How I save over $10,000 a year!

Nov 28 2016
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I’m sure you guys have noticed that “frugal” is basically my middle name. I really really hate having to buy anything new and just the knowledge of how much we’ll be paying for our house on our thirty year loan in interest is enough to give me heart palpitations! So, I do what I can to help us live as frugally as possible in the hopes that someday we will have a little extra so that we can pay off our house a lot faster. With Joe just starting his own business we have learned to cinch our belts a little tighter and put off our mortgage free dreams for a little longer. But, I never give up hope, and every single cent I can save us helps us in the long run! And, ya know what? It also makes us a lot healthier as I have found, time and time again, when we make it ourselves (whether its food or cleaning products or really anything) it is almost always better for us as well!

Find out how we save an additional $4,200 a year just on groceries! Click here!

UPDATE: December 27, 2017 Joe and I are now divorced and my financial situation has thrown me hard now that I’m alone. It is with tips like the ones following in this post that I am surviving and planning on how to get my house paid off ASAP.

We have an Amazon Prime account that costs us $100 per year, with free two day shipping on most items and special coupons and deals for prime members it is totally worth it for us. Not to mention, we don’t have Satellite tv, what we have is Amazon Prime and an internet connection using our Wii. Our internet costs us $31 per month and Amazon Prime costs us $8 a month, pretty much totally worth it if you ask me.
All out savings: $360 PER YEAR! (I averaged $60 per month for Satellite tv, this may be high in your area or low, I tried to hit somewhere in the middle. It is true that if you combine your internet and your Satellite tv you can usually get a better deal. Also, we don’t have/pay for a home phone line.)

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

I make our laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, hand soap and my own lotion (I call it body butter) and have not purchased any of those items in their commercial form since we moved in in August 2015. We also don’t buy or use any commercial cleaning products or fabric softener. (Yes we literally buy vinegar by the gallon.)
All out savings: $1000 PER YEAR!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

Electric bill. (We have our own well so we pay to pump the water out of the ground with an electric pump as opposed to paying a city for water.) I usually take 1-2 showers a week, I rarely wash my hair more then once a week. Joe still showers more often then I do but he’s a mason so he gets REALLY dirty. I have long hair and keeping it healthy by washing it rarely also saves a lot on shampoo and conditioner. We also don’t wash clothes any more then we absolutely have to. We hang our towels up in the bathroom after we use them and keep reusing them for as long as possible. With all of that our water consumption is pretty low. We also chose to buy an LG energy efficient washer/dryer combination: one unit, it both washes and then dries our clothes in one long cycle – we average three loads a week. We chose to purchase an on-demand-hot-water-heater so we’re only paying for hot water when we’re using it. ALL of our kitchen appliances are electric energy efficient/energy star rated and we use them just about every day and we’re also running a six foot long chest freezer all of the time. We have all of the energy efficient light bulbs in our home and we unplug just about everything when we’re not using it. We also heat with wood not electricity.
All out savings: $480 PER YEAR! Our electric bill averages only $60 a month! If that isn’t a testament to energy star rated appliances, the new on-demand-hot-water-heaters and our washer/dryer combination unit I don’t know what is! (How I figured out how much we’re saving: the average electric bill in Minnesota is $90 per month.)

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

Joe and I both drive old vehicles. My car is a 2002 Toyota Corolla with over 230,000 miles on it. She still gets AWESOME gas mileage (I literally only fill her up twice a month to a tune of about $40 all together) and I paid her off several years ago. To me there was no justification for paying on an auto loan any longer then absolutely necessary. I made it my goal one year a long time ago to have my car paid off in six months and I did it! Joe has some automotive background experience and does all of the work on our cars.
All out savings: $240 PER YEAR! And that’s just the savings on changing our own oil 🙂 Honestly you can’t put a price on the amount of money that you can be saving on interest by paying off an auto loan etc. Buy a good, dependable vehicle and drive it forever, maintain it well and do your research. I’m almost thirty years old and am still driving my first car!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

Insurance. I’m not even going to get started on the cost of health insurance now in the United States, it is our second largest bill beside our house payment and every time I pay it it makes me want to throw up. ANYWAY… I’m bringing up insurance because of auto and house insurance and what I found out from our local insurance agent. Did you know you can roll your auto insurance and house insurance into a single plan and save money on both? When comparing rates with Geicko, Progressive, State Farm etc. My local company beat THEM ALL. Do your research online first and then check out your local insurance agents that aren’t loyal to just one company! By rolling our auto insurance (on our two vehicles) and house insurance together we saved over $50 a month.
All out savings: $600 PER YEAR!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

