Updated on 09.22.14

“Best Money Tips” from Facebook Fans

Trent Hamm

Recently, I asked the fans of The Simple Dollar on Facebook what their favorite single money tip was. I got all kinds of responses from all kinds of angles.

I thought I’d share some of them with you. I went through the list and started just pulling out ones that made me smile and before I knew it, I had seventeen. Here they are!

(If you’re on Facebook, please become a fan of The Simple Dollar. I put up something about once a week, so it won’t be flooding your pages with updates.)

Seventeen Best Money Tips from Facebook Fans


Staying at Home

Lisa Hayes: My best tip? Stay home!

Absolutely. For the most part, activities in the home are much less expensive than activities out and about. Watching a movie at home? Much cheaper than a theater. Making a meal at home? Much cheaper than eating out. Having a few drinks with friends? Much cheaper at home than at a club.

2. The Grocery Game

Tammy Ackerson: Signed up for The Grocery Game. Routinely saves me (family of 3) over $100/week on things I’d have bought anyway, and takes less time than sorting through all the sale papers and coupons myself. Requires stockpiling non-perishable foods, paper goods, health and hygiene items to get the most out of it, but after a few months, I started having some weeks where I didn’t have to buy anything but milk and produce.

I used The Grocery Game for a time, but I never found that it saved me much more than simply knowing the best stores to shop at in the area and planning my meals well. It could be that it just doesn’t serve rural Iowa all that well. However, I do agree that sensible buying in bulk can save you quite a lot of money, as can putting some care into meal planning.

3. Avoid the sale trap

Kara Ryder-Overman: Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean you should buy it

For me, the most annoying thing in advertisements about sales is when companies talk about how much money you “save.” You don’t save anything by buying more stuff. You’re still throwing away the money you worked so hard for in exchange for some stuff that you probably don’t need.

4. All-cash personal economy

Susan Vittitow Mark: One year, my New Year’s resolution was simply “If I can’t pay cash, I don’t need it.”

An all-cash personal economy works really well for keeping yourself out of debt. I still recommend keeping a credit card and using it for some essential purchases to keep your credit rating high (like owning a gas station card and using it only for gas, then paying off the balance each month), because a high credit rating can help with insurance rates.

5. Befriend compulsive upgraders

Kristin Cribbs Dunlap: Make friends with compulsive upgraders – from “The Complete Tightwad Gazette”.

Compulsive upgraders always have stuff they’re giving away. Another tip along these lines: look for yard sales and garage sales in upscale neighborhoods. They’re often selling stuff for $0.50 that I’d love to have in my home.

6. Rent out an extra room

Sue Peterson Blyth: Developing our single family home into an intentional community – now housing four families – pays for our mortgage payment and also adds neighbors committed to things like energy conservation, recycling and help with weeding in the garden.

This takes renting out an extra room in your home to a whole new level! I think this could work very well with the right people, but the wrong people could easily poison the pot.

7. Ask for what you want

leslie beslie: Ask! Ask for a lower insurance rate. Ask for a better cable/deal. Ask for reduced interest. Ask about current sales/promotions. Ask for a raincheck.

This works great if you’re an extrovert. I’ve been working on an article about this for a while, building on the idea of askers and guessers.

8. Understand your wants versus your needs

Daniel Aggeler: Separate your “want list” from your “need list”.

I think many people are poor at doing this on the fly. Marketing intensifies the urgency of various wants, to the point that they become all-encompassing to people. They think about the thing they want incessantly until the urgency of it becomes almost like a need, especially in some situations where it’s very convenient just to buy the item.

9. Live within your means

Sumitra Thomas: Dont spend on champagne when you only can afford beer!

Both literally and figuratively, of course.

Stephanie Pope Hedgepeth: Set up an automatic bank transfer from checking account to savings account each pay date.

Most of our personal finances run on automatic transfers. Our retirement savings is done by automatic transfer. Our long term goal saving is done by automatic transfer. Our emergency fund is built by automatic transfer. Many of our bills are paid automatically.

10. Don’t drink away your problems or paycheck

Sandra Clark: Don’t drive home past the liquor store when you work at a job that you really don’t like and consistently frustrates you!

This was perhaps the funniest one. Don’t turn to alcohol to solve your problems, folks!

11. Ask yourself: Why buy new?

Kymberlee Parker-Young: MOST people buy a new(er) car because they WANT one not because they NEED one.

Most people buy most things because they want them, not because they need them. A nice car doesn’t provide transportation, it provides a sense of owning a nice car.

