How to Pinch Your Pennies in a Tight Economy

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010


With the economy being at the top of everyone’s mind, I thought it might be useful to share some penny-pinching tips that you can apply and maybe free up some spending money for the holiday season. I’m sure that my list isn’t complete, so I welcome others to add their 2 cents with other cost-saving ideas.

1. GREAT FOOD FOR ALL. You can get a large amount of food for $30. The December menu is: 32 oz. sirloin steak, 4 lb. chicken, 12 oz. shrimp, 1 lb. thin sliced ham, 15 slices fully cooked Hormel bacon, 1.5 lb. fully cooked meatballs, 3 lb. frozen vegetables, 5 lb. potato wedges, 1 lb. margarine, 12 ct. rolls or biscuits, 32 oz. whole grain rolled oats.

Cash or money orders only. No Checks. Food stamps accepted. For more information call Earl or Jan King at 419-624-0999. The last day to place your order is December 3.  Distribution is 9-11 a.m. Dec. 13 at the Sandusky Church of God at 1018 W. Bogart Road or 10-11 a.m. downtown at the Erie County Senior Center.  

2. Great clothes can be found at the Goodwill Stores in Sandusky and Huron, the Salvation Army Store in Sandusky Plaza, the Thrift Shop on Market Street in Sandusky and the one inside the Erie County Senior Center. When I say there are some great “finds,” I know. I shop there. There are two consignment shops you should check out, Labels on W. Perkins Avenue -- I shop there too -- and there is a consignment shop in Vermilion. I am told they have great clothes there, as well.

3. Homestead Tax Exemption. If you are permanently and totally disabled or age 65 or older, save on your real estate taxes by applying for the Homestead Tax Exemption. You will receive a reduction on your tax bill.  For more information go to the Erie County Auditor’s office or their Web site.

4. If you are on Medicare and your gross annual income is $15,600/year for a single person or $21,000 for a married couple and your assets (this does NOT mean your house, one car, your jewelry, furniture, etc.) are less than $11,990 for a single person or $23,970 for a married couple, you qualify for “Extra Help.”  This is a great benefit, and you shouldn’t pass it up.  Erie County residents age 60 and older should call Serving Our Seniors office if they would like assistance applying for “Extra Help.”

5. If you heat with natural gas, shop around for the best price. If you buy your natural gas from Columbia Gas, it is selling for $1.19 per ccf. This price varies from month-to-month. If you live inside the city limits of Sandusky, you can buy if from Direct Energy for a fixed price $1.03 per ccf ($1.02 per ccf if you are age 65+). Thank you City of Sandusky! If you live outside of Sandusky, there are still good buys if you want a fixed rate (a price that doesn’t vary month-to-month during the heating season). Integrys Energy is selling it for $1.08 per ccf from Decebmer 2008 to November 2009. 

6. If your gross annual income if 175% of the Federal Poverty Guideline or less ($18,200 for a household of one; $24,500 for a household of two; $30,800 for a household of three, space limits me from sharing the full list, but you get the drift) you should apply for HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program). Those who qualify will get a credit on their heating bill to help defray the cost of heating their home. For more information go to On the left side of the screen, click on the word HEAP, and you can print out your application.

7. Many generic prescription medications are available for $4/script at most chain stores.  Tell your doctor to prescribe the generic over the name brand. If you have no prescription insurance there’s the DRUG REPOSITORY at Buderer Drug Store, 433 Hancock St., Sandusky. For $7.40/script you can get up to a 90-day supply of a generic medication if they have a large supply in stock. You can get a 30-day supply of a name brand drug (if they have it in stock) for $7.40/script. These are unexpired medicines in tamper-proof packaging donated by institutional pharmacies to the DRUG REPOSITORY to help people who are without prescription insurance.

8. If you are age 60+, you can get a great meal for $2.50 at the Erie County Senior Center, 620 E. Water St., Sandusky.

9. If you have a low income, you should know about the weatherization program administered by WSOS out of Greensprings. Although the office isn’t in Erie County, they do serve Erie County. This program will inspect your home and implement a plan for improving its efficiency by insulating your home free of charge. Call 419-639-2802 for more information.

10. If you have a computer that you leave on throughout the day, turn it on only when you are using it. Computers use more electricity than you think. Don’t just take my word for it, try it.

11. If you use a credit card, consider doing most or all of your spending on a credit card, and set your money aside so you can pay it off at the end of the month. Use a card that pays you back some type of cash benefit. I use a Mastercard and pay it off each month, but every few months they send me a gift card for $25 worth of gasoline.

OK…now it’s your turn. What do you recommend to pinch some pennies?



