How to Be a Cheapskate

man counting money

“Cheapskate” has a negative connotation, but we’re not suggesting you show up to lunch with your friends and conveniently forget your wallet. That’s in a different article, “How to Make People Loathe You.”

We’re suggesting a few tips to help you get your brain in “cheap” mode, so you can spend less money on things you already do, or buy, so you can offer to pay for your friends’ meals once in a while. Or pay for college, or go on a family vacation, or save for retirement…the important stuff.

1) Get things for free – Many manufacturers’ websites have free offers, so sign up! Get free samples whenever possible. (Caveat: sometimes you may have to pay for shipping.)
2) Buy used – Check the “Free” section of sites like Craigslist for any items you may need – if you can’t find them free, you can always find them at a discount, and sometimes they’re free. And always head to your local thrift store before shopping for new.
3) Buy generic – Most generic products are very similar – and sometimes better – than name brands. Try the generic brand, and if you hate it, then you can go back to the pricier brand.
4) Don’t buy anything without a coupon – Check to see several manufacturers’ coupons in one place. Be sure to check store websites as well, as sometimes you can double-dip and get a bigger discount from store coupons.
5) Never pay full price – Head straight to the clearance when you walk in a store, and buy brands or products that are on sale. Make sure you’re getting a good deal by comparing the sale price to the generic.
6) Shop with a plan – Go to the store with a list! Do your research beforehand to plan out recipes and find what items are on sale. When you go in without a plan, it’s easy to get distracted and buy things you don’t need, or forget things and have to waste time and gas on going back to the store.
7) Use up what you already have – Check your pantry and fridge for foods that are about to expire, and use them up first.
8) Make your own cleaning supplies – Look up recipes for homemade cleaning products. The ingredients are usually not expensive and they’ll make large batches. Bonus: they’ll have less chemicals!
9) Negotiate – I have a colleague who negotiates price on everything from a new car, to jewelry at Macy’s. If it’s on sale, ask to speak to a manager who may be able to negotiate a more affordable price for you. Sometimes they can’t, but it’s worth a shot. He got 7 gold necklaces for the price of two! (Don’t try to haggle for small things like groceries; you’ll lose.)
10) Learn how to cut hair – Buy a set of hair clippers and pull up videos online. There are plenty of resources out there for cutting other people’s hair. If you’re brave enough, you can even try cutting your own, or enlist a friend to help you out. If you get your hair cut frequently, you’ll save a ton of cash.
11) Do it yourself – You can find a tutorial for just about anything you need online! Watch videos for how to fix appliances or do small home maintenance and repairs. If it’s a large project with the potential to go seriously wrong, it can be better to trust a professional; you don’t want to have to pay more for any extra damage you may cause.
12) Maintain what you do have – The better you care for what you already have, the longer it will be useable and in good condition. Maintain vehicles and household appliances on a regular basis so you won’t have to pay to repair or replace them.
13) Air dry your clothes – Buy a clothesline or an indoor drying rack to hang your clothes on after washing. Dryers use a lot of electricity and wear your clothing out faster.
14) Give handmade gifts – Thoughtful, handmade gifts are more special to the receiver than getting a generic card or candle that you can buy from a store. Pinterest is an excellent resource for ideas. If you’re not super crafty, no problem – for tips on how to keep gift-giving cheap, check:
15) BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch. It’s tempting to go out for burgers with your colleagues every day, but it’s tough on your wallet and your waistline. Give up junk food altogether, and try to only eat at restaurants once a month. Your jeans will thank you.
16) Shop in bulk – It’s more money upfront, but cheaper for the amount you get (as long as you use it all), and less money wasted on gas.
17) Bathe less – Nobody will notice that you’ve started bathing every other day instead of every morning. You’ll save money on water and bath products. (Unless you are a sweaty exerciser. Then by all means, shower every day – just keep it to under 5 minutes.)
18) Borrow books instead of buying them – Avoid reading everything on your e-reader and borrow a real copy from your local library. It’s free! If the library doesn’t have the book you want, request it. They’ll get it. It’s magical.

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