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Resident Asks: How Can I Spend Less in 2013?

Local woman seeks to save, spend almost nothing, and asks for suggestions

A local woman needs frugal folks' help.  Susan Tefft spent almost nothing on "stuff," she says, in in 2003, and she'd like to do so again a decade later. However, she needs ideas, lots of money-saving ideas.

In 2003, recalls Tefft, she lived in Brooklyn, attended graduate school, and worked part-time in a bagel store.  "I lived on day-old bagels," she explains, "and very happily." With many of her food expenses covered by leftovers from work, and her days filled with classes, Tefft simply didn't "have time" to do much shopping. "Besides," she recalls, "I lived in a tiny apartment and wore jeans every single day. Finding quarters for laundry was a big project sometimes."

Responding to a friend's challenge to buy "almost nothing" for a year, besides necessary food, beverages, schoolbooks and the like, Tefft had no problem achieving the goal. "I sort of cheated, though," she said, since she spent school breaks with parents, who treated her to dinners out and vacations. 

A decade later, Tefft wants to repeat the experiment of "extreme savings," but this time will more challenging, she knows. In the past ten years, Tefft married, had two sons, and bought a house.  And now she wants to plan a dream trip to Costa Rica.

To do so, Tefft needs to save as much money as possible on household expenses. "We've already turned down the heat and wash clothes in cold water," she says. "We do as much as we can ourselves, but I've targeted food and entertainment as areas where we can cut back." Tefft works part-time, and does most of the household shopping.

The only problem? Tefft needs suggestions about how to best cut back and spend less. She took a first step this week. "I went to the recycling center and took newspaper inserts home," she says. "Let the coupon cutting begin!"

Patch will check in with Tefft periodically during 2013 to follow her savings adventure. In the meantime, please post your savings resolutions or tips in the comments below.

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