Skip to main content

Style Magazine

Pinching Pennies

Aug 25, 2009 10:42AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Any discussion on how to make extra money has to start with Ben Franklin’s maxim, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

There are as many ways for households to shave dollars off their budgets as there are ways to spend them, but here are a few common denominators that can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year:

Consolidate debt. Rather than pay off multiple credit cards with varying interest rates, find ways to get it all down to one or two monthly payments. Also look at refinancing your car loan; it’s a cheap and quick way to save a big chunk of your money.

Trim the fat. Do you really need all those TV channels, cappuccinos and lunches out? Try keeping track of where you spend your money for one month and then take a look at where you can cut back.

Embrace the coupon. Just Google “coupons” and you’ll find countless Web sites offering coupons for almost anything you buy. Style tip: find a plethora of local deals at and at!

Increase your deductibles. Upping your insurance deductibles on everything from your car to your home should immediately lower your monthly premiums.

Beyond plugging the holes in your wallet, there are also several ways to supplement your income. It really comes down to putting a little creative thought into what you have, and what you do, that can generate some positive cash flow.

Have a garage sale. If you haven’t touched it in six months, you probably don’t need it. Make an inventory of everything you can afford to let go and put it all on the block one Saturday. A free ad on Craig’s List and a couple bucks invested in some handmade signs can put a few hundred dollars in your pocket before 3 p.m. With fall and school coming, September is a great time to sell gently used clothing. Speaking of Craig’s List, anything that doesn’t sell at the garage sale can go on there. One person’s trash...

Monetize your time at home. Baby sit, pet sit, house sit. A little adult supervision can be a precious commodity. Capitalize on what you do anyway. The sky’s the limit here; think of all the things you do at home that you wouldn’t mind being paid by someone else to do for them. Recycling. Cleaning. Laundry. Yard work. Knife sharpening. Of course, that’s all just more work, so what about your hobbies? If you think about it long enough, you’ll probably come up with several ways to turn doing what you love into a little household revenue generator.

Finally, for more long-term advice, consult the experts. There are several books by money experts with plenty of good suggestions. A few worthy of mention include: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko; Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki; and The Difference, by Jean Chatzky.