12. Make your own!

Kyrie Moore: cloth diapers i sew myself, built our own diaper sprayer (from online tutorial), i clean everything with just vinegar and/or baking soda, rags instead of paper towels (with kids paper towels go SO fast), AND us and 3 family members go in a whole cow every year for meat… okay that’s a lot more than just 1….

Making things yourself almost always saves money. My family and I are ardent cloth diaperers. We have a nice garden. We make most of our meals at home, from scratch. Yet we eat really well and diaper rash isn’t a problem – and we don’t spend much, either.

13. Buy a house you can afford

Hannah Pitts: Don’t buy more house than you can afford!

I think if you’re more than doubling your combined salary in a mortgage, no matter what the interest rate, you’re setting yourself up for potential trouble down the road.

14. Buy used first

Candie Ackerman: Buy used before trying to buy anything new.

The easiest way to do this is to shop at the used store first. When you go clothes shopping, start at the consignment shop (we’ve been frequenting Duck Worth Wearing in Ames, Iowa for our children’s clothes needs lately, for example) or Goodwill. If you want a video game, hit a used video game shop. The list goes on and on.

15. Think before you buy

Karen Eck: I shop with forethought and afterthought. Many, many times I pick up an item only to return it to the self .”Do I need it, do I already have one, can I do without, why do I need it, would something I have work just as well in its place. Doing this has saved us alot of money.

If you’re buying stuff without thinking, you’re not only paying too much for the stuff you’re getting, but you’re also likely picking up a lot of stuff you don’t need and barely want.

16. Don’t shop for fun

Jennifer Sheets: No recreational shopping!

To me, “recreational shopping” doesn’t sound like fun at all. Whenever I’m in a store, my mission is usually to get out of there as quickly as possible.

17. Make the right choice even if it isn’t the easiest

Susan Jensen: Live within your means. If you cannot afford it, do not buy it. Above all, choose to do what’s right, over what’s easy.

That’s pretty much the best single shot of advice in this whole article.

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  1. funkright says:

    “Don’t buy more house than you can afford! I think if you’re more than doubling your combined salary in a mortgage, no matter what the interest rate, you’re setting yourself up for potential trouble down the road.”

    That may be a nice sentiment and sage advice, but in many areas (say Vancouver BC Canada) it just isn’t possible. The multiple up here is often 6 to 8 times not 2.. Wifey and I earn 130k combined and if I just went to 2x, well, I would be living in a pile of crap.. Lowest seems to be approx 3 to 3.5sh.. I would love 2x.. Good Lord would I love 2x..

  2. Johanna says:

    “To me, “recreational shopping” doesn’t sound like fun at all. Whenever I’m in a store, my mission is usually to get out of there as quickly as possible.”

    Actually, the way you’ve described your approach to shopping at thrift stores and yard sales, it sounds quite a lot like what I would call “recreational shopping”: Go, take a look around, if you see anything you want at a good price, buy it, but if not, leave. I do basically the same thing, but usually with regular stores’ clearance racks rather than at thrift stores.

    Recreational shopping (or maybe “recreational window shopping”) also helps keep you informed about what’s available and at what price – so you can better identify the good prices when you see them, and so that when you do want to buy something, you have a better idea where to look for it.

    IF you have the willpower not to buy a bunch of stuff you don’t actually want just for the sake of buying stuff, it seems to me that recreational shopping can actually save you money.

  3. Fidget says:

    One more tip along the lines of upscale yard-sales: if you live near a university or a college down, scavenge during move-out week! Bonuses if you can get near an Ivy that makes students live on-campus. The night before graduation, I stumbled in with a few nice wooden chairs (couldn’t get the boyfriend to roll in a table) someone had had to dump, and 6 pairs of crutches (for crutch wars!). My roommate made out even better, since she had family an hour away and could store things throughout finals: two vacuum cleaners, a good printer, some glassware, and a few sombreros.
    The dump pile during grad week got so large that it started to bleed into designated motorcycle parking. Some poor guy nearly lost his mo-ped :)

  4. chacha1 says:

    I agree, Johanna! I “shop” more or less constantly – without buying. Because I’m always going to need a new pair of shoes or a new shirt for the office eventually … how am I going to create a frugal yet functional wardrobe without looking at clothes?

  5. Holly says:

    Nice reminder to use self-control when it comes to the finances. That’s why I check in daily!

