Saving Money in the New Year

Money saving tips and strategies for saving money in the new year from the ThriftyFun community. Feel free to post your ideas!

Saving Seeds

I will be saving money by using my free seeds I have received during the past few months and I am still receiving them. This will save a huge amount of money. You can too, just go to one of the many seed exchange groups at yahoo groups. By exchanging seeds or just giving ones you no longer need or have too many of, you will also have many more seeds (that the seeds you plant this coming year produce.)


Peace and Love,

By Barb from Sioux Falls, SD

Using Debit Instead of Credit

I have an ATM debit card that has a MasterCard logo on it. I also joined PayPal. This way I no longer use a credit card, even if a merchant only takes credit cards.

With the logo card, or PayPal, I can pay merchants who take credit cards, but the "charge" is debited from my checking account, and there is no interest to pay. I am saving a lot of money, and it's great to be credit-card free.

By Carrie Singer from Pasadena, CA

Be Sure You Are Using Your Debit As A Credit Card

This is in response to using your debit card with the VISA/MASTERCARD logo. Be sure to use it as a credit card and select credit instead of debit. A lot of merchants really want you to select debit since their fees are much cheaper. However, my bank, US Bank, charges .25 every time I use my card as a debit and I earn interest, not much, on my purchases I make by selecting credit. I've heard that Walmart is pretty insistent that you use debit but I haven't had a problem, though.


By Susan

Or Just Use Credit And Get Points

I understand your tip on the debit card, but why give up your money right away? When you use a debit card, the money comes out of your bank before you even walk out of the store. Here's a tip, get a credit card which gives you something back, like hotel points. Then use that card all month for EVERYTHING you buy, and as many of your bills as possible. Your money stays in the bank all month, earning a little interest, and you send the credit card company one check at the end of the month. Be sure to send it on time, and you'll never pay interest charges. Plus, you get those points! We used to have a GM MasterCard we used this way, and built up over $3000 in points which we applied to the purchase of a car. Now we have a Marriott Rewards Visa which gives us points for hotel stays at Marriott properties. We haven't paid credit card interest in years, and we have over 300,000 Marriott points. That's enough to stay in any Marriott property in the world for a week - free! We've used them for free hotel rooms for weekend trips, paid for our entire family's rooms when our daughters graduated from college out of town, and more.


By Debra

Increasing Deposits in Savings

Best money saving tip would have to be a three-part plan we've adopted for increasing our deposits to the savings account.

1. Saving all coins to be wrapped and deposited to the account. A money mill helps with this as at the end of each day, we just empty our change ~ ALL of it ~ into the mill. We don't carry it with us so we don't spend it.

2. Saving all $1 bills in a bank envelope to be deposited each week. You will be shocked at how many $1 bills cross your palm in a week!

3. Activating an automatic electronic deposit to our savings account from our paycheck before the pay check even comes to us.

We began three years ago with the coins, then two years ago added the $1 bills, and last year, activated the direct deposit to our savings account.

As we got used to each level of savings, we anticipated the next, and if you aren't sure it will make a difference to you, then at least use a calculator to keep track of the change and the $1 bills for a week.


I think you will be surprised at how much you could be saving. We were!

By Ronsan from Southwest Missouri

Repaying Savings Account

If you're forced to dip into your savings for an emergency, consider it a loan that must be paid back in a reasonable period of time, and set up a repayment schedule.

By Nancy from Madison, WI

Buy Gift Cards For Christmas Throughout The Year

Having trouble saving enough money for the end of the year holidays. Buy cards from retailers and add a little money each week. The trick is not to use the card until the holiday is near. Retailers like Wal-Mart don't take money out of the card if you don't use it. Be careful tho' because some retailers do!

By Loretta from Mesa, AZ

Give Homemade Gifts At Christmas

One year we all made homemade gifts. It was the best Christmas I have ever had. Some made crafts, some foods, woodcrafts, paper cards, homemade wrapping paper, bows etc.


By PJP58 from Oklahoma

Editor's Note: It's a good time of year to contact the family to make plans for next year for everyone drawing names, making homemade gifts, family members going together to buy gifts or whatever plans you wish you had done this year.

Saving on Heating Bills

If you have windows you don't use, that you don't need to open or to see out of often, cover them with insulation to cut your utility costs. Get the foam board insulation, cut it to fit snuggly into the window frame, and just wedge it in.

