This page will have the more definitive blog posts about frugality added to it or referenced. With over 1,000 posts to go through, this will take some time. Patience!

This post was written some time prior to when it first appeared here. However, it was first published here 3/2/12. (An edited version was published 2019 in “The Economizer” ad newspaper.)

The One Way to Save Money & Three Strategies to Get There

There is one way and only one way to save money on purchased goods, that is spend less.

This can be accomplished using any of three basic strategies: find a cheaper substitute, pay less for the product, or do without the product altogether.

The first strategy — finding a cheaper substitute — includes:

  • Buying used, rather than new goods, when appropriate
  • Back to basics, do it yourself (DIY), once a month cooking, etc.
  • Using whatever form of a product can be used that’s cheapest (using chicken thighs instead of breasts, for example.)

The second strategy — paying less for the same product — includes:

  • Coupons, refunds, and sale shopping
  • Alternate sources, dumpster diving, free cycle, ethnic shops, etc.
  • Diluting/reusing more product

The last strategy — doing without — is usually presented as a form of the other two.

For example, many authors tell you to avoid buying a daily coffee at Starbucks. Usually, they point out that if you brew your own coffee, it’s significantly cheaper, which is both a cheaper substitute (#1) and paying less for the same product (#2). However, it also fits #3, as you are giving up something, that is, the trip to Starbucks.

If you brew your own coffee and use 1/2 the old grounds for the 2nd pot along with 1/2 new grounds, it’s a cheaper substitute (#1). So again the same three basic principles apply.

There’s nothing wrong with these principles, it just irritates me to see them recycled again and again as something new, they aren’t.

I have been reading money-saving guides for over 30 years. I have books about saving money from before the Civil War. The strategies are the same, whether you’re talking about lamp black (something not in high demand in modern households) or microwave pizza. It irritates me to see the same information recycled again and again, as if it were new, when indeed the specifics may be, but the fundamentals behind it, the strategies above, are not.

If you keep these strategies in mind, saving money becomes an attitude rather than specific practices. With the right attitude and knowing the principles, you’ll find your own ways to save.

(c) 2012-2020 Jennie Little, Judith K. Dial


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