  6. Each of these tips is a gem, although I must disagree with the liquor store comment-good stress reducer :)
    Having a readers list of tips is great. Personally, every spending decision I make, I evaluate by the economic principle of “opportunity cost” ie is this the best use of my money at the present time, and am I getting enough value/enjoyment for the cost.

  7. Courtney says:

    I had to chuckle a little at “You don’t save anything by buying more stuff” versus “They’re often selling stuff for $0.50 that I’d love to have in my home” two tips later. On the one hand it’s just a really, really great sale; on the other hand, it’s still more stuff.

  8. Pop says:

    A few of these seem to boil down to: It’s easier to avoid being tempted at all than to try to resist temptation repeatedly.

  9. maureen says:

    Balance your checkbook/bank account or at least write down your purchases…ALL OF THEM. I work for a bank and I hear at least 3 times a week how someone shouldn’t have to pay for that overdraft fee because it’s not their fault they forgot about the Chinese food they bought over the weekend and now they don’t have enought to pay the rent.

  10. Anna says:

    “ASK” I had an “in-store” only coupon for 25% off at my go-to clothing store. They had nothing in store but online they had 100’s of items on sale but I couldn’t use my coupon. I simply e-mailed the company wondering if I “shipped to store” (to get free shipping) could I than pay with my 25% off in-store coupon, they told me “no” but sent me a 25% off coupon code plus a free-shipping code so I was getting the clothes I really wanted from online with the deals from the store. It was far more than I was hoping to get from them all because I asked.

  11. Anna says:

    Also I have found if you e-mail companies you use regularly with comments, good or bad, they will typically send you a coupon for just letting them know. I have gotten several 20% off coupons from stores, even large companies, just for telling them about a helpful salesperson or a disapointing experience and how it could be improved. A great “paycheck” for a few minutes of my time.

  12. Grace says:

    Here’s another one: Don’t memorize your credit card number! It’s way too easy to make that online purchase when you don’t have to get out of the chair, go get your purse, open your wallet, and get the card out. Maybe I can try to make myself forget the number somehow.

  13. KT says:

    “I think if you’re more than doubling your combined salary in a mortgage, no matter what the interest rate, you’re setting yourself up for potential trouble down the road.”

    This, this in a high cost-of-living area where the rent-to-buy ratio leans in the direction of buy (therefore rents are really no cheaper than buying) throws me completely. How do you do it without earning more money?

  14. What a very sad commentary that you receive those awful emails. I always look forward to your daily email and find you are so upfront and helpful in the way you continue to approach the fact that we make a zillion choices each day and they matter. I refer to your writing regularly when I train and speak and see it as a source of inspiration and great ideas. Keep up the good work–the vast majority of us are rooting for you and only with you the best!

  15. Sam says:

    On the car want/need new car thing… I’d kinda dispute that. There are features with my current car that drive me nuts and cost us time to the point I do debate getting a different car (like the back seat not folding down so we can’t haul anything that won’t it in the back seat). That said, it’d be a used car but it’d still be new to me.

    On the buying used thing – for things that have a power plug, might be good to check Amazon.com user reviews to see what people say about it. That’s saved me from some Criagslist stuff that wouldn’t have panned out in my favor.

  16. Sharon says:

    What do you mean by “doubling your combined salary in a mortgage” mean? How should you calculate what % of your income you should put on your mortgage?

  17. Johanna says:

    The askers vs. guessers article, by the way, is really fascinating, as is the metafilter thread it links to. I’m looking forward to the post you’re planning on the topic.

    I think I’m somewhere in between an asker and a guesser. I’m not always comfortable asking for things, and I often worry about annoying people (especially people I don’t know, which I’m not sure makes much sense) by asking for too much. But I’m usually just fine with saying “no” to people, and on the few occasions when I’m not, I recognize that it’s my fault for not saying “no,” not the other person’s fault for asking.

    Persisting with a request *after* receiving a clearly articulated “no,” though, I think is one of the most disrespectful things you can do to another person. (In a social situation, anyway – when asking the phone bank workers for a lower interest rate on your credit card, persistence is just fine.)

  18. Al says:

    “Make friends with compulsive upgraders”

    This is slippery slope. Being around compulsive upgraders will introduce social pressure to upgrade things in your life. Its along the same lines as the driving past the liquor store. Ignorance of new items could be financial bliss. Sure the free items might be nice but if you have a willpower issue then this may be a problem waiting in the wings.

  19. CPA Salary says:

    The best advice is to automatically have 10% or more of your salary invested into a Roth IRA.

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