DIY Diva: How-to Save $$ In Your Day-to-day Life

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Youre not a broke-ass if you can use $$ to do this shit.

You're not a broke-ass if you can use $$ to do this shit.

Heyo — the DIY Diva here with some money saving tips for all you broke-asses out there trying to make ends meet in the expensive cities of NYC and SF during this craptacular recession.

I just realized that next week will be the one year anniversary of when I was laid off from my phat marketing job at a fun SF startup.  Over the years that I worked at said phat marketing job, I got kind of used to having expendible income (single, lives with roommates, has no kids = lots of bucks to blow).  I reguarly went out to dinner, drinks, shows – I shopped my ass off (and have several expensive pairs of shoes to show for it) – and didn’t save a damn penny.

Needless to say (but, I’m going to anyways), there was a little bit of culture shock which occured when I went from making big bucks to funemployment and then to trying to string together a decent salary as a freelance writer.  It took me a little while to get my feet under me and into the groove of broke-ass living.

However, a year later and I actually am doing okay.  Just like all you broke-asses will be, too, hopefully sooner than later.  And, I’ve compiled a fair amount of tips on how to cut corners and make the max of what ducets you actually have to rub together.  I thought I’d share my top ten $$ saving tips with you this week:

#1 Stop buying shit
Yes, this is common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people just keep on with bad spending habits when they lose their jobs. Only when you’re unemployed you don’t have the cushion of a weekly income to save your ass when you overspend. In order to reign in your bad money habits, stop spending $$ for at least a month. Really. Only buy necessities. Food, rent, bills, medical, transportation. Once you do that you’ll be able to see clearly how much cash you’ve been blowing on bullshit each month.

#2 Make it
I make a shit-ton of stuff that normal people would buy in a store. From greeting cards and wrapping paper to bath and beauty products to household cleaners to homemade booze. If you can make it at home, it’s likely going to be less expensive than buying it pre-packaged. For example – recently I ran out of window cleaner. Instead of buying more I combined two parts white vinegar with two parts water in the empty spray bottle and used that and coffee filters (better for cleaning windows than paper towels, less streaks, plus you use fewer b/c they hold more liquid). Cost of cleaner in the store? $6.49. Cost of my cleaner? Something like $.50.

#3 Buy in bulk
I don’t know why, but buying more of something is often much much cheaper than buying less of the same thing. If you’re worried about food going bad, portion it out into smaller containers and store in the freezer.

#4 Take advantage of 2-for-1 sales when you see them
Okay, so maybe you don’t need two bottles of shampoo right now. Maybe you don’t even need one. But, if you see something you use on a regular basis being sold 2-for-1 and you have the cash to do so, snap it up! In the past month I’ve bought body wash, deodorant, bacon and dog food on a 2-for-1 sale. And, maybe I didn’t need it right then, but I know I’ll be glad down the road when I’m broke again and I have those things stockpiled for when I run out.

#5 Share
If you have roommates, share your grocery bill. It’s a lot cheaper to buy one big one of something than two small ones of the same thing. See if you can create a weekly grocery list together that fulfills both your needs and saves you $$.

#6 Cook at home

#7 Flush less and turn off the lights
Okay, this is kind of gross, but it works. In my apartment we only flush for #2 and every THIRD time someone pees. You’d be surprised how much $$ this has saved us on our water bill. (A lot.) Plus we turn off lights, devices and unplug computers when we’re going to be out of the house. AND we only turn on the heat to heat up the house at night, then turn it down overnight. My housemates and I have saved enough $$ doing this that we were able to get cable reconnected.

#8 Find FREE ways to have fun
It is likely if you are reading this that you live in one of the two most awesome cities in the United States. There is a ton of cool shit you can do for FREE. Use sites like this one to find out what’s going on in your area that is FREE and fun.

#9 Reward yourself in small ways
Just like dieting, if you take everything pleasurable out of your life, you’re more likely to back slide and make spending gaffs. Make sure to reward yourself for being good with your $$ when you can. My reward is a monthly pedicure or the occasional vanilla latte purchased from a coffee shop.

#10 Start a savings account
You only need $25-$50 to start a savings account and believe me, if you do, you’ll be glad. Make a point to put some amount of money in it every week – it can be as little as a dollar – it doesn’t matter. Saving will make you feel like you’re making progress and will help you in the long run if you ever go through another broke-ass period. It’s always good to have a little cushion to cover your ass.

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Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler is a freelance writer and professional blogger. IRL she is a very nice person, regardless of what you might have read about her on the innerwebs. Kate lives in Berkeley with her dog, Max. You can follow her on Twitter @adorkablegrrl


  1. kevin
    October 16, 2009 at 10:33 am

    solid advice here.. now only if i could convince my roommates of these things, you wouldn’t believe how much they waste.

  2. October 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Hey Kevin — I found that a good way to convince my housemates and other people of how much you can save on a monthly basis by doing this kind of stuff is to challenge them to track their spending as compared to yours… AND, ask them to just try the household stuff as an experiment and highlight your savings by comparing your bills from the previous month with the bills from the month you all worked together to reduce household costs. That totally worked with mine – especially where the grocery bill, electric, gas and water were concerned – I was very clearly able to show them our excess and how much money we saved collectively by economizing together at the end of the month.

    Thanks for your comment! ~Kate

  3. […] DIY Diva: How-to Save $$ In Your Day-to-day Life […]

  4. Jenna
    October 16, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    You can also use newspaper or even grocery store ads as paper towels/coffee filter to clean glass. It also leaves a streak free clean.

  5. October 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    A number of places usually give you free shit when you do a survey.

    For example, Burger Kings near me give you a free sammich if you complete a survey by phone. While it says only one coupon per month, they usually don’t care. I’ve gotten a number of free Whoppers this way.

  6. October 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Jenna and Alan — both EXCELLENT tips! Thx for reading and responding. 🙂 ~Kate