You can save an absurd amount of money by bringing in your own lunch – either to work or school.

Some folks report saving $60 per week, which translates to $240 per month.

Other advantages:  It’s healthier, since you’re controlling the nutritional value.  Unless, of course, you like deep frying at home.

Faster, since there’s no drive time or anyone you have to worry about tipping

As a person who tends to pack things the general populace wouldn’t consume, a brown bag is the only option for choice.

Don’t forget the added benefit of brown bagging it — you have the remainder of your lunch hour to sleep off your own crafted super-sized portions.

Behold, an extensively tested method of laundry technologies, honed over centuries!  Anyone will tell you that line-drying your clothes is a serious saver. It certainly is less convenient than transferring into the dryer, and not appropriate for all lifestyles, however.

Pros: Free, there are discrete indoor methods, easier on your garments, saves tons of C02 from the atmosphere, dries faster, larger clothing amounts

Cons: Not all city aesthetic ordinances support outdoor drying, time spent wrangling those pins

The consensus seems to be, depending on the number of loads you clean and kids living at home, line drying will save you around $150 per year.
The outdoor season begins in a month or so.  After hanging up a couple of baskets in late July, the beginning of the line may already be nearly dry.

An even more green/cost-effective solution is not doing your laundry at all, but there also may be sanctions in your household against that measure as well.

If someone just handed you a couple hundred bucks around Christmas time, you’d be cool with that, right?

That, apparently, is what you will get if you can work into your routine a daily flip of a common power strip before you go out the door, effectively cutting the energy draw to devices that aren’t in use.  Vampire energy (though obviously a lower amount than when the item is in full-tilt operation) still accumulates, some would say unnecessarily.  That energy goes to keeping the clock illuminated, and having the device in a general state of almost-readiness for you to come use it.  If you’re never going to come use it for a week, then there’s no sense in that, is there?

According to the United States Department of Energy, 75 percent of home electricity for appliances and electronics is consumed while they are turned off.

Use that VCR very much?  If it is plugged in, that’ll run you close to seven dollars this year.  Plasma Televisions, Satellite A/V receivers, are apparently pigs as well.

A device that is getting a lot of press is the Kill-A-Watt, which tells you the draw of individual devices and predicts your bills.

There also are smart power strips which will sense when an appliances are in vampire mode and “stop the bleeding” so to speak.

One final tip from the latest book, New Frugality.  If you can, buy college in advance.

Between 1982 and 2007 the cost of fees and tuition rose 439 percent.  Even when adjusting for inflation, the increasing cost of college education is greatly outpacing the purchasing power of the dollar.

So, if it is a foregone conclusion that screeching diaper-clad sleep thief will end up in a dorm someday,  you can purchase it down in advance.  Sometimes, you can even lock in today’s price and future proof yourself.

There are 529 plans, which offer tax-free withdrawal on earnings in the account, since the profit is earmarked for a future college education.  Some states also offer prepaid college tuition accounts, where you can lock in semesters today even though they will surely cost ridiculous amounts tomorrow..

On a side note, did you know that Augustana costs around $47,000 a year?

Another financial tip the new book, New Frugality.   You’re smarter than a wall-street money manager.

Index funds duplicate the performance of a particular stock market index.  The most famous equity index fund is the S&P 500.  It is made up of stocks of the 500 largest publicly traded U.S. companies.  They’re on that list because they are the 500 BEST COMPANIES!

“Indexing is commonly referred to as passive investing.  No professional money manager is trying to beat the market, rapidly buying and selling stocks. Yet index funds routinely outperform most actively managed funds.  Why?  A big advantage is their low cost.  The annual fee for investing in the S&P 500 is some 0.10 percent versus an average of almost 1.5 percent for actively managed funds.  Index funds have no research analyst costs or multimillion dollar money manager salaries to pay.

Mark Kritzman of Windham Capital Management simulated an imaginary investor using index funds, mutual funds, and hedge funds.  Index funds had the highest rate of return at 8.27 percent, since the actively managed mutual fund’s costs are 3 times higher, and the hedge fund six times higher.

According to millionaire philanthropist Robert Wilson, “I’d say as a general rule put it in index funds.  I don’t see why small investors should horse around with money managers.”

Another tip from the new book by NPR personality Chris Farrell, New Frugality… freeze your credit card.  No, not do a security freeze to prevent people from accessing your credit file, another great idea.

