How to save money

This is the only guide you will ever need to save money.

I do not believe being thrifty and frugal will make you rich. I believe in income generation for wealth creation.  However, many people are struggling economically and I thought I would create a guide on how to save money when you have none.

Why am I am expert? Read on, I have lived many years in a relatively poor country. I have seen people from Eastern Europe come to the US and be more set up in terms of lifestyle than many Americans on big incomes and whom are in debt now. Who do people from poor countries do it?

Presented here are not some recycled information from the web on saving money in lame ways like buying in bulk (which is good, but not radical enough). It is from a survivor, me. Someone who by choice has lived on very little. Admittedly my expenses have grown recently, but I am a sort of an expert on saving money as I learned from the people in a poor country I live in.

Am I poor? On the contrary. I sock my money away in the stock market. I also have not worked in about seven years (and arguable never really before that). I live a great life and travel around Europe. For example I took a 26 hour train ride to sub tropical Crimea for 50 dollars. When we got there my bank card did not work, I paid for an apartment but we had just enough for our return trip, and we lived on potatoes and fish I caught from the sea. However, it was one of the best vacations I ever had. My point is, you do not need a lot of money to live the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

I know all these ideas are not practical for everyone. I am just telling you, you can save money if you have to. I am not better than you or anything like that. I am no one.  I am just saying you do not have to worry about money so much. Saving money is very possible even if you are underpaid. Lets be honest there are no green shoots like they told and, the US job market is not the best. Many people are full-time part-timers.

Hence, So take a deep breath and forget those other articles about how to save cash and here is the real deal.

Putting money and spending  in perspective

I live in cold dark poor eastern Europe where may if not most families live on $500 dollars a month, while prices are the same or more. I am not telling you to do this, but I will telling you want I do and it is very possible. Not only that, people here are pretty happy. You can not survive but thrive and have a wonderful life.

Do not upgrade your computer or buy gadgets. –  I use a piece of junk old laptop with a bad hard drive and have installed Puppy Linux off a 5 dollar USB stick.  It runs faster, more stable and 1,000 times safer for things like online banking than your friend who blows $$5,000 dollars on the latest and greatest gadget. I also run most of my businesses online and design things off-line. So do not believe in technological obsolescence, it is just a marketing ploy.

Yes my $5 dollar USB computer  runs faster than my friends fancy one. It is safer and cooler than his new candy colored gadget. Your kids can all have amazing computers with free games if they understand the power of this Puppy Linux or at least Linux mint LDXE if you want something that is easy to use.

See people spend a lot on gadgets and electronics. I do not even have a cell phone. I do not want one. Just a Skype in number. Skype works for me. There are even cheaper services by the way.

Why have a car? – I know it sounds radical but I have lived in the USA and Europe without a car for over ten years. Think about the saving for gas and expenses over ten years. Do you know what I did with that money? I invested in the stock market.

If I do not have a car I do not need to go to the gym. I save a lot on gym clothes. I am slim and feel great so I save money on medical bills also. There is a direct correlation between the amount you are in your car and obesity.

What if you can not get by without one because of your job? I always used a bus, bike, train and walked. I walk about two hours a day to go shopping. So if you need one I understand but be open to the possibility that others can get buy without one.

I do all my banking online and with a credit union. If you can use a credit union, do this it is the best. Or at least find a cheap Internet bank. The best is if you pay for everything in cash. This makes you think about what you spend.

Food is your biggest variable cost. – My wife bakes bread, makes yogurt and we grow stuff. She makes pizza and noodles from scratch. Pizza from a shop or store-bought is so horrible tasting and it will give you cellulite. In contrast, my wife makes homemade Pizza and it is the best in the world. So for us food costs can be very low. Basically you need flour and water, this is cheap.

Yes, whole wheat flour and water. That is it. Water we found a natural spring which has pure mineral water or we use a filter.

We make some ethic things with cabbage and carrots etc. She makes chicken soup everyday from scratch. We use butter (home-made) as I think it is not bad for you and taste great and good for extra calories.

Watch real foreigners in the USA, they do not buy things with coupons (which are not always the best deal) rather than shop at the grocer not in the center aislsies, but around the sides. That is food without labels.

For pennies a day we live cheap and have a natural diet. I make sure it is healthy for our growing daughter. She is in the 95% for height, so we are not skimping on nutrition. Just the opposite. I make sure she gets essential fatty acids complete protein, vitamins etc. But it cost less than if you buy things ready-made like bread and noodles.  To be healthy, slim and save money, do everything yourself. Do not buy anything but like people did 100 years ago, flour and water is your base.

