Spending Money to Save Money

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I can think of several cases where one would need to spend some money in the short term in order to save money in the long run. I thought I would list several ideas where I have "spent to save", and see if it sparks some of you to add to the list.


  1. My husband spent extra when he bought my new vacuum cleaner to get a bagless. It is now well over a year old, and I have probably saved at least $30 on not having to buy bags. That was the price I spent buying the HEPA filter bags from my old vacuum. I even reused them at least once before trashing them.

  2. Currently, I am saving up to buy a carpet cleaner. The one I am looking at runs $120. Every time I rent one, I spend $30 on the rental, plus the cleaning agents. I usually rent one every 3 months, so in a year's time, it will pay for itself.Future years will all be savings in my pocket.

  3. I paid $2.39 each for my chickens when they were 3 days old, and I have others I hatched from fertilized eggs I paid $12 a dozen for. I have probably saved hundreds of dollars over the years not having to buy eggs. To cut down of feed expenses, we free range during good weather, and feed the kitchen scraps to the chickens. My children also glean the corn fields for chicken feed, as well. At times when they lay heavy, we also sell eggs.

  4. Buying in bulk. It cost more to buy a 25 lb. bag of flour or sugar, than a 5 lb. one every one or two weeks, but it is much cheaper per ounce/pound that way. I buy almost all my groceries in bulk, even canned goods, by the case (which I don't always have to buy due to our garden). Not only is the price cheaper, but it also saves fuel from not having to run to the store as often. It does take some practice and skill to get it down, and you will need to learn to rotate. This week, I will be buying 4 cases - 2 of fruits and 2 of veggies. We keep 5 types of veggies on hand at all time, and 4 of fruits. Yet, due to rotation, I don't have to buy all at once.

  5. If you buy propane to heat with, most propane companies offer a summer discount. That is their "slow" time of the year, so they discount to bring in customers. I do spend around $600 to fill up my tank in July, but filling up the same tank in late October or November, when our heating season comes around, would be around $775 or more.

  6. Money spent buying canning supplies, jars, and food dehydrators. With the exception of the traditional flats, these items can be reused over and over. However, they have now come out with a new type of lid and flat that are reusable.

  7. Money spent on new energy efficient appliances. When we bought our new front loading clothes washer, our water bill dropped by 2/3. Then, a year and a half later we bought a new energy efficient dishwasher and realized even more savings. I have also spent money on a new toilet and shower heads. Without changing our water habits, we have managed to lower our rural water bill from around $140 a month to $30. On a different note, money spent on a good deep freeze sized for your needs, will also save you money, allowing you to take advantage of sales when they occur.

  8. Putting in a garden will cost you some money, but take care of it and you will save big time on your summer produce bill. If you freeze, can, or dehydrate foods, and/or trade or sell with others, you can feed your family almost all year off of it. As you garden more, develop your skills, and increase your garden size, you will find you can also sell produce and save back your own seeds so you don't have to invest in seeds or plants each year.

  9. A $25 fishing rod can feed you fish for a lifetime! We stocked our fish ponds a few years ago, spending around $120. We have probably eaten more than that amount worth of fish since. The fish reproduce, so we will continue to gain from that investment.

  10. We raise our own pork and beef. We prefer our meat to be pasture raised, so we have a low feed bill. Our pork we paid to have processed, but we butchered our last cow ourselves, saving the processing fee.

  11. We bought a new 2006 Chevy Aveo stick shift that gets 37 mpg. It replaced a 99 Chevy Suburban that got 8 mpg. Also, the insurance on the car is less than half of what it was on the Suburban because it was 4 wheel drive.

  12. I now spend an extra $10 a month to have high speed wireless internet, as opposed to dial up. The difference means I can access video and library items that my dial up couldn't support, and save the fuel needed to drive the 17 miles one way to the library. I can also upload photos to Ebay, so I can sell items again. I used to, but had to quit selling on Ebay when I moved here because the photos would not upload on our slow dial up.

  13. Health insurance. I know people who don't have it. My husband carries it - his employer pays part and we pay the balance. We have saved thousands of dollars on dental, vision, prescriptions, and doctors visits.

