Sunday, February 6, 2011

50 ways to save money

Here's some tips on saving your hard earned cash.  Most have been all over the web for a long time, but maybe you'll find a new one here.  This list is in no particular order:

1.  Don't go shopping because you're bored or feeling sorry for yourself.  You may have lost your job and haven't figured out what to do with all this time in between updating your resume.  Stay home and do something productive there, even if you have to force yourself.  It's okay to cry while you're cleaning out a closet.
2.  Don't run out and buy those CFL bulbs you have been thinking about to save on your electric bill.  Turn your lights off, then replace with CFL's as they burn out.
3.  Eat at home.
4.  Learn to cook so you can do #3 more economically.  There's lots of good recipes online that can be made on the cheap.
5.  Don't buy any more paper products.  You really don't need paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc.  If you're really broke, you can use rags instead of toilet paper.  Yes, you can.
6.  Unplug everything when you aren't using it.
7.  Use your cooking appliances in the following order to save electricity:  slow cooker first, microwave, any small appliance before cranking on the oven or using the range top.
8.  If you're going to use the oven, bake several things at once, or one after the other.  Saves power by not preheating the oven again.
9.  Make enough for at least two meals when you cook.  Freeze some or have it again in a couple days.
10.  Plan your meals from what you already have in the kitchen.  No running to the store to pick up a couple things.  Got nothing but ramen noodles and eggs?  Ramen fritattas cheap to make and taste better than they sound. 
11.  Jot down some menu ideas and then make your grocery list from that.  Make sure you have some simple to throw together meals for when you don't feel like cooking or are short on time.  Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are pretty fast.  So are pancakes and eggs.  Stick to the list, but check the sales on meat, staple foods and the mark down baskets.  Then plan other meals using those things.
12.  Make your own convenience foods.  Think about what you buy and then do a search for 'make your own ___'.
13.  Make your own cleaners for around the house.  All you need to make a plethora of products are simple and cheap items like baking soda, white vinegar, borax, etc.
14.  Don't buy any more plastic film stuff and limit aluminum foil.  Try to bake things that normally would be covered with foil in a roasting pan that has a lid.  Better yet would be to try to make it on the stove top or in a slow cooker.  Use resealable containers for leftovers or put a plate over the bowl before you put it in the refrigerator.  Wash out bread wrappers and use them for dividing up bulk meats.  Throw plastic bags away if they have had raw meat in them.  If you bake bread, a loaf doesn't fit into a gallon size bag.  But it sure fits in a recycled bread wrapper.  I usually double bag it before I put it in the freezer.
15.  Google everything to see how to make it yourself or cheaper.  We eat better meals for a lot less money now. 
16.  If you have zipper plastic bags, wash 'em and reuse 'em.  You can use your auto dishwasher for drying the bags.  Just stand them up over the prongs and leave the door cracked.
17.  Cancel the HBO on your television package.  If you can't abide going without the tube, see what they have on cheaper packages.  Check out Hulu online, or other free viewing shows/ movies on the computer.
18.  No, you don't need to have all the bells and whistles and internet on your cell phone plan.  While a lot of us are locked into contracts, some are not.  Check out the cheap pay as you go cell phones that allow you to keep your phone number.
19.  When you have to purchase something like a garden hose, think long term.  This might be the time to spend more for a garden hose that will last forever instead of buying a cheap one from the dollar store every year.
20.  Make your own non toxic bug sprays, compost and nitrogen fertilizers (green grass clippings are great, and even your diluted urine (10 parts water to 1 part pee) is great for plants...once you get past the ewwww factor.  Google it and see why a lot of gardeners call it liquid gold.
21.  Unwrap those bars of bath soap right this minute.  The drier they are, the longer they'll last.
22.  Make your own laundry soap (tons of recipes online) and use vinegar instead of fabric softener.  You may be surprised at how well it works.
23.  Line dry your clothes if you can.  Hate stiff clothes?  Throw them in the dryer with a couple of dry towels, set the dryer on LOW heat then set your timer for 10 minutes.  Get the clothes, hang 'em up on the line or hangers to finish drying and they won't be stiff.
24.  If you can't line dry, then just throw the dry towels in with the wet clothes and dry on LOW heat.  Clean the lint trap every single load, and shake out the wet clothes as you put them in the dryer.  Those things alone can reduce the drying time by as much as 10 minutes.