Clothes are easy if you stay in shape.  –  I bought some really cool mountain climbing skin type shirts and jeans in Canada when the dollar was better at a mountain co-op store (MEC).  I have worn these for ten years because they are quality. People still compliment me on them as they look as good as when I bought them. Since I walk everywhere am in great shape and this is better than any clothes. I look stylish and have not really bought clothes in ten years. They are good for 3 seasons as they are made for mountain climbing. Only underwear and socks etc do you need to change and that is what Wal-Mart is for.

Family picnics – How many times do you take family picnics. We do it al the time. On Sunday we have some bread and sit on a hill and read books and kick a ball around. This is way better than driving to the mall or spending money. It is what people should do for entertainment. Just be together, not spin wheel in a car and spending.

What about education for your kids? Biggest scam there is. The idea you need a good school district etc. I know so many kids who when to great schools and are messed up and the converse is true.  Money and kids often are not a good mix for anyone. Spend time with your kids. I play chess with my daughter, with an old wooden chess set I bought at the market here. This is the best thing you can do for educating your child is spend time with them. Nothing can replace that. Remember IQ is determine under the age of 8.  Do not worry about their school as much as being with them.

The Amish do not believe shipping their kids off today care special learning camps or even higher education, they just spend time with them. Forget educational toys, what about chess and teaching them music or books from the library.  This is what kids in Eastern Europe do and they are pretty smart.

Save money on utilities – Compared to Eastern Europe utilities in the USA are cheap. I have no cable, or cell phone, or normal phone, or TV or anything now.  I just use the Internet: for phone, movies (Netflix or YouTube), TV, Radio everything. No utilities except electric and Internet, which is not at the fastest speed but rather what I need.

Heating or cooling is also a problem. Each person has to find their own way on this.  I heat one room and we have lambs wool blankets and slippers etc we got these cheap from the Polish mountain highlanders. I imagine you can do something similar in the USA. It is very cozy.

People do not have dishwashers and dryers (clothes or hair) etc. Everything is done by hand. it will save money. Cold showers are healthy for you, by the way.

Save money on health care – No bad habits, that is a good way to save on health care. Be 5 lbs underweight and eat right and walk a lot. This will save you a lot. There are a lot of poor people I know who do this and have low medical bills. Being under weight is an interesting idea in the right measure. Read about Dr. Roy Walford and caloric restriction.

Save money on living space. – Families of four to eight live in studios here. Their kids grow up to be Phds and very well-adjusted. I kid you not. Parents often are in the same bed with their kids to save space, until about 10.  In primitive cultures it was like this. When we became all modern things changed. Americans buy too much house.  There is a risk of buying a home. Children all live with their parents until they are married, or almost all. Grandma is there also so here is your baby sitter and old folks home if you will. I know it is not practical for many. But I am telling you this is the way you live on $500 a month.

As I am looking at places to live in the USA, people say you do not want a small cheap apartment. Well, I do not know, I think it is all relative after living in Eastern Europe for so long. I will buy a house, but a modest one, try to pay cash, and grow food in the back. Again not because I am an  impoverished at all or a hippie alternative guy. I went grew up in New England when to prep school. I just focus on other things in my life and it is fun to live life in a Darmaville (Lost TV show reference) type of way.

Personal care savings – I used to cut my own hair (it did not look too great at first) not my wife does now. For shampoo and conditioner I use a little (just a little) baby shampoo as it acts as both. I do not use deodorant nor cologne etc.  Sorry but it is true. Maybe it is my genetics or my diet is so natural that I do not stink at all. In fact, for some reason my skin has a sweet scent. I think all people can have this if they eat a ton of yogurt and natural diet.  If you need something extra to clean your skin with you can use apple cider vinegar.

For girls the best look is a natural look and the only real make up you need to spend money on is maybe lipstick. But nothing beats a girl in tight jeans and a t-shirt with a good body and a few accessories like cheap sunglasses and red lipstick. Next a few language learning books under your arm or an interest in computers or chess and it is better than the best designer purse.

Paper goods and household products etc. I do not buy the cheapest but the second to cheapest, which is usually the best value. Like stocks if it is low-priced, it is often for a reason. Therefore, like the PPI dogs of the dow theory buy the almost cheapest and it will go farther. For napkins and paper downs we use kitchen towels not the American way of napkins and paper towels.

  • For value in all purchases I find the second cheapest is the best price to quality value.

Cleaning the house – Nothing beats soap, water and elbow grease for everything, except the windows I use vinegar or sometimes an essential oil like peppermint.

Entertainment for less – Books from the library and the Internet. I love to read. The world is full of distractions, and like the movie ‘Kate and Leopold’ illustrates often unnecessary. I have ready so many interesting books in different languages because I am unplugged from the USA hyper consumptive model of life.

In the USA you can order books from the library and they will get it for you in a day or two. Unlimited possibilities. Your mind is your greatest asset in life.

