words by: Merissa A. Alink
With the current economic condition and prices of everything rising, it’s become imperative that many of us need to find as many ways to save money as possible.
While we all have plenty of “fixed” bills that can’t be changed (gas, mortgage, rent, etc.), there are still many small everyday things that we can do to save a little.
Each of these things individually might not seem like much, but when you add them all together, you will start to see a big difference! So here are some small, simple ways that you can start shaving those valuable dollars off of your monthly bills.
Write Down Every Expense
Write every single expense down as it happens. Keep a journal, notebook, scratch-pad… anything will work. Write down when you pay a bill, write down when you buy sour cream, write down when you buy socks. Write it all down! Before you can start saving money, you have to see where it’s all going.
At the end of the month, review this list and see how much excess cash is going to places it shouldn’t be. Make adjustments if necessary.
Have a Garden in the Summer or Winter
I believe that everyone can have a garden no matter where you live! I want to challenge you to grow at least one thing. I like to grow at least lettuce year-round in small containers. Herbs also grow very well in the house.
In the summer, you can have as large of a garden as you have room for, even if that just means planting some small pots on a patio. You don’t need to spend a lot on seeds either. Ask a friend who gardens if they have any extras, or check your local dollar store.
Stop Using Paper and Start Using Cloth
Most of us have plenty of old towels or sheets that can be used as rags around our homes in place of paper towels. You can also make your own “cloth paper towels” with a bit of knit or flannel fabric if you have any scraps. I keep my cloth rags right under my kitchen sink so they are always easily accessible.
If you go through one roll of paper towel a week and you pay $1 per roll, that’s $52 a year. What could you do for an extra $52 a year?
Paper napkins are also expensive and not necessary. We made the switch to cloth napkins years ago and haven’t looked back. I toss them in with our regular laundry loads every other day, and it barely causes me any extra work.
Don’t Throw Away Food
This will be a challenging one for many of us. Did you know that the average family of four throws away 122 pounds of food each month? That’s a lot of wasted money that we are literally throwing in the trash!
An easy way to use up all the leftovers from the week is to have at least one designated leftover day each week. Once (or twice) each week get out all the leftovers and set them up buffet-style. That way things get eaten up instead of hanging out in the back of the fridge until they get moldy.
We try to eat meatless at least one day a week. Meat is one of the most expensive proteins per pound that you can buy. If your husband is like mine, he may be a little resistant to this idea, so try and find some hearty meals to make up for it. Filling vegetable stews are a great way to do this, as are most meals that feature potatoes or beans.
Shampoo Your Hair Less
If you currently shampoo your hair every day, try shampooing every other day this week and see if you notice a difference. This is something I already do. I still wash my hair with water, but I don’t always shampoo it. (I need that morning shower to wake up!)
Sell at Least 3 Things Per Week
This week, challenge yourself to find at least three things you don’t need and list them for sale wherever your local free ads can be listed. Craigslist is always free, Facebook Marketplace is free, and some newspapers allow you to list free items if they are under a certain dollar amount.
If you can make a goal to sell at least three things each week that you don’t need, you will be surprised at how much extra cash you can earn. In the meantime, your home will be getting a little cleaner as you get rid of things you don’t really need!
Use 1/4 Less Laundry Detergent
Instead of filling up that detergent lid to the fill line, add a little less. This means that if you currently pay about $0.20 per load for detergent and use 25% less, you save $0.05 per load. While that doesn’t seem like much, if you do one load of laundry per day every day of the year, you will save $18.25 per year (enough to buy another bottle or two of detergent!).
Line-dry Your Clothes
Where I live, it costs $0.12 per kWh for electricity (check your local bill for your cost per kilowatt hour), so that means each time you run the dryer, it costs $0.40. That may not seem like much, but that means if you are doing five loads of laundry per week, it’s costing you an extra $8.58 per month on your electric bill. If you are doing eight loads of laundry a week, it’s costing you $13.75 per month on your electric bill. If you don’t have to spend that extra $100 – $200 a year, why would you?
You can line-dry your clothes on a traditional line outside or use an indoor drying rack. I use both, depending on the season.
Make Homemade Cleaners
It’s so easy and inexpensive to make your own homemade cleaners. Not to mention it’s better for the environment, and it’s better for your health not having to breathe in all those toxic chemicals.
A simple online search will find a lot of homemade cleaning supply recipes. (I have several on my website, www.littlehouseliving.com.)
Stick to the Food Basics
Next time you head to the grocery store, only walk around the perimeter. You will see the basics: bread, produce, meat.
As you are trying to stretch a buck when it comes to your groceries, it’s good to try and avoid those middle aisles filled with pretty packaging and all kinds of foods we don’t need.
Consider this the next time you are grocery shopping and before you put something into your cart. Do you really need that box of sugary cereal for $4? Or can it be replaced with a container of oats for less than $1/lb?
Hopefully, you will be able to utilize some (or all!) of these tips and be able to have a few more dollars left in your pocket at the end of every month.