Stupid tips on how to save money…

via Cynical As Hell, ambienne

I had this discussion awhile back with a few people when I mentioned I was running out of actual tips for how to be poor. The “frugal tips that will save you money!” lists are often really not applicable to low income people. Nothing wrong with trying to live within a budget to help keep your financial situation sustainable and stable  but there’s quite a difference between that and being poor.

This coffee tip is on nearly every single list you see about saving money. “Save money by making your coffee at home!”
Yeah, we know this. And some of us don’t even have enough to buy coffee to make at home (or a coffeepot) ,so there’s that.

What are your favorite really not helpful “tips” for how to be poor?


41 thoughts on “Stupid tips on how to save money…

  1. How to choose…
    Is it opting for the family cell phone plan?
    As if my own cellular phone plan doesn’t cost enough, the “savings” I would see by adding my children’s (nonexistent) cell phones costs more than I make in a week.
    How about changing your cable service?
    To what? Comcast owns everything, not to mention I don’t actually have any cable channels.
    I can’t lose the internet service because that’s how I look for work, and, quite frankly, an hour a day logged in at the library is not going to cut it.
    I know…
    I know what it is.
    It’s “Date Night.”
    Order a pizza instead of going out…
    Going out? Where? To the laundromat?

    Seriously, I know people are trying to help, but if you’ve never been poor, stop with the “helping” unless it involves some of that “trading babysitting” stuff, because if it will save us money we’ve already thought of it.

  2. Regarding the fact that we’re usually broke at Christmas , due to the unpaid 1-2 week shut-down that occurs every year where my husband works:

    “You need to start putting back at least $50 a paycheck, and then by the end of the year you’d have almost $1,000 for christmas!”

    Let’s forget about the fact that I can hardly manage to stretch out 20 extra bucks over the 2 week period between paychecks. Let’s forget the fact that we have insurance but still can’t afford the $20 copay for an appointment. Hell, it’s almost like a day at Disney World for us whenever we get to buy new toothbrushes or socks or soap.

    And gawd forbid we get a flat tire or something….we risk falling behind on the light bill or rent to fix that mess.

    1. Oh, have you seen that thing that shows how to save $1,000/ yr or whatever? Week 1 you put away $1. Week 2…$2 and so on. I think we could do this up until week 6 and the….nope lol 😛

      1. I have been poor as in dirt poor, no stove, told the hospital to come repo my kids poor. I am not that poor any longer. However, I tried the $1.00 a week thing even with my better financial situation I did not make it past the $30.00 mark which did not last long. Pretty sure it went to medical bills despite the medical coverage and Flex-spend account. I have Lifeline cable which is less than $10.00 and gives me about 10 channels with good reception. I know how to be poor and really poor. It sucks and people really don’t get it. It is easy for me to forget myself sometimes. I use a lot of these tips to help keep me from going back there. Still there needs to be more info on how to deal with the endless abuse, harassment and exhaustion which comes with doing the best you can with nearly nothing. Thank you for being that voice.

      2. I was reading something the other day about people in poverty being affected by PTSD. It’s not only coping with actual living the struggle of poverty but like you said…the harassment,criticism,etc. So,YES…there totally needs to be a lot more out there to combat that :-/
        (and you’re welcome! )

  3. Go longer between manicures! Eat out a few less times per week! Think about getting a used car instead of this years model!
    Um, yeah. Good idea.

  4. Some of the comments on my huffpost article were just laughable.
    “Down size your house.” To what, a one room cardboard box?
    “Don’t buy new cars, you can’t afford the payments”. I’ve never bought a new car in my life. Not even a used “new” car. Craigslist people don’t take payments.
    “Don’t buy full coverage insurance.” Just..hah.

    And my all time, number one, really not helpful favorite:

    “Don’t have kids if you can’t afford them.” Because no-one’s situation EVER changes after children are born, am I right?!

    Guess I should sell off those rascals, because they just mess up my house and cost me money anyways.

