The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Simplifying, Saying No and Saving Money

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Forget New Year’s Resolutions that make everything harder and more complex. Why is it always about doing more? Can we all do less for a change? It’s time for a serious paring down; a hard core detox. It’s time for simplifying.

There’s nothing super about being a superwoman. So, with the beloved holidays behind us and tax deadlines still somewhat comfortably in the future, it’s a good time of year to lose a bad habit, ditch a possession or expense, and just let go of whatever could be holding you back or costing you cash. Besides, in this recession, who doesn’t want to lighten the load a bit? Welcome to lifestyle improvement for lazy girls (or, if you’re like me, just way-too-busy girls).

Here are some practical tips to get you started in your quest for a free afternoon or an extra dollar:

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Cook more. Eat out less. This one is first on the list because I may be the worst offender, and I’ve run out of excuses. EcoSalon has made it so easy to cook, by showering posts with recipes and culinary cues galore.

Eat vegetarian. Skip meat and dairy as often as your palette allows. If you’re a regular reader, you know that veggie doesn’t mean tofu or the poor house, not by a long shot.

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Learn to sew. I don’t mean buy a Singer. If you can thread a needle, you can sew a button or repair a hem. Try it rather than driving to the tailor across town and forking over hard-earned money.

Give up the gym membership. Gyms are so 20th century anyway! Why not start a walking or running group with friends? Go for a hike, a walk on the beach or a stroll through the woods. Unless you frequent the facility at least 4 times a week, give it up. There are easier ways to break a sweat, and they can be a lot more fun.

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Buy an espresso machine. Lose the Grande Latte. This one sounds brutal, but really”¦there was a time, in a galaxy far, far away, when all corners weren’t covered with coffee shops. Make your latte at home.

Purchase a water purifier. Say no to bottled water. End of story. This is one of the worst and most expensive daily habits, as well as the easiest to rectify. And while you’re at it – why not quit the soda habit?

Speaking of habits…

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Quit smoking, stop tanning, start flossing, or… Bad habits cost mucho dinero, and the health and environmental risks – you already know. Alcohol consumption is another good thing to cut back on or quit.

Are you still with me? This isn’t a walk in the park, I know, but just try a few at a time.

Organize a pot luck dinner. Instead of a late night out spending money on over-priced drinks and valet parking, invite your friends over, asking each to bring a favorite dish or drink. Encourage them to walk (if possible), avoiding all sorts of trouble and saving gas.

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Pack a lunch. Eating out 5 days a week adds up to almost $200 a month ($10 per day). Yes, it takes extra time to fill a recycled lunch bag with goodies for the day. But if you do it while cleaning up after dinner the night before, you’ll be sure to use leftovers rather than let them go bad in the back of the fridge.

Plan a weekly menu. Spending about one hour per week to do this will save time and money. It creates an instant grocery list, so you’ll avoid throwing extra items in the cart. It may even help remedy the daily “Crap! I forgot something!” wasted trips to the market.

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Buy bulk and split the goods. Again, gather a group of friends and combine your lists. Take turns traveling to Costco and doing the shopping. Get together and split everything up.

Start using cash. Put away the plastic (keep for emergencies only) and instead purchase everything with cash. A debit card is considered cash, by the way.

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Cancel subscriptions. Read your newspapers and magazines online. Read them at the doctor’s office. And if you must have a favorite delivered to your home, reuse it as wrapping paper or recycle it.

Unplug.
Are you a slave to communication technology? Try turning it off for an hour (or two) and notice the quiet. Enjoy.

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Go paperless. Automate all your bills and never miss a due date. And never buy another stamp!

Turn down the heat. Have you noticed your sky-high utility bill lately? Put on a sweater or add another layer rather than crank up the temperature. Apply the same concept (reversed) in the summer with the air conditioning.

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Never shower alone. Yes, that’s what I said. Wash two people with one shower. Save water (and have fun) by lathering up with your significant other.

Join Netflix. With no shipping costs or overdue charges, this is the best way to save money on movies, next to not going at all.

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Cancel extra cable channels. Do you really watch the hundreds of channels you pay for each month? Cutting back here will save money and (hopefully) time because you just may watch less television. Consider getting rid of T.V. all together. It’s not as terrible as you think (especially because now you can catch so many shows online).

Ride a bike or walk. Whenever possible, say no to parking meters, parking tickets and parking garages.

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Get a library card. This sounds so old fashioned when you consider all the online options to swap and buy used, but there’s nothing simpler and more affordable than the library. Your local branch is probably somewhere along your route to work or school.

Regularly purge and donate. Clean out basements or garages or closets and give everything you don’t need or use to a local thrift store or charity. Less is more.