Several years ago a friend of mine used to work nights at a gas station and I would go keep them company from time to time. What stunned me was just how much money people spend on random crap at gas stations! Once Joe tallied up how much he was spending on gas station breakfast burritos and coffee every morning and he couldn’t believe it! $150 a MONTH! Do some math, think about it (and be honest) when it comes to the “little” things you buy outside of the home it really is the small purchases that add up the most! I never buy anything in a gas station – Joe and I both keep recycled glass containers with water from our home in our cars all the time so it helps keep us from buying something bottled to drink.
All out savings: $1800 PER YEAR! I’m still just stunned by this one! lol WOW, those breakfast burritos couldn’t have been that good!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

I use cash back rewards credit cards for absolutely every purchase and bill that I pay. I don’t use my debit card or cash for anything. Sound crazy? Yeah, I know it seems counter intuitive – any article you read online about saving money will tell you to pay off and then cut up your credit cards and throw them away. Here’s the truth though: if you pay your cards off every month you never have to pay interest so in other words: your rewards credit cards will pay you to use them! For the last few years I’ve just been applying my rewards points directly back on the card itself but then I discovered something amazing. My Thank You Rewards Master Card and my Chase Rewards Card linked directly to my Amazon Prime account and their rewards balance automatically applies to every purchase I make. Right now I have over $60 sitting on my Amazon account waiting to pay for my next purchase! Get online accounts with all of your credit cards to stay on top of them. I have six credit cards and the three cards that don’t have the best rewards points I still apply one or two small purchases a year on them and then pay them off immediately so they stay active. Every time you pay a bill on time it is good for your credit even if it is only $2! For me credit cards are just another set of hands my money goes through before paying a bill I’m paying anyway and they pay me to let that money go through their hands because they’re hoping I’ll screw up at some point and have to pay them interest.
Last year my credit cards earned me over $2,000!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household productsMake money by shopping online by using Ebates!

We make our own cigarettes. I know I know I know, we know we know we know, we NEED to quit smoking. Joe and I have never been hard core smokers, neither one of us has ever been a pack a day smoker or, if we have, it was a very very very bad day. I average about half a pack a day, give or take. Joe is a less consistent smoker then me, sometimes he goes days only smoking one or two, other days he smokes more then I do, sometimes he quits for weeks at a time. Regardless it translated to around five cartons a month between us and that translated to about $400 a month. So, we decided that since quitting smoking tomorrow is apparently not going to just “happen” we needed to re-access our situation and get honest with ourselves. (The buying one pack at a time only when you need it is something really common in smokers, almost as though we don’t want to admit that we’re going to keep smoking so we never stock up or invest in a cigarette making machine etc. so the decision to start making our own meant we had to get real with ourselves.) So, we started making our own cigarettes, we buy the filters/tubes, the tobacco and we purchased a manual machine to do it. A pack for us now costs us less then $2.00 – so a carton now costs us $20. So, in other words, we went from paying around $400 a month for cigarettes to only paying about $100 a month.
All out savings: $3600 PER YEAR! Not bad, we still need to quit and end that cost entirely but it sure did help!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

Last thing: I learned from another blog actually about a trick for Amazon Prime members that is really rather cool. I’m an avid reader and it turns out that if you select “no-rush” shipping instead of taking advantage of the free two day shipping Amazon will give you $1 credit on e-books! It gets better then that though: I made a purchase yesterday from the Amazon pantry and by selecting “no-rush” shipping on my Amazon Pantry purchase, I got a $5.99 credit on our next Amazon Pantry purchase!

All in that savings totals over $10,000 a YEAR!

How we save over $10,000 per year on insurance, electric bill, cigarettes, smoking, cheap, save money, frugal tips, car maintenance, household products

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  1. Jenny Young
    November 29, 2016 at 3:15 am

    I love hearing about people who really want to be debt-free. Being debt free gives you so much freedom!

    We were able to pay our 30 yr mortgage off in 10 yrs. I quit my job, had a baby & we bought a car within those yrs but I think quitting my job really made such a huge difference. Staying home gave me time to do many things we were paying for before.

    Don’t give up. Pay anything you can on the principle of your mortgage. Every little bit will help you pay it off faster..really if it’s only $50…$20…whatever, pay it if you can. Our son was 6 yrs old when we paid ours off. How much easier it was to enjoy raising him without a mortgage! We paid off the rest of our debt by the time he was 10 so we went through his teen yrs with so much more freedom than we would have been able to otherwise. You are much more self-sufficient than we ever were so keep up the great work. You will do it.

    • November 29, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Oh Jenny thank you so much for the inspiration!! I am hoping that this year I will be able to save around $1,000 throughout the whole year to put against the principle, that’s my first goal! Reading online and doing the math it looked like that would hack off upwards of nearly 5 years and that would save us an incredible amount of money on interest.

      • Sue
        December 4, 2016 at 9:14 pm

        Hi, We are paying our mortgage off early too, by making the equivalent of one extra note a year, we are paying it off 3 years early. If we had paid two or three extra notes a year it would have been paid much sooner. Anything you can do to add to the payment and apply it on principle is going to save so more than you would think.

