Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Orprah Thrifty Tips

I am so sorry if you missed Wednesday's show because I told you the wrong day! In case you missed it, here is a recap.

What some viewers are doing to save money:

-- Ask your gym if you can teach a class to get the membership for free.
-- Unplug everything when not in use. (I've been sceptical about how much you could save with this, but the viewer claimed she's cut more than $100 A MONTH off her electricity bill.)
-- Trade furniture with a friend to update your look.
-- Make jam for Xmas presents. One viewer always spent $300 to make candy for family and friends -- this year she harvested plums from her backyard and spent _$30_ on more than 30 jars of jam (and jars and wrapping) for everyone.

The thriftiest family:

This family was actually featured in Parade this July. They say the family of six live on $58k with more than $70k saved. However, the Parade article says the $58k is AFTER taxes and retirement contributions. And their savings is in their retirement accoutns -- so the fact that they've been able to save isn't really that relevant. Also, they admit that they have credit card debt.

So, they had some good tips, and I guess that is how they are able to make payments on their debt. But their income itself isn't that low -- if you figure they are making 10% contributions to their retirement account and then have to pay 30% taxes on the remainder, they probably make around $100,000. That's more than we make -- and sure, we have two fewer kids, but still -- they live in Florida and we live in the Chicago area.

I think we're thriftier than America's thriftiest family.

Still, here are their tips, which they used to help another family save $2,000 a month:

-- Prepaid cell phone that's $5 a month with direct billpay from checking account -- even has rollover minutes. (I wish I hadn't recently signed another 2-year contract because I'd like to try this.)

-- Research everything. That's great advice. The mom found her cheap credit card plan online, and the husband used online research to figure out how to do home remodeling projects himself.

-- Drop home phone and just use cell phones. We don't do this because I've read you can't always get through to 911 as fast with a cell phone.

-- Get DVDs at the library.


This is Stephanie Nelson from Atlanta, and guess what? She has a blog. The site says she also has a free e-book, "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half."

Stephanie says she's saved $72,000 doing this. The tips she showed on the show, you're all familiar with: Match coupons with sales, check for day-old baked goods. But she is good: She managed to save 71 percent on her shopping trip. The store did have DOUBLE COUPONS, though, which I have never seen at a grocery store.

She recommends:

-- Only spending 1/2 hour to an hour to plan.
-- Buying several Sunday papers, as well as using online coupons and the ones you load directly onto your store card.


This is a really good idea in this market -- if you have to move, look into swapping your home.


*Hippie* said...

I haven't watched yet... but the whole unplugging when it's not in use thing has always thrown me off. Does that mean my stove, microwave, lamps? My electric bill is rarely ever $100 so I know I couldn't save that much...

Queen of the Urban Jungle said...

you're right, that really doesn't seem that thrify. our electric bill is never $100, nevermind high enough for us to SAVE $100. i think they just market themselves well :)

jess said...

I remember that family from the Parade article and I was sort of meh about them at the time. I suppose they're more like most Americans than some of the more hardcore frugalites you might run across, which makes them better Oprah fodder. Better than nothing, I guess.

Becky said...

I agree that they seem more "relatable" than more extreme frugalites might be. I didn't realize that their savings was in their retirement accounts. I thought they had that much cash piled up, and I was impressed. And yes, if he's a software engineer, 100k is probably about right.

I did like a lot of what they said. The tip to take advantage of your local resources really rings true. So often, I find I spend more money than I need to because I don't know the area and what's available. I just discovered that there's a beautiful, awesome branch library a couple miles from our house. It's underdiscussed, but I think just getting out and networking with your neighbors is a real path to spending less.

*Hippie* said...

I finally watched it. I didn't learn anything new unfortunately!

Rue said...

@*hippie* Yes, that means anything that's plugged in but not currently on. Many, although not all, electrical devices draw a small amount of power even when they're not turned on. Anything with a clock (microwave) or LED (many media center components, computers, some power strips, etc), anything that charges (cordless phone, cordless toothbrush) and many other devices use at least some power even in off or "standby" mode. However, if you unplug them from the wall, they can't use any power. Whether that's enough to save $100 depends on your own situation, but every little bit counts.

Melody said...

I agree that they didn't seem that thrifty to me.

I was confused by how they had $70,000 saved but had credit card debt but I guess since it is in a retirement account that makes sense.

Many people in this country live off much less and make it. I was sadly disappointed in the show.