A penny saved is a stitch in time, and worth two in the bush. Here are 10 Ways to trim your spending.
1. Buy Bulk
This one should be a no-brainer. Grab a buddy and split the cost of some of those penny-saving case-lot sale items that everyone needs. Go for canned, dried, or frozen items that you can use over time rather than buying something more perishable that you can’t possibly consume before it goes bad, therefore causing waste. Use bulk bins for spices, mixes, flour, pasta, and dry goods.
2. Use Natural Cleaning Agents
A big container of white vinegar is cheaper than buying the same amount of commercial chemical cleaner, and it’s also more versatile. Vinegar can be used to kill germs and dissolve calcium on almost any surface. It kills odours in your dishwasher and washing machine, and it can even be used to make your own shampoo. Lemons can be cheap (depending on where you live and what season it is) and are great for disinfecting counters & cutting boards. Baking soda can clean your stainless steel *and* whiten your teeth. Make sure the items you use to clean your house can do double/triple/quadruple duty!
3. Learn To Cook
No question – cooking is cheaper than eating in restaurants, and it’s pretty satisfying to eat a delicious meal you made yourself. Besides being a life skill that everyone should get the hang of to some degree, it can also help you get healthier since you’ll have control of exactly what goes in to your dinner. And with all the bulk shopping you’ll be doing, you’ll have to learn to cook eventually! At the very least, learn to make a few staple dishes that will cost you just a couple of bucks to produce – example: a loaf of store-bought branded bread costs between 3-5$ and contains about a dozen chemical ingredients to stabilize the product for the shelf. Baking your own bread costs about 75 cents and contains just 5 ingredients.
4. Store & Use Your Leftovers
Learning to cook means you’re constantly picking up new techniques, and that means that your leftover pasta sauce has the potential to become chili, bruschetta, meatloaf seasoning – you name it! That leftover carrot soup? Add some spices & chickpeas, and you’ve got yourself a curry. Cold rice in teh fridge from last night? Add milk, rasins, & sugar, and you’ve got rice pudding for dessert. Food is becoming more expensive all over the world, so don’t waste the food you spent your hard-earned money on – store it well and use it up tomorrow!
5. Learn to Sew
Relax, we’re not telling you to go learn how to make a quilt or stitch together a wedding gown. Fixing your own buttons, seams, and hems can save the money you’d either spend on a tailor OR on buying new clothes entirely when your old ones just need a little repair, and it’s so quick & easy to do simple sewing repairs that there’s really no reason not to do it. Simple sewing skills are something everyone should have!
6. Learn Your Home Basics
While you’re sewing on your own buttons you might as well go all the way and learn how to unclog your drains, change your fuses, and patch holes in the drywall. Simple home repair & maintenance skills can not only save you money in the long run, but can save the cost of hiring a handyman. Painting your own walls isn’t that hard, sealing your grout is as easy as following the directions on the label, and there’s a DIY book or video out there for almost any simple home repair.
7. Shop Smart
Local farmer’s markets and community garden sales may hold the key to lowering the cost of your veggies & meats. Often when the products being sold have had less distance to travel to get to the market, the savings are noticeable. And if you can support a local farmer with your dollars instead of the big super-chain, that’s even better.
8. Explore Creative Options
There are things that we buy because we think e have no other choice. For instance, a 20lb bucket of cat litter can cost 10-15$, OR a 30lb bag of wood pellets/equine bedding can cost you 5-8$ – both will be used the same way by your cat. Your old sheets can be torn into cleaning rags or sewn into doll clothes, your old sweaters and skirts can be transformed into throw pillows, you can bottle your own wine in your old (sanitized) wine bottles – we bet if you look around your home you can find a few things that can be substituted with a cheaper and equally effective alternative.
9. Have Potlucks
Going out for a big dinner with friends is one of life’s pleasures, but it can get pricey especially when there are drinks & dessert involved. Host a potluck with your friends instead – it will save money, and you can set themes for the food each time you do it! Birthdays, anniversaries, and seasonal celebrations don’t have to break the bank! Everybody brings a dish they made, and everybody takes their dirty dish home.
10. Be Honest With Yourself
Pretending you are sticking to a budget isn’t the same as actually sticking to it. A good, hard look at your financial situation will be all the motivation you need to eat at home, fix your shirt, or look for a case lot sale. A little prudence with your money right now can take stress & pressure off your household, and getting your money right is a satisfying, very “grown up” thing to do. It’s time.
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