On Being a Penny-Pincher

Living on a part-time sales associate salary means that I’m having to skimp on lots of things like food, clothes, entertainment, etc to make my weekly paychecks really count. Being smart about purchases, services and acting thrifty whenever I can are good skills I’ve sharpened over the past few months. 

1. Free movie Tuesdays. My town’s leading cable and internet provider, Optimum Online provides a reward program for households that subscribe to all 3 of their services (phone, internet, cable tv). This program includes a rewards card that entitles subscribers to 2 free movie tickets to local cinemas every Tuesday. Thanks to this thrifty program, I’ve seen a new movie every week without spending a dime! (aka $14/ticket) 

2. Baking homemade bread. Our house has decided to swap spending extra dough for baking our own dough (harhar). All we did was dust off our old electronic bread machine, buy some yeast packets (quite inexpensive), whip up some dough, and let the magic of the bread machine produce a fresh, deliciously yummy loaf of bread. What’s even more delicious is the small savings we’ve made on purchasing bread from the supermarket and the varieties of bread we’ve made.

3. Free food (or close to it) using sites like ScoutMob.com or Groupon. I recently signed up to the free coupon site called, ScoutMob which finds local restaurants and food vendors with discounts and coupons in many US cities. The great thing about ScoutMob is that receiving the coupons/discounts are free (unlike Groupon where you need to pay) and they can be used instantly using the ScoutMob app on a mobile phone. When visiting my boyfriend in DC recently, we found a deal on ScoutMob for a free (yes, FREE) slice of pizza at a local pizza store. And so, we each showed our coupons at the restaurant and each received a delicious jumbo slice of pizza (it was bigger than the size of my head)! Can you say, free lunch? Yup.

4. Digging into the depths of my own closet. I never realized how much clothes I had that I have never worn before I slowly started cleaning and inventorying my closet. Sometimes saving/keeping clothes is worth it, there are so many articles of clothing that I already have that are back in style now or I can find ways to wear them appropriately for the upcoming season. A family friend also gave me a closet-full of her old work clothes and suits during the summer which I hardly looked through because I was trying not to think about fall clothes or getting a job. After looking through the goods recently, I’ve found so many great pieces I can start wearing as the weather turns chillier, most of them from top designers and already dry-cleaned or barely worn. Having generous friends is blessing to post-grads!

5. Eliminating splurging from my life. Not that I previously splurged incessantly before, but since I was only in school and not really thinking about money or my savings, I never really thought twice about shopping every single week or buying things I liked as soon as I saw them. Nowadays, I’ve learned to really think through my purchases and remember all the things I already have at home. Limiting the money I spend going out for lunch, coffee, dessert, and instead cooking my lunches for work, making my own tea/coffee, etc are helpful penny pinchers. Learning to repurpose, reuse, and re-style my possessions has been a key lesson here. Weighing out my spending priorities and the value of my purchases have helped curb my spending habits as well.

Think I’m going crazy? Me too. But I’m still hoping, still praying a good job will find my way soon. I know it will.

Photo source: James Maher Photography

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