My brother used to always tell me that when at first you don’t succeed, sky diving is not for you. While I firmly believe he was right about sky diving, that doesn’t make it true about money saving methods. In fact in spite of these ideas may not work out for you the first time, in the long run they can still save you money using them.
Let’s take the money saving idea of cooking your own meals from scratch rather than buying fast food, meals in a bag, and bagged bread. Cooking is a skill and like all skills, has a learning curve. Your first loaf of bread may not turn out the way you hoped. If it makes you feel any better, mine didn’t even look like a loaf. You may discover you only skimmed the recipe and you have tried to stick two loafs worth of bread dough into one pan. It happens. It’s just a learning experience to help you avoid future mistakes.
Time In Life
Clipping coupons may not be something you would pursue while living single with the belief you can live off of cup of noodle soups and peanut butter sandwiches. You don’t have the storage space to build a coupon fueled food storage. You don’t have the gas to go to six different stores and the time to hunt down the smallest product size in each. Besides, the generic brand is usually less expensive even with a coupon.
When you become a married parent trying to fuel that formula and diaper bill with no expanded income to make ends meet (and they were barely touching to begin with) you may want to revisit that whole coupon thing, or cloth diaper idea. Where it wasn’t helpful before, it can be vital now.
We use a lot of disposable items in our society today. And I totally understand—once, when our apartment building had a big leak and we didn’t have water for a full day, I ran out to buy disposable plates. There was something incredibly wonderful about throwing the plates and utensils in the trash after meals instead of spending time washing everything, but it’d be difficult to make that sustainable. Not only did we make tons more trash than we usually do, but disposables certainly add up financially over time. And I totally admit that if we didn’t have an Earth to save and our trash totally just vanished into a black hole, I’d be the first in line to stop washing dishes and convert to disposables! But if you need some help being thrifty and cut down on your use of disposable products, try these replacements:
Towels instead of paper napkins and paper towels—The easiest way to do this is just to go to your local favorite store that sells kitchen towels and buy a ton of them on sale. Sure, you can buy fancy lace-lined linen cloth napkins, but a couple small 4-packs of barcloths work just as well for everyday, non-dinner-party days. If you’re willing to spend a little more money (or are very crafty), some businesses sell rolls of reusable towels that come in rolls like paper towels but Velcro together, so you can still keep a roll out on your counter.
Cloth diapers instead of disposables—Don’t leave! Don’t stop reading yet! Cloth diapers have come a really long way in the last ten to twelve years or so. There’s no need for pins and plastic pants—modern cloth diapers can come all in one piece and snap or Velcro together. They’re just as easy to use as disposables, but are reusable! You needn’t use them all the time, either—we use cloth at home and disposables while we’re out and about. Any little bit of money saved is… well… money saved.
Handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex—Disposable tissues definitely have their place. I shudder to think of the crazy germs that would be spread if we made every school child use handkerchiefs instead of tissues in the classroom! But think about using handkerchiefs at home for everyday use instead of tissues. They may even be gentler on your poor, chafed nose than tissues!
What other reusable products do you use around your home instead of disposables?
Utility bills—they’re something we all have to pay, and I bet you probably just click “online payments” on your computer screen and off goes your digital payment into cyberspace. Certainly that’s what I do when the bill comes in the mail!
How many times have you really looked at your bill, though, and wondered if you are paying more than the average for your area? Utility usage definitely depends on the size of your family and home—two people in a one bedroom apartment are not going to pay as much as a 7-person family in a large suburban house—but if you’re looking to save a little money, try a few things to lower your utility bill. Even if you’re only saving a few dollars a month, those bucks will add up over time!
Turn off your electronics: Many electronics have an extremely low-energy “sleep” mode where the appliance doesn’t fully turn off, but remains in a standby state until you turn it back on. But you know what saves even more power? Just turning your electronics off! Flip off the surge protector too, when you go to sleep—that draws power as well, even if everything plugged into it is turned off.
Replace lightbulbs with CFL bulbs: Most cities have sent out public notices about or even subsidized replacing standard bulbs with the weirdly spiral-shaped CFL bulbs. But if you haven’t replaced yours yet, please do! They really do save quite a bit of energy—and money. Ask your public utilities manager if they give out any for free or at a discount.
Let dishes air dry instead of running the “heated dry” cycle on the dishwasher: Many people line dry their clothes to save energy by not using a dryer. But most dishwashers also have a “dry” cycle that use heat to dry dishes. And of course, using heat is using energy which is spending money, so crack open that dishwasher once the dishes are washed and let them air dry. Or, if you’ve got time, wipe them down with a dishtowel.
What other ways do you save energy around your home?
I love finding practical uses for common, thrifty household items, like hydrogen peroxide. Check out some great household uses for this very thrifty product.
1. Bleach your hair. Whether you want to bleach unsightly hair on your face or give yourself a sun bleached look, hydrogen peroxide is what you’ll need. Spray it on your hair for that new, thrifty hair style and rinse it out after about 10 or 15 minutes.
2. Disinfect your toothbrushes. Just soak your toothbrushes in hydrogen peroxide to get rid of any germs or bacteria that may be hanging on, especially after you have been sick.
3. Salon nails. Do you ever notice a little stain on your nails after removing the nail polish or preparing foods like beets or frozen blueberries? I do. Just soak your nails in some hydrogen peroxide to whiten those nails.
4. Salon feet? Do you have corns or calluses? Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and warm water to soften the hard, dry skin and calluses on your feet.
5. Ear infection treatment. Use 6 to 8 drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear to treat (as in eliminate) an ear infection. Who needs antibiotics?
6. Grout cleaning. Mix hydrogen peroxide with white flour to create a thick paste. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it on overnight. In the morning, all you have to do is simply rinse off the mixture with water to find your nice, clean grout.
7. Clean your toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into your toilet bowl to remove dirt and stains. Let it sit for at least one half hour before flushing it out.
8. Eliminate mold and mildew. Spray hydrogen peroxide onto mold and mildew both to control it and to remove the discoloration.
9. Clean your carpet. Be careful with this one because hydrogen peroxide can act like bleach. So, this one is only for you if you have lighter colored carpet or rugs. Spray the peroxide onto dirt or food stains on your carpets and rugs.
10. Disinfect sponges and kitchen towels. Soak your sponges, kitchen towels, and dish rags in hydrogen peroxide for 15 to 30 minutes in order to disinfect them.
How do you use hydrogen peroxide?