  5. My faaaaaaavorite is the articles/blog posts where people are all I PAID OFF $50k IN DEBT IN ONE YEAR AND YOU CAN TOO!!!!!! Never mind that most people who owe $50k in debt and have problems paying it off make less than $50k a year, the first step is usually something like “take $30k out of your savings account and apply it to the debt!” which, look. If I had $30k lying around, do you really think I wouldn’t apply it to debt? Seriously? If I had the kind of life where I could save up $30k and not touch it, I wouldn’t be $50k in debt. Step two is usually like “sell off your extra property/two spare cars/vacation home/manage to find a job paying $20+ an hour for the spouse that was not working before” ha haaaaaa good tips, and totally applicable to everyone! Can’t wait to act on these!

  6. Monks and nuns are considered poor—-they have given up everything, they serve the Lord. Their income (so they can eat and buy basic necessities and pay their light and gas bills), comes from usually baking/sewing papal robes for the priests, art, etc. In other words using their skills to earn an income. Now of course we are not going to become nuns or monks, but the idea of emptying (which other religions practice), may be a key to stretching resources. If you have a computer and use it only for pleasure and not to find work, sell it. Think about other things that you have that you do not use and sell them. Learn new ways of doing things. Someone mentioned not having a coffee pot—-well boil the water in a pan and let the coffee grounds “steep”. They will settle to the bottom of the pan and you can pour your coffee. Has anyone watched or heard of Down East Dickering??? The barter system is alive and well with some of these people. Trading things you have for things you need is great. No one has one solution. The main thing is, money is needed to pay bills so you can have heat and electricity and water. Saving money when one is poor usually doesn’t happen. The idea of something brand new is foreign to alot of us. We have shopped thrift stores only and can’t wait for the bag sales so we can pick out a few different outfits and stick them all in one bag and pay only $5. Some of us cut our own hair. We go to the library and check out books on natural care of our teeth and body because we have no insurance and/or just don’t trust doctors. But going back to the beginning of this post, emptying your house and your life of things that you don’t need is a big step in the right direction of increasing income. It is said that emptying is a good way to receive. Those of us who are Christians realize that when we do all we can do and the rest is out of our hands, the Lord provides in miraculous ways. He will nudge others to do something good for us. Those who live in faith know that He will provide. His ways are not our ways so trying to figure out how He is going to do it is a waste of time. We just know He will. My heart goes out to the hurting, the hungry. I came across a man today dressed in layers, very dirty, carrying a backpack. He had been homeless for sometime and was living in the woods. He is now in a home but has no running water. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him, but he said he had everything he needed. And maybe in his heart he feels he does. It is tricky approaching those who are almost destitute. They don’t want others to know their business, they don’t feel comfortable sharing their stories, they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. But I can keep trying because there is always something I can empty out.

    1. Dear friend, I think you might have missed the point of this post.

      And by the way, monks and nuns don’t have children to house, feed, clothe and send to school. (and you know, occasionally have some fun).

      1. Oh, yes…I forgot food in my other comment about the monk I know! He does not have to worry about where his meals come from.
        (Ok, now I don’t see that other comment I left. Weird. It was long and about the monk I know who doesn’t pay for anything,really. We have good chats. I’m not Christian and we have some great conversations about religion and such things.)

    2. The other part of this comment about computers that I find problematic…you’re assuming all poor people are able-bodied? Statistically, disabled and elderly people make up for a large percentage of people living in poverty.Of people receiving assistance, a great deal are working poor or attending school. The computer is not only a great tool for learning & seeking employment but, SUPER CHEAP entertainment…the cheapest out there. And when poverty is depressing as it is, the entertainment can help but also, online is a source of much needed support & encouragement. I know it’s my sanity saver.

  7. Not quite saving money, but saving time – a model in an article for new parents – “Get your eyelashes tinted, it saves you heaps of time in the morning!”

    Really? Tinted eyelashes? You have no concept of reality.

  8. Back in the 80s when I was a young single parent, my mom told me that the months that had five paydays, I should be putting that extra paycheck in savings. Not possible, first of all because my weekly expenses didn’t go away that week just because it was “extra,” second because I was always behind so the extra payday just meant I could catch up that month. Going without when you have no choice is one thing–it’s pretty hard to justify having unpaid bills and doing without necessities when you have money in the bank.

  9. The one I never understand is telling people to shop places like Costco. a) $55 membership fee, b)I can’t get out of there for under $100 c) transport d)storage

    And while some farmer’s markets take food stamps… farmers markets are usually not cheap.