Spiritual life and money – Examine what you are here for and put it all in perspective, enough on that.

Also consider if Americans are spoiled a little, that is have high expectations and derive their happiness from their relative position from their neighbors.

But also, do not feel depressed and deprived if you do not have money. Live life to its fullest. But do you want to live like rich Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears or do you want to learn languages and trade stocks and develop your mind and body and appreciate classical beautiful things of this world? That is the question.

These are just some ideas on saving dollars and cents. If you have more let me know. I am no expert on life, however, these are some of my personal life experiences on frugality.

So what if you are poor. If you want to save money you can and live a richer life than your neighbors who seem to spend a lot.


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6 responses to “How to save money”

  1. maurice

    I am “trying” to live by some of these principles. I grew up very poor and I am now in college trying to save money for a better life for me and my mom.

    I am also reading a lot of self help book/personal development to help me be the most efficient person I feel I can be. Can you suggest any quality personal development books?

    1. Mark Biernat

      If you are a young guy do not worry about saving every penny. I wrote this more if you can not pay the bills and some ideas.
      When I was in my 20s I was eating potatoes every night for dinner and at the even of the year I saved a few thousand dollars. The problem was the income side of the equation was not enough. Then when I started to make real money I saved a lot as my lifestyle had not changed.
      My point is save when you start making money, but while you are young try to accrue as many experiences as you can.
      Successful people tend to spend money on experiences and intangible goods more like lessons in something, more than something like furniture or tangible assets.
      They invest in themselves. Think this way. It is better to take a trip around Europe to open your mind than to own a car. It is a trade-off (that is just an example).
      If you are still in school or in your twenties, accrue experiences and learn as much as you can on your own.
      With regards to self-development books, I have to ask you what kind of person are you? Are you religious, are you spiritual, are you humanistic or scientific skeptical or are you geared towards money or things of this world?
      What are you interested in the most, economics, or money or dating or sports or travel? What did you like when you were a child? What is your world view now?
      It does not matter, no judgement, I just want to understand what kind of person you are so I can recommend so good books. I used to work several bookstores for many years.

  2. maurice

    Well, I grew up poor. never really went out much cause of my economic conditions and I never had a girlfriend. Not that I am bad-looking, I just can’t talk if my life depended on it. Looking back at my childhood, I see how I got steered towards to stock investing ($$$$). I do not know what religion I am so to speak. I do believe in karma and I believe everything happens for a reason. I was brought up as a so-called hindu but I as I have grown I sort have been questioning all of the dogma that goes along with it (hopes that makes sense). I Hope to have a life where I am stress free, and I can enjoy my life and see the world. I find that I am very self conscious of my self and to an extend insecure. I guess my childhood caused of all of this. Growing up in the states, you always see every child going out having fun doing things, meanwhile I could never do those things. I always sort of felt inferior.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Maurice, thanks information. I asked because it is relevant. I need to understand where you are coming from.
      First the important stuff, regarding girls, I was painfully shy and could not talk to anyone, let alone look them in the eye. I do not know why. I just felt that I was not good enough or had anything worthy to say. However, in spite of that I married a beautiful Polish girl. It just took me longer than most guys.
      I believe in life the longer or wider the base of the pyramid the higher you go.
      This is true with investing, making money and girls.
      If it takes time, let it take time. The people who take longer to develop are the ones that go the highest.
      Look at the animal kingdom. Chickens are ready and mature a week after they have been alive.
      In contrast, Monkeys take years.
      Similarly humans that mature too fast and have so much self-confidence early often latter do not amount too much economically.
      I think back about all the football heroes in my school who are not working as security guards.

      I have news for you, not having confidence until you are about 40-year-old, this is a universal feeling. Most people feel this way and the people who do not often do not develop in the same way as those who do.
      Most people statistically do not start making real money until after the age of 50.

      So do not feel the need to do it right away. Just focus more on learning about the system and ideas about making money.

      Let me explain it this in another way with an example. There is a 14-year-old boy who lives does my street. He is Roma (it does not matter). He at 14 has so much self-confidence he is hanging out with girls and sweet talking them, smoking and a little bit of a hustler with the other kids. He is not big kid, just street smart, tough and outgoing.
      For me I feel sorry for him and in my mind he will be poor.
      I would not like to have his future. At 14 he thinks he knows everything and is too smart and slightly aggressive.
      He does not know anything, is is a scared child. He does not have the wisdom and humility that comes from experience and perseverance.
      He will most likely never ask questions or seek answers about life because his poor ego defense mechanism will not let him. He will marry or not a girl from the neighborhood who is street tough and have a basic economic life.
      In contrast there is another 14-year-old boy I know because tutor him in English. He has had learning disabilities and physical problems because he was born premature. This guy is poor also. He lives with his family in an apartment that is only 200 square feet (I live in Poland). It is always cold there as they can not afford heat.
      He is shy and always says I am no one special, I just do the best I can.
      He is a winner. Girls are starting to notice him and he does not even know it. He is doing better and better in school, but more important has a real interest in computers and is becoming a geek. This guy will do something with his life.
      My point is, this is life. Self confidence or couage can win the day in battle but is not the same as patient perservience. In fact sometimes the virtures are contradictory.

