12 Outrageously Simple Tips for Saving Money

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
12 Outrageously Simple Tips for Saving Money

As much as I would like to say that money does not matter, it does. The reality is that most of us need money to buy food, put clothes on our backs, and pay for housing, utilities, healthcare, medicine, and taxes.  Even families that live 100% off grid and hunt and grow their own food rely on money for one thing or another.

In truth, the way we live our lives and the amount of money we need gets down to a matter of choices.  And that, after all, is what Backdoor Survival is all about: having the knowledge and the wisdom to make the right choice for ourselves and our families without being judged as being right or wrong.

12 Simple Tips for Saving Money - Backdoor Survival

Having choices when it comes to spending is something all of us can do, regardless of where we fall in the economic strata.  Rich, poor, or somewhere in between, we all get out of bed in the morning and face the day with financial decisions to make.

Today I offer up a dozen simple tips for saving money so that when faced with a choice, you will be better prepared to make the right financial decision for the time, place, and circumstance.

12 Simple Tips for Saving Money

1.  If you have it, use it

Think about it. Over the years you have accumulated lots of stuff. Some of it may be a bit shop worn and out of style, but the stuff is still serviceable.

If it still works, use it. Don’t give in to the bombardment of ads encouraging you to go out and purchase the latest model or the next best thing.  If money is burning a hole in your pocket, use it for something you truly need and not something you just want.

This applies to prepping gear, too!  Before making a purchase, scope out what you have and buy what you need before you duplicate something you already own.

2.  Shop for a bargain and get it cheaper

Research all of your major purchases and some of the minor ones, too. Check out online reviews and the recommendations of friends so that you can be an informed consumer.

Ask the clerks at the store when the item of interest will go on sale. Believe it or not, you will sometimes be offered a discount on the spot. This happened to us when we purchased a new freezer.

3.  Used can be just as good as new

Sometimes it makes good sense to buy used. Furniture can be purchased for a song on Craigslist or at garage sales and sometimes you can get some pretty good stuff for free.

Another area where you can really save really is on clothing. Ebay is a gold mine for name brand clothing that is often new. Evening gowns, tuxedos, wedding wear and other dress-up items are especially cheap on eBay. On the other hand, be wary of used electronics since there is no substitute for hands on testing prior your purchase.

4.  Learn to cook and bake

Restaurant meals can be a rat hole for cash.  So is your local, specialty coffee shop. That is not to say that you should avoid eating and drinking out completely, but make those occasions a special treat rather than something you do because you are too tired or too lazy took cook.

Can’t cook? Get yourself a basic cookbook and call a friend over to help get you started. Once you start eating home cooked food, you will be hooked on how delicious those vegetables and salads taste.

Don’t overlook learning to bake your own breads and treats.  Homemade baked goods are always better than store bought.  Remember fresh baked chocolate chip cookies when your were a kid growing up?

5.  Be a MacGyver and become a fix-it guru

Before sending that broken appliance to the garbage heap and replacing it with something new, try to fix it yourself. There are many web sites (www.fixya.com, www.instructables.com) that offer lots of how-to’s for fixing everything from your laser printer to your espresso machine. In addition, you can find service manuals for many products on line at the manufacturer’s web site.

Another thing you can do is call the manufacturers customer service number. Many times the company will guide you through troubleshooting steps or even send you free parts. I have found that this works especially well with plumbing issues.

6.  Move fashion to the bottom of the list

Choose function over fashion. This is difficult, I know. But think about the item you intend to purchase and how it is going to be used. A fancy, Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer may look great on your counter,  gorgeous actually,  but if you only cook the basics and bake only simple items, a $15 hand mixer may be all that you need. This same concept applies to lots of things: clothing, TVs, jewelry, you name it.  Yes, this even applies to cars.

7.  Do it yourself

Mow your own lawn, clean your own house, give yourself a manicure, wash your own dog. Now if you truly hate to do something, don’t do it if you can afford to hire it out.  Or better yet, trade a chore you detest with a chore that someone else dislikes.  You both get the job done without spending a dime.

Life is too short to be miserable. But, for the most part, with a bit of time management, there are lots of things you can do yourself with just bit of effort. Paying for services you can do yourself is a great way to save of money.

8.  Take advantage of freebies

Use public beaches, parks and trail systems for recreational activities. Use your public library. Go online and download geographically specific recreational guides and even preparedness manuals from your state and county web sites. None of these are technically free because your taxes have paid for them, but they are free in the sense you have no additional out of pocket costs.

