I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new ways to cut costs for our family of six. Many of us are already living frugally and saving using larger means–cutting our cell phone bills, driving older cars to save on insurance costs or cancelling cable.
When you’re looking to immediately trim your grocery bill or save up for a big-ticket item (like the newer van we’re wanting to pay cash for), it’s sometimes the little ways you save that can give you a big push toward your goal.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are 11 small but significant ways to save money that we’ve been implementing in our home.
1. Make a grocery list and stick to it. How often have you gone to the grocery store and ended up with five or ten more things than you intended to buy? Marketing strategists know how to get you to purchase something that you really don’t need without even thinking about it. Beat them at their own game by writing down a list before you shop and stay focused. If you can make an aisle by aisle list that’s a double bonus!
2. Stay away from at-home parties! I know, I know, I love those fancy patterned bags and totes too! 😉 And an occasional splurge is perfectly fine if you have fun money in your budget. But let’s face it–all of these types of products are quite expensive and likely something that you can find for less somewhere else. Plus, your physical presence at the party makes you much more likely to spend way more than you ever should.
3. Use less water when cooking pasta. All you need is enough to cover the noodles when they’re in cooked form. No need to use the recommended 6 quarts!
5. Wash your clothes in cold water. They’ll still get clean. I promise. And washing them with no-grate powdered laundry soap adds to the savings!
6. Walk or ride your bike as often as possible. Living in a small town, we can walk to local spots like the gas station and the post office. Our bikes we use for longer treks across town to the school park and the ball fields. Less gas, more exercise!
7. Reuse zippered storage bags. For some people, this goes down in the “ew-are-you-kidding-me-that’s-nasty” category. Me? I’m cool with it. As long as it hasn’t stored meat or potato chips, I’ll rinse it out and use it again. An even better solution if you can spend the money? Reusable storage containers, like these Lock and Lock Glass Containers.
8. Barter or borrow for one-time use items. When you need a tiller to “plow the back forty” for your first garden (yup, that’s me!) or a chain saw to cut down a dead tree, see if a kindly neighbor or relative has what you need before heading to the hardware store. If you don’t feel confident in doing the task yourself, maybe you could barter a service with your neighbor: they cut down the tree, you cook them a big meal!
9. Borrow instead of buying books. With PaperBack Swap, you can swap books that you already have for those you want with no obligation to return them. There is a small shipping cost but then you get a book sent to you for no cost. Obviously the library is a good source for free books and sites like Free Homeschool Deals and Jungle Deals and Steals keep an updated list of Kindle and other free books downloads. Or host a book swap with friends!
10. Turn off the lights. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how often lights get left on at our house, by both kids and adults! Flipping off power strips and unplugging appliances at night is also very helpful! It’s been said that 80 percent of all power drainage in a home comes from “phantom electricity”: the cell phone chargers, coffee machines and TVs that are left plugged in at night.
11. Before you buy something, make a habit of asking yourself: “Do I need it or can I make do without it?” So often, if I ask myself this question while in the grocery store, Kohl’s or even the thrift store, the answer is “yes”! If I’m still unsure, I go home and think on it for awhile and most of the time it just gets forgotten because it really wasn’t that important! This can save you BIG time.
What are some “little” ways that make a big difference in saving money for your family?