He means take the card out of your wallet or purse and put it in a container full of water.  Then give it the ol’ Han Solo treatment in your Frigidaire.

“Put the credit card away when you’re eliminating debt.  One technique is to store the card in the freezer.  That’s right, place the credit card in a container of water and stick it in the freezer.  You have to wait for it to thaw before you can use it again.  It gives you the time to think whether you really want to use it.  Yes, the card will work once it’s thawed.”

The next few Frugal Librarian blog posts are ideas gathered from Chris Farrell’s new book, The New Frugality.  Farrell  is the host of the public radio program Marketplace Money.

Bud Hebeler is a retired aerospace engineer from Boeing that founded the conservative financial advice website Below are some of his top savings tips:

-Arrange for automatic savings deposits from your paychecks
-Sell things you don’t really need on the Net or elsewhere
-Downsize your home or rent. Renting provides mobility to get jobs elsewhere in the country
-Grow your own vegetables
-Buy items with cash
-Rule out cars, cell phones, or iPods for children—or even for yourselves
-Make do with old computers, and software. Use no downloads requiring payments
-Try to get lower-cost TV, Internet, and telephone services
-Turn down the thermostat and wear sweaters

Library patrons don’t often get a chance to see how the dollars and quarters accrue in their favor.  Spend a couple minutes plunking in values on this Library Value Calculator assembled by several libraries across the country to get an accurate representation of the kind of value you as a consumer have reaped.

For example, if you have used the library to answer two reference questions, borrow two books, check out two movies, and use the internet for two hours, count yourself a savvy spender friend.  You’ve just saved 114 dollars.  Before you call these figures inflated and self-serving, go to a doctor, lawyer or body shop and see how quickly their services tally up.

Being a library cardholder is not just good citizenship, it is smart money.

junkPush it in, pull it in or drag it in…then write it off.  If you’re in the market for a vehicle, first drop a couple dollars on a gas hog.  Either scour the want ads, or go through the boonies looking to liberate “yardcars.”  Then, that junker just became your primary vehicle….wink.

According to this brand new piece of legislation, a new vehicle buyer will get up to $4500 in incentive money for buying a vehicle with significantly improved mileage.

servicesGas is hovering around 2.50 a gallon, not to mention the beast that will get you there needs to be insured, lest some dingdong a quarter car-length away is getting their last driving texts in before the law passes.

The standard entertainment fodder, the motion picture, will set you back ten bucks a head (if you only see one feature while past the ticket kid) and they’ve even raised the matinee prices!

Dark times indeed, recessioneers.

I propose a day built around free entertainment you may have overlooked.  Enjoy your public and city services.

Even if you’re not a ball fan, there is some romantic nostalgia about listening to a sporting event on the radio.  Radio?  Whats that?  It’s something you’re practically issued at birth.  The Windy City and St. Louis has representation on the dial, as well as our own River Bandits.  Radio, incidentally, was the frequency to be on during the Swing marketing regime.  You could still have some civic pride without the embarrassing visual that it was your team in the powder blue and the mascot was a sunglasses-wearing monkey who is an implied jazz enthusiast…or something.

If you flip over to the public radio side, you’re going to find premium music and entertainment programming.  Some of these operas, classical music, news, and comedy/quiz shows cost 5 figures a year to syndicate in this town.  They only ask that you toss them a few shekels during fund drive week.  If you don’t remember when that is, they’ll kindly break into programming like an audio Jerry Lewis every five minutes to remind you.  There’s a lot of great stuff out there floating in the ether if you’ve got a decent command of the weekly program guide.

Most cities, like Davenport, have multiple parks. I have never driven by Vanderveer and not seen people having a good time at any given hour of the day.  If you consider physical fitness a good time, there’s more than enough of that in store if you have a decent pair of running shoes.   Borrow a Frisbee from someone and toss it around in one of the city’s numerous Frisbee golf courses.  In general, most of those outdoorsy types are some pretty mellow cats, so don’t worry about cliques.  And as far as flora and fauna, if you’re over 16, gasp, it may cost you a DOLLAR to gawk at the displays!

I’d be remiss to not mention the greatest entertainment savings of all, your local library.  Preaching to the choir, I know.

“But Froogs, how would I get there,” says the cynic.   Davenport Citibus is free on Green Saturdays.