Speaking of libraries, have you checked yours out lately? Most libraries now have a robust collection of eBooks, audio books, audio book players, music CDs, DVDs and more. If you don’t have a library with downloadable materials, there are many that will let you purchase an annual non-resident library card.  You can do a web search or start here to find a library with a large collection of downloadable materials.

9.  Get out of debt

This is obvious. Sure, you may have a mortgage payment and possibly a car payment.  But credit card debt?  I hope not, but, if you are saddled with credit card debt, come up with a one or two year plan to pay them off then toss them in a drawer, never to see daylight again unless there is a dire emergency.  The old mantra “use your credit card . . .it is the same as cash” simply does not work any more.  It never did.

Go back over the tips listed above.  Use what you have.  Fix it if it is broken.  Choose function over fashion.  Now put that credit card back in your wallet!  Better yet, hide it in the back of your dresser drawer.

10. Build an emergency cash fund

Stuff happens.  Your car has a mechanical breakdown and there is no other way to get to work or to town so you have to have it fixed.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cookie jar full of bills so you can pay for the repairs?  In the old days, this was called a rainy day fund.  These days, it is called an emergency fund.

Much like prepping, this is one thing you can do using baby steps.  How about one meal a week of beans, rice, and a nice chunk of healthy bread (that you have made yourself).  This type of meal is extremely economical and you can dole the savings into your emergency fund.  You will be surprised at how quickly $5 dollars a week adds up.

Of equal importance to the modest amount you are saving, is the fact that you are building a lifetime habit – one that will serve  you well for many years to come and hopefully one that you will pass on to your children.

11.  Save for the special things in life

Lest you think I am a Grinch, life should not be a total drudge. Every once in awhile, reward yourself for being frugal and thrifty.  Indulge in an occasional treat, be it a pound of really good dark chocolate or a night out at the movies.  For some, the special treat may be something a simple as a bouquet of flowers.

Life would be very boring if you did not reach out and do something extraordinary once in awhile.  Go ahead.  You have earned it.

12.  Frugal is not a dirty word

Frugal is not cheap.  And frugal is definitely not chintzy,  Quite the contrary.  Being frugal means that you have made a lifestyle choice to spend your money on the things you need, no more, no less.  And with the extra, you have chosen to splurge and celebrate your thrifty and sustainable habits by doing something special and joyful.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters?

The Final Word

For the rich, the choices are easy but for those on fixed incomes, deciding whether to splurge on a treat or purchase food is almost no choice at all.  Still, there is two choices we all can make, no matter what.

Those choices are to make do with what we have and to live a joyful and strategic life.

I have mentioned these choices before and chances are I will do so again.  That is because these are recurring themes in my own life.  I often need a reminder, and most likely if I need to be reminded, so do you.

This prepping business is hard work and it takes a certain toughness to keep on going.  That said, let us not lose track of the softer, kinder, and more gentle aspects of life.  For me, being thrifty and saving money is important.  I feel better for it.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Spotlight:  Here is what one reviewer said about the book that I wrote with George Ure:

11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life is the meaty bones of wisdom boiled down to a condensed, protein rich broth. Tasty, witty, not a lot of froth, just the facts on what it takes to live your life independently, deliberately.

Below you will find links to the materials I used to make DIY  Healing Lotion Bars.  If you have not tried “lotion in a bar” you are in for a treat.

Healing Lotion Bars - Backdoor Survival

Freshware 6-Cavity Daisy Flower Silicone Mold and Baking Pan:  I simply love my daisy mold!  Made of silicone, it can be used for forming lotion bars, soaps, cakes, anything.    My lotion bars simply popped out cleanly leaving no mess.  So inexpensive, too, that I also purchased the oval version.  Up next?  Hand crafted soap!

100% Pure Unrefined Raw Shea Butter:  This is the Shea butter I used and am happy that it was not gritty.  I don’t have experience with other brands so I don’t know if my success was due to technique or the Shea butter itself.

Coconut Oil:  Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions is my preferred coconut oil.  I love it so much I purchased a 5-gallon tub.  Really, I did!  I find it very silky to work with and love the taste when used in cooking.  Note that no refrigeration is required and although it solid at room temperature, it melts at 76 degrees.  The Nutiva brand from Costco works well too.

Every Prepper Needs Coconut Oil in Their Pantry | Backdoor Survival

Spark Naturals Essential Oils:  These are what you need for the healing lotion bars: Lavender essential oil,  Rosemary essential oil, and Peppermint essential oil. Enjoy a 10% discount on your Spark Naturals order with code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.

NOW Foods Essential Oils:  I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  For healing purposes, I feel they are superior.  On the other hand, NOW Foods has decent essential oils at a budget price.  Here are a few to get you started:  NOW Foods Rosemary Oil, NOW Foods Peppermint Oil, and Now Foods Lavender Oil.