In the winter, it keeps cold air from coming in and warm air from going out. In the summer, it does the opposite. Keep your curtains closed and no one need know it is there. If you want to use the window one season or another, just take out the insulation during that time. This can make a huge difference in your heating and air conditioning energy bills.

By Coleen from Alaska

Have Coffee At Home

My husband and I go out for breakfast most every morning. It is our social time to strengthen community ties. It keeps us from getting cabin fever during Alaska's long dark winters.


We plan to save money this year by having our coffee at home first. If we do this just five days a week, it will save us about $500 a year.

Instead of drinking our coffee at home on the run as we get dressed, we decided to make it into a special time for us. We're taking time to sit together and plan our day, review goals, and make sure we are on track to accomplish what we want in the new year.

By Coleen from Soldotna, Alaska

Save With Freesycle/Be Honest About Presents

A great find this year to aid in saving not only money on every day items you need but also help reduce the amount of "good" trash that hits the landfills, is "". I have given and gotten so many items since I learned of this group.

Another huge way of saving is to be honest and gently discuss what presents you received but will never use. My Dear Husband bought me an outrageously expensive complete outfit that I would have only worn to please him but one attached tag clued me in. This gift was for his wife that always shops in nicer neighborhood consignment stores. He also bought me 2 costly appliances that I already had but rarely use because their capacity is too large for us as a couple. He got lots of loving points for the thought but was OK that his wife wasn't that wasteful. So ask.... we all get items that people bought to please us but just isn't ever going to be used. Trust those you love and remember to be sweet when it is reversed with the gift you gave.

By Rosemarie (Tampa)

Avoid Shopping

The best way I've found to save money is to use what I have rather then go shopping. If I need to make a meal, go through my pantry, freezer, etc and make something from there. If I'm getting bored with my clothes, go through my various pieces and see if I can put some new combination together. If I'm just bored, call up a friend and invite them over for tea and goodies I've baked from what I have in the pantry. Read the books I already own, watch some videos I already have taped, take a walk in my neighborhood, read!! You get the idea!

By Pat

Bank Of America's "Keep The Change" Program

Bank of America has a great program called Keep the change. If you have a debit card for checking AND a savings account, each debit transaction (with few exceptions) is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the change is deposited into your savings. They consider this a regular savings deposit, so you don't get the monthly service fee too. We switched to them and saved ALOT of money in fees alone!

By Kelly

Use Your Emergency Fund For Large Purchases

We have an emergency fund in our savings account; we use it for items we want to buy also (we bought a computer for Christmas); we considered that a loan and paid it back very quickly - we do not "dip" into our emergency fund very often.


Drink Water When Eating Out

We can save money and drink healthier, too, if we ask for water when we eat out. Offer your children a dollar if they will choose water instead of a soda. It is surprising how quickly and painlessly those dollars add up.

By Deanne

Save Any Money Outside Of Pay

I work part time, and my pay always includes "in lieu of benefits" and "vacation pay" on each cheque. I started taking this amount right off the top, and saving it separately. It's already added to a nice tidy sum in a few short months! I have this to fall back on in case of emergency, or, as my plan is, for part of my children's university costs for next year.

By carol

Automatically Save Your Raise

Most people get a raise at least once a year. When this happens, set up your paycheck to automatically deposit the difference into a savings account. You have already been living without this money so you should be able to save it without noticing. Even if it is only $50 more a month, it will add up!

By Jess (TF Editor)

Make Envelopes

I use old wall calendar pages to make envelopes.

By Maryeileen

Save By Just Using Half

I have found that there are a lot of ways to save on the things I use. Try using only half of whatever it is. Tear off half a paper towel, Empty new bottles of shampoo, etc, into two and add water. Same way with liquid soaps, dishwashing liquids, window cleaners, and other cleaning liquids. Instead of buying cans of soda, buy the big bottle and just pour 1/2 a glass and add ice. When baking, divide the dough and only bake l/2, put the rest into refrigerator or freezer for later fresh baking. When sweet pickles are gone, save the juice and add the less expensive dill ones to sweeten. Clean out almost empty bottles and jars of catsup, mustard etc with a little vinegar to use in salads.

Last saver, is if zipper bags are not too soiled or melted, wash out with soapy water to reuse.

By ruthvalleygal

Dave Ramsey

All I can say is Dave Ramsey! Total Money Makeover! Visit his site at, your life will be changed forever!

By Amy K in Lansing MI

Save On Utilities And Tax

Shop around for better prices on:

  • Home insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Cable service
  • Internet service
  • Home phone service
  • Cell phone service

Or whatever else you pay a monthly or yearly fee for. The internet makes this soooo easy.

