Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Little Ways to Save Money Right Now

I thought it might be fun to list easy little things you can do right now to trim up your budget.  

Utilities/Energy Savings 
  1. Shut off lights!  Open the curtains during the day to let in light.  Only use lights in the rooms that you are in at night.   My husband even went to the trouble to install a skylight in my kitchen because it was so dark during the day.  Obviously this isn't a little way to save money quickly, but it is well worth it in the long run. 
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water (this is my hubby's tip - I love HOT water).
  3. Dry your clothing on the line, not in the dryer.
  4. Take shorter showers. And consider showering every other day.
  5. Put a brick in your toilet tank.
  6. Keep your refrigerator door closed!  (Mom was right)
  7. Set your air conditioner to a warmer temperature than "freezing".
  8. Set your heater thermostat to a little cooler than you are used to and put a sweater on!
  9. Weatherstrip the exterior doors.  Make sure your storm windows are closed. 
  10. Feel around the exterior doors to see if you have cold air coming into the house.  We have a gap in our front door (old house) that the weatherstripping doesn't seal all the way.  If it is windy and cold, our front room is horribly cold.  It isn't pretty but I stuff clean trash bags into the gap with a thin spatula and it really helps keep the house warm. 
  11. Drive less.  Plan your trips with the thought in mind of what you need to accomplish.  Don't run to the store for one little thing.   Find someone to car pool to work with.  Walk to the store or anywhere else that is within walking distance. 
Personal Care/Beauty

