“It feels like a big wake up call,” Oprah Winfrey said on her show yesterday, which focused on how Americans are getting creative in cutting back on spending.
Winfrey and Dylan Ratigan, a business journalist from CNBC, explained the source of the financial crisis. “We borrowed too much money, more money than we could afford to pay back,” Ratigan said.
To help turn the trend, Oprah viewers shared frugal finance tips:
Renovations and home improvement can be exciting, and it need not involve an interior designer or a trip to the nearest department store. Oprah viewers Cassandra and Stacy, friends from Arcata, Calif., decided to renovate their living rooms with each other’s furniture. “Ultimately, it saved us about $2,000,” they said.
Did you know that appliances eat up energy just from being plugged in? Chargers, lamps and computers all contribute to the electric bill even when not in use. This motivated Rhondalyn, a viewer from Baltimore, Md., to face her power vampires and reduce her costs. It worked. In March, her electric bill was $268. Since she started pulling the plugs on appliances when they weren’t being used, she’s reduced her monthly bill to $60.42!
Staycation Instead of Vacation
Last year the Marvel family, from South Bend, Ind., spent more than $1,500 on a family camping trip. This year, they camped at home. “I love the idea of the vacation in the backyard because your kids just want to be with you,” Oprah said.
The Heinz family, who according to the show is one of the thriftiest families in America (the Sarasota, Fla.-based clan reportedly supports four boys on less than $60,000 a year), manages family meals for less than $4. How do they do it? “Base your meals on what’s on sale,” mother Sue Heinz said. “It’s about thinking ahead, and never paying full price.” Another mother and viewer, Stephanie Nelson, from Atlanta managed to save more than $72,000 in groceries in 15 years due. Her tips: Use the Internet and newspapers to scout out coupons, ask if the grocery store has a double coupon policy, and take advantage of store loyalty cards. “Buy two or three copies of the Sunday paper” for the coupons, she said.
With a seemingly endless list of errands, it’s easy to lose track of just how much money you spend. Sue and Brett Heinz have a few tips. The first: Keep track of receipts and review them on a regular basis. Prioritize spending habits and distinguish “needs” and “wants” by keeping a journal. Also, eliminate all but one credit card and switch to a debit card with rewards points.
QUESTION: How are you cutting costs in your life? Do you have suggestions on how to stay on a budget in these tough economic times?