For example, we recently realized we had too much Netflix subscription. We were paying $15 per month for unlimited rentals and only had time to watch about 2 movies, so we switched to the 2-a-month plan for only $5 per month. You may have something similar you could cut back on without feeling like you are missing out.

When you do your taxes, if you get a large refund, talk to the human resources or employee benefits department at your work to adjust the withholding amount on your paycheck. Don't give the government an interest free loan, keep more money in your pocket each month instead.

By Allison

Save Your Change For Christmas Shopping

I save all my change from one Christmas to the next, I put it in a cup. When the cup is full, I put it in a jar. When I go shopping I only use my paper money, This way I always have change to save. I find it easier to save change then paper money. Come Christmas, I have extra money to shop with, It helps a lot. I normally have $300.00 and more when I'm ready to go shopping. I take it to a bank that has a coin counter. I already started for next year. Good Luck!

By Connie, Pa

Wait A Month Before Buying

If something cost over $50, wait one month and if you STILL feel like you need or want it, then you can buy it. This way, no "spur of the moment spending mistakes"

Back in the 1980's when my kids were young, and I quit work to stay home with them, I heard a guy on the radio give that tip. I've followed it since. (But, because of inflation, these days you'd probably need to change the $50 rule to a $100 rule)

*Of course, this doesn't count for emergencies! (like if your furnace goes out in the middle of the winter) But, this "rule" has saved me LOTS of money. Especially if I see something I just HAVE to have because it's on sale. I'll think, "Hmmm, It'll be on sale again... I'll wait and think about it." This way I know for sure that it was the right thing to buy!

By Cyinda

Shop Secondhand

I mainly shop thrift stores and flea markets and garage sales to decorate and most of my kids designer clothes come from there as well! I buy things I can save on in the dollar stores also besides walmart, I don't really shop a lot in any other major stores and I honestly don't miss it all that much. We actually can afford to shop other places but why waste the money? all my shabby/ Victorian lamps, curtains, pillows, etc come from there. Just about all my cottage decor in my house is from a thrift store!Also I cut out photos I call inspiration pics to look at, so when I am a store and I see something, I can see how I can rehab or use it to decorate with. I get great finds and help either Goodwill's or Salvation Army's mission at the same time! I also donate all my kids stuff that no longer fits, only in good condition stuff! This year I made coco gifts and got my canisters there and some of the mugs that were still new, someone else didn't want and donated. I also bought all kinds of ornaments there to make tomato cage ornament trees, similar to the ones I saw at a store, high end for like 40 bucks! You can be frugal and have it all! I plan to post pics as soon as I learn how!

Differentiate Between Wants And Needs

Dont buy anything you don't absolutely need. Learn to differentiate between "wants" and "needs." If you only want something, don't buy it.

By Carol in PA

Check Out The Dollar Stretcher

Read the Dollar Stretcher. Lots and lots of good ideas here. Get their e-newsletter free every week.

By Joann

Rules To Save Money

Here are some rules I live by to save $:

  1. If you don't need it, don't buy it.
  2. Eat most meals at home/brown bag.
  3. Buy generic, use coupons, stock up at sales, if possible.
  4. Walk/bike ride/mass transit in lieu of driving.
  5. If you can pay the balance in full each month, Discover Card pays you 1% back on all purchases. I use the Discover Card for almost all of my purchases and I usually get about $300 back per year.
  6. Get rid of extras on your phone such as call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, etc. We screen our calls through our answering machine.
  7. If you have a cell phone that is used for emergencies only, get rid of costly monthly plans and purchase a pay-as-you-go cell phone.
  8. My bank (WaMu) has its own web site and I found they offer online CDs and savings accounts which offer higher rates than if you opened those accounts at their branch offices.
  9. Get money back for shopping at
  10. Buy used rather than new. If you buy a new vehicle, it depreciates right after you drive it off the lot.
  11. Shop at thrift stores, garage sales, consignment/resale shops, etc.
  12. Go to the library to read books, magazines, etc.
  13. If possible, always shop around for a better price.

Happy Saving!

