13 AM

Get an online checking account that refunds your ATM fees. Make that your primary bank. Keep your brick & mortar account for when you have a live check to cash, but only keep the minimum balance in it to avoid fees.

DUMP CABLE. If it's cable-only and worth watching, it'll be on DVD soon anyway. What about sports, you say? The pictures are better on radio.

If you have Netflix, use it. Lots. Turn discs around as often as possible.

Hit the library. For more free and cheap reads, check out paperback swap and BookCrossing.

Kevin / February 19, 2009 8:53 AM

Actually cable has saved us a lot of money. We watch movies on demand all the time. Free on on demand is even cheaper than going to Logan Theater. To say nothing of $20 plus parking at River East.

I make my coffee every morning, and lunch for the week on Sunday. Those two easily save me $100 a month.

Get a hobby of some sort. I think a lot of people feel the need to go out on weekends, and there are so many ways to accidentally be out and spend money. I started brewing beer at home. Family and friends gave me all my equipment on birthdays to start it up, and now it costs me $25 for two cases of one-of-a-kind craft beer. Plus it keeps me at home. Plus I have friends over to have a beer instead of going to the bar and spending $20 for 4 beers.

Make as much of your food as you can from scratch. A frozen pizza costs $4 or $5. The flour to make a fresh one costs something like 20 cents. A box of rissotto costs $3. The rice to make a rissotto costs something like 30 cents. We cut down on grocery bills big time when we actually opened up The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything and really delved in.

mike / February 19, 2009 9:36 AM

Uh, take the CTA to River East instead of driving and paying $20 to park.

outta here / February 19, 2009 10:26 AM

Moving out of Chicago. That'll save a LOT of money. You know, this is probably the most expensive few-square-miles to live in a three-state radius, eh?

DaveDave / February 19, 2009 11:56 AM

Find a Hispanic old man bar run by a Greek family and drink there. You will be welcome. If you are really broke you and you have the stomach for it, you can drink yer self silly on dollar drafts.

Or (and stick with me here) go to Wrigleyville during the week. Seriously. Yeah, I know, but there are so many bars there that they all are fighting for dollars so they offer a bunch of drink specials, even cheap food. For instance tonight at this bar called Moxie in the area, they have half-priced chicken satay and $3 cocktails. It is top shelf liquor? Probaby not. But if you're hanging out in old man bars, the regular stuff is probably good enough. Three bucks is pretty cheap in my book. And early in the week a lot of the bars have $2 domestic beers, etc. (I understand one dollar drafts, but in old man bars sometimes their a little lax on cleaning the lines and making sure the keg isn't flat). etc. Yeah, you gotta put up with the brodudes and loud chicks sometimes (mostly in the summer) but if you want to drink cheap, it's a place to stop for a minute or two.

Baldeesh / February 19, 2009 12:13 PM

On drinking cheap - I am so glad I lack an alcohol tolerance.

Holly / February 19, 2009 1:26 PM

Thrift Stores, buying and selling extra things on Ebay, tracfone, automatic savings account transfer, BUDGETING and neighborhood produce markets!

I started to budget and track where my money goes and that has help me know how much I have for the rest of the month. It helps me say no to impulsive purchases, because I can always see the big picture.

Think of fresh fruit and vegetables as an investment in your health. You will feel and taste the difference.

I am female and I like to shop for clothes now and then and I do not feel deprived of those happy feelings when I shop at thrift stores. Chicago has great ones. I have to look nice for work, and I can spend $25 on almost new clothes, mostly basic items like black and brown pants for work, sweaters ($2.50 to wash them)
Brand new these items would have been $250 or more. Most holidays are half price days so those are the best days to shop.

Thrift stores are also great for books and miscellaneous other things you don't want to pay full price for. This is green shopping. Bring things you don't want anymore and donate them, then get a reciept to deduct from your taxes.

Good Luck / February 19, 2009 3:28 PM

Suffice it to say that you are not the folks that are going to get the economy moving.

w / February 19, 2009 4:01 PM

No, good luck, we're not, because we're at the tail end of it.

I know who can - CEO bonuses can be used to pay thousands of new salaries. YAY!

Baldeesh / February 19, 2009 4:58 PM

Good Luck - I'm still spending money! I am just not willing to go into debt, that's all.

Steven / February 19, 2009 6:08 PM

How can we get the economy going when we're still waiting for Ronald Reagan's promised trickle, which seems to have passed us over and rained on China instead?

mary / February 19, 2009 8:01 PM

oh i thought of another thing. i'm a marketer's dream (aka i buy a lot of shit bc it looks pretty) and i've found that when going to the grocery store, having a list and STICKING to it is helpful.

Good Luck / February 19, 2009 8:13 PM

Steven - the $13 a week rebate you'll get as a result of the spending bill (pay attention w, because you are at the front-end of this) is a net tax increase of $70 because Obama and his main economic advisor Summers (the one who said that there may be a difference betwen men and women's brains, remember that one fems?) are letting the previous tax cuts expire. So the last tax cuts kept $83 in your paycheck per week. Take the $13 that Obama wants to let you keep and you have anet increase of $70.

Baldeesh, you just allowed your government to put you, and the rest of us, in serious debt. I hope you enjoy inflation (you may want to ask your parents how living thru the Carter years were like)

Get ready for trickle up poverty, folks.


Good Luck / February 19, 2009 8:24 PM

...and if you want to see a small sample of what we're in store with our new regime, please turn your heads to California.