  14. Fruit trees and fruit vines/bushes. I have spent an average of $30 a year getting a new fruit tree, vine, or bush. The paybacks are wonderful and saved us a lot of money on fruit. We now have our own peaches, apples, pears, grapes, and cherries. We have walnut trees coming on that are not yet producing. This year we will be adding strawberries. These plants are not replaced yearly, as they winter well. They should continue to produce for years.

  15. Investments made into life skills lessons will pay you back. I am referring to classes learning to type, use a computer, learning to sew, or cook. All those will save you money over time and are also things you can do to earn money as well.

  16. I spent around $75 total to remove rust and paint some old clotheslines poles, set them in concrete, and add the lines. Since that time, I have saved several hundred dollars by not having to run the clothes dryer. If I had to go to a laundromat, as many of you do, my savings would be even more.

  17. My friend spent $5 at a garage sale a few weeks back to buy a used coffee maker. She said she was tired of spending $3.75 every morning on her way to work for a coffee at Starbucks. Take that savings times 5 days a week, and it will really add up fast!

  18. If you hunt, spending a few dollars on a hunting permit can yield you quite a bit of meat.

  19. When I bought my computer, it seemed like an expense, and it was at the time. But, I sell our out-grown kid's items and books on Ebay and other sites. Now, I can generate enough income from my computer to say I have paid for it over time, and some months I can also generate enough to pay for the monthly internet charges as well.

  20. I spent $15 when I lived in town on a used bike. I rode it to work several times a week during good weather, probably saving several hundred dollars in fuel over the years I did this.

  21. When my children were little, I spent around $300 on cloth diapers. All my kids used those same diapers, resulting in several thousand dollars worth of savings over what I would have spent using disposable diapers.

  22. We don't eat out very often, but our church youth group sold Pizza Hut cards for a fundraiser for $10 each. We got $10 off our very first pizza, and the other 9 remaining on the card. Since then, Pizza Hut came out with $5 pizzas, so now we can buy 4 which would be $20, for $10. Usually we make our own, but about once a month we take the family out. Years ago, I bought a Pizza Hut cup for $4. Anytime I take that cup in, I get free refills. That cup is older than my kids, but I still have it and still get it filled!

  23. My dad spent around $25 dollars years ago, taking a senior class in learning to do you own taxes. Up until that time, he was spending $280 or more getting it done by someone else. He has done his own now for the last 20 years or so, saving that money and more each year. I am sure you can think of classes you could take that could save you money or allow you to earn money - off hand I can think of cake decorating, tax preparing, basic cooking, jewelry making, and more.

  24. I used to have my lawn mowed when I lived in town for $25 a week. Then, I bought my own mower for $200 brand new, end of the season at Sears. I used it 4 times that first year (3 times to mow, and once to collect the fall leaves). Then 12 times the following. So in once years time, I more than paid for it and was saving money.

  25. A friend of mine bought a tiller for his own use, but also tills gardens for other people at $25 each. He says he paid for his tiller the first month, with only having an ad in the paper for one week. He is now investing in a power washer to clean decks and patios with. He is retired, but this brings in an extra $500 a month for him 7 months of the year.

By mom-from-missouri from NW MO

Editor's Note: Do you have any ways that you have spent money to save money? Post them here!

Woman writing a check.

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March 22, 20110 found this helpful
Top Comment

On a very limited income. I also spend more money up front to buy bulk, especially paper towels, t-paper, tissue, paper plates etc. simply because it 'keeps me out of the stores'! It seems every time I ran to the store for a couple of things. I Always spent at least $20 extra on something else that I would not have purchased if I hadn't walked in the door. Saves on gas too! I can see a substantial difference at least $100 a month saved!