By Saavy Saver

Turn Cash Back Into Gift Cards

Just an added comment to the post about getting cash back by using a Discover credit card. Go to their website and you can get as much as twice your regular cash back amount. They have ways to turn your $20 (their minimum cash reward) into $25, $30 or even $40! They will be in the form of gift cards or gift certificates, but if it is a place you normally shop in or are saving up to buy something from, this could be very helpful. Last Christmas, I turned my $60 cash back into a $90 Bed Bath Beyond gift card to buy Christmas gifts and this year I turned my $20 cash back into $40 for a Sharper Image gift card for my husband.

By Amy Lyn Miller

Save By Not Spending In The First Place

Money not spent is the first and most important way to save.

For every dollar you spend you have to earn about $1.33 first. Let me explain. If you earn a dollar, for many people the total deductions are about 23.76 per cent out of that dollar. So you think you pay total 24% in taxes. For the sake of argument, let's make it 25% deductions. Your take home out of that dollar is 75 cents. 25 cents is one THIRD of your take home. So to take home a dollar, you have to earn about a dollar thirty three. Think hard before you spend. You in effect pay retail, and get paid wholesale....

Second way to save is ask yourself: Do I have something already that will approximate what I'm shopping for. Similar taste satisfaction if I'm shopping for groceries. Can I polish or spruce up what I already have? Can I scrub my kids sneakers with an old toothbrush and some soapy bleach water to make those shoes last until they're outgrown physically not just fashionably. Each month you postpone you can save at least part of what you were ready to spend until a sale that really suits your budget comes along. If you are bored, shop with a quarter for everyone at garage sales that you walk to and see that as an outing with your children. Have a day when you wash toys in a bubble filled sink and your kids will take those toys and play with them, most likely. Have a hairdo day and fix each other's hair.

Flax seeds are a good additive for health to hot cereals. Did you know if you soak two tablespoons in 1/3 cup water and strain, you get a hair set gel? You can add a few drops alcohol or mouthwash to make it last a few days if you want. Good for setting pin curls on your pre-school daughters or a little spikiness on sons hair. It's not a heavy gel, just for fun. That's what hair set solution was made from in about 1950.

Keep shoe boxes and Sunday paper advertizements and cut out pictures and make a collage covered box. It's a lot like cutting out wish pictures from the old Sears Catalogues.

Teach your kids how to make clothes for paper dolls. It gives them something to draw and imagine with. Won't look great, but in their mind's eye it will.

Just sit down and start making something. Don't announce your plans, just don't go anywhere. Let Dad take the car. Walk to school to pick up the kids after school. Bring a sandwich in a bag with you. They will be so hungry, they won't care what it is. Amble home. Let them talk.

Obviously, some of this won't work. But start-- not doing... We do not have to spend every minute running around and spending. Go back down the technology chain. Can you imagine what I did as a child before televisions were even sold? Let me tell you, I had little as a child, and I am never bored. I know how to do so many things it would boggle your mind. Most cost nothing or little but effort and imagination, and most importantly, thought. Think your needs through, backwards and forwards, inside and out.


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By sewn (Guest Post)
January 4, 20080 found this helpful

I do not have a flat screen TV. We only have one TV. I drive a "Bug". I recycle and stay out of the Malls. I taught myself to mend and sew. I "exercise' cleaning my house and yard. I brown bag and buy only plain coffee or tea. Drink water for occasional meals out. I buy classic clothes and update them with "current" accessories. I only work two days a week (thank God my husband carries the health insurance!) So often I hear my burnt out full time working friends bragging about their new toys. I'd rather have my time.

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By earth heart (Guest Post)
January 6, 20080 found this helpful

Plant a garden and preserve your own food if you can. It's healthier and more cost efficient. Cook using whole, real food as opposed to convenience/processed/prepackaged foods. Again, less cost and much higher quality. Bake bread from scratch (it's good therapy, too), make your own chicken stock, things like that. Don't be intimidated, good food can be really simple and efficient to make.

Borrow when it's something you'll use seldom or maybe just once. Be willing to share as well. Share, split the cost or barter services with your neighbor. Example: we share garbage collection service with our rural neighbor in exchange for hauling their recyclables in to town every month.

Use scrap paper and a clipboard instead of buying notepads.

Up your tire pressure to save gas and fill the tank when it's cooler to save gas from evaporating.

Unplug computers, microwaves, tvs and other energy vampires at night or when you go away.

Instead of buying newspaper and magazines, use the wealth of info online.

Take care of what you have and make it last and learn to do your own repairs if possible.

Use natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda instead of commercial brands. Not only cheaper, but much safer and gentler on the environment.

Live simply, reduce, reuse, recycle.