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Reuse or repurpose. Before buying anything new, look around your home for ways to make it with stuff you already have. Make sure it isn’t lost in the bottom of that messy junk drawer.

Shop vintage. This is not only cost-effective but fun. EcoSalon loves second-hand boutiques and swapping clothes with friends. You can find amazing mid-century furniture, rare pottery and cookingware, and designer handbags – just for starters. Try it and watch your creative juices sizzle and your pocketbook fatten.

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Practice saying no. Once in a while, see how it feels to turn down an invitation or a favor request. Your yeses don’t mean as much if you never say no. Keep the time free that you would be using.

Give up on keeping up with the Jones’.
It isn’t worth it in the long run. He who dies with the most luxury items doesn’t really win anything”¦at all. He just pays more bills and accumulates debt and worries a lot and suffers from health problems.

What do you do to simplify and save?

Images: Mr. Happy, bensonkua, wakalani, theBlackBrian, preciouskhyatt, gitsul., stopnlook, William Hook, mugley, wnorrix, daviddesign, darwinbell, studiosmith, Problem Solver

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9 comments

  1. I never understood people who paid for a gym membership to only run on a treadmill or use the elliptical. Buy your own, and it will pay for itself in a year or two. You’re also more likely to use it when it’s in your house, you can use it when you want to, and you don’t have to use gas or take public to get to a gym.

  2. Great tips Kim. Getting rid of TV, a land line and a gym membership is saving me about $175 a month. I haven’t gotten into a routine for exercising outdoors yet this year with these colds I keep getting, but as soon as I am well it’s hiking, walking and climbing for me. 🙂 I never really watched TV when I had it, so I don’t miss that. And I don’t even notice not having a land line.

    What do you all do to save$?

  3. Great tips Kim! I have a serious Latte addiction and found that buying the espresso machine and making them at home (at least 4 times a week) as paid for itself many times over. I’m also a big believer in bringing your own lunch – you save tons of money and usually eat better – another bonus!

  4. Great ideas! If you’re looking for more . . . drop by IResolveTo.Com and take the I Resolve To . . . Challenge: 365 Resolutions For Health & Happiness. The objective is very simple – do at least one thing each and every day to promote health & happiness for you.

    Best,
    Kim Simpson
    IResolveTo.Com

    Kim Simpson’s last blog post..I Resolve To┞¢ . . . Take A Few Minutes Each Day To Promote Healthy Teeth! – Day 35

  5. I have been going to Jazzercise for 10 years and I LOVE it! I’m in the best shape of my life. I love the music (how else would I know what my kids listen to) and the friends I’ve made over the years. I know myself well enough to know I need an instructor, a start and end time.

    The other suggestions are great, especially quitting smoking and tanning, but I’ll be old and gray before I give up my Jazzercise classes!

  6. Thank you for all of these wonderful cost saving ideas. I am keen on changing my lifestyle to not only save money but to consume less, use what I have and appreciate how a simple lifestyle can be so much more satisfying.
    Thanks again for a great article and newsletter.
    Ronda

  7. Rosemary · · Reply

    Join Netflix. With no shipping costs or overdue charges, this is the best way to save money on movies, next to not going at all.

    “this is the best way to save money on movies” – Not really!
    This should have been included in the “Get a library card” section. Most public libraries have hundreds of DVDs to choose from and – as long as you return them on time to avoid overdue fines – it’s completely free!

  8. Ellen S. · · Reply

    The concept of “saving money” is easier said than done for most people. I understand that it is ‘easy and logical’ for some people, but I also understand it can be a difficult habit to break for others.

    If you’re looking to save money or change your lifestyle, my advice is to take it in “baby-steps” because it won’t happen overnight. Here are some tips that helped me out.

    1. Always pay more than the minimum on any credit card payments – if you don’t believe me you can calculate it for yourself (http://www.csgnetwork.com/creditcardmincalc.html)
    2. Use coupons when grocery shopping
    3. Try online shopping – it’s saves on gas & they have bigger markdowns (http://www.shoptivity.com)
    4. Read a book – it’s cheaper than going to a movie (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/)
    5. Know your budget! (https://www.dl.ed.gov/borrower/BudgetCalculator.do)

    Good luck and happy savings!

  9. Jessidork · · Reply

    Rosemary – That sounds like a great idea, but if you go to the ONLY local library near my parents’ house, the ONLY videos they have are dry, boring, educational ones. No movies, no TV shows, nothing fun. I really hope that friends from there donate their used DVD’s and VHS tapes to the library when they are done with them and/or put it in their will to leave their collection to a local library. I know whoever ends up with my boyfriend’s roommate’s collection will be a happy person.

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