      See in American culture there so much emphasis and noise surround being self-confident. This is good, yes, but it is more important to have a believe, a passion and a world view.

      I asked about religion because I believe that there is a complex stratification of relatively. And if you are aware of this nature of the universe you have a richer purpose in your life and can achieve more. I believe this. I am not supernaturalists but rather I believe the universe operates under spiritual principles as well as worldly principles.
      Further if you have meaning in your life you can be actively indifferent to the things of this world, not caring if you are rich or poor for example, then this gives you power. So much power that you will have an edge on 99.9% of the people.
      Enough on that, I just believe that is you know the why in life the how is easy.

      So from this I would say I would read up on books that are not only bout the bottom line on how to make money, but things that will move your heart and ignite your imagination on a spiritual level.
      Many books will not appeal to you. Many just are not you. But if you find one that strikes a chord with you (you might have to read a lot of junk first) then you can move mountains.
      If you want to try something light, read Joseph Murphy power of the subconscious mind or something heavy Hans Kung ‘What I believe’. (You can read this online at amazon without buying the book by the way, if you go to look inside).
      But there are many books from any religious tradition that might help. If you are Hindu you know a better set of books.
      You think this is not important but trust me, if you want to have a rich life it is.

      Investing and stock market books, they are all good and bad. I have mentioned the ones I like Stan’s book and Market Wizards, but after that no one will give you an exact turn-key system (investment authors like Wade Cook will tell you so but it is not true). Many say they have them but I question are they statistically proven. I believe in science and quantitative investing.
      I am a big believer in the scientific method applied to investing.
      On that note check out a site like
      Read it and understand what they are trying to convey. MSN money has a free watered down version of this. But to understand quantitative investing look at the valuengine site. I think this is the future of investing.
      Just like medicine was largely hit and miss at the start, so was investing. But with improve mathematical tests with computers we can make it more scientific, not to pick stocks for you, but to narrow the pool of choices so you can pick them yourself.
      I do not know if any of this makes sense and let me know what you think or if you have questions.


  3. maurice

    Thanks. You talk about religon, is it really important? I mean I do beleive in spirituality and all that but I feel classic religons have failed people. I recently read a book by Gary Zukav “Seat of the soul” and I was very moved and a lot of it makes a lot of sense.

  4. Mark Biernat

    I think the idea of meaning in life (Victor Frankel) is important. It does not matter about religon that much. Just having a meaning or purpose, not even in an abstract sense nor formal structure. But to know the your personal why in life will help you stay balanced.

    There are many wealthy people from Warren Buffet to Bill Gates who are not religious, at least I do not think so, nor is George Soros or Sergey Brin. These are the capitans of capital and wealth creation in the world, yet they are not particularly religious. Therefore, we can conclude it would be hard to tie religion in with earning potential.

    At first glance.

    However, each one of them is idealistic and humanistic and contributes a lot to good causes and charity. They have a code of ethics and morals and have meaning in their life. I am sure of this. Not define by religion but by them. Gandhi said ‘you are your religion’.

    There are other examples of rich people with a more formal religious definition meaning. This might include people like John Templeton or Sam Walton and family or Larry Ellison and Donald Trump. This group is also involved in Philanthropy.

    But both groups of successful people have a sense of meaning in their lives, self discovered or not. If you read their biography you will see meaning and purpose permeates their lives.

    However, finding your purpose is not something you look for to get rich, but rather independent of that. It is just for life, so if you do get rich you do not become an Ebenezer Scrooge or Jacob Marley, or like one of the countless lost souls of this world like in Hollywood who have it all but are depressed and have nothing and nobody.

    It makes your life rich in other way, the important ways.

    If there is a universal unlimited power in the universe, why not connect to it? Although it can never be tested, in my personal experience it has made all the difference. And or people who do not tap into this infinite power they are swindling themselves out of their own lives by not living in the richest way possible.

    This is the way I see it. If you see yourself as a speck of dust floating through the universe, this is what the universe will give you. But if you see yourself as infinite and eternal, anything can happen(in a positive way). This is a little bit yogic but it is true.

    Read about Laxmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani or Savitri Jindal and take a little inspiration.

    To live a rich life
    Step one: Penetrate the depths of this life and search for meaning. ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates – Make life worth living.
    Sept two: Read about how to make money.

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