25.  If you have an electric dryer, vent it into the house during the winter.
26.  Store your baking stone in your oven during the colder months.  It will hold the heat when you bake - more even baking and release heat longer after the oven is off and you have the door cracked.
27.  During the warmer months, use your slow cooker outside so you don't heat up the kitchen.
28.  If you can be there and WATCH, use your slow cooker on low, wrap a towel around it and it will cook like it's on high heat but use less power.  I can do this with one cooker, but dang near melted the cord on the other one...eeeeek!
29.  Make a 'hay box'.  It's basically a well insulated box that you put a boiling hot pot in to finish cooking with no added power.  Don't have to use actual hay, either.
30.  Make a solar oven using a cardboard box or pizza box and aluminum foil.
31.  Got a wide mouth thermos?  You can cook foods for one in a good thermos.
32.  Freeze water in a couple of milk jugs outside during the winter and put in the frig to keep it from kicking on as much.
33.  Heat water in milk jugs during the summer by putting them in the sun and use for washing dishes by hand.
34.  Wash dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.  Check the post on here somewhere for how to do that using less water.
35.  Wash your clothes in cold water, on the shortest wash cycle if your machine has a 'soak' cycle.  Your clothes will come out cleaner, and you'll save about $1 a load on electricity.  If you're used to washing in hot water and switch to doing this, you'll save about $2 a load.
36.  Turn up the temperature on the airconditioner and crank on some fans to move the air.  You'll feel cooler.  Shut the curtains.
37.  Turn down the temperature on the heater and use a heating pad to keep you warmer if the sweatshirt just doesn't cut it.
38.  Consider a vegetarian lifestyle.  It's generally healthier and can be cheaper, but if you gotta have some meat (like me), plan on at least one (or more) meatless meals a week.
39.  Use more oatmeal in your cooking.  You can make meatballs and meatloaf stretch a lot further by adding oatmeal and plenty of onions, seasoning, etc.  You can make great homemade granola, protein bars, granola bars, cookies, cakes, breads, different flavors of oatmeal, etc.  My mother loves butterscotch oatmeal.  I had never considered it until she told me about it.
40.  Embrace the 'half theory'.  It's nothing more than seeing if you can get by using half of whatever you usually use - half the shampoo, half the toothpaste, etc.
41.  Consider bartering, borrowing, renting or stealing before buying.  Well, not actually stealing, but you know what I mean.  I loaned a very fancy dress to a friend for a wedding so she didn't have to buy one.  If you need a pickup or trailer, what about renting instead of buying?  Can you rent from a friend or neighbor?  Or barter skills?  I put together a basic website for someone and he mowed my small acreage a couple of times when our mower had shot craps.  We didn't barter or anything, it was just mowed when we got home one day.
42.  Clean out your closets, garage, storage unit and have a garage sale.
43.  Clean out that storage unit and quit paying rent on it.  If you have had it for more than a couple months or so, you must not really need anything that's in it.  Sell the stuff or donate it.
44.  Learn to cut hair.  This may involve a learning curve...but it will grow back, honest.  Choose a simplier style.
45.  Cancel magazine subscriptions.  With all the information online, I can't understand why anyone would pay for a magazine any more.
46.  Do all your errands in one trip to save gasoline, instead of making daily runs here and there.
47.  Accept that you may have to have some 'not so healthy' meals when you're really broke and you're just trying to fill bellies.  You probably won't die if you have to eat hot dogs, oatmeal or beans unless you have some major allergies.
48.  Re-evaluate your entertainment.  We used to go out to eat with friends once a month, now we do a pot luck dinner instead, or buy take-n-bake pizza and split the cost.
49.  Re-evaluate the common greeting card, etc.  I hate spending $5 for something that's going to get thrown away in a week. When a friend had surgery last year, instead of balloons or a get well card, we gave him a watermelon after he got home.  Honest.  He loved the old seeded watermelons that NO store had around here.  My husband was on his way home from another state and saw a roadside market that had the watermelons, so he snagged a couple.  Perfect.
50.  Learn to drink water again.  You can spend a ton of money in a year buying soda pops, flavored drinks, expensive coffees, etc.  That doesn't mean that you go buy bottles of water.  A lot of thrift stores will have a used Brita pitcher.  Even buying a new one will save you money in the long run.

Remember that even if your spouse, kids or significant other doesn't want to make some of these changes, you'll still save money overall if YOU make the changes.

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