Open Thread

Open Thread: Let’s Talk Money…Hacks!

Saving money is in my DNA. I grew up in a family with very little money. (We had a couple of eviction threats; we didn’t get a phone or a TV until the early 60’s.)  My thrift mindset is a habit. For two years I walked to work (which I’d do anyway) and bought a savings bond each month with the cash I saved. Fifteen years later I really needed extra dough and cashed them in and made my rent. My self-denial wasn’t punitive – it was practical – and it saved me.

“There’s a difference between being thrifty/frugal and being cheap/stingy.

Money saving habits

My thrifty habits are pretty well ingrained by now.  I can probably quote you the serial number of anything bigger than a five in my wallet.

Now that inflation is imminent, I resurrected my  ‘price book.” (This was invented by someone who literally wrote the book on saving money – Amy Dacyczyn and “The Tightwad Gazette,” which I highly recommend.)

“…sometimes being frugal is fun.”

I track the price of items I buy regularly in stores in my area.  The discrepancies are eye-opening and I now know when a sale is really a sale. Again, it’s not punitive – I’ll buy an occasional treat or stand a round of drinks for friends – but I’m smart about it. There’s a difference between being thrifty/frugal and being cheap/stingy.

And to be honest, sometimes being frugal is fun.

My favorite money-saving tip

My favorite money-saving tip was borne out of frustration with  my mail. I pay a lot of bills by phone, and the companies still send me invoices with window envelopes for payment.  I repurpose them instead of tossing them. I use blank address labels and cover the windows (or the address).

Voila! Instead of sending it to a landfill, I now have a blank envelope I can repurpose to mail something else. I save dough on stationery and help the environment. (Now if only I could save on printer ink….)

Your turn!  

But what about you? Do you have a favorite money-saving tip you are willing to share? Let us know in the comments!


Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at

Photo: Dmitry Demidko for Unsplash


11 responses to “Open Thread: Let’s Talk Money…Hacks!

  1. Instead of throwing junk mail away unopened I check to see if any of the pages have only been used on one side. If so, I tear it in 3rds along the fold lines and use it for to-do lists, reminders to myself, and grocery lists. Thanks for the tip about also using the return window envelopes. I had not thought of that.

  2. I too reuse envelopes. Some are for note writing others to put a label on and send off.
    I am a plant rescuer – if a house is going to be torn down I see what I can bring to my garden. I also start roses/hydrangeas from clippings. I save seeds from flowers/beans and use them the following year.
    On my neighbourhood walks I have met a couple of gardeners – they have shared their lettuce/kale with me so I don’t have to buy it for a month.
    My VISA card is connected with a gas point card – I get 3 cents off on my gas per litre and get points on my VISA and points on the gas card which in turn I can get a prepaid gas card at some point or $ off a purchase.
    I have found it it far far cheaper to buy dishwasher detergent at a $ store than in the supermarket.
    If I have a lot of errands to do by car I try to do them on the same day = a loop.
    When out walking I pick up cans/bottles that have been discarded on the street – 10 cents per can/bottle adds up.

  3. I use the envelopes in another way, as well as the mailing of the unused ones.
    the junk mail envelope itself or the envelope inside for the many many medicare offers is usually white and blank on the back. I carefully disassemble them and use the white space as note paper. Used to buy those pads for grocery lists, etc, but now just use the backs of envelopes. I cut out the blank front part and use it as well. When you just need a small square for a note or a memo, helps a lot. Have not bought paper in years.

  4. I NEVER pay interest. I do charge things, but I pay my bill in full each month. I figure if I can’t pay for it now, I can wait until I can pay for it. I used to use the charge because I could leave my money in the bank collecting interest until the credit card was due, but not that we don’t get interest from the bank, I continue to do it because I get money back when I use the card. I have never paid interest on anything except a mortgage, which I paid off ASAP. Only paid cash for cars, and paid cash for the last house I bought.

  5. I do not buy items based on BOGO and % off. Show me the actual price. Usually, the base price is highly inflated, and it’s really not a bargain. This is particularly true when comparing a name-brand pharmacy with a box store such as Walmart. Frequently pharmacy sales involve the smaller sizes and even when the smaller size is on sale, buying the larger size, not on sale, is less expensive.

  6. Thanks for the tip on envelopes; I’ll try it. My pandemic tip–that I will use forever–is to use concentrate to mix my own bathroom and kitchen spray cleaner. It goes a long way for a fraction of the cost of pop-up wipes!

  7. I like to travel, but I don’t have a lot of discretionary cash to do it. So, I’ve discovered cruising. More bang for your buck (food included, lodging, transportation, entertainment – what’s not to love?) than anything else. I use a multi-airline credit card to rack up frequent flyer miles and use that to purchase the airline ticket. Then, when I check in, I also get credit on the airline’s own , frequent flyer program (I joined every single one of them). I put every bill I possibly can on my credit card, to accumulate miles. When you don’t have to pay for the flight, and the cruises are fairly reasonably priced, you can afford it. I go about every 12-18 months (except for the pandemic). I also have a budget that I stick with closely and track my money/expenses. At the end of the year, whatever I have budgeted, but not spent, goes into a travel savings account. This works really well for me, as I am retired and on a fixed income.

Leave a Reply

Senior Planet’s comments are open for all readers/subscribers; we love hearing from you! However, some comments are not welcome here as violations of our Comment Policy. If you would like to express a comment about Senior Planet locations or programs, please contact

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *