You might have heard the statement before that “it takes green to go green”. When you’re trying to make the switch to be more eco-friendly, the last thing you want to do is spend more money doing it. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be expensive to start making choices that are easy on the environment.
Shop Second Hand
Grow your Own Garden
Switch to using cloth napkins, towels and rags instead of paper towels and napkins. Even if you don’t make the switch completely to paper free, every little bit helps!
Use Reusables when Possible
Instead of using ziploc bags when packing your lunch — try using reusable plastic containers or reusable fabric bags. This rule also applies to drinks! When possible use reusable glass or stainless steel cups in place of water bottles or throw away styrofoam cups.
Make your own Cleaning Supplies
By creating your own cleaning supplies you are not only cutting down on harsh chemicals, you are also cutting down on all of the extra bottles.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Set your programmable thermostat to run less when you aren’t home or even during the night hours. You would be surprised at how much this will reduce your energy consumption! Also, open your windows as much as possible to cool your house down. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you can also make a difference by lowering the thermostat 2 degrees for heat and up 2 degrees for the air. Your unit will be working less, but you likely won’t notice much difference in the air temperature.
Use Less Water
There are many ways to do this, such as installing a water conserving shower head or toilet. If you cannot afford to replace your toilet, a quick fix is to place a brick in the tank, which raises the water level without adding more water.
Try to consolidate your errands so you’re running to town less, using less fuel. When you’re able, try to walk or ride your bike. You’ll be doing double duty — getting fit and using less fuel!
Forget the Dryer!
Use your clothesline or hang up your clothes to dry inside your home instead of using your dryer.
Taking the time and money to take your spouse out is hard in our busy society, but it helps remind them how much they mean to you. Date night doesn’t mean it has to break the bank! Remember whether it is free or costs the world, a date is only as good as the thought put into it.
Grab a couple of blankets, spread them out in your backyard and gaze up at all stars and planets in your night sky. Did you know there are even apps available (such as Skyview which is available for iPhone and Android), that when pointed to the sky, will help you decipher what you are looking at? So fun!
Bonfire and S’mores
Light up the backyard fire pit and get to cooking while sharing a drink and laughs– and remembering why you fell in love in the first place!
Antiquing or Thrift Store Shopping
Take a walk through local antique or thrift stores and talk about all the quirky things you find. Better yet — purchase an item to redo and upcycle together!
A great way to enjoy each other’s company as well as give back to the community is to look for volunteer opportunities. Check with your local animal shelter or other community organizations such as Red Cross.
Take to the internet and search for possible haunted locations in your area. Everything from an old abandoned insane asylum to the local legends surrounding your local watering hole can be fodder for the best “hunt.”
Create little cards with clues on them to lead you from the starting point to your ultimate destination. You can keep it small by keeping it around the house or let it grow to something that covers the whole city. A cute twist would be to have the “treasure” be something that holds significance for the both of you, such as the place of your first date.
Remember, it is always the thought that counts. Whether you are going on your first date or celebrating your 10th wedding anniversary just being together and enjoying each other’s company is the goal. Think outside the box and remember to have fun no matter how you spend your time with the one you love.
Summer is here and you’re looking for things to do with your family that won’t break the bank. Taking the time to get away from work, school and everyday obligations, is hard enough, but then thinking of the money it is going to cost to get away makes it even harder.
Camping is a great way to get away from everything as well as allowing you to really enjoy your time together and not be distracted by everyday life, including your wallet. Planning and preparation are key to making it a money-saving success.
Camping on a Budget
Create a Checklist
Lists are your best friend! Create a camping checklist before you start packing to make sure that you don’t forget anything and have to pay exorbitant prices from the campground to get it.
Purchase Pre-Owned or Slightly Used Gear
Check out local garage/yard sales, websites such as Craigslist, or even find local “online garage sale” groups on Facebook.
Use Household Items
There is no need to purchase eating utensils, plates, pots, pans, when you already have those things in your kitchen cabinets.
Create a Camping Tote
Have a tote that is used year to year especially for camping trips. Instead of purchasing temporary items to cover everything you will need, purchase items that will last and can be used year to year.
Prep your Food
Prepare your menu plan just as you normally would, and prepare anything you need to in advance. Instant Oatmeal packets, muffins and granola are great protein packed breakfast ideas that cost very little.
Pick a camping location that has things to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to camp in a resort, but camp close to water or a state park so you have built in entertainment that won’t cost additional money.
A couple other tips to remember. Keep your wood pile covered with a tarp to keep it from getting wet or damp from a pop-up storm. Also, try to set up camp in the shade as much as possible to avoid the heat and and having to replenish the ice in your cooler as frequently.
In the society of Buy Now, Pay Later it’s difficult to maintain a debt free life. The feeling of financial freedom is one that cannot be compared to much else. Can you imagine not having to make regular monthly payments and being able to enjoy every penny of your hard earned cash, instead of making banks richer with your interest payments?
Create a Working Budget
The first step in gaining financial freedom is getting a clear look at your finances. Set aside time to dig into your finances and create a budget. You need to include every expense you incur, including those that aren’t monthly (such as insurance, taxes, school supplies, Christmas, etc). On the flip side, you also need to include every source of income you have.
Toss Out those Credit Cards!
If you’re looking to gain financial freedom, then it is essential that you make a commitment to not get into any more debt, which includes credit cards.
Control your Spending
There are areas of your budget that you are in full control of, like groceries and entertainment. Since groceries are usually a huge part of a person’s budget, take a long hard look at your grocery spending and find areas where you are able to trim. Stop all non-essentials in every negotiable category until you’re able to feel some financial relief.
Once you figured out where your money is going every month and you’ve trimmed every area you can — use your “saved” money to pay down any remaining debts. Start with the lowest balance and throw all of your extra money at it to eliminate it quicker. Once that debt is paid in full, take the money you were paying on it monthly, plus all the extras and apply it to the next debt with the smallest balance. You’ll gain momentum very quickly and you’ll see your debt disappear right before your eyes!
Gaining financial freedom is never as fun as it was to get into debt in the first place. It just plain hurts! Try to keep your eyes on your end goal of being free from monthly debt payments and set realistic goals for what you’re going to do once you’re done with this journey. It’s tough now, but soon the feeling of freedom will be so worth it!
Of course, the easiest way to save money on buying meat is… to not buy any meat at all. Beans and rice are cheap and tasty, a dietary staple in many cultures around the world. But if you consider yourself and your family to basically be “obligate carnivores” as my family does, you may struggle to keep meat in your diet while keeping money in your bank account as well. Here are a few tips on how to buy meat on a budget.
Buy large portions. Large pieces of meat generally cost less per pound than smaller cuts—after all, there’s less work involved in wrapping up a whole roast, compared to chopping it up and packaging several steaks in multiple containers. You may end up spending more money up front, but if you can freeze what you don’t mean to eat right away, you will spend less in the long run.
Buy discounted meat. Use some caution here, but this is generally a good tactic in chain supermarket stores. When unsold meat gets about a day away from its “sell by” date, supermarkets often mark down these packages to sell them quickly. If the meat is still unsold on its “sell by” date, those packages are marked down even more, 50 or even 75% off. The supermarket would rather sell the meat cheaply and still make a little money instead of having to dispose of it! If you buy meat on its “sell by” date, be sure to use it immediately, so it doesn’t spoil.
Buy ends and pieces. Not making a centerpiece meal for your company’s CEO any time soon? Often, markets and delis sell “ends and pieces” at a discount. These might be irregularly shaped bits of bacon, or the round ends of deli meats that won’t be on a magazine cover any time soon, but are still perfectly good to eat. And if you are just stuffing them in a sandwich or chopping them up to put in a stew anyway, no one will even notice!
Debit and Credit cards are kind of amazing. You dump of bunch of tomatoes or whatever on a conveyor belt, a cashier shoves them in a bag for you, and you swipe your little piece of plastic through a machine, and bam. Your tomatoes are paid for, even though neither of you ever saw actual money used in the transaction.