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By Diana (Guest Post)
January 7, 20080 found this helpful

SPEND LESS! Simple but true!
Don't buy it unless it is a necessity. Forget about thinking you NEED it-learn to distinguish between NEEDs and WANTS. Stop going shopping exceept for necessities!
Plan a no money spent day once a week (Take your lunch, use what you have in the apantry for dinner, No vending machine, etc)
These work for me since I can't seem to pass up a "BARGAIN" and have more STUFF than I will ever be able to use (even if I live 3 lifetimes!)

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January 9, 20080 found this helpful

I have so much enjoyed reading this thread as I have passed by the computer off and on today. Thank you all for ideas and inspiration!

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By kittikat1119 (Guest Post)
January 12, 20080 found this helpful

I keep seeing people justify using a credit card because of the points that they earn with them. There are banks out there that offer the same type of point programs when you run your debt card as credit. This way you don't have to use a credit card at all and you still get the free money from every day spending. I use USAA for this but I know there are other good ones out there. Look around and you will find you don't have to use a credit card to get this kind of free money.

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January 15, 20080 found this helpful

Hang your clothes instead of using the dryer. Check out the website for your local utility company and they should have an appliance usage calculator. Around here it costs over $2.00 to do one dryer load. Check out for a great indoor/outdoor clothesline. I have one of each size and can fit 1.5 loads of laundry on the large, 1 on the small and saved $30.00 on my electric bill in one month when I almost exclusively hung my clothes!

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February 28, 20080 found this helpful

I knit quite a lot. When I was just beginning, I spent so much money buying heaps of yarn in different colours and textures, but with no real project in mind. As a result, I ended up with lots of odd bits and no way to get the same yarn or dye lot and not enough of one colour to make anything useful. So I borrowed a Kaffe Fassett knitting book from the library and started making an afghan using several of his striped patterns.

Kaffe is renowned for his use of colour so I was thrilled that I could use up all my odd bits of yarn. Right now, my colourful afghan is taking shape and it's looking beautiful. Even the weird shades that I didn't end up liking look stunning when it's part of a multi coloured project. I have a way to go before it's finished but with luck, I'll have no scrap bits of yarn left and any other yarn I buy will be for a specific project. If I have any of that left over, I'll start another Kaffe inspired afghan.

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December 6, 20080 found this helpful

Try to avoid buying disposables. I don't buy and paper products other than toilet paper. I use cloth for everything and when the clothes wear out I find other old pieces of cloth to use! Other than your underwear wash less during the week. Wear what you have more than once before you wash it, unless you get it really dirtry or smelly!

If you run out of something like rolls or bread try and do w/o for a few days instead of going out and buying it.

Stay home and watch t.v. if it keeps you out of the car and stores! It is still way less expensive than mindlessly driving and even window shopping.

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

Buy birthday and Christmas gifts throughout the year and designate a special bin or closet for your purchases. Search clearance for items for under a buck. End of January and February are great times to buy Christmas decorations and winter clothes for next winter.

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

Recycle cans throughout the year and put the money in a credit union Christmas account for gifts next year.

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, host a holiday party and serve appetizers and wine. Have each guest bring a dish or bottle of wine. Take tons of pictures and let the pictures be your holiday gifts to each other.

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

Before making any purchases, check online for better deals and/or coupons. Check sites like,,, etc. There are loads of sites with coupons and coupon codes.

Another way to save money is to start a swap group with family and friends and once month meet up at each homes and swap for "new" products. Nothing beats free.

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December 11, 20080 found this helpful

Spring time will be around the corner before you know it, in our yard we have several Clematis vines,I found a great way to make a lifetime trelis, driving by a motel, eagle eyed junkster that i am, I spotted a discarded box spring by the dumpster, took it home and took it apart, after finding some great 1x4s I took a bolt cutter cut it in half and had 2 impressive trelises. Ps great hunting

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December 28, 20090 found this helpful

I would be careful about using your debit card as a debit. I have a friend who always used her's especially for gas. She was contacted one day and was told someone had used her numbers and made some gas purchases. She went to her bank and they told her that she should never use her card as a debit always use it as a charge card. It is harder to get hold of the numbers as a charge purchase. The bank and store finally got it straight for her and needless to say she charges everything now!

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December 29, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with PIKKA. My father always said, "It's not important how much money you make. What matters is how you spend the money you have." By that he meant one needs to know how to spend money carefully. Otherwise, there will never be enough money, even if you make a million dollars a year it will never be enough.

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