Angel Food is an alternate food Ministry that provides greater variety. They have a $30 monthly Menu, Plus they have a Senior prepared food program, Additional "Grill Box" and "Fruit & Vegetable Box" and a "Holiday Dinner Box" available. This program is available through Sandusky Alliance Church. E-mail address is: or Call 419-626-8730 Extension 16. Orders due for December on the 6th with pickup on the 13th at Sandusky Alliance at corner of Warren and Finch Sts.


Recycle newspapers, cardboard, glass containers, metal cans and some plastic containers. I found that I was throwing out over 90% of recyclables into the trash. Trash pickup cost me about $60 every three months. Now I buy those curbside trash bags and have lowered my trash pickup to about $10 every three months. I drop off recyclables when I drive past the recycle stations. I also have a small compost pile in the back.


this is the most useful, tasteful thing I have read in this my life.



If you are willing to be entertained by fewer channels, you can ask for the most economical version of cable television. You get few channels, but the price is around 14.00. My friend has it cuz she can't afford the 50.00 version of "basic" cable.


get gas at Krogers with your krogers plus discount card. the card is free to get and the savings at the pump is 20 cents off per gallon for every $50 in food purchases per month.

So, if you spend $50 on groceries-I believe you can get 15-30 (cant remember which) gallons of gas for 20 cents off....or 1 fill-up.

If you spend $50 per week-every week you can get 20 cents off per fill-up.


Serving Our Seniors has about 20 new glucometers donated to them. If anyone age 60+ needs a new one they should call our office. 624-1856

We have also had a supply of diabetic test strips donated to us from families whose loved one has passed away. These diabetic test strips are expensive if you don't have insurance to cover them. Again call our office and tell us what type of test strips you need, and if we have them... they're yours for free.

One last thing... we have also had a supply of disposable undergarments donated to our office. These too are expensive to purchase. We can give them to you for free.


Cancel or don't renew your paid subscription to the Sandusky Register. Only read it on-line.

If any local news is that vitally important, someone will tell you or you'll discover it for yourself.


Jeff, please expand on your comment...


(419) 241-6215 is the number to call if you need dental services. Thanks to the Erie County Health Department there is a "Mobile Dental Care Unit" that comes to Erie County and offers dental care on a sliding fee scale basis. So if you don't have dental insurance Call this number for affordable dental care.


R.H.S. dont you realize you cant ask Jeff Crapbill to think on the spot? He has to research, evaluate facts, and then when all is said and done, plagerise someone elses thoughts. Anyway I do agree that spending your money on The Register is about as smart as smoking it. I mean come on The Gettysburg Address is more relevant. They always report the story three days after some hick paper does, they also allow people like Nick White to be employed when he obviously has no writing skill or talent. I mean come on his blogs are about nothing. What should we expect next, a blog column from Rick Studer? But back to the money thing I do run a knife sharpening business, so rather than buying new knives why not just sharpen your old for a reasonable rate. Also save money buy enjoying the classic music of The Carpenters or Garth Brooks, you may like it and along the way you may learn something. I will end with saying get a job do your job well and dont expect special treatment because you are a tatooed freak or an ammoral homosexual, you chose your life and if you dont want to fit in with the normal people thats your fault.


DEAR FRUGAL PERSON, Thank you for sharing your info and the websites!! I have no idea how you are able to live at 60 degrees. WOW! That is amazing to me. -- Sue


The great Amushunkwa warrior "Red Sleeves" once said "With two sacks of deer jerk, a young squaw and a fox tail I can winter quite nicely". When asked "why not two young squaws?" He replied, "this would require six sacks of deer jerk and a thousand tears, and there would be no fox tail".

Rick Studer

Where's my Bailout? When the annual end of the year articles and television specials start screening over the holidays I predict we will be hearing the word "bailout" a lot. Bailout has become the latest "catch all phrase".

Banks get a bailout, auto companies want a bailout, insurance companies want a bailout, stockholders need a bailout, everybody wants a bailout. Where is the little guys' bailout? How about a grocery bailout, have you seen the price of beef? Where is my heating bailout? I'm not man enough to sit in my tub at 60 degrees. Isn't the point of the bailout to save companies and there by save the economy. Let's save the little guy!

From what I can tell the economy hasn't been busting out since the bailout passed. Maybe I'm missing something but all I see are big banks like PNC buying other banks like National City. I see executives getting bonuses. Banks are saving their bailout money instead of loaning it out. Is this what was voted on and passed by congress. I think we need a do over on the bailout plan; maybe we could pass a "just kidding" bill.

If I get a bailout I promise to spend it. I'll buy some grade a beef, a nice flannel shirt and since I'm not greedy I'll set the heat at 69 degrees. So come on, send us little guys some cash. After all, we'll be paying for it the rest of our lives anyway...