        PS Great idea about Amazon Prime, I am looking into that myself right now…THANKS!

        • Sue
          December 4, 2016 at 9:17 pm

          I figured my estimate wrong on our mortgage, it was a 20 year payoff, but we are paying it out 7 years early… (Math is NOT my forte…haha) But saving money is a strength…

        • December 5, 2016 at 4:03 pm

          That’s a great idea!! I’ve been looking in to how much we could pay against the principle every year (maybe with our tax refund… if we get a refund) and seeing as to how many years and how much interest that would save us. If we only put $1,000 extra year on our mortgage we would seriously save nearly 40,000 in interes :-0 like, what?! That’s crazy to me! So, that’s what I’m working toward! 🙂

  2. November 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    You and Joe have done an amazing job not just with the savings, but by tackling so many projects at home by yourself. I admire you both so much and wish you everything that’s beautiful and soulful for a lifetime. You will do it and more. Keep on inspiring all of us Tarah <3

    • November 29, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      Oh Michelle, my goodness, thank you so much for your kind words!

  3. December 5, 2016 at 3:32 am

    We’ve done a lot of that too. Insurance “brokers” will always find the best deals. Another thing- you can set up mortgage payments for every other week, instead of twice a month. That can add one or two extra payments per year. Pay off your mortgage faster! You may be able to find some free smoking cessation programs through state/county agancies. We have them thru the state. We keep our cars running too, and way past the paid off point, it’s great!

    • December 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Nancy, I’ve heard about that! I’ll be contacting my bank to see if we can’t get that set up for every two weeks on an automatic withdrawal. Thank you!

      • June 20, 2017 at 11:58 pm

        I saved some by combining house and auto insurance, but when I signed up with CAA (probably AAA for you; I’m in Canada) my premiums were half. HALF! Check it out. Also, on the smoking, I pay $10 for 200 cigs by shopping at the rez. There are WAY less carcinogens in native smokes. Some of them are even organic tobacco. The average commercial cigarette has about 70 toxic chemicals. I swear, Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Agriculture is out to kill humans.

        • June 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

          Hi Sherry, $10 for 200 cigs?! What a great deal! we used to go to the rez too but Minnesota changed something in our laws that cigarettes even on the rez now are getting more and more expensive though I don’t know how, legally, they have been doing it. I know a lot of people that drive over the border to another state to get their cigarettes because Minnesota taxes the heck out of cigarettes, like over double what other states sell them for! I totally agree with you! We’ve been looking for organic tobacco too and I even went so far as to look into growing and drying it for us too.

  4. January 19, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Yes, to all of these! Sometimes I forget how much all of these things save money, like making homemade laundry detergent, but in they really do. Thanks for the reminder!

    • January 19, 2017 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks for coming by Kelly!

  5. January 23, 2017 at 3:38 am

    These are some great tips! They really add up. I do several of these as well. Sharing and pinning #HomeMattersParty

  6. January 24, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    These are some great ideas. Some I agree with and others…not so much. But I do believe that saving money is important since so much is “wasted” these days on needless things.

  7. January 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    That’s awesome that you’re saving so much a year!! Congrats! Also very cool is that you’re making money off your credit cards! Keep it up! You guys are doing great! What an inspiration!!

  8. Jann Olson
    January 25, 2017 at 3:21 am

    So many great tips for saving! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    • January 25, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks Jann for coming by!

  9. January 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Some great tips here! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY Party!

  10. February 4, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    That is absolutely amazing! Congrats to you and Joe for biting the bullet and making the changes to live as debt free as possible. Thank you for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story, and I hope you’re having a great weekend.

  11. February 9, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Really great advice! We love our Amazon Prime, too! Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday!

  12. February 16, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Great post! 🙂

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  13. May 4, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Excellent post. I am going to review my financial health to see what I can do to incorporate these ideas. Some of them I already do. Have you tried the cleaning vinegar? It is a little stronger than the regular white vinegar.

    • May 5, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      He Debra, no I actually went looking for a stronger vinegar this year for the weeds in our yard but I can’t find any in my town dang it! And the cost to order it is out of our affordability :/ Where do you get yours?

  14. November 8, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Tarah, I am impressed with your resourcefulness. I had never heard of a combo washer/dryer, what a concept. I also did not know about the credit for ebooks on Amazon, I will definitely check that out. I agree that paying for health care is a challenge, but can be done by saving money in other areas like you do. I hope you and your husband will commit to quit smoking, especially if you have or will have children. Good luck.

    • November 8, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Hi Aletha, thanks so much for coming by, reading and commenting! Joe and I are child free by choice and really look forward to our next 50 years together. Saving money is definitely a challenge, especially nowadays where just about everything seems to be going up! But I love living frugally!

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