  1. Use a moisturizing liquid hand soap instead of body wash in the shower.  It's less expensive and works just as well.  We purchase the large refill bottle. 
  2. Fill a squeeze style water or condiment bottle with your body wash to cut down on the amount that is dispensed at a time.  The opening is smaller and prevents the soap from gushing out. 
  3. Buy the foaming hand soap dispensers for your bathrooms.  I think the brand I bought was Aldi's but I believe SoftSoap has a foaming hand soap.  Refill with mostly water plus just a few drops of liquid hand soap.  Shake well and wash your hands for pennies on the dollar!
  4. Consider natural beauty products.  My favorite face scrub is a tablespoon of brown sugar mixed with a teaspoon or so of water or milk.   There are multiple online sites with homemade beauty products.  They are often just as effective as but far less expensive than commercial products.
Household Cleaning Supplies
  1. Don't buy paper towels or sanitizing wipes.  We use old rags to clean.  Use a squeegee and a rag to clean your windows.  
  2. Rethink your cleaning products.  Is plain ammonia cheaper than Windex? I've found it works just as well on my glass.  What I use most often is a weak dish soap solution and my squeegee.  Vinegar also works well.  If you subscribe to the newspaper, use old papers to clean your windows.  Works like a charm.  Consider making your own laundry soap.
  1. If you aren't a devoted comparison shopper make it simple on yourself by ALWAYS choosing the store brand.  Sure there might be a few times that a name brand is less expensive but if you aren't in the mood to comparison shop, you'll come out ahead overall by just choosing the generic or store brand.
  2. Even better, shop at Aldi's if the store is available in your area.  We save a ton of money by shopping at Aldi's, even beyond what we save with other store's generics. 
  3. Don't assume that buying the bulk size is always cheaper.  So while I understand comparison shopping can be a hassle, just pay attention to the cost per unit when you are trying to decide between bulk or regular size.
  1. Make food from scratch. 
  2. Don't buy junk food.
  3. Don't buy food that comes in little serving sized packs.
  4. Buy food with as few ingredients as possible on the label. 
  5. Cut meat out of your diet, OR if you live in a meat loving household like ours, plan meals that use less meat.  You can half the amount of meat the recipe calls for in sauces and casseroles and make up the volume difference with extra veggies, pasta or beans!
  6. Replace ground beef with ground turkey.  If your family prefers the taste of ground beef (as does mine), you can mix equal parts turkey and beef in dishes like meatloaf,meatballs, chili, burritos, etc.  If it is a fairly seasoned dish, the flavor of the turkey won't be noticeable.  I buy my ground turkey at Aldi's and the cost per pound is usually around $1.49 versus $2.69 per pound for the ground beef.  Experiment to see how much beef you can replace with turkey for your crew. 
  7. If you love a good steak, buy chuck roast and have the butcher slice in half lengthwise.  Or do it yourself.  The meat is generally marbled beautifully and tastes wonderful.  This is my husband's brilliant discovery!  We love a tender bloody steak more than any other dish and the chuck roast truly delivers at a fraction of the cost!
  8. Stretch meals with the addition of rice, pasta and beans.   These items can make your meals feel "hearty".
  9. Gravy helps make a meal feel special without much expense.
  10. Pack a lunch for your family.  Not only will you save money, you will be healthier for it.
  11. Don't buy individual servings of soda.  If you are a soda drinker, buy the two liter bottles for the same price or less than the individual serving size.  
  12. Better yet, drink water or tea instead of soda.
  13. If you want a sweet junk food drink, generic "koolaid" is cheap and you can use less sugar or stevia to sweeten it.  I don't give it to my kids very often but for birthday parties and sleepovers we serve it instead of punch or soda.
  14. Make your coffee at home, instead of buying it on the way to work.  You will spend pennies a cup versus $1.00 or more.
  15. Take cash to the grocery store instead of your debit or credit card if you need help limiting yourself.  You can't spend what you don't have with you!
  16. Plan your meals and shop once a month if you have the storage space.  If not, shop every two weeks.  The more often you go to the store, the more you are likely to see something else you "need" and spend more than you had planned. 
  17. Plan to make your meals in double batches.  Freeze half for a future meal.  This way you will be making your own convenience foods for those inevitable times that you don't have time to cook. 
  18. To reduce the number of leftovers that get tossed, freeze leftovers immediately and serve at a later date.  Most of us get tired of eating the same thing two times in a row.  In the past, I would keep leftovers in the fridge with the intention of eating them in a few days, only to forget they were in there until I cleaned out the fridge.  Since I've been freezing leftovers right away, we've had much less food waste.
  19. Save the small bits of leftover veggies in a ziplock bag in the freezer.  When the bag is full, use it to make a vegetable soup.  You can save leftover bits of meat in the same way and throw those into your soup too!  This makes a really easy crock pot meal.  Just dump all your accumulated veggies and meats, add water, seasonings and any other broths/liquids you'd like.  Turn on low and let simmer all day!  Enjoy with homemade bread or crackers.  For variation, you can add noodles, rice or dumplings into your "Scrap Soup".
  20. Check out the "day old bread" cart at your grocery store.  If you find a great sale, buy all they have and freeze it!
  21. Also pay attention to produce sales.   I once bought 20 of the 10lb bags of potatoes at Walmart for $1 each.  They were beginning to go bad.  I chopped, blanched and froze half of the 200 lbs in ziplock bags, the other half I dehydrated.  That find kept us in potatoes for quite a while.   
  22. Plant a garden.  You won't save money right now but you will be saving it later!

  1. Disconnect your cable television.  It may be tough at first if you are hooked on some shows but you may find that you can watch them on youtube or other sites for free.   Our family really doesn't miss it.  We are a little out of touch with what shows are currently playing but we get all the television "fix" we need from PBS and our local stations.
  2. Check out movies from your public library.  Just be sure to look at the discs prior to leaving with them.  It's very annoying to get home and realize the disc is scratched up.  Even worse if the library charges you for the damage.
  3. Take your kids to free places, such as the park, the library or just go "site seeing" in your area.
  4. Spend a night playing board games with your friends and family.  Make some popcorn and have a blast!
  5. Have friends over for a beer (or beverage of your choice) and VISIT!  Those are usually the best memories for us!   And remember, your friends come over to see YOU, not your house or your things.
  6. Cut back on eating out.   Or don't eat out if you are really hurting.   We let ourselves get a little out of hand at times because we really enjoy trying new restaurants. 
  7. Explore the free attractions in your own city.
  8. Consider starting a babysitting pool with your trusted friends.  Take turns watching each others children for free and exchange have them return the favor.  For parents, hiring a sitter can make a night out even more daunting.  
  9. For a really cheap date night, consider a romantic evening "in".   Sometimes just having a night without the kids can be TRUE entertainment!
  10. Attend festivals and enjoy the free stuff but pack a cooler with snacks and beverages.  You'll save a bundle and still get the experience.  Unless it is a food festival....or a wine tasting....