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March 22, 20111 found this helpful
Top Comment

Great ideas and I agree with you 100%!
Here's my tip, buy one of those KitchenAid mixers. It makes baking fun and a snap. Since having bought one I bake more and save so much money baking my own cookies, waffles, muffins, granola bars, etc. all costly items.
Tell me more about selling on ebay. Isn't it a hassle? Can you really make money? Leslie

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March 22, 20110 found this helpful
Top Comment

Good girl. A mama after my own heart. I would add:

Buy the best quality of items you can afford if it's something you need to have for a while. Towels, boots, linens, blankets, clothes. And also, invest in a sewing machine and know how to use it. I can often pick up better quality clothing and housewares than I could otherwise afford simply by finding them at a thrift store for cheap because they need a five minute repair.

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March 22, 20110 found this helpful

You are amazing! I would love to meet you in person. Why not have guests live in for a week of following you around to learn how to live below their means? I know a lot of folks need instruction in that area. Congrats! Anne

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March 23, 20110 found this helpful

You are brilliant and wonderful and kind to share all that wisdom! Thank you for all those suggestions. Sometimes I get so caught up in saving money I forget that it's ok to spend too! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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March 23, 20110 found this helpful

Excellent article, both content and writing. Thanks for sharing.

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March 26, 20110 found this helpful

I love your website! I am a stay-at-home mom and love to find ways to cut expenses and live more frugally. I am your newest follower! I like that this post shows that being frugal doesn't mean that you have to buy cheap things. Instead, you have to buy quality things that will last and save money over time.


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September 30, 20140 found this helpful

These are great ideas and I have done many myself. When my girls were small we went on walks to near by playgrounds and took our pb&j's for a picnic and afternoon of fun. We lived in an area of pecan orchards and made arrangements with the owners to gather for them on a 50/50 basic. At night we sat watching a movie on tv and shelled our part then sold quart bags full or made pies and cookies for gifts and even sold a few. Now they are grown with families and still do things like that. I still have a garden and barter, can, freeze and 6 chickens that are good layers to sell the eggs. The local farmers garden is a good outlet for my produce, jellies, jams and eggs. There is nothing wrong with being frugal and really comes in handy.

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September 30, 20140 found this helpful

Great tips:) I use Ebay to save by buying in bulk. One example is safety glasses. The kind we like sell for $3 in the stores, and the same pair on Ebay is $3 including shipping, thus saving gas money. But, when I get the discount for shipping 12 in one package they end up costing just over $2 a pair.

Another savings I get is with the drug store loyalty cards. Their normal shelf prices tend to be higher, but when you combine their sales with the coupons they give you things are often free or very low.

Then they offer a store brand or certain manufacturer brand bonus program. These are often $10 back for buying $30 of one brand, Combining normal sales/coupons/bulk tactics, I end up getting the $30 worth of sale items for $5 out of pocket. Often I don't need the extra items, but if I was spending $20 anyway, I can donate the extra $10 worth of items and it doesn't cost me anything.

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January 5, 20150 found this helpful

I love all the ideas you have given and have actually done some of them my self over the years. I always try to get "coupons" and money savings any way I can from department stores that I normally would not be able to afford to shop at with my social security income. I have found that the more time I spend joining these stores' "clubs" has saved me more money than going and shopping at discount stores while getting better quality purchases. Also I have found shopping on line gives me additional savings and I've seen that I am more concious about what I purchase since it is right in front of you. There is no chance for shell shock when you see what you have spent. It is too easy to throw extra items in your cart when personally in a store than shopping on line. Buying good quality does not have to cost as much as you think. Time is money. Spend the extra time researching and joining coupon sites and private store clubs. They have saved me so much.

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June 23, 20200 found this helpful

I agree all the way.
You mention 'flats'. Is that the rubber ring we used to put on to separate the glass jar and lid before they brought out the all in one tin lids that had to be replaced every time?

Marg from England.

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November 8, 20200 found this helpful

We paid a little extra every month when we were making house payments. The extra went toward the principal. We cut off about 5 years of payments and a lot of interest. It was a bit tough for a while, but its well worth the sacrifice.

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November 13, 20210 found this helpful

Our community has a facebook page that you can put up your looking for items or have items to move on. Some with no cost at all, just pick up. When you need help transporting low cost or free items, DO NOT assume the giver will deliver, transport the furniture, etc. These are are your creativity. Does not hurt to ask or offer for transportation BUT not moving large furniture pieces, etc.

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