Speaking of the auto companies, the more I think about it the more I'm inclined to let them sink or swim on their own. Driving down Cleveland road past the Dodge dealer what do I see out front? Dodge Chargers, giant pickup trucks, big luxury cars, all gas hogs. Wasn't it just a few months ago that gas was creeping toward $4.00 a gallon? What? Has the energy crisis been solved? I even read where big pickup sales were starting to bump up again. Short memories I guess.

Maybe a shortage of funds would force Detroit to downsize their business model. They already build some small cars. What if they were forced by economics to only sell the small cars? They wouldn't have to "invent" something new, they already have product.

We all know that the big cars are the most profitable, that's why they sell them. If they get a bailout and use it to make large vehicles that in turn burn more gas, we not only pay for the bailout we contribute to more gas being burned thus gas prices rise. Just a thought...


ONE FINAL PENNY-WISE TIP... If you can get by without your car for a few days or a week, take your car to Sandusky High School's Automotive Technology class. The students learn from the experience of making the repairs and maintenance work to your car and the labor is free! That is a huge savings!


Hey Studer, its my right as an American to choose what kind of car I drive. There is nothing wrong with big cars. Forcing auto makers to only make dinky pieces of tin cars is ludicrous. I belive thats called communism. I mean under your plan what next, long lines of people waiting for thier monthly roll of toilet paper? People being forced to use copies of The Sandusky Register as an altenative when they run out. (Althogh I'm pretty sure its not even worthy of that honor.) Stop your whining Studer about seeing all those shiny new cars, just because you know its something you can't have it's no need to be jealous of those that can have it. By the way I didnt know your piece of crap Chevy Celebrity could even make it that far, last I heard it had trouble making it around the block. Besides I thought your trailer park was the one behind the Sunoco station on Tiffin Ave not the one on Cleveland Rd. Furthermore if you need money stop whining and get a job instead of sitting at home all day in your underwear drinking Milwaukees Best, playing the banjo, and blogging. And Rick I saw what you consider grade a beef laying on the side of Route 4. If you hurry you might get that possum before the crows do.


After graduating from UTEP, Rick moved back in with his parents. No beer drinking allowed. Right Rick?

Wanna save on heating cost? Move South.


Hi Sue,

I hope that in the future that you will mention ways to stretch a dollar or pinch pennies.

I bought a ham with a bone at Meijer's about 6 months ago for 99 cents a pound. I saved the bone with lots of meat still attached and froze it. Today was a cold day so I decided to make some bean soup. Since I have an all electric house, any cooking that I do in the winter is free heat.

People should cook much more in the winter when heat is needed in the home and freeze the left overs to reheat in the summer.

I live very cheaply because I am not into materialism. Last week, I saved the tops and bottom of my celery and made a great tasting vegetable soup with turkey.

60 degrees is not cold at all inside of a house. There is no wind or breeze so you can rule out a chill factor. Wear sweats pants and shirts indoors.

Why would Rick want to take a bath in 60 degree water? I take a bath in warm water.

Sue, I grew up poor and I know all about ways to save money. I am here to share ideas on saving money.

The Sandusky Library is a great source for lending free books, CDs, DVDs and video tapes. People need to use the Sandusky Library as it is a great store of knowledge.

Hold off buying food and gadgets until they go on sale.


We are both soon to be laid off. Dish soap, laundry soap, toilet paper, counter top cleaner, anything you use routinely. I just purchased original coupons very cheap on ebay. Now my pantry is stocked with cleaning supplies for the next 12 months. I bought all items when they were on sale at Meijer and used coupons. This is a good time of year to stock up on canned vegetables, as sales are very good if you watch for them. I bought enough cases of canned vegetables to get me through for quit a while. All money I can keep in my pocket for now. Now more than ever, you need to be a penny-wise shopper.
I freeze left-over vegatables. When I buy a roast it's large enough to use the left-over with my left-over vegetables for a nice pot of soup.


I was told the programable thermostats will soon lose their green star rating. When you program to heat less during sleeping hours, the furnace has to work that much harder and longer to get back to your desired temperature, in other words, you're not in reality saving very much. I do try to drop my thermostat a degree every 10 days or so. A gradual change in climate is easier to get used to. If you have a "blower" function on your thermostat use it to circulate the warmed air through out the house.
Remember when years back when we kept our thermostats around 80 degrees? Felt pretty good, but the cooler temps. are healthier for our body if we can get used to it.


My programmable dropped my gas budget from $88 to $65 in two years.... 68when we are home, morning and evening, 62 the rest of the time.


DEAR FRUGAL PERSON & COUPON QUEEN, Thank you soooo much for your tips! I admire you both!! -- Sue