The majority of all college freshman in CA take remedial math, the state is bankrupt, the state just raised income taxes in order to pay for ever increasing entitlement programs, the state has the most illegal immigrants in the nation being subsidized by fewer and fewer productive citizens, etc...

You are building a house of cards. Lets go and make more feel good legislation!!!

Brandy / February 19, 2009 8:25 PM

I recently commented about this on an Apartment Therapy post -

1. Writing down everything I spend (so I can see where it went), and making sure there's a good amount of Zero Days (i.e. I didn't spend anything.).
2. Save up my errands for one day a week. Reduce the impulse buys.
3. I'm terrible at this - but generally planning ahead - things like packing lunches or snacks. Or making sure I have all the little things I need for the day.
4. Never eat out or do take out alone. Save that expense as a social occasion, going out with friends.
5. Agree with others - keep your house in order so you know what you *already* have.
6. Having a "wishlist" bookmark folder in my web browser. If I see something in a store I like, I'll go home, find it online, save the page, noting the size or color. I can then find it again if I think I really do need it now, or I can watch for when it goes on sale. I used to be terrible at late-night online impulse purchases, but saving bookmarks have helped a lot. I find the "need to have it buzz" wears off.

And this may not be popular, but:
7. Reduce ad consumption. I've ditched watching TV, it's made my life better in many ways, including not watching commercials. And it's extreme, but when I do buy magazines, I rip out the ads first. I'm often reading mags in airports, and it saves weight. You also see what a huge chunk of it *is* ads. I know, I know that's what the magazine business is - but I can chose to opt out of that.

Getting out of that advertising loop really helps me reframe what I need, vs. what I want.

Hope my .02 helps others.

jennifer / February 19, 2009 10:20 PM

just remembered my old friend priceline. was never too confident in matters of buying a flight, but love that I just reserved a car for when I go home saving 1/3 of the price when I named my own price. so, if you have to travel/can afford to travel, maybe this reminder will be of help! I know that I'm psyched about it. (every dollar counts for a grad student.)

sarah / February 19, 2009 10:41 PM

brandy--i've had a similar experience with cutting out tv. there are so many benefits--i would compare it to recovering from a long-term illness. i know most people are not willing to make that change, and it's unfortunate. thanks for your post.

Brandy / February 20, 2009 8:03 AM

Thanks, Sarah. I agree about tv recovery. I watched a bit in a hotel room lately, and realized that my tolerance for watching violence had plummeted, since I hadn't been on a regular diet of it.

Like Greg said, the shows worth watching will be on DVD.

Irisheyes1212 / February 20, 2009 8:24 AM

Wow a lot of great ideas here, I will be taking some with me for sure. I don't really have much to add.
I do get the tv thing, so I have upped my DVR list so I can blast through commercials. I've cut down on magazine subscriptions...but do still get my faves.
I've stopped buying books and CDs (bad habit) and have made incredible use of the Austin-Irving library branch. We're on a first name basis now. This has also got me walking more since it is in my neighborhood. So my quick walk to the library often leads to a longer walk, since I'm already out.
I've taken to walking to the corner Polish deli for things.
I make incredible use of my Netflix.
I get clear polish on my manicures and use vitamin E every night. This has really stretched out the lasting effects and I go much less often.
I am a laundry crammer...I won't wash one blue short because it's blue. As long as it's been washed before and won't bleed...everything goes together. So it's usually 1 load clothes, 1 towels, 1 sheets. This def sames time and quarters.
I know there are million other things I can do but I also have to be happy in this life. I have enough problems and stresses and overall malaise so if getting a latte sometimes makes me happy then that's what I do. It saves money on therapy bills.

Missy / February 25, 2009 10:46 AM

If you're far enough north in Chicagoland, it might be worth the trip to Wisconsin for groceries. Woodman's in Kenosha charges less than anybody (Aldi being the one exception) on name brand and generics, and the sales tax is much lower. I try to balance how much I'll spend on gas versus how much I'll save at the store, but it's usually worth the trip. Double up with a friend, split the gas, and stock up on food.

For people with kids, or who just like learning, the museums in town offer regular free days throughout the year, advertised on their websites.

For movies, you can usually find a cheaper place out in the near 'burbs if you're willing to look. Around here, the local two-plex costs half as much as the stadium-seating megatheatre.

sdbtruth / March 11, 2009 5:29 PM

I just finished reading: The SmartestWay to SAVE, Why You Can't Hang on to Money and What do Do About It" by Samuel K. Freshman and Heidi E. Clingen. The book talks about why some people who have small incomes get rich and some people with big incomes go into bankruptcy. It's all about how we think about money. Simple and practical.

J. / March 14, 2009 8:27 AM

I use cash as little as possible and my debit card as much as possible. I put the reciepts in my wallet and then track what I spend in Quicken (via my checking account). I balance my checkbook at least once a week.

This really takes the pressure off of me because my computer does the tracking for me. I'm just the data entry clerk.

Doing this allows me to analyze my spending and makes it easy to adjust so that I'm spending on things I really want and need.

GB store

Recently on Fuel

Urban Ethos [26]
What is Chicago's "urban ethos"?

Cool Glass of... [16]
What're you drinking?

Supreme Decision [22]
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act?

Taking it to the Streets [20]
Chicago Street Fairs: Revolting or Awesome?

I Can Be Cruel [9]
Be real: what is the meanest thing you've ever done?

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15