The problem with this is that when you don’t see the money, it’s hard to realize you are spending it. Years ago when people used checks to pay for everything, you weren’t exchanging physical money, but you still had to write out a number on a check, pass it to the cashier, and then write down what you spent in your checkbook. Physically writing “$40.00” on a check and then “-$40.00” in your checkbook kind of made the loss of that $40 tangible. But with debit and credit cards, you glance at the number that is your total on a small screen for a moment, swipe the card, and that’s that. It can be hard to feel attached to that $40 when you don’t really get to visualize it. Many people end up spending more than they intend because of this.
Enter the envelope system of budgeting. It’s a type of budgeting recommended for people who need to feel attached to that money in order to rein in their spending. Say that after paying bills, rent, etc, you have $500 for the rest of that month. Figure out what you need that money for—say, $300 for groceries, $100 for new clothing or shoes, $100 for eating out/other incidentals. Withdraw $500 in sweet, sweet cash from an ATM. Bust out a few business-sized envelopes. Label each one “Groceries,” “Clothes,” etc, and put the amount you’ve budgeted into each one. Do not tell anyone you have $500 in cash lying around your home, but bring the appropriate envelope along when you go shopping. Perhaps you’ve mentally budgeted $80 for shoes. But at the store you see a pair marked down from $200 to only $120, and that’s more than you wanted to spend, but it’s such a good deal! With a debit card, it’s easy to mentally discount the extra $40 you didn’t budget and just buy them anyway, but with the envelope system, you have $100 in cash and that’s all. You cannot spend $120 on shoes! The envelope system doesn’t work for everyone, but it is a good option for many, many people who need to visualize what they spend.
One of the greatest things about a new year is the chance to start again in so many ways. One of the ways we get to start over is in the area of finances. I’m about to sit down to re-work our family’s budget. So I thought I’d share a few budget-making tips at the start of the year.
1. Review Last Year
Look over your 2014 spending. What did you get right? What did not work? How did you do with your debt? Did you reduce or eliminate it or did you add to it? How about your grocery budget? How does your savings account look? Did you pay all your bills on time or did you run into late payments and bounced checks? Take an honest look at it all and figure out how you’re going to fix your failures. Let’s do better this year!
2. Re-evaluate Your Budget
Is your budget accurate? Is it working for you or do you need to make changes? Did you add a gymnastics class for one of your children? Did your toddler get potty trained? Cut that diaper cost out of your budget and take a second to congratulate yourself on a job well done. 😉 You might need to review your budget with your spouse. An inaccurate budget is like no budget at all. So, make it count.
3. Predict Extra Expenses
Take a look at last year’s “extra” expenses and make some educated predictions about ones that may come up this year. Then, make a plan to start saving for those. Extra expenses may include special trips, dental work that needs to be done, summer camps, and even Christmas presents.
4. Ask for Discounts
Take a look at your bills and look on each company’s website to see if they have any offers or discounts available. You can also just call customer service to find out about any deals or discounts that may be available to you.
What do you do to make an effective, successful budget?
It seems to strike me every year on November 1st. No so sooner have I successfully hidden all the Halloween candy am I bombarded by commercials on television and on radio (even Pandora radio), ads on the internet and in magazines, and all sorts of signs and banners wherever I go. If you’re not careful and conscientious about what you are going to buy during this time of the year, it can be very easy to spend much more than you intend to.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind as you wade through all the beautifully decorated, cheerful, warm demands for your money.
1. Make a List. Make a list of the items (or kinds of items) you want to purchase. Know what you want so that when all the appeals for other “great deals” come your way, it won’t matter. You don’t actually save money when you get a “steal” on something you don’t need. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re not trying to save money. But I can’t imagine why you’d be here at ThriftyDivas.com if you aren’t trying to save money. 😉
2. Comparison Shop. Before making a purchase on something labeled as a “sale” or “clearance” item, make sure you know what a good price is. My daughter has a favorite organic breakfast bar she likes. We get it for about the same price wherever we go. One store advertises that if you buy an entire box of any of the bars they sell, you get a 10% discount. I planned on doing that (since the other stores that carry the same item don’t offer the bulk discount.) But when I saw the price of the bar and calculated the discount, I realized I was getting a better deal to buy the bars individually at the stores that don’t offer a discount. Know your price points!
3. Decide on a budget. And stick to it! You are more likely to come up with a realistic budget and stick to it if you also do #1 and #2. 😉
How do you keep from over-spending at this time of the year?