Over the past few years, we have all had to tighten our belts and trim our budgets. When you think about it, it makes sense. Our parents, and our grandparents were always going on and on about how important it is to take care of our things, to use things up, make do with what we have and repair things rather than replacing them.
Unfortunately, if you a Gen Xer, like me, you might not know how to do this. We were raised on disposable things and cheap, plastic stuff from Walmart that are cheaper to replace than repair. However, if you're trying to save some money, be more frugal and also do something good for the environment, learning how to make do with what you have is important.
Here are 10 ways to cut your budget by spending less on things you may not need:
Do the repairs yourself - The internet is a great resource for learning about anything. Use it to learn how to repair appliances when they break, how to sew a button back on or mend a tear in a favorite garment. By doing the repair yourself, you get to learn a new skill and save money. When things break, it's often much cheaper to fix them than to replace them, all it takes is a little know how.
Do fewer loads of laundry - Just because you wore a shirt for 30 minutes, doesn't mean it's dirty. Instead of washing everything, just because you can, try to limit the amount of laundry you do. If you have small children, make sure that the clothes they put in the hamper are actually dirty clothes, not just clean clothes that ended up on the floor. My daughter always loved to clean her room by throwing all the clothes in the hamper, rather than hanging up things that she had pulled out but didn't wear. This meant that I was constantly washing the jeans that she never wore.
Weather-proof your home or apartment - Caulking your windows or weatherstriping any cracks can make a huge difference in your power bill. If you rent your house or an apartment, there are some temporary tricks that can help keep the cold air out. For example, at a hardware or home improvement store, you can buy sheets of plastic shrink wrap designed to be put over your windows. After you put the plastic up, just go over it with a hair dryer to make an airtight seal that keeps the heat in and makes drafts history.
Reuse grey water - Not all water that you pour down the drain is unusable. For example, the glass of water that you left beside your bed might not taste the best the next morning, but you can still use it for things like watering your plants. Depending on your lifestyle, this might not save you a ton of money, but it will help you think about your water consumption differently.
Close doors when you don't use the room - If you have a guest room or other rooms that you don't use often, keep the door closed and the vents shut. This will lower your heating and cooling costs without causing you too much inconvenience. When you decide to use those rooms, just open the door and vents. It won't take long to heat them up or cool them off again.
Buy less - Take a look at your purchases for a month. Odds are good that you buy things you don't need. Instead of spending money just to create more clutter, adopt a more minimalistic lifestyle. It's a hard habit to embrace, but once you do, you'll see that the most important things in life are free and all of that stuff can just keep you locked into a pattern of buying and buying in order to feel happy.
Think about the experience, not the cost - When looking for ways to entertain your kids or spend time as a family, look at the overall experience, not the cost. So often, we take the easy options like going to a movie or going out to dinner. For a family of four, this can cost a bundle. Instead, look for things that are fun and low cost or free. Also, don't overlook ways to save money on family outings. For example, when I was a kid, we would often go on day trips. We packed a cooler, a loaf of bread and all the stuff we needed for lunch. When lunch time rolled around, we found a picnic table and ate. Eating lunch out can really make family outing expensive.
Keep your freezer full - Full freezers cost less to keep cold, but what do you do if you don't have enough food to keep it full or dislike stockpiling frozen food? Just keep some jugs of water in the freezer to take up the extra space. Not only will it save you money on your electric bill, but if the power goes out, your frozen foods will stay colder for longer.
Recycle your stuff - There are many places online where you can find things for free or get rid of things you no longer need. Instead of throwing things away, list them on Freecylce. The item that you no longer have a use for might be just the thing someone else needs.
Re-purpose sheets and other used fabric - Old sheets and clothes that are stained, ripped or no longer fit can be used to make other things. Even if you aren't very crafty, a pretty shirt or a tablecloth that has a stain can be turned into accent pillows without much effort. You don't have to be a great seamstress to do this. Use your imagination and you will find many ways to re-use them. When I was young, my grandmother collected a few of the dresses I wore as a child and young girl. A few years later, she cut up the fabric and gave me a quilt she made from them. I loved it and it was an excellent way to save the memories without having to save boxes of stuff.
How do you save money? Do you have any tips to share?
"Image from dreamstime.com"