  1. Consider shopping at second hand stores, vintage shops and garage sales.  We've found so many fantastic things at Goodwill through the years.  I'm always surprised at the current styles that we find! 
  2. Don't turn down "hand-me-downs".  We've been blessed through the years with "hand-me-downs" for me and my children.  I am very thankful to get a bag of clothing from a friend!  I sort through and put away what is too small or large for another time or child, give away what I know we won't use and recycle what is not in good repair.
  3. Always check out clearance sales with the next season/year in mind.  I've found end-of-season clothing items for as low as a $1 many, many times at retail stores.  I just pack them away for the next year!  Those finds are better than second hand shop treasures at times!
  4. Don't pay full price for anything that you can't use in multiple ways.   Some items are classic and can be worn in multiple ways and in more than one season.   It's appropriate to pay full price if the item is good quality and versatile.
  5. Learn to sew.  Some items can't be sewn as cheaply as purchased but if you know how to sew, you can make repairs, alter for a better fit or alter slightly to update to a current style.   Sewing can be very fulfilling!
  6. Remember that it is better to have a few versatile pieces of clothing that you will wear, than a bunch of stuff you never wear.  I am guilty at times of hoarding old clothing with the thought that it MIGHT come back in style.  Or clothes that I MIGHT fit into again! 
Household Purchases

  1. When you are in need of an item for your home, whether it be furniture, appliance or decor, think "used" first.   My husband usually prices the item new, then we check out Craigslist, ebay and Goodwill.  We've found many items at half the retail price or less that were in excellent repair. 
    My clothes dryer/pasta drying rack
  3. Be creative in finding other uses for household items.  If you need a desk, look around your house to see what you have to "construct" one.  For example, two bar stools and an old door can double as a desk in a pinch.  Or cinder blocks stacked and a sheet of plywood can work as well.  A wooden clothing dryer (the kind used to dry delicates) makes a great pasta drying rack.  Use your imagination.  See what you can find in your own home before you head off to the store. 
There are many more ideas I'm sure I will think of so look forward to future postings.  Please feel free to share your own tips for saving money.  I'd love to hear them!  

Have a wonderful day!   


  1. What excellent suggestions! Love the idea of the clothes drying rack to also dry pasta. We have also found that using cash for shopping instead of a debit card makes a big difference.

    1. Thanks Leigh! I'm sure there is much more I could list. It's hard to identify what we do that others may not. It just becomes second nature after a while doesn't it?

      Have a great day!


  2. I love a good list, and this one is fantastic! I try to avoid shopping as much as possible, and that certainly helps save money :)

    1. Thanks for the visit Jaime! Glad you like the list. I'm sure I've forgotten some things but it's a good start. One of the biggest things that we have to watch is not grabbing fast food on busy nights. I've been working on making sure I have meals planned and ready by dinner time.

      Have a great night!


  3. Hi Poppy. It's nice to meet you through your blog. :) You have one wonderful blog! Thanks for following me, and giving me the opportunity to find you. These are wonderful ideas for saving money, so perhaps you'll be able to realize your dream of a country life soon! :) I can't wait to explore your posts further.

  4. I didn't know that you could freeze potatos:) I will have to check that out! Thank you

    1. You're quite welcome! I just love when I can take advantage of a sale!

  5. this might be a little tmi, but a great way i save money is by making my own feminine products. i use old fleece shirts as the outer part. cotton works too but fleece is great at pulling moisture away from you more effectively. then i stuff them with cut up old towels for the absorption and a layer of waterproof material. for this, i used an old crib mattress liner and old bibs (both can withstand the washer). keep a bucket of cold water under your sink to let them soak a couple of days before washing. great instructions are here: http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~obsidian/clothpads/DIYpads/Pocket.html

    1. Kristi, Thank you for the helpful link, and no it's not tmi! It's part of life and something we ladies spend money on if we are in our childbearing years! Not much different than using cloth napkins, cleaning rags and cloth diapers instead of paper products!

  6. Love your idea about blanching and freezing the potatoes! I had never thought of that, and I will try it. It would also save time making roast potatoes too I imagine! Can't wait to try because I hate to see our potatoes go bad and have to throw them out! So thank you!


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