    1. I don’t understand the club membership things either. And everyone assumes you have transportation,I guess.

      You’re right about farmer’s markets…unless the market doubles your food stamps (mine does) it’s way too expensive.

      1. We have a Costco membership that we share with family and it does help us out quite a bit. I have to make a list and make sure to stick to it, but you can get the huge 10# cans of vegetables, beans, and fruit for cheap. Having these to use are great and you can freeze the excess to use later on.

  10. Tips that revolve around the kitchen, that include “make everything from scratch” – I work two jobs to try to get the ends closer together, I can’t make ‘everything’ from scratch. “Oh, just throw bread dough in your Kitchenaide mixer with the dough hook!” My WHAT? Those puppies cost almost $300. “Using your bread machine….” Bite me. “Use your slow-cooker while you’re at work!” Ah – a slow cooker only costs about $30 … but I don’t have that, either. “Fill your freezer when meat goes on sale”. Assuming I have some big freezer, not just the little thing over my fridge? Assuming I have cash to spend on ‘stocking up on meat when it’s on sale’?

    Oh, you work? “Cook for the entire week on your day off.” I have two jobs. I do NOT have ‘a day off’.

    1. I tried to get the crockpot company to let me do a giveaway for slow cookers and they said I need to be a non-profit. because I REALLY wanted to pass some out to people here.

      I used to do Once a Month freezer cooking and I think it definitely saved SOME money but it’s an ENTIRE day affair ….plus tons of clean-up and not easy when you have little kids.There’s no way you’re doing that when you work 2 jobs and don’t have a day off!

  11. True story: we had to move in with family. We were so broke that our choices were live on the streets or beg family to take us in. We live with seven people, and have done for two years now. We’re just barely getting back on our feet.

    And I swear, not only will I pay these people back, I will find ways to get food to the poor. I’ve started gardening and whatever we don’t eat is going to be given away to those who are hungry.

    I’ve lived through not knowing when my next meal will be. I hate thinking that someone else is living through that right now.

  12. NPR has a couple of articles today on poverty(real life stuff from your neck of the woods actually) and between the two there are almost 1200 comments. A lot of them along this shizzy line.

    Also, I live in a hellacious, craptastic, unsafe apartment in a narrow- minded elitist small town in western mass and I get “why don’t you just move?”

    Yup I’ll get right on that……!!!

    1. My husband’s homepage is NPR, so he always sends me the poverty articles 😛

      Uh,yeah…we hate where we live right now and constantly get, “Why don’t you move?”
      For one thing, rent here is ridiculous but we pay about half what most people pay for the same size house/apt because it’s on the verge of being condemned (no joke). We can’t afford anything more. And then ,if we were to move out of the area like we’d like, we’d need a chunk of money for 1st & last months rent, moving expenses….and we don’t even have a car. Sheesh,people

  13. I hate the comparisons in magazines designed to show “how to” on a shoestring. Example:
    “This lamp, normally $125 at pricey furniture store. THIS comparable lamp only $35 at Target.”
    Seriously? Like a $35 item is any more attainable than one at $125.

  14. My favourites are the be a hair model its so cheap….errr it aint free
    we get NHS dentists in the UK….errr it aint free
    Get a more economical car ..errr free?
    Visit 20 grocery shops to get the best bargains …errr is the fuel free?

  15. Not only are many tips useless to me in a financial sense but it mostly relates to urban folk too. Rural America is a whole other world, forget movie rentals from libraries, cosco or anything really. Farmer market in my small town does not take SNAP….cash only. Many of my saving methods are seen as too extreme for most people I know, but I find it amusing without fail we are the happiest ….but yeah advise on using library for movie rentals, or using Dave Ramsey (aimed at higher income folk with serious debt) or even using less meat or hang drying clothes are a joke to me!

    1. If I didn’t live a block away from the library, I would be so screwed. Not to mention, we have an awesome library system here. Doesn’t sound like that’s true for many people.

      So, speaking of extreme saving or reuse methods…when I wasn’t blogging here about things related to low income people, I used to get SO MUCH SHIT from people about the ways I save money or am resourceful.”Well, aren’t you just the domestic goddess? I wish *I* had time to do that but blah blah…and blah blah.” Now I get head pats from people who are like, “Good job,poor person! What a smart cookie you are (for not squandering my tax payer money)” LOL
      It’s really interesting…

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