Stakich Pure BEESWAX Pellets:  This is my second order of beeswax pellets (also called pastilles) from this company.  They melt quickly and I am happy with them.

Deodorant Containers, New & Empty; Pack of 5:  These are 2.5 ounces each.  I prefer these mini-tubes purchased from Spark Naturals for just 95 cents each.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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14 Responses to “12 Outrageously Simple Tips for Saving Money”

  1. I am in the process of making survival items – should I store them in the garage or an outside shed? Also bugout bags – for the car? Or for home?

    Your we site is very helpful. Thank you.

    • I would guess that the garage would be more secure than a shed. You do need to be mindful of what you are putting in each kit and if, for example, you have a food kit, to keep it in an area that is on the cool side.

      We personally have different kits serving different purposes. We keep a kit in the car full-time but also have a kit inside the hallway closet. The car kit is to use if stranded away from home where as the hall way closet kit is to be used in the event of an evacuation.

      Hope this helps in some small way.

  2. I am in the process of making survival items – should I store them in the garage or an outside shed? Also bugout bags – for the car? Or for home?

    Your we site is very helpful. Thank you.

  3. about buying used furniture: there is still a bedbug epidemic in some parts of the country. i live in the new york city metropolitan area, so i would never buy used furniture from any source unless i could make very sure it didn’t contain bedbugs. non-upholstered furniture (like an end table) can be infested too, because the little critters get into the spaces between the pieces of wood the item is made from.

  4. The best advice I have received that I now put into practice is when I have put something into my cart at Amazon or any web-ordering shopping cart, wait a week before you check out. If you really need it, you will come back in a week. If you have forgotten to come back, you didn’t really need it in the first place…

  5. Dear Gaye, love your posts about money. It helps me to feel that I am part of a group that has to be careful how they allocate their money but that makes gradual planned purchases of important prepping supplies and equipment.

    I use a guideline these days based on the rule of threes, with shelter being the most important, then water, then food. My eyes have been opened to a definition of shelter that starts with the clothes on your back. I also believe in redundancy — several ways to construct shelter, find and purify water, and obtain food and build fire, including ways to minimize and disguise smoke.

    Yes, I do carry three days of food and water…but what happens after that? From a hurricane to an earthquake to an economic collapse, the crisis doesn’t know it’s supposed to under control in three days so we can return home to our preps. That’s why I am working at carrying tools in my EDC and bugout bag. Tools to keep building fire, to keep building shelter, to keep catching fish, knowledge to forage plants and to do these well enough that I could relocate my camp quickly if there is a threat or just not enough fish.

  6. I love your web page. Interested in making my own hand lotion soaps. Do any of the major retailers sell the daisy mold?? Thank you.

    • There are no big box stores where I live so I could not say. Perhaps a hobby or craft store? Mine was from Amazon.

      Good luck with the lotion bars; they are a delight to use!

  7. Re: eating out vs Cooking at Home

    I read somewhere a couple of days ago that for the first time ever, people spent more eating out than cooking at home. The funny thing was the reason they gave; “it’s cheaper”.


  8. I don’t know if you are aware of this but you mention Amazon reviews as more relevant (#2 above). This is not always the case. I get free product in exchange for me reviewing on Amazon. Many people do. Thousands upon thousands. The reviews are biased and many times incorrect.

    I am in the top 10,000 reviewers for Amazon. Yeah, that sounds like a lot but out of millions. And I only have been working on it for the past year. I want to get into the top 1,000 so that I can get into their Amazon Vine program where I get my choice of products for free, in exchange for reviews. So I hope within a year I can accomplish that!

    I have gotten a variety of things free… some survival based, others just simple things like kitchen gadgets (vegetable spiralizer, silicon baking mat, etc). Kinda neat… All my LED lanterns have been free 🙂

    • I have even gotten survival seeds free!! And multi-use tools like leatherman brand, and freeze dried food products, etc.

    • I had no idea so I stand somewhat corrected. One thing I do is read the negative reviews first – perhaps that is why I am not often burned.

      Do you have to write a positive review? I suppose one thing we can do as we peruse reviews on Amazon is ignore those from “top reviewers”. That is what I am going to do. Thanks for letting us know about this review program.

      On the positive side of things, I purchase a lot of BDS review items myself but do not give positive marks to something that does not work as advertised. Most of the time I do not mention it because even though I say it is a bad product, someone will still buy it just because I did.

    • I always give more weight to comments given